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Topic: Possible busking law changes in NYC
Message: Posted by: Bobert (Jul 24, 2012 10:28PM)
Greetings everyone,

Just a heads up to anyone that wanted to hit NYC Times Square area in the possible future. I was out busking tonite with a fellow magician in Times Square. We've been doing this twice a week for a while now and we have only been bothered once before and that was for a crowd blocking a sidewalk which happend when we first started performing there. Tonight I was told by NYPD our crowd was 'too big and that they don't like that' and also that we needed a permit to entertain, and with one we'd still would not be allowed to be there. We were warned that we were would be viewed as a disturbance and could be possibly criminally charged.

What research we have done so far shows that there is not a permit for Street perfroming in NYC.
-there is one for an organized event in central park with 20 or more people in attendance.

This is most likely a scenario of miseducated officers who admitted they were told from above to keep performers out of the TSQ area.

Anyway I will try and keep you posted on anything that changes incase anyone is wondering.

Union Square, Washington Square and Central Park don't seem to be affected by this.
Message: Posted by: pslaughter (Jul 24, 2012 10:37PM)
One thing you might consider if confronted with this situation in the future is to ask the officers exactly what ordinance or statute the officers are claiming you are violating. If you ask politely without a chip on your shoulder, the officer will give you something to go look up. It should be easy to look up the code on line and see what is really going on. Then you can make a plan.
Message: Posted by: Bobert (Jul 24, 2012 10:43PM)
We did just that...they couldn't point us to one. They police were polite and so where we. They fully admited they had no idea where such a permit could be even obtained. We are doing research and making phone calls tomorrow to figure out exactly what is going on.
Message: Posted by: pslaughter (Jul 24, 2012 11:09PM)
Buskers in Vegas ran into something similar there for a while. The ACLU put out a pretty good card for buskers that contained some good general advice. If you can't find it, PM me and I'll send it too you. The thing is the police can't just write you a ticket for doing something because they want too. Any ticket has to be based on the violation of some law. A lot of officers try to get around their lack of a statute to cite by writing a ticket for some other general violation like disturbing the peace, solicitation, pan handling, etc. The other problem is there is an old saying, "you may beat the wrap, but you won't beat the ride." Meaning the police can arrest you and send you to jail that night even if you can get out and beat the charge later. Beating the charge can cost you plenty. So you want to tread carefully but still stand up for your rights to be there.

You might try something to the effect of, "Well Mr. officer, I really want to comply with the law, but I do need to earn a living as well. Why don't I just keep on doing what I'm doing until we can find out exactly what the law is? I really don't want either one of us to get in trouble." All the while looking over the ACLU card and handing it to the officer so they can see it. If done politely but confidently you'll be surprised.

It's really funny to me what the officers do when they are confronted with just a little bit of knowledge. I'm in my last year of law school. Prior to law school I busked for a while. I have to admit I was pretty afraid of cops back then. I started busking again because working while going to school is pretty darn impossible (you aren't allowed to work more than 20 hours a week). Now that I know what cops can and can't do and I have no problem telling them that I know, they really leave me pretty much alone. I've discovered that for the most part officers rely more upon the inherent authority of their position rather than any actual knowledge of the law. That and they just do what their superiors tell them.

Good luck! and stand your ground...
Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Jul 25, 2012 01:20AM)
Times Square has been the target of terrorist attacks, you are fighting an uphill battle ... hear what they said ... they don't like large crowds.

If you think how much time, effort, and money it will cost you to work this spot the way you want ... and then consider how much time, effort, and money it would take to find an equal spot (or even a better spot), common sense will tell you to move on to greener pastures.

And again, listen to what they said ... they don't like large crowds, if you don't want to find another spot then you can always do smaller shows.

Just my 2 cents ... and I know I'm not the first person that has pointed out that if you want to work large crowds, then you are going to have to chase a pitch.

-JoeJoe
Message: Posted by: Guardian452 (Jul 25, 2012 01:21AM)
Hey, My name is Jeff and I'm a college student at NYU as well as a busker.

