‘Best human of the night’ award goes to the homeless underground NYC tonight who really listen, they hear & never fail to give even though they most likely have less than anyone else on the platform at any given time. There’s some kind of etherial connection between me & the homeless who hear me sing. I cannot tell you exactly what it is, it’s some kind of a ‘soul knowing’, but we ‘get’ each other somehow. We rarely say anything to each other, but it’s clear, it’s in the eyes.
Most favourite underground comment; “Your singing gave me goosbumps” Today was a multiple goospimply dayÂ
People kept stopping by bearing random gifts today Underground. First it was a Box of Girl Scout Cookies, then some kinda fancy-schmanzy shampoo & conditioner (at least the lady who dropped it in my case said it was). By the end of my day I kinda felt like the baby Jesus & the three wise menÂ Â #newyorkundergroundlove
YES, BUSKING PERMITS IN THE USA ARE ILLEGAL.
” busking licenses themselves are unconstitutional.In the USA, public performance is protected by the First Amendment“
I count myself as a veteran street performer, though by no means am I among the oldest-school of us. Having performed on the streets of fourteen cities in five different countries, I feel like I have a fairly dialed show. I have a good grasp of public space, social dynamics, crowd control, and comic timing, and on a good day I can pull a monthâs rent in my hat.
It also means that I have been chased around by a lot of police and private security. Like most hecklers, they usually fall back on the same lines â âyou canât vend here, itâs a safety issue, this public street is private propertyâ â but what they donât know is that shutting down a street show in the USA is illegal. Not only that, butÂ busking licenses themselves are unconstitutional.
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In the USA, public performance is protected by the First Amendment.Â When in public, you have as much right to sing a song called âThe President Is Stupidâ as you have to sing a song called âGive Me A Dollar.â Singing âGive Me A Dollarâ with a hat on the ground does not make you a business or a vendor, even if someone puts in money; and whether that public space is publicly or privately owned has no bearing on whether you still have your First Amendment rights while there. As a matter of fact,Â it is a crime to shut down a street show under the color of lawÂ â i.e. to tell you that itâs not legal to do so under the claim of any kind of legal authority. Source:Â Title 18, USC, Section 242: Deprivation of Rights Under Color Of Law. All this has been established and re-established all over the country by a variety of courts, including the Supreme Court, on multiple instances.
Unfortunately for street artists and our audiences,Â no police officer knows this. And half the time, even if shutting down a street show is illegal, theyâll still make up some other reason to cite you (in the UK, theyâve been using a literalistic interpretation of a century-old vagrancy law). And when a city council decides theyâre going to limit the time, place, and manner of free expression in their towns, itâs rare that the local population of buskers can afford to spend the time and money to fight these anti-busking laws in the court.
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A handful of precedents go like this:
â˘ In 1970, Allen Ginsberg challenges and beats a 40-year-old anti-busker law in New York City, which had been established for reasons of âsafetyâ regarding conflicts over performance space.
â˘ In 1979, Goldstein vs. Town of Nantucket was decided in favor of a busker who successfully argued that street performance isnât vending.
â˘ In 2005, a street magician won over $47,000 in damages from the City of Seattle after it argued that its private ownership of a central park allowed it to place limits on street performance.
â˘ In 2007, a visual artistâs right to sell his art at his street shows was upheld by the Supreme Court, referring to two other decisions which noted that free speech doesnât get limited just because the speaker is financially compensated.
â˘ In 2010, a judge threw out Venice Beachâs permit/lottery system which required buskers to buy into a lottery for space.
Subway acrobats, dancers and musicians on Tuesday decried what they said was heavy-handed policing, gathering outside City Hall to join critics of a police clampdown on minor offenses.
One activist suggested a temporary halt to subway performer arrests, which have spiked this year as officers zeroed in on minor crimes to set a tone of not tolerating lawlessness. But several performers said they just hope to arrange a way to perform without fearing arrest.
“We dance. We sing. We’re not criminals. … We shouldn’t really get locked up for showing our talent,” said Zenon “Tito” Laguerre, a 34-year-old construction worker and subway acrobat who said he was arrested last week.
The police department had no immediate response to the performers’ complaints. Mayor Bill de Blasio said last month that subway stunts may not seem like big offenses, “but breaking the law is breaking the law.”
Transit rules generally allow performing for tips in parts of subway stations, but not in trains unless artists have permits. They can use amplifiers only under certain conditions.
