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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » How far will you go to defend your rights? (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Endless West
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A town called Malice
186 Posts

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It's often said that if a public servant comes along and asks you, as a street performer, to move along - you should pack up your things quietly and respectfully and move along. If you argue with police or refuse to leave, they lock you up; when you're locked up you're not making money.

I completely understand that argument from a strictly financial standpoint. You want and need to make money, so taking the highway with less boulders and potholes is going to be a smoother ride to your destination. That's 100% understandable.

Though making money is the goal, I believe most buskers are free spirited people who don't want to be tied and weighed down by others. No bosses.
So at what point does one stop taking **** from the police? If we have chosen a free life outside of working under the control of others, why do we bow so easily to police pressure? Pressure from those who actually work FOR US! Suddenly our own public servants are our bosses.

How far would you have to be pushed before you pushed back?
Any time a performer is told to leave a public sidewalk it is a violation of their rights. Anytime a performer is told he needs a permit to perform on a public sidewalk it is a rights violation. Anytime a private company has taken over an area and you have to audition to perform - it's a violation of your rights.
Yes, I'm speaking as an American about American territories. I do realize other countries don't have the same bill of rights as we do.

I would just like to hear opinions on how much is too much.
What would it take for some of you guys to say "that's enough!" and be carted off to jail in defense of your right to perform.

-Endless West!!
NYCTwister
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I'm usually just respectful and ask what the problem is as the officer see's it.

If he say's that I need a permit then I try to explain the 1st amendment, as amazing as that seems. Usually I can come to some kind of understanding and stay. Sometimes I'll move to a mutually agreeable spot.

So far I've been able to avoid arrest, but if it get's to the point where enforcement becomes too prevalent, or heavy handed then I will bite the bullet, record the situation (at least audio). and face a judge.

If the case get's thrown out then I will surely sue as a matter of principle.

On the whole though I feel that a respectful manner, and common sense, go a lot farther in the long run.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
silvercup
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In the words of Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins, "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That".

IMHO the buskers life is moving on.
Pitch to pitch town to town.
If they don't want me there I don't want to be there.
Violation of "rights"? No doubt, according to the "rules".
But the "rules" you see are broken every day.
Currency is king, woulda said cash but that's getting scarce, and it's hard to get your voice heard over the crashing flood of it coming down against you. Again, "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That".
Last place a worker wants to be is in the Judicial system.
What's slower than a snail with a limp? Court!
Move along or get creative and find another spot.
Endless West
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A town called Malice
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NYCtwister - I agree in being respectful. As I try to be respectful to every person I come across in life. No need to poke a rattlesnake, especially when it comes to one with a gun and a lack of accountability. I'm a believer in recording all incidents with police as well.

Silvercup - that seems to be the general consensus amongst performers. Just move along and find another pitch. And for the most part, it seems the easiest way. I just fear the day when there's no other corner to stand on because of stiff regulations and authority.
Cash is king, that's for sure. As long as we don't stand up for our rights then it'll always be that way too.
Im not saying every time a cop asks you to move along you should resist and go to court to argue your case, but at some point in the future I can see myself having to do this.

I agree with both of you. Stand up for yourself with respect and understanding. But also, just swallow your pride sometimes and move along.

If all else fails, get yourself arrested and sue the city for millions and open a magic theatre with your new tax payer funded earnings.
silvercup
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Hi NeutronBomb,

Not sure how you can have it both ways. I used to be of the mind to stand and fight.
Then I realized that would take energy from me. Not, gee I'm tired of fighting energy, but the feel good energy that I'm there to provide. Negativity sets in and that'sa no good for me or my show.
So moving on with a smile on my face is the way I chose.

As for there never being a place to perform...well there's always a place for a smiling face. Smile
Endless West
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A town called Malice
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You can't always have it both ways, but sometimes it's not worth fighting at that particular time.
I agree, once the negativity sets in you're done!
James_Kelsey
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I have a copy of laws and regulations of the pitch I work on hand. I simply ask to see what law I am violating.
Magic1
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Los Angeles
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Here's a link to a downloadable busker's rights card that could be useful when interacting with law enforcement or private security
http://gravitydefiance.net/wp/yes-buskin......illegal/
Magic1
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Los Angeles
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The author is Richard Hartnell, a contact juggler in Santa Cruz, California
Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse
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This is an interesting topic to me. I make my living driving truck so I'm not dependent on making an income on the pitch . I plan on busking for fun when I can but as of now simply am not able to.

The last time I was in Springfield MO it was Cinco de Mayo and my wife and I made a quick strole downtown to check things out before we had to drive home. There was only one person there. He was a juggler and had some cool three ball patterns. I introduced myself and we went back and forth doing different patterns showing them to each other. He got giddy seeing someone else who could juggle like I do with other magicians. It was a great time.

Then I asked why he didn't have a hat out. He said the police give him trouble even when he's just playing with his headphones on not asking for tips. I told him his legal rights but he didn't seem to reassured. I plan on going up next time I'm home and challenging this stance on performing. I plan on being very nice and courteous but I'm not gonna back down. I'll bring all the case law and backing I can find.

I can't stand this kind of behavior. I think it is a character flaw. I was constantly memorizing the student handbook in school and others would bring their problems to me. I almost got them to put definitions in the student handbook. Nothing like using Blacks Law Dictionary
Stperformer
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You know, having done this for....let's say a while.....I would have to say the #1 problem I've had to deal with out on the pitches is NOT the Law Enforcement Agencies. A problem at times, for sure, yes but..

The biggest problem I've had is other people I'm sharing the pitch with. Not other Magicians but rather South Am Flute bands, Breakdancers, Idiot Performers with huge Amps, and in particular....Street Vendors.

I think the police are becoming a much larger problem nowadays with pressure from self interest groups such as retail owners wanting pitches shut down. And the police are more than happy to abide.

So for those of you planning on going out there & trying Street Performing....I think you'll find the Police about your 3rd most worrisome area.

Trust me, you'll have a lot of other things to deal with that carrying a silly card around ain't gonna solve. Smile
Chatterbox41
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Atlanta, Georgia
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Excellent thread.... as someone getting ready to begin his belated busking career, it's always interesting although a bit intimidating to hear about some of the pitfalls ahead of me.

I recently attended one of Kozmo's lectures where someone asked him about dealing with police. His reply was it's never been a problem for him because he only busks where he's welcome... not sure how that will play out here as I hear Atlanta isn't known for being a good busking town...

Gary
Yellowcustard
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Inner circle
New Zealand
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I have not really busked in the America. But my experience comes form the UK, Europe and New Zealand. Pretty much all is cool. If the police intervene I am happy to chat and move on. How ever something I have become more alert on is private security of buildings and commercial property. There have been a few times I have been asked to move on. Once apon time I did. But in past years I have questioned a lot more.

In Auckland you can get a free busking licence. It gives you the rules and regs. It mentions where you can busk and areas you can like around the points of Auckland. It also give a few clear pitches and what sort of shows you can do. I was set up at one of these locations and a security guy came out and said I cant do this here and I must move immediately. I said that cool but why? He replied you cant do that here you are breaking the law. Ok so I don't do the same mistake what law? I said. He then ruled I was on private land. I said no iam not this is council land over under there rules I can busk here I am not to block flow to your building.... At this point he interrupted and said OK. OK and walked of.

All in all it is about knowing your rights and presenting well. But like Streetperformer says there are bigger issues out ther
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
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