Thursday, December 18, 2014

Follow us:
Follow @NY1 on Twitter Follow NY1 News on Facebook Follow NY1 News on Google+ Subscribe to this news feed 


The Call Blog: Police Target Subway Performers, Arrests Up Dramatically

  • Text size: + -

Have something to tell us at The Call? Drop us a line at and we'll post it to our blog.

A lot of interesting thoughts on this subject tonight. But at the end of the day, whether people like it or not, subway panhandling and performing is a crime, which is a shame since it such an iconic New York City thing. A lot of these acts are looking for their big break. I think the issue that people take with performers on actual subways is that they feel trapped by the situation. The same people may not mind it if those same performers were on a platform, where they can walk by. Maybe if police focus their crackdowns on trains - and leave the platforms alone - we can all move on to bigger, more important issues.

Take a seat or get arrested. Police are cracking down on subway performers who dance, somersault, and flip in crowded trains. 182 people have been arrested for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct this year. Fewer than 40 arrests were made during the same time period in 2013. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said recently the "behavior is not appropriate on a subway car."

The crackdown is part of the "broken windows" theory of policing that Bratton embraces. In it, police target low-grade criminals to prevent a greater sense of disorder and more serious crimes. Some New Yorkers say the performers are just trying to make a living and police should focus more on a recent rise in shootings. What do you say?

Do you agree with the "broken windows" theory of policing? Should these low-level criminals be targeted by police? Do you notice more subway performers and panhandlers than in years past? What area do you want police to focus their attention on this summer?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

I agree with "broken windows" as a theory and a policy, and this specific instance as well. I've been on trains where these performers have taken over the middle of a subway car --and it is no fun to have someone, of whatever skill level, kicking his feet just inches from your head. Nor should these "performances" be imposed on a captive audience.

Upper West Side

I agree with removing this kind of action from the subways. It is annoying at the least.

Port Richmond

Targeting low grade criminal will be abolished when it is found out the majority of those arrested are black and latino. Just ask the city council speaker.

Park Hill

Although a lot of these performers are talented,they present a risk of injury of themselves and the riders. I am unsure if the police tactics would cut crime in the long run.


The subway performers are just trying to make a living, it's better for them to do that instead of earning money the illegal way some of the performers are good. The NYPD should focus on the recent rise in shootings the weather is warm and the streets will be more crowded they should also focus on drivers that speed talk on their phones and DWI while driving since the Holiday weekend is coming up, i don't want to read about anyone child or adult getting hurt or worse by a stupid driver.

Upper West Side

Laughable and UTTERLY ridiculous!! There are far more important matters NYPD can focus on. Bratton is ONLY cracking down on subway performers because S & F is not what it use to be. S & F still goes on, but it's more documented as it should be. This is just another way Bratton needs to find anyway possible to generate revenue so his monthly quota can be obtained. We already know, when rookies don't, they will suffer the consequences by being reassigned to night shift duties and/or walking the beat.

Financial District

I personally feel that they serve no purpose in these acts that they are performing. It can turn out to be quite dangerous because someone can be harmed. I also think that they
could be a deter-ant for all the wrong reasons and I know that from what these performers have said along with some riders that have had much sympathy for them but this does not have a place in the subway system at all.
I to have sympathy for anyone trying to make a living but not at these venues.
I believe that the lower crimes whatever they may be should be attended to accordingly and not just give them a slap on the wrist.

The commissioner is taking the right approach.
Remember things start off okay and then for some reason or another
it can get out of hand quickly.

Morris Park

Get them off the train, it's elaborate panhandling.


I think it's a ridiculous idea; the theory is idiotic. We should be using our resources to go after actual criminals; I don't think of pan-handling and dancing as "criminal".

Jackson Heights

The subway is for transportation from point A to point B not a kitchen, bathroom, playroom, nail and hair salon , bedroom, Performances need to be on a stage setting not public transportation. The economy is bad so there has been an influx of folks begging and performing. What disturbs me is that the ages of these folks are getting younger. Now, folks are having their kids beg for money.

Police should focus on getting rid of these pests.


I think there is more important crime in NYC then some kids dancing on the train . Let's focus on gun control , didn't we just have a weekend of terror in NYC. This is the the least of our problems.


It's about time the NYPD cracked down on them. They've been plaguing the Q train (because the newer cars have those high hold-rails) for awhile. I've seen them threaten riders who didn't jump to get out of their way and use vulgar language on one who stood up for a resister. I've seen passengers nearly get hit by flying feet. Also, there is the annoyance of that horrid techno/house (not sure what it is) "music" they blast during their "performances". They usually invade a car while the train is going over the Manhattan Bridge, when there is a long interval between DeKalb and Canal [stations] and sometimes between Canal St & Union Sq/14 st.


This is what happens when the police hands are tied. Article 71 and an IG what can you expect.

