A musician was assaulted and arrested after he wouldn’t stop playing guitar in a New York subway station on Friday morning. The video of the incident went viral, drawing attention to his cause: The police’s unfair treatment of buskers.
Andrew Kalleen, half of the indie/folk/rock duo Lawrence and Leigh, was playing his guitar around 1:30 a.m. on a platform at the Metropolitan Ave. G train station in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. A New York Police Department officer
approached him, asking the 30-year-old for his permit.
The guitarist replied that he didn’t need a permit to perform. And thus began a confrontation that ended with the NYPD officer assaulting and arresting Kalleen ‒ after reading aloud the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) rule saying the cop was wrong.. A bystander recorded the exchange.
“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 on YouTube. “He continues to sing as he is being handcuffed. A “fuck the police” chant subsequently follows.”
Kalleen and the officer are already mid-argument when the video begins. “You just need to know the law, man,” the guitarist tells the cop, who is facing away from the camera. Kalleen asks the gathering onlookers if someone is recording.
The cop then insists that MTA requires a permit; Kalleen argues it does not. He asks the member of New York’s Finest to look up Section 1050.6c of the MTA’s Rules of Conduct. The officer then reads the entire rule aloud, emphasizing the applicable portion:
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 applaud. Then the officer insists that Kalleen needs to leave, or he will be ejected ‒ not arrested. “Being ejected doesn’t mean you’re arrested, it means you’re getting thrown out of the station,”the cop said, before calling for backup.
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