NYPD Wrongfully Arrests Subway Busker, Inspires Him to Action

subway busker

Who doesn’t love live music in the subway? Andrew Kalleen may have the answer to that question. In the early morning of October 18, 2014, the musician was arrested by a NYPD officer for playing at the Lorimer Street/Metropolitan G station, despite a law that expressly allows for such public performances.

In a video of the incident uploaded to Youtube, Kalleen can be heard as he points the officer to the relevant section of the MTA rulebook–1050.6C–which states:

“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 officer then attempted to eject Kalleen from the station. When he refused to leave of his own accord, Kalleen was arrested, and ultimately charged with loitering. Many view the arrest as part of a “broken windows” policy, where police enforce laws against petty, non-violent crimes in the hope of decreasing more serious crime. The only problem is that Kalleen wasn’t doing anything illegal. His arrest comes from a common misunderstanding of the law, which affects countless street performers in New York.

Kalleen has since partnered with BUSK-NY to advocate for the rights of street performers, and is suing the city for his wrongful arrest. He plans on donating any compensation he receives to an organization supporting his neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.