Video: Cop Reads Law Permitting Subway Busking, Arrests Singer Anyway
A subway busker was arrested for loitering after a confrontation with an NYPD officer over whether or not he was allowed to be performing. The incident happened at the Lorimer Street / Metropolitan Avenue station on the southbound G train platform around 1:30 a.m. on Friday.
Here’s how the video uploader described the quality of life incident: “One of NYPD’s finest arrests a man for playing in the subway after he recites the law word for word that allows him to perform for donations,” the uploader wrote. “He continues to sing as he is being handcuffed. A “fuck the police” chant subsequently follows.” Watch the confrontation below.
The video starts with busker Andrew Kalleen, 30, already arguing with the officer over whether or not he is allowed to be performing there. “You just need to know the law,” Kalleen says to the officer while begging him to read MTA’s own “Rules of Conduct” about the matter. As onlookers shout, “we have bigger problems in New York City than someone playing guitar,” the officer eventually reads the¬†relevant section of the rules¬†(Section 1050.6c, which Kalleen wisely seems to have memorized) from a phone:
Except as expressly permitted in this subdivision, no person shall engage in any nontransit uses upon any facility or conveyance. Nontransit uses are noncommercial activities that are not directly related to the use of a facility or conveyance for transportation. The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations
The onlookers clap at the end, but the officer is unmoved, insisting that Kalleen needs to leave: “Being ejected doesn’t mean you’re arrested, it means you’re getting thrown out of the station.” Kalleen says the officer is harassing him, and more and more people begin asking the officer under what grounds the busker is being ejected, to which the officer doesn’t respond.
Kalleen goes back to singing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” for a bit before the officer shuts him down. You can hear people yelling, “On what grounds?” “You don’t have something better to do?” and “There are people breaking laws, dangerous people in this city.”
Kalleen briefly starts singing again when the officer walks away before returning with several other cops. The officer takes the guitar off of Kalleen, hitting him in the face in the process, then arrests him. Onlookers loudly boo and start yelling “Fuck the police,” as Kalleen is taken off.
An NYPD’s spokesperson tells us that Kalleen was playing guitar, singing and accepting donations “without permit of permission” from the MTA. Because he is a “transit recidivist,” which the spokesperson explained as someone having an open ticket or warrant, perhaps related to turnstile jumping or a similar offense‚ÄĒhe was arrested and charged with loitering. There was no mention of him impeding transit activities.
BuskNY, a coalition of freelance performers,¬†gathered on the steps of City Hall¬†over the summer to call for an end to officers arresting, jailing, and slamming them with pricey summonses for an activity they know to be legal under the MTA’s guidelines.