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article imageSubway singer arrested for singing during legal performance

By Megan Hamilton     Oct 21, 2014 in Odd News
New York - Most of us don't expect to be arrested while doing something that's perfectly legal, but that's what happened to a musician playing his guitar on a subway platform in New York.
A passerby recorded the officer arresting the man last Friday morning and uploaded the video to Youtube. In the video, which has been viewed more than 280,000 times, the singer tells the officer to look up section 1050.6c after the officer informs the man that he's going to be arrested for performing in the subway without a permit, reports.
"We got bigger problems in New York City than someone playing the guitar," one onlooker hollered, and an audience, largely unseen behind the camera, began gathering.
Section 1050.6c allows musicians to perform on the street, Gawker notes.
So the officer reads the section aloud as follows, per Gawker:
"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 transporation. 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."
In other words, street performers don't need a permit.
When the officer is done reading, he's met with thunderous applause, and the singer, Andrew Kalleen, breaks into Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." But the officer just trudges right on with misbegotten tenacity and insists that Kalleen will have to be ejected. Kalleen, for his part, continues playing and a round of applause swells around him, reports.
Soon the audience is heckling the officer and asking him what grounds he has in attempting to force Kalleen out of the station. The officer calls for backup, which arrives swiftly, and he forcibly removes the singer's guitar and shoves him against the wall to to make the arrest. As all of this goes down, Kalleen breaks into Neil Young's protest song "Ohio," The Huffington Post reports. When the police handcuff him they are met with a chorus of loud boos and calls of "f--- the police." Then officers remove the musician, his guitar, donations and guitar case.
The video is "under review," a spokesperson for the police told the Post in an email, but provided no answers regarding the reasons for the arrest. Kalleen, 30, told the Post that the arresting officer pored over a law book in the back of the police van before he finally charged him with allegedly loitering.
Unfortunately, cases like Kalleen's aren't that unusual.
"This happens so often," Matthew Christian, a street violinist and co-founder of Busk-NY, an advocacy group for street performers, told the Post. He noted that police often charge performers with vague offenses — like loitering, for instance, when they can't find a more convincing justification for arrest.
"When police officers don't precisely know the law, they arrest someone over their own refusal to back down, and once the person is brought to the police station and booked, they can't find anything else to charge them with, so they go mining," he said.
Kalleen told the Post that police have stopped him while he was performing in the subway station at least five times. He has filed a complaint against them with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations regarding police abuse. Kalleen said he plans to sue the department over this latest arrest.
More about subway singer arrested, singer arrested for singing during legal performan, Andrew Kalleen, Gawker, Subway
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