Monday, December 22, 2014

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The Call Blog: Protesters Denounce Policing Tactics; Organizers Discuss Eric Garner Rally

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A few callers tonight were in support of the subway performers, saying that they are part of the City's culture and that they are simply trying to make a living. As long as they are not aggressively panhandling commuters on the trains, they should not be fined or arrested.

Your thoughts and comments are posted below.

New Yorkers won't be marching over the Verrazano Bridge after all. Instead, a caravan of buses will cross the span August 23 and head to Tompkinsville to protest the death of Eric Garner. From there, protesters will march to the Staten Island District Attorney's office to push for legal action. A meeting is being held on Staten Island tonight to discuss the new plans.

Meantime, a small group of subway performers rallied outside City Hall today to protest "heavy-handed policing" tactics by the NYPD. More than 240 performers have been arrested so far this year, about four times as many as the same period last year. The group argued Police Commissioner Bill Bratton should relax his efforts to crack down on low-level crimes and focus on more serious offenses.

Do you agree with the decision not to march over the Verrazano Bridge? Is the current protest plan acceptable to you? Should the NYPD continue to focus on arresting people who commit low-level crimes? Do rallies like these accomplish anything?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

I'm a fan & supporter of thee Rev.Al Sharpton, but i am so perturbed & taken back with his cowardly decision to back down & change his Aug.23rd. Verrazano Bridge March, to the Get On The Bus Rally instead. For the treatment & killing of Mr.Eric Garner, was totally wrong, inhumane & an outright crime, I feel so horrible, angry, helpless & utterly sad for what his family & friends must be going through.

An innocent man is dead for absolutely NO reason, other than for an intimidated crew of paramedic's & a cocky, unprofessional police officer & racist wanna be MMA fighter "Daniel Pantaleo", and for the Reverend to listen to all those pathetic cries & stop the march; I feel was a HUGE stab in the back to the whole Humane & Civil Rights Movement that so many died for since the day the movement all began...

This is yet another blow which makes this such a sad, uncaring & confusing world that we live in, we can have an entire Bridge closed for a Bike Race or NYC Marathon, an everyone is fine with that, but when we keep the Bridge open and wanna minus a lane ore two, for the immoral unjust killing of Eric Garner; a human being for crying out loud & for such an important cause as Racial Injustice, then everyone goes crazy, thinking up every stupid far fetched excuse in the book to shut the march down~~~~~~~~this is WRONG--something is TRULY NOT RIGHT with this way of thinking, and i still cant believe that Reverend Shapton caved in that easily & coward down like that, without even putting up a fight first, im sooo ashamed at him, he's a great Activist & fighter, but this fight he just threw in the towel, just like that, thats not like him at ALL~~ i just wonder which politician or donator->[$$$] got to him 1st., played Lets_make_a-deal & swayed his ultimate decision.


I don't agree with the decision not to march over the bridge but if that's the decision that the honorable Rev Al Sharpton made i will go along with it taking buses over the bridge is ok too, the goal is to get justice for Mr Garner the cops and EMT workers left him on the sidewalk to die.The cops should stop arresting the performers on the subways they aren't causing any trouble, the cops should go after the people that murder people. Every minority person needs to get on the bus to stop racism in the NYPD and everywhere else racism exists, everyone should have a Iphone and when yall see a minority person getting arrested record it.

Upper West Side

How these two stories relate eludes me, unless The Call is playing the race card, since they both involve minorities.

The subways, and especially subway cars, are not a place for performers and never have been. And if summonses don't get that message across, I'm sure a little stay at Riker's Island will. As to trying to "force" action by a district attorney, that's another joke -- by definition, prosecutorial discretion is virtually absolute, and this is all a show to help Al Sharpton's fundraising.

Obviously, some people involved here want two different sets of laws, one for minorities and one for whites . . . . funny, I though we'd fought the Civil War over that, but if they want to re-open the whole discussion, I'm game -- I know people now who would be prepared to revive the Confederate States of America at the drop of a hat (anyone's hat), if they want that kind of discussion on the table.

Upper West Side

I think marching over the bridge would have been a more effective method of protest, but the logistics and safety concerns would've posed a challenge, and it would've alienated support , as well as hurt the purpose of the march which is justice for the Garner family.

