Buskers Say NYPD Is Harassing Subway Performers

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Buskers who perform on subway platforms and trains gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to protest what they say is harassment from the NYPD. The protesters said that the crackdown by police — with tickets and the occasional arrest — is unwarranted.

"People want to come and see us, not just me as a dancer, but also the musicians," said Bronx resident Andrew Saunders, 20, who was arrested last year for dancing on the train. "This is New York City culture, it shouldn't be pushed away, it should be embraced."

The MTA permits people to perform and solicit donations as long as they stay on subway platforms or mezzanines and off actual train cars. 

But Besn Kheru was arrested while singing on a subway platform, in addition to two arrests for singing on the train. He said in many cases, artists are just trying to make an honest living and support their families.

"It's either — for some — do crime or use their talents," he said. "I think we should support, or have empathy, for those who are doing the best they can with their talent."

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that subway arrests tripled for panhandling and peddling in the first three months of the de Blasio administration. 

Performers from BuskNY on the steps of City Hall (Annmarie Fertoli/WNYC).