Harassment lawsuit SETTLED; nothing learned for Officer Valdez

Heth and Jed Weinstein, long-time NYC buskers and authors of a busking memoire, have brought music to the MTA both as Music Under New York members and as freelancers. They were also targeted in one of the most visible busking harassment incidents of the last couple years, when, according to their notice of claim, Officer Valdez of the NYPD verbally abused them, physically threatened them, and also harassed them online during his off-hours.

Fortunately, they had video documentation of their claims, and they went to a lawyer in time. Last week, Heth appeared in-person at Busker Ball V to announce that their case against Officer Valdez had been settled:

Today, the story was covered in an article in Staten Island Live. Heth and Jed got in a word out personally:

“We hope that this case will put the city and the NYPD on notice that playing music in public spaces is not a crime, nor should a single police officer’s taste in music affect the constitutional right [to] rock out in public.”

The city is certainly on notice, since they footed the bill to the tune of $15,000 plus lawyers’ fees. But is the NYPD paying attention? Officer Valdez was not disciplined, despite video documentation of Heth and Jed’s claims. What’s more, BuskNY has received an email indicating that Officer Valdez, as recently as last year, harassed a performer and issued a ticket that was later dismissed as baseless.

Perhaps it’s time for the city and police department to take subway performers’ claims seriously. For now, we’ll keep our ears to the ground.

6 thoughts on “Harassment lawsuit SETTLED; nothing learned for Officer Valdez

  1. Cheers to the boyz for kicking ass and taking cash!

    FYI: when suits like this are won and damages paid, the money does not come out of an NYPD budget (so they never learn). The money comes out of general city funds, ughh, your tax dollars at work.

    David Everitt-Carlson


  2. Hi my friends!

    The next ball is coming up 4/24 @ Spike hill

    Lets do another presentation and hopefully Mathew will be back.

    Shiloh could present again but id like to improve the setting. I’d really appreciate a face to face session about it. Let me know what works for you.

    Of course BuskNY will have a banner or t-shirt on stage and I want to highlight the fact that you’ll be available to educate anyone on their rights. Susie Tannenebaum author of “underground harmonies” might join in this time and I want to create the appropriate seeing for her. Lets talk soon Matt!!!

    Love your website and thanks for promoting buskerball.

    Really hoping for a face to face meeting ASAP.

    Call me, Theo 718-536-7787

  3. That’s fantastic news, Theo. Glad to hear that the Busker Ball is picking up steam and that it’s onboard with buskers’ rights! Also very glad to hear that Susie Tanenbaum might participate — that would be wonderful. I’ll drop you an email!

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