Bay Ridge

A change of plans is a good thing by not marching over the Verazzano's Bridge but after that to march to the Staten Island DA's office is not necessary because it will not speed anything up having to do with the case it will have take it's course the same as all other cases. If the subway performers are not permitted to use the subway stations to perform then they have to move when asked to do so. If anyone considers that this is a part of the performing arts that is a matter of opinion. It's seems as though many people are writing their own laws to abide by. That can't be. That's not the way it's done.
If the commissioner has proven that by arresting for low level crimes deters people from committing higher crimes then so be it. But to tell the commissioner to relax about his efforts to continue the arrests is out of line.
To me it seems as though everyone wants to diminish any and all authority of qualified upper chain of command in not only law enforcement but in all other categories.
I sincerely believe that all of these marches do not solve anything at all because of the grand standing and self satisfaction of selfish people getting their opps one way or another. They show up and rowel up the people and then they disappear til the next time.

Where is this mayor anyway?


I think the Verrazano march should have been allowed as long as other events, such as the marathon, are allowed. The same rule should apply to all. Re subway performers, the singers are okay. The acrobats are not.

Port Richmond

The Rev. Al Sharpton was looking to hold a march walking across Verrazano Bridge to protest the death of suspect Eric Garner who died while resisting arrest. But because of logistic problems he has change the venue whereas protesters will now park their cars and busses in Tompkinsville where Garner died, and march from that address to the office of Staten Island DA Dan Donovan. Now this was a tragic outcome with the encounter with the police. And for that we all grieve for the death of another human being.. And yet our men and women in the NYPD risk their lives everyday protecting those that need protection from the gangs and criminals who seek to do the average person harm. Not to mention there have been innocent children that have been murdered and shot with illegal hand guns. Let us also not forget their valiant efforts in protecting us from terrorists. Well if Al Sharpton wants a march so be it. But in that case I call for a counter march but not only in Staten Island but in every borough, town and village in New York in support of our Finest who for the large part go beyond the call of duty protecting and serving in the communities in which we all live. It's time for all law abiding citizens to stand up and say to our Finest," Thank you for all that you do, you men and women of the NYPD blue and for that you are truly true Blue."

Glen Oaks Village

Low level crimes like small amounts of marijuana, heroin, hitting tourists that do give you nooks a tip . Get a life and get lost. Go to DA's office on Saturday, they are closed. Ha Ha

Park Hill

New York City is overcrowded; hence the subway trains and platforms are overcrowded. Dangerously so. These performers on the trains (especially the acrobats) and the buskers on the platforms are a threat to passengers' safety. The acrobats are totally a menace and the buskers encourage people to stand in a cluster on our already overcrowded and narrow platforms, blocking people who want to walk by. They should be arrested.

East Village

Matthew Christian is another example of the inmates running the asylum. "We are trying to run up the bill of law enforcement". Seriously, us tax payers and metrocard payers are going to need to riot to get things right again.


I dont condone the dancers making money..but they should find a better outlet for their artistic creativity. If the commuters on the train feel umcomfortable with them dancing, they should respect that.

I dont think the march will accomplish anything that will significantly change how the city polices the city.a prime example is occupy wallstreet...did that change anything? Executives atr still getting million dollar severance pays

Far Rockaway

Quite a few of these subway performers can be a nuisance, especially in a crowded subway car. They turn up their music very loud, and then do their routine, and they expect YOU to get out of their way. How can you get out of their way if the subway car is crowded in the first place?

I favor the march over the bridge being cancelled. Indeed, NO bridge should ever be taken over by ANYBODY. Bridges are main travel routes, and if an emergency occurs, then emergency vehicles would not be able to get through. Gov Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio should have TOLD Sharpton IMMEDIATELY that there will be no marches over any bridges, instead of either passing the buck, or making it a personal request NOT to hold the march.


I don't think it's asking too much to want to feel safe going from point A to point B when I take the subway. I don't want to feel like I need to stay alert so as to avoid a shoe in the face. There's plenty of room for entertainers on the platforms and stations. If I want to stop and watch I can choose to do so. In a subway car I feel like I've been taken hostage.


I ride the E in the afternoon. We have dancers on the train, they are polite and always make sure passengers and their stuff are not in way. There are usually people traveling to JFK with luggage and the dancers are always careful. The travelers seem to enjoy the entertainment and do give them a tip. I don't have a problem with them or other entertainment on train. The costumed characters I have found to be intimidating and scary.


