Buskers Say NYPD Is Harassing Subway Performers

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 05:21 PM

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).



Comments [13]

Bronx from NYC

I wonder how many of these showtime performers will now resort to other forms of "crime."

Designate areas in stations across the city and allow these people to continue. Fine those performing acrobatics on the actual trains.

Aug. 13 2014 03:57 PM
AMHess from Harlem

I agree that performing in stations (so long as they are not obstructing traffic) is great and some music on the trains should be tolerated, but certainly not preaching, panhandling or acrobatics on trains. I enjoy the conga drummers and mariachi band that sometimes perform at rush hour on the 2/4/5 (and are always considerate to keep out of the way) but in general these should be kept in stations. The NYPD has really gone overboard with arrests, though, while still turning a blind eye to truly dangerous activity.

Aug. 13 2014 02:17 PM
Geralyn Abinader from Wee

Love music in the stations, on the platforms, I can choose to stop and listen or watch on my way to where I'm going.

On the train, I feel trapped. Not always what I want to see or hear and am not given the choice.

That's all.

Aug. 13 2014 01:14 PM
Gregg from Astoria NY

I find their displays annoying. I find their music loud and unpleasant. And I find the panhandling with, in most cases, badly made up stories, equally annoying. Both happened on an N train to the City yesterday. And when those buskers were performing, that train took a few runs that could cause a problem, not just for the buskers but for the odd standing traveler, and the people sitting down.

If they want to bother us with their loud (bad) music and their displays of activity and their annoying claims for money, let them do it on the platform or elsewhere in the stations.

The MTA and the NYCPD are right to arrest these people.

Aug. 13 2014 01:09 PM

I think there are many passengers who feel that busking in safe, stationary locations, but not on trains, should be tolerated. (Include me, with the exception of bongo drums on Monday mornings.) But I doubt if the law is written that way. For laws to be respected, they need to be in line with what people consider reasonable. Why don't we see if we can come up with some rules that most of us can agree are reasonable to enforce?

Aug. 13 2014 12:48 PM

What those "buskers" (or whatever name you wish to call that group). Do not realize or for that matter want to realize, is that each subway train new or old has what is called a emergency break system. That is, when the front coupler or wheel of a train comes in contact with an object that is not supposed to be there, the emergency break system is activated and the train comes to a screeching halt. Sometimes, the problem might even be a malfunctioning signal next to the tracks that is causing the problem. I would simply love to see a train traveling over 40 m.p.h, have the emergency break system activated, and see what would happen to these "buskers" knuckleheaded group.Their bodies would become missiles that would shurely hit sombody in the subway car.

Aug. 13 2014 11:18 AM
paul from harlem

I can't wait for those assholes to get off the train.

Aug. 13 2014 09:43 AM
Harried commuter from manhattan

If I want to hear music after a hard day's work, I'll go to a show or performance. If I want to hear music on the subway, I'll use an iPod.

Get these race-baiting parasites off the subways.

Aug. 13 2014 09:04 AM

Music on the platforms or in other public areas is great. If you'd like to stop and listen you can, if not, you can move on. But on the trains, you have no choice, and anything that disturbs passengers on the trains, whether it is break dancing, singing, preaching, or playing instruments, should be banned. On the train, we are a captive audience.

Aug. 13 2014 08:22 AM
Shepsl from Queens

Excuse me, but this is a safety issue, not a racial one. I and fellow riders have numerous times nearly had my face kicked in by muscular white guys doing hyperathletic routines in crowded subway cars, not just black guys. These are not well-trained dancers or athletes in control of their stunts -- especially on moving trains! And while the music may be okay at volume elsewhere, in a confined space it's often painfully loud. If the buskers want to do their routines and music on platforms and other public areas where people can give them safe clearance, fine. But on crowded, moving trains? That's just reckless and inconsiderate, and race is not the reason.

Aug. 13 2014 08:14 AM
Jeremiah Gelles from Brooklyn

Just one more in a long line of examples of racism and anti working class policing. Why don't they apply a "broken windows" policy to the actions of politicians and bankers? Because "they" are the politicans and bankers!

Aug. 13 2014 07:57 AM
Gary Hoopengardner from Brooklyn

So let me understand what was written. It's okay to perform on platforms or mezz area.
How about outside the gate going into the subway along the halls?

Aug. 13 2014 07:31 AM

In other news: Straphangers say Buskers are harassing subway passengers.

Aug. 12 2014 09:13 PM

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