I perform in Washington Square and Union Square- whenever I've been stopped they seem to attempt to apply vending 'expressive matter' which I actually looked up and printed those laws out. They have nothing to do with us as buskers and I show them what the law talks about- which isn't us. That seems to have appeased them for a bit and it depends on the temperment of those who you are talking to.

I would stick to Union or Washington Square
Message: Posted by: Zombie Magic (Jul 25, 2012 02:35AM)
[quote]
On 2012-07-24 23:28, Bobert wrote:
Greetings everyone,

Just a heads up to anyone that wanted to hit NYC Times Square area in the possible future. I was out busking tonite with a fellow magician in Times Square. We've been doing this twice a week for a while now and we have only been bothered once before and that was for a crowd blocking a sidewalk which happend when we first started performing there. Tonight I was told by NYPD our crowd was 'too big and that they don't like that' and also that we needed a permit to entertain, and with one we'd still would not be allowed to be there. We were warned that we were would be viewed as a disturbance and could be possibly criminally charged.

What research we have done so far shows that there is not a permit for Street perfroming in NYC.
-there is one for an organized event in central park with 20 or more people in attendance.

This is most likely a scenario of miseducated officers who admitted they were told from above to keep performers out of the TSQ area.

Anyway I will try and keep you posted on anything that changes incase anyone is wondering.

Union Square, Washington Square and Central Park don't seem to be affected by this.
[/quote]

in 1969 Mayor Lindsay changed the laws and it is legal to perform ANYWHERE in NYC, even Times Square. You only need a permit if you use amplification.

BUT....The police are in charge in TImes Square and they are not miseducated, they are told from the top to randomly arrest promoters ( comedy clubs ), "performers" such as the various Hello Kitty's, Elmo's, Statue Of Liberty's, etc.

You will get arrested. You'll to jail and the judge will toss it out because you are NOT breaking the law. The police know this, but...will arrest you anyway. Times Square is filled with Police cameras watching every part because it's a target. It has HEAVY under cover agents throughout. Lotsa tourists and lots of police making sure it all flows smoothly.

Beware the "White Shirt" cops. They are the toughest and run the show.

Keep us posted. We're pulling for you!!!!
Message: Posted by: brianherb1 (Jul 25, 2012 06:59PM)
Hey guys. I'm the other magician that was out there with Bobert and I just wanted to clarify that they specifically said we couldn't perform between 42nd 47th street. Also, today I talked to a juggler who was told the same thing this week and was made to move from times square. It seems like they're cracking down on all street performers, other than the "characters" that operate in the area.

We were contemplating whether it's worth taking this to the top and fighting for the area, or if it's better to just find another nighttime/evening pitch to work instead.
Message: Posted by: brianherb1 (Jul 25, 2012 07:02PM)
Another thing is they asked us if we were working for any shows or companies in the area when they asked us to leave, and I don't think they would have had us pack up if we had had some sort of big company backing us up.
Message: Posted by: brianherb1 (Jul 25, 2012 07:04PM)
Last thing for now, was Bobert and I weren't sure what exactly constitutes "distubring the peace" or "causing a disturbance" so we were curious what sort of things can be covered legally by this. I know this is a magician's forum not a lawyers forum but if anyone could give us some insight into that it would help also.
Message: Posted by: Zombie Magic (Jul 25, 2012 11:47PM)
[quote]
On 2012-07-25 20:04, brianherb1 wrote:
Last thing for now, was Bobert and I weren't sure what exactly constitutes "distubring the peace" or "causing a disturbance" so we were curious what sort of things can be covered legally by this. I know this is a magician's forum not a lawyers forum but if anyone could give us some insight into that it would help also.
[/quote]

I'm not a lawyer, but here's the guidelines the NYC Police follow as to what constitutes "disturbing the peace" or "causing a disturbance": whatever they say it is. They have GREAT latitude to do their jobs.

In NYC they can 'stop and frisk" anyone they want. They confiscated 18,000 legal weapons last year doing it. Based on that, the courts are siding in their favor.