I am not annoyed by anyone trying to pay bills, buy food or maintain general welfare by busking in public. Young men of color are not hired for ANY jobs (part-time, full-time, contractual, etc) in this city and forget Summer Youth Employment. I know for a fact that certain business will not hire black or latino men and express this solely to their hiring managers. The lack of proper employment is less about the economy and more
about systemic displacement of people of color and other disenfranchised people.
Use tax dollars wisely and stop worrying about how unemployed persons pay theirs.


The dancers on the subway are jut expressing their feeling and work to keep their heads above water. This should not even be a discussion because police should be focusing
their energy on actual crimes! This is something that make NY special! Keep it going with the dancing!


If they're doing it for free. Good. The second they start passing the hat or bag around...they're panhandling. Which may come as a shock to some of you since you have you're head phones blasting so loud that you don't hear the MTA announcement on the trains telling you that PANHANDLING IS ILLEGAL. While they're at it...go after these kids bringing their full grown dogs on the trains on a leash instead of a carrier. Comfort animal???

Upper East Side

I'm a Supervisor for the subways. We have had to replace poles which are being broken from the ceilings. Also, every time a pole is broken a train has to come out of service which delays people from getting to work.


As someone who has busked on the Subway since the 1980's I can say with authority that what Matthew Christian told you is absolutely wrong; AMPLIFIED MUSIC is illegal on every part of the subway; the cars, the platforms, the mezzanine (as he called it), even on the stairs outside the turnstyle. The Music Under New York certificate allows you a certain time to play in a specified area. Acoustic performances can occur with the following conditions: • setting up at least 25 feet from a token booth • setting up at least 50 feet from the marked entrance to an NYCT office or tower • not blocking access to an escalator, stairwell, or elevator • not interfering with transit services or passenger movement in general • not performing in an area where construction is underway • not performing during a public service announcement • not performing above 85 dBa measured at 5 feet, or above 70 dBa measured at 2 feet, from a token booth • not performing in subway cars. These have been THE RULES ever since I attended Archbishop Molloy High School from 1979- 1983.

Kew Gardens

Let them keep dancing in the trains.

Far Rockaway

It always seems to amaze me that these subway performers act as if we are supposed to be impressed with their dance moves when it is pretty obvious that nobody is a fan of their performances, i am especially one of them. I have seen these performers many times on the E train and if you want to dance, please do so in your home or somewhere outdoors. It is disrespectful and does indeed cause a safety hazard to others and also themselves.


So lets also ticket jay walkers and people who litter as my tax dollars pay for sanitation as well. I bet if we started ticketing people in manhattan who crossed against the light people would be upset. The same tax dollars pay for additional police officers used to direct traffic that is caused by this. It is absurd that we can always champion issues that only address a certain class of people


These performances are part of the city. They are not criminal, I rather see a performance on my way home then get mugged on my way home.


i'm subjected to showtime practically once a day. it seems they are always on the q train going over the bridge. it's incredibly noisy and disruptive and infringes on my rights to ride the subway in peace. it drives me nuts.


I ride the subway everyday! I don't think people should be dancing on the subway but don't think they should be arrested either. Instead, they should be given a small fine or given community service where they have to cleanup the trains. A year in jail seems a like a bit too much.


I agree with the police arresting and or ticketing the performers it's the police job to do so and it is annoying.


Good evening! I'm from midtown and I see it everywhere, everyday... What is up with everyone disobeying the law and thinking it's okay? If you don't like it, change the law.
People are being misguided by the saying "it's better to say sorry, than ask for permission"
If the police try and give these young kids tickets, they get arrested when they have no IDs to verify their identity or when they think they're above the law and resist arrest. They should be given tickets as their taxes and community service to clean the ceilings and poles on the trains. Stop attacking the police for doing their jobs.


I am a retired Brooklyn police officer who worked in Brooklyn. Do not think these dancers are angels, most of them have been arrested for robbery, grand larceny in the past. They are recidivists program, so don't cry when they get arrested.


I can't hear the announcements. It could be an emergency.


Where is the outrage and clamor about two people being able to climb the Brooklyn bridge, cover the lights, and erect a bleached out flag right under the NYPD's nose. It could have just as easily been a bomb. Yet we have such vitriol for something that is clearly a safety issue, that requires some social reasoning. It seems the bridge issue was really no big thing; wonder why?


It makes sense for the protesters to start in Tompkinsville and march to the DA's office. The bridge would be too long for many protesters and would leave them in the middle of nowhere in Staten Island. And as you have suggested, people can also take the ferry to join the protesters. I'm more bothered by Bed Bugs in the subway than performers.