Sunset Park

Everything costs so much in NYC, soon we'll all be performing on trains to make ends meet.

Richmond Hill

Broken Windows Theory is a racist practice that has led to the criminalization of mostly communities of color. Why not go after those who have stolen billions? Lets stop and frisk Wall Street. Stop criminalizing street vendors, youth of color and struggling people.


I think absolutely not they should not worry about the youth trying to make a little change doing something to keep out of trouble why make trouble for those little youth there's so many more things they can do to help our city and they need to come up with a plan to make our streets safe


I beleive the crack down of these obtrusive monosyllabic public nuisance is 100% justified they are not only not safe but utterly obtrusive bye all means, I agree with Commissioner Bratton, Joseph from Sunnyside, I am against all kind of Panhandlers!

i would prefer that the police focus their attention on those who use the subway as public restroom than those who are dancing. one is a serious public health issue whereas the other is just a potential annoyance.


I don't see street preforming to be related to criminal activity, I see corporate America Glorifying criminals in the Record industry becuase most of the exectuives are Republican and criminals can't Vote. So Corporate America is creating the incentive for Crime.

Fort Lee, N.J.

While the subway performers may not be a high level of crime, it's just outright annoying. The subways are crowded and noisy enough without the "performers" adding to the mix. Passengers who don't enjoy this "entertainment" are generally held hostage to endure the noise and disturbance and potential to get kicked in the head or some other body part. If they want to perform, take it to the streets. At least outside, if pedestrians want to watch, they can stop to do that. Those who don't want to stop and listen can keep it moving!

The Bronx

I agree with the Police Commissioner. If I wanted to see a performance I would go to a Broadway show where I can relax and enjoy the performance. I don't want to see a show on "Public Transportation", and I don't want someone going around "begging" me for money. I don't like to be disturbed on a Public ride, I simply want to relax and be left alone.

Upper West Side

They are not criminals, they shouldn't be arrested. A ticket maybe, but arresting them is a bit much. It's a 2 way street on this. I would rather have these kids earn a living by doing these acrobatic performances than running the streets selling drugs and getting involved in gangs. However there does need to be a balance, they can be dangerous in crowded subway cars. But I don't consider them criminals.


The economy is the biggest criminal in this scenario, the kids performing on the subways are simply out of resources, and seek a chance to show off their talents. On the flip side, a subway car isn't a stage of any kind. Why not designate an arts space for these performers, instead of giving them an arrest record?


On the subway, there is no place to get away. The music that accompanies these performances is headache-inducing and some of these kids get right up in your face and try to shame you into giving them money. They are so rude! On the street I can walk on by, but not in my nearly-impossible-to-find seat on the subway.


Police are not sociologists, psychiatrists, anthropologists, psychiatrists or psychologists. They are society’s hired guns and need to be told what to do.

Follow police officials’ advice, and by definition, you have created a police state. That’s something to be avoided at all costs.

Police officials shouldn’t have pet theories that they want to enforce. Police officials shouldn’t be in charge of crime statistics because that only gives them the opportunity to cook the books.

Police officials should be figuring out where all the money poured into the war on drugs has gone, and how drug prohibition has corrupted their departments.


I very much agree the crackdown on subway performers and panhandlers, it's dangerous and disturbing to other riders. NYC subways are not the place to show off one's dancing skills.

Midtown East

The City allows performers who have been pre-approved. So what is the problem? To avoid lockup they only need to go through the approval process like the other performers have.

Murray Hill

We need more Police. Tougher tactics. Crime is really up everywhere in the last few years no matter what politicians might say. I hope Bratton really makes things super tough. Last crazy shooting spree is unacceptable. Bratton and Deblasio need the crackdown yesterday. Subway performers are ridiculous and should be stopped immediately. Police need to work with the Immigration Naturalization services because we have 22 million undocumented aliens all over the USA, who are these people? How many are in New York? New Yorkers just got hit with real estate tax increases while illegal's are getting public services of all kinds, it's not fair and the crazy drivers on the road and the wild bikes have to be stopped!


Subway passengers have all to do to stay vigilant of pick-pockets, muggers, and terrorists. These so-called performers are creating nothing less than a clear and present danger in our subway system. This activity allows for criminal opportunists to take advantage of a distracted public. In this day and age of terrorism and see something, say something, the city should completely ban these performers from the entire system. Let them perform on the street where there is room. The millions of confined daily riders expect a safe and comfortable ride for their paid fare.

Forest Hills

I think it's about time. I've actually gotten into debates with a few of these performers about the inappropriate-ness of doing it. People are tired and don't care for a ruckus after a hard day.


The reasonable solution to the problem would be to provide these performers with legal spaces in subway stations where they can engage the same audience, but with a crucial distinction. When the performers board a subway car, they force passengers into being a captive audience, many of whom become annoyed at the disruption. If they perform in the station instead, commuters are free to make a choice on whether to reward or ignore them.


