If you’ve been arrested, given a summons, or harassed while performing, you have protection and you can fight back. Here are a few tips:
1. Advocate for yourself. If you are held overnight, make sure that your lawyer is familiar with the Rules of Conduct and knows that performance is legal as soon as you speak with him or her. (Some don’t!) Do not be talked into pleading guilty when you have not broken the rules!
2. Sue. You can sue over both summons and arrests. Just call a civil rights lawyer. You’ll have a free consultation, and when you file a civil rights lawsuit, it involves no financial commitment unless you win a settlement. Remember, this isn’t just about getting money: lawsuits are a powerful tool to work toward police respect and police reform.
Word to the wise: almost any civil rights lawyer will take your case for an arrest, but because a case over a summons will not bring as much money, many lawyers will decline them. But we have a number for someone who will take summons cases.
3. File a complaint and contact the media. If you believe a station agent called the police, make sure you complain to the MTA and let us know too. Consider filing a complaint with the CCRB. And tip off the media to your story!
4. Let us know what happened, and get your story on our incident database. Just send us an email or call! To our knowledge, ours is the first and only effort to log harassment and wrongful summonses and arrests — and it’ll be a valuable tool when talking to the NYPD, the city, and the media.
We hope to hear from you, and we wish you good luck fighting for your right to perform!
I think it’s a good idea to film your encounters. Have one of those inexpensive video cameras that attach to your clothing. When approached by the Police, let them know you are filming the encounter. If they say stop filming, make sure you quote the Supreme Court ruling that Police can be filmed. Many times the Police will back off as a video shows that you were legally performing, while the Police report may say something else;-)
That’s for sure! It can never hurt to have a clear demonstration of the facts.