Midtown East

I did not mean to target the police, I just feel it is a waste of time for them to be targeting dancers on the subway. Freedom of speech is in our rights so we need to let the dancers do as they please. I still have much respect for our police, but think this is not an issue we need to focus energy on. Thanks! Everyone is still free to their own opinion. We live in America !


Question. Where do the parents think these kids are? Do they even know? Do they think this is something good for their kids future? Why are they not in a dance school or performing arts school. Did they or will they graduate HS?5 It's getting many of the majority of commuters upset. People are walking out of subway cars when they see them coming in. It's a very simple topic. There is a current law addressing this. It's illegal. They should not be doing this. Arrest them if the LAW warrants this.

If the police should not enforce the existing laws ( following the policy with the subway issues ) I want the police to stop giving me parking tickets, I want the police to stop issuing speeding tickets, I want the police to stop giving tickets when the turn style is jumped, etc........Send them to school. 1. By their communication skills they need it. 2. They could probably qualify for tuition existence. Why do they not? Laziness and the thinking that this will make them a celebrity .... They are not dancing as some have stated ... That they can't get a job. Their are plenty of jobs for people who try!!!! It also has to do with a lack of two or one caring parent in the household. My parent would never have allowed me to ride a subway at the ages of these performers are!


I guess the public would prefer these performers take to the streets and commit crime. They're only trying to make an honest living when there are no other means for them to get employed. Damn if they do damn if they don't.


I think the panhandlers should be fined and held accountable because if an illegal performer or performers injures a passenger(s) on a moving train, it's their responsibility and the MTA and NYPD should enforce harsher penalties against the performers who put strap hangers safety at risk as well as their own.


Arresting dancers in subway cars is a necessary police duty. This has nothing to do with excessive stop and frisk, or police abuse of citizens. In the subway, it’s not like in the street where you can move away. It’s an enclosed space where people have to be for basic transport in the city. So police should arrest dancers, panhandlers to protect public rights, and also safety. When your a captive audience, these people take advantage. Even loud music is very annoying, when you’re stuck in that location. This is a legitimate duty of police.


i think that street dancers are part of the nyc reference to the comment that was made earlier "attacking police" please! these are children who are showcasing the talents they have and earning money for it..if white children were doin it would they be arrested...i also reflect on how the city once frowned upon graffiti on the trains but now big corps wrap the trains in there adds and everything is fine.


What kind of world are we coming to. Have we become so worried about people who feel like they want to express themselves in public should not be able to is wrong. So soon, you may not have the right to kiss your wife because people don't like it. With all the killings going on in the streets of this great city we are worried about a quiet ride home from work. What matters to me is that we learned to respect everyone's Individuals right to freedom of speech. They are not violating any laws. This city makes millions on fines everyday now just another way to fine people.


I do agree the MTA needs to have laws for the trains.


I don't mind the platform performances just not inside the trains.


These kids are great! You don't have to give them money and I've never been bothered by them. Leave them alone. There shouldn't be one minute of police time put toward this. It's an honest way to earn a buck in the tradition of all the other street performers in NYC. Philipe Petite used to pass around a hat after performing on the street. I say Bravo!


Ebony and Peter took the words out of my mouth. Can anyone say first world problems! This is a non-issue people. It literally takes 30 seconds and its over!


Those performers and other actions artistic or not is what gives Nyc a unique character and makes the city interesting and one should be atrested unless they cause a distruction and these people are better off doing that with the possibility it might give us a smile on our way home than selling us drugs!!!!!


I don't mind the dancers as much as I do the singers or people just begging for money . The dancers are usually quite talented and I enjoy the performances. If you have an issue don't give them a buck.

Upper West Side

I think it a waste of time for police to take action because these kids are still gonna dance and do what they love but also i think things can be handle In a different way instead of a arrest there more worst things going on in the city I think police officer should be more worried about bigger crime Instead of low level crime.


They aren't bothering anybody!! Let these kids perform. If they bother you, then put headphones on. No one is forced to give a dollar. They don't ever kick anyone, or even perform if a subway train is too crowded. Good for them for using their talent to earn a dollar on the subway rather than out on the streets drug dealing or whatnot.

Murray Hill

Bottom line -- It's annoying to riders --the dancers move riders out of the central "stage" of the train which can be unsafe. But I don't think the cops should arrest the kids but they should be just thrown off the train.

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