"Cracking down" on youth subway dancers is absolutely ridiculous. The only reason why it's a problem is because these are Black & Brown kids. This crack down is an adaptation of Stop & Frisk, with the police assuming that multicultural youth are potential criminals. The real problem comes when these kids aren't able to dance to make money and keep busy. What would these kids be doing if they can't spend a couple hours dancing?

For those who are uncomfortable with being around dancers/performers, you should leave NYC. This is a city for artists. If the police arresting dancers, they should be arresting ALL performers. As well as the young kids who run around inside the train cars who step on my shoes and bump into people.


The vast majority of New Yorkers don't enjoy subway performers, most people just want peace and quiet on their commute not acrobatics or in the case of my 7 train commute, mariachi music. Subway commuting is a pain point in many New Yorker's lives and subway performing diminishes our quality of life even more Not to mention it's all so tacky and touristy, which has its place in our city, it's called Times Square!




Remember Squeegee men? I would rather see Bratton focus on real crime...I got off subway this morning and one of my kids texts me not to worry when I hear news, but there was a shooting on 14 street right where she works, but she is okay! News report on this was that two groups were shooting at each other early this morning in a diner on 14th Street Seems to me he is trying to deflect our attention from the real crimes going on.
I've felt more frightened on subway during off hours when mentally disturbed grown men start threatening individual passengers in somewhat empty cars. That has happened twice to me in past months.
Dancers, singers and musicians don't scare me.


Really, they r bothering and arresting street performers? they r not a nuisance, this is NYC and they are trying to make a living by hustling
for a little chump change to all the

Yes I strongly think that police should focus more on drug activities on the corner, around schools and in NYCHA developments that gets ignored which police know about
but do nothing.


Can they be annoying? Yes of course! Avoiding any car they are heading towards becomes paramount.

The performer's can frighteningly get close many times and unfair to passengers coming home from a hard day at work.

However , just as with the children that sell the" candy",you support them because they aren't hurting anyone as some may callously suggest.

Does that mean we want them handcuffed and marched off the train like criminals?

Is there some way that it can be structured in a way where it wouldn't be so invasive, like designated train lines and cars., time of day?

We Nyer's understand; it beats any of them committing crimes on the subway. Well, that is real NYer's, not the transplants....


I pay my train fare and don't want my personal space intruded upon.

Mama walks with a cane and she's 86, we are afraid on the trains of being hurt.

If these kids are impoverished, they need to go bus or wait tables instead.

I thought Commissioner Bratton would have sprung into action against all crime from day one, he needs to really step up police austerity in all forms.

The accused cannibal cop should be psychiatric-ally analyzed, he's not police material.

Crime and guns must be stopped, it's out of control with the increase of people coming in to NY

Long Island City

I totally agree with the caller Danielle from Astoria regarding the performers on the Subways. They should be banned from the subway cars. I personally have been kicked fortunately on the brim of my hat and not my face during a performance while I was sitting in the subway car. NYPD Commissioner should fine these people. The subway trains are a means of transportation and practically speaking there is no space for performing. Let the young adults apply to perform at the subway stations like the MTA "Musicians Under New York" program.


Would they still arrest the dancers if they didn't ask for money?

I think this is about race.

If there were a ballerina dancing in the subway car everyone would think it was charming and there would be no objection.

Upper East Side

I like street performers...on the street. Flinging yourself around an occupied subway car intrusive and dangerous. I hate the idea of being a captive audience for a performance that I don't like. As a Black woman, I am sick to death of people saying that poverty and a lack of various opportunities makes it OK to infringe upon others. However, I do think we should start with a summons rather than arrest. The objective should be to discourage this behavior, not to create hardened criminals and fill the coffers of private prison companies.


They should not be arrested. It's better than earning money the illegal way.

Inwood Park

It is the tourist city. They should keep doing this in the subway. That's how people will enjoy. They are not doing anything wrong.

Queens Village

I ride the subway to and from work everyday and I'm glad that the NYPD is cracking down on subway performers this is not only a major annoyance to commuters who pay enough to ride subway as it is but also a risk to passengers safety I've seen people almost get kicked hit and I've been almost kicked in my stomach as a pregnant commuter it's not good not everyone finds this entertaining and after a long day last thing you want to hear or see another thing I'd like to address is teenagers being loud horse playing and people blasting music from mp3's also an annoyance. We pay enough for the MTA and service should be better perform outside the subway cars


I like most of the singers and musicians that perform in the subway cars and stations. Most are very talented. I usually keep a dollar aside for them.

The kids breakdancing and doing acrobatics impede into the riders' space and can hurt someone.