The 'hot zone" is between 42nd and 47th, following Broadway and 7th avenue. Anywhere else, you're fine. They seem to have little interest elsewhere as far as performers go.
Message: Posted by: solrak29 (Jul 26, 2012 11:21AM)
Jeeeeeeesh, I can't take you guys anywhere...Bobert, you can not perform
naked over there...how many times do I have to tell you that....A naked
guy in a straight jacket...is asking for it :)

Besides, you are just [b]not[/b] as cute as the girls canvases out there...

Just kidding...

[quote]
I know this is a magician's forum not a lawyers forum but if anyone could give
us some insight into that it would help also.
[/quote]

To know your rights is a good thing but they can still detain you. So play nice
and move on as the break dancers do...

In the end guys, it's the streets...no one invited you...

But what do I know...

Phat hats...
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Jul 26, 2012 11:43PM)
When you move to another area, and you are gaining fame, some of the people will seek you out anyway.
Maybe you can find pitches just off to the side of a main busy place, enough to catch passing people's eyes and attention.
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Jul 27, 2012 12:27AM)
Pretty much if the police tell me to move, I move.
But, that's also never happened to me. Yet.

Rent-a-cops and I, however... have had more than one tangle. Last time, I stood my ground, backed 4 of them down and worked my pitch.

Helps to know the owner of the store you're busking in front of... chase ME off my pitch?

Homey don't play that.
Message: Posted by: solrak29 (Aug 9, 2012 06:38PM)
[quote]
On 2012-07-25 02:21, Guardian452 wrote:
I perform in Washington Square and Union Square-
[/quote]

Hey, let us know when you will be out on the pitch. PM me.
Message: Posted by: solrak29 (Aug 16, 2012 03:31PM)
[quote]
On 2012-07-25 03:35, Zombie Magic wrote:
BUT....The police are in charge in TImes Square and they are not miseducated, they are told from the top to randomly arrest promoters ( comedy clubs ), "performers" such as the various Hello Kitty's, Elmo's, Statue Of Liberty's, etc.

You will get arrested. You'll to jail and the judge will toss it out because you are NOT breaking the law. The police know this, but...will arrest you anyway. Times Square is filled with Police cameras watching every part because it's a target. It has HEAVY under cover agents throughout. Lotsa tourists and lots of police making sure it all flows smoothly.
[/quote]

I have to agree with the above as it is not consistent as to when, where, and if they
will shut you down. There is always that risk of getting arrested, but I simply move
somewhere else. They shut me down two Friday's ago; since then, it's been ok, but now
I have "back up" pitch for the night time excursion. During the day, I'd go somewhere
else...

I found this on the web that clarly says that no permit is required:

[url]http://www.nyc.gov/apps/311/allServices.htm?requestType=listService&filterServ=License+-+Permit+-+Certificate&serviceName=Musician+or+Performer+Permit&intentId=87D0A2FC-8138-11DE-8E9F-96DAE110FEB8[/url]
Message: Posted by: Nick Broad (Oct 9, 2012 07:22AM)
TS is now operated by the Times Square Alliance. You can apply for a permit from them to be able to use the pitches out there with amplification I'm not sure where from. It is one of the many Business Improvement Districts across the USA which have bought the right to control public property using their own rules. Unfortunately for them, banning street performance is illegal. So, they have tried various different methods to keep buskers out, including implementing a permit system. However, there is still a grey area here: The Naked Cowboy, as far as I'm told, does not purchase permits for his show.

There is absolutely no law stipulating that busking is illegal ANYWHERE in the USA, nor that permits are mandatory. I should say: not anywhere big. Attempts to implement this have fallen short in the courts, as they directly contravene the rights stipulated in the Constitution. Wherever there are cities which have such laws, buskers need only contact Stephen Baird at Buskers Advocates, and he'll walk you through the process of getting this changed.

As a test, I once called my local police precinct to say I was an out-of-town busker, and wanted to perform on the NYC streets, but didn't want to break any laws. What should I do? The officer told me I had to get a permit. I then called the mayor's office, who told me there was no such permit (unless I wanted to use amplification).

However, there is apparently an unofficial quota that police officers have to fill each week on the number of tickets or warnings they need to give out to undesirable street elements. You can read about it in "Underground Harmonies" by Susie Tanenbaum.