Violinist arrested for performing in Atlanta subway station

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A US street violinist was arrested on 9 May for performing in an Atlanta subway station without permission. New York-based musician Juan Pablo Chavez, who performs under the name Johnny Arco, claims to have spent five days in police custody after the incident.

Speaking to local channel WXIA-TV, Chavez said a police officer had grabbed him and ‘slammed me against the wall’ after telling him to leave the Five Points station in downtown Atlanta. He was subsequently charged with selling CDs without a permit and ‘misdemeanour panhandling’. The arresting officer, who was responding to a passenger’s complaint about the music, also reported that Chavez had refused to leave the station, instead asking passers-by whether they had enjoyed his performance.

‘This young man, as talented as he may have been, was in violation of state law,’ said subway spokesperson Lyle Harris. ‘We love music and we love musicians, but the one thing we can't tolerate is people who are going on the system and breaking the law.’ The city’s subway network has a long-standing policy of not allowing street musicians unless they have clearance to perform.

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Will Wilkin

Police state pigs who run the subway and the police department, who waste public resources by chasing musicians instead of fighting real crime.

12:33 - Friday, 17 May 2013
Andrew Gunn

I'm a street musician in Atlanta, and I'm about to leave this city behind because of its aggressiveness towards street art and busking. Atlanta will never be welcoming to street performers because of rubbish like this, my sympathies to Mr. Arco.

00:32 - Monday, 20 May 2013

Art and culture are easy targets for neo liberal authorities. Keep up the struggle, folks!

16:09 - Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Well, maybe this artist was even humiliated and mistreated enough to claim damages that after all make further street music activity dispensable.

17:01 - Wednesday, 22 May 2013

If he was there without a permit and was asked to leave and refused, then he needs to face the fact that he broke the law. I see no difference in this than if I were standing in front of your house blowing a tuba all day long without a permit to do so. You'd want me gone. You'd call the police. They'd come and ask for my permit. I'd say I don't have one. They'd say, move along. I'd resist. They'd arrest me. Ignorance of the law is no excuse...even for violinists.

18:21 - Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I'd say there is something like the principle of proportionality. Five days in police custody is not bad for "suspicious public fiddling". Anyway, he'd better be grateful that they didn't deport him to Gitmo. And what if a US district judge hadn't overruled the NDAA in early 2012...

22:15 - Wednesday, 22 May 2013
David Fowler

The guy's from New York City, where you audition and get permission to add to the noise level of the subway. He should know those rules, and also know better than to try to blow off a Southern cop when he's asked to move. Grow up, Johnny Arco!

10:43 - Friday, 24 May 2013
Automat time his fiddle'll be considered a weapon of mass destruction...

21:30 - Friday, 24 May 2013


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