NYPD looking into arrest of Williamsburg subway performer
Fellow musicians are rallying around a subway performer whose arrest in a busy station was captured on video as straphangers jeered the officer. The New York Police Department says it’s looking into the arrest.
Andrew Kalleen, 30, was performing Friday at the G-train stop in Brooklyn’s hipster Williamsburg neighborhood when an officer told him he must leave the station because he needs a permit to play there. The neighborhood is home to trendy boutiques and cafes patronized by ultrahip residents and tourists who flock there to experience Brooklyn life.
“I’m not going to argue with you,” the officer says calmly.
Kalleen, also speaking evenly, refuses to leave and says he has a right to be there performing, then directs him to the section in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s rules of conduct that say artistic performances and solicitation of donations are allowed.
The flustered officer reads the section aloud, as the watching straphangers clap, but then decides to eject Kalleen from the station.
The MTA does not issue permits, and the rules he read aloud are accurate. But the MTA rules differ from state law, which says entertainers can be arrested for loitering in a transportation facility unless they were specifically authorized to be there.
“Get your stuff, you’re leaving,” the officer says. Kalleen again refuses and begins to play The Who’s “Wish you Were Here” after asking whether anyone knows “Free Bird.”
The cop calls for backup while removing the guitar from Kalleen’s shoulders, who continues to sing a cappella.
“I’m being oppressed,” says the musician, who is wearing hot pink socks, no shoes, a jacket, tie and a fedora.
Meanwhile, straphangers taunt the officer and then begin to insult him and ask whether there are more serious crimes he should be policing.
Kalleen was arrested on a charge of loitering as he sang Neil Young’s protest anthem “Ohio.”
NYPD spokesman Steve Davis said Tuesday that the department is investigating the matter. The video was posted online and has been viewed more than 450,000 times.
Buskers planned a protest for later Tuesday.
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