More than 240 subway performers have been arrested so far this year, about four times as many as during the same period last year, according to police statistics.
Some subway riders see the performers as part of the city’s anything-goes artistic environment. But others roll their eyes at hearing “it’s showtime!” on hectic commutes. Police also say subway dancing can be dangerous, though no injuries have been reported.
The rise in arrests dovetails with Police Commissioner William Bratton’s embrace of the “broken windows” theory of policing, which holds that putting up with small-time law-breaking can foster more dangerous crime. The approach has come under scrutiny since an officer used a chokehold last month in confronting a man suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes; he died after gasping “I can’t breathe!”
Bratton noted Tuesday on WNYC-FM’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” that most major crime has dropped in the city this year â although shootings have risen â and that smaller, quality-of-life offenses are offenses nonetheless.
“If people would obey the law, then they would not draw the attention of the police,” he said.
Some subway performers who comply with the rules still get arrested or told to leave, said Matthew Christian, a violinist who spearheads an advocacy group called BuskNY. Other subway performers acknowledge they’ve broken the rules but say police should focus on crime, not on what the buskers see as entertainment and entrepreneurship.
“This is New York City culture,” says Andrew “Goofy” Saunders, a 20-year-old acrobat who has stopped performing on trains amid the crackdown. “It shouldn’t be pushed away. It should be embraced.”
Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.
On The Front Lines
VICTORY: Court Orders Metro Authorities to Allow âBuskerâ Street Musician to Continue Performing at DC Metro Stations
August 15, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC â In a resounding win for the First Amendment, a federal court judge has granted a request by Rutherford Institute attorneys to enjoin the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) from preventing guitarist Alex Young from engaging in âbuskingâ near DC-area Metro stations.
In granting the request, Judge Beryl Howell rejected the governmentâs claim that the time-honored practice of busking, or performing in public places for tips, is âcommercial activityâ in violation of WMATAâs Use Regulation policies.Â By the order, Judge Howell has required WMATA officers to stop instructing Young that he cannot engage in busking near Metro terminals for the duration of the pending lawsuit.
Rutherford Institute attorneys filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in July 2014, arguing that the above-ground, âfreeâ areas of WMATA transit stations where Young performs are traditional public forums where members of the public are entitled to engage in speech and expression under the First Amendment.
The judgeâs order inÂ Alex Young v. Richard SarlesÂ is available atÂ www.rutherford.org.
âIn the midst of the crisis taking place in Ferguson, where even journalists are being muzzled at gunpoint, this victory serves notice to the police state that free speech and the rule of law still count for something in America,â said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author ofÂ A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. âIf we are to have any hope of salvaging our freedoms, it is more critical than ever that we stand up for the rights of those who dare to speak up and challenge the status quo, whether they be artists, activists, journalists or whistleblowers.â
Alex Young is a 27-year old guitarist who performs in public and accepts donations from passersby. Although Young does not actively solicit donations, he does set out his open guitar case in order to receive tips from members of the public who enjoy his performance. Among the places where Young performs are the above-ground, âfreeâ areas of WMATA transit stations.Â According to regulations promulgated by WMATAâs governing authority, persons are allowed to engage in âfree speech activitiesâ on WMATA property, so long as the activity is in above-ground areas and is at least 15 feet from a station entrance, escalator or stairway.
According to the complaint, Young was busking at the Ballston Metro station on the sidewalk abutting N. Stuart Street in November 2013 when he was approached by a Transit Police officer and ordered to cease playing and accepting tips. The officer accused Young of engaging in âpanhandlingâ and threatened to arrest him if he did not move elsewhere.Â In a separate instance in October 2013, Young was ordered to cease his public performing at the West Falls Church Metro Station. A Transit Police officer told Young that because he was accepting donations, he was engaged in âcommercial activityâ that is prohibited by WMATA regulations.
In filing suit against WMATA, Rutherford Institute attorneys allege that the above-ground, free areas of Metro Stations are considered traditional public forums, areas where speech and expression is given special protection by the U.S. Constitutionâs First Amendment.Â Additionally, Youngâs performing in public, or âbusking,â is a time-honored activity that courts have consistently found to be fully protected by the constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech.
Affiliate attorney Jeffrey L. Light is assisting The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Young.
Ok – I know this is NYC where all things strange live & flourish, but it really does give me pause seeing a pigeon eating a chicken. Shouldn’t that be 100% against the overall Pigeon moral code or something?Â #thingsthatdisturb