An NYPD officer forcefully arrested a man who was playing music in a subway station after reading aloud the law that appears to allow the musician to perform.

Gothamist reported that the incident took place at the Lorimer Street/Metropolitan Avenue station of the southbound G train around 1:30 AM on Friday, Oct. 17. The musician is reported to be a 30-year-old named Andrew Kalleen.

A seven-minute video clip of the encounter, which has been viewed on YouTube over 1.2 million times, begins with Kalleen explaining that the law permits him to play music for donations in the subway stations. According to the Rules of Conduct listed on the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s website, Kalleen appears to be correct. Section 1050.6c reads:

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 cop read the law aloud, apparently from a cellphone, while standing next to Kalleen. Nonetheless he insisted that the musician needed a permit to perform and ordered him to leave. Many of the bystanders spoke up in support of Kalleen as the officer repeatedly removed Kalleen’s guitar, told him to go and called for backup. The scene ends with uniformed officers and at least one plainclothes cop throwing the musician to the floor and hauling him away as members of the crowd boo and chant “Fuck the police!”

The New York Daily News reported that Kalleen was charged with loitering. “I’m usually muscled out of the situations,” the paper quotes him as saying. “I decided this time I’m not going to stand for it.” RT writes that he was detained for five hours after his arrest. He told RT he plans to sue the city.

Of the NYPD’s subsequent justification for the officer’s behavior, Gothamist further reported:

An NYPD’s spokesperson tells us that Kalleen was playing guitar, singing and accepting donations “without permit of permission” from the MTA. Because he is a “transit recidivist,” which the spokesperson explained as someone having an open ticket or warrant, perhaps related to turnstile jumping or a similar offense—he was arrested and charged with loitering. There was no mention of him impeding transit activities.

RT adds:

MTA regulations differ from state law which says that performers loitering in a transportation facility may be arrested unless specifically authorized to be there. So the possible outcome of [Kalleen’s] lawsuit is not clear.

xac branch:— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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