Ann Marie
Brooklyn Heights

If people want to breakdance in a subway station, where there is room to maneuver, and where you can walk away from the scene if you don't want any part of it, then that's acceptable. But if people want to breakdance in a crowded train car at rush hour, where their rapid movements on an unstable surface greatly increase the possibility that they might collide with and injure other passengers in a confined environment, then I have to object to that just for the sake of safety, if nothing else--and I say this as a New Yorker who has lived here long enough to remember when the subway was full of much worse things than random dancers. Maybe it's not worth an arrest by police, but there is a time and a place for everything, and I think even the Rock Steady Crew would prefer that people dance safely and not just be plain reckless.

Lower East Side

How pathetic that everyone assumes that this is the only way to keep young people from selling drugs and mugging people. The peformers should be in the parks. And they don't look like "youth" to me.

Midtown East

My motto is Live and Let Live. Entertaining and Harmless... These Men and Boys are professionals at what they do. No one will get hurt...... Lots more to worry about on our subways.

Bay Ridge

Stop these pole dancers on the train, they kick people, if they need money, they should go work in a restaurant, that’s what I did when I was their age.

Forest Hills

People are missing the point. It is not about whether some people like them and some don't. It's about the rule of law. It's illegal and so it's not a matter of personal preference. The ruled are for everybody, even acrobats.


I do not like the people who dance on the train. It is dangerous, especially when it is crowded. And don't they want money? Panhandling is illegal. I don't think they should be allowed to use the trains to show off. Let them use their homes or a dance hall. A person is not riding a train to get a show, we're using it as a means to get around.

Howard Beach

It's not fair for that law to be passed, those kids are just trying to make a quick buck. Would you rather them go in the street to sell drugs?

Kew Gardens

As a city worker watching street performers is often a nice way to pass some time, but exactly that it's to pass some time if you choose. In a subway car you can't leave... And I think as much good as some of these kids are doing to stay out of trouble it will be followed by a large number of criminals who see a group memorized


Some people like the subway dancing and some people hate it. Why not mark one of the cars and allow them to dance in it. Arrest anyone dancing in an unmarked car. People who don't want to be around it can avoid that car and the tourists and locals who want to see it can be sure they will be in the correct car. People will be less annoyed and the performers will make more money because everyone in that car will be the ones most likely to donate. Also you can have a waver on the side saying you can't sue MTA if you get kicked by accident.

Washington Heights

As an artist, and as an artist that moved to New York City to pursue and surround myself with art and creative inspiration, I absolutely love the subway performers. I am inspired by them every time I see them; their boldness and sheer courage to display their talent is exhilarating, inspirational and exciting to watch. I've never seen them kick anyone and to target them as criminals is criminal in itself. I know it is easy for some people to say 'yeah just arrest them- they're a nuisance' however putting these young men -that are already facing incredible odds just staying alive- behind bars and branding them with a criminal record is unfair and pretty ridiculous. Why don't some of you callers who are so quick to condemn them imagine your selves in their shoes for a moment.


I'm 60 years old and when I was a kid, all inner city communities had after school centers. Out of the blue, those doors were shut. These centers offered kids a safe haven from the street. They could learn Arts & Crafts, join Dance teams, sports programs, and even compete in talent shows, but most importantly they were safe. In the summer they could enjoy bus outings too places such as, Bear Mountain and Sterling forest. When I walk through Penn Station someone is always performing, I haven't heard any complaints about that. Locking up kids for dancing is like dimming the lights on a productive future. Once you have an arrest under your belt, especially if you're a minority. Chances of being successful later in life is like playing Lotto, only few hit the jackpot.

Staten Island

These aren't criminals in the same way as drug dealers or armed robbers, & shouldn't be treated as if they are. A warning, followed by a summons, should be sufficient unless there's blatant disregard for public safety.


It's unfortunate that NYPD has decided to arrest these individuals who just so happen to be majority minorities. With these arrest on their records will only hold them back even further later in life as many jobs look at your arrest history, violent crime or not. Would be better to just have them disperse


What I did not hear is anyone offer a solution for the subway performers. Instead of throwing these young men into jail or issuing them a summons, why don't the city partner with one of the dance theaters and open up auditions for these performers. They're trying to earn a living so give them an opportunity.

Bay Ridge

That kind of "subway performance", is neither an expression, nor a talent. It is a type of pan-handling and if pan-handling is unacceptable by those who approach subway riders begging for money, then this too, should be unacceptable. God forbid they injure an elderly person or a disabled person with their antics, then what!? The police should continue to make arrests, because who knows if at some point these young "subway performers" get aggressive if after their "performance", with hats-in-hand and approaching riders in the hopes that riders would give them a tip for their so-called "performance" and if the riders refuse they then display weapons. That would be an act of aggression.

East Williamsburg

I want to let you know that last year I almost got hit by one of those guys doing the poll dance.

I think they should be dancing on the station in grand central station or time square.

Jeanine ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP