Buskers hope for law revisions in Atlanta

July 2013

Live events sector


Atlanta’s strict laws to prevent begging are under review after the politician who crafted the law said it’s clear that law must be changed after.two street musicians were arrested for busking in Atlanta. They landed in jail for panhandling.  Eryk McDaniel was arrested on May 31 while playing his trombone outside of Turner Field  – police took McDaniel’s  trombone and cuffed him. McDaniel said his attorney told him he’s allowed to play on the city’s streets because there’s an exception in the law for musicians, but he’s not allowed to ask for money. McDaniel denies asking for donations, but  the police view is that an open case  was sufficient to justify the arrest.

Violinist Johnny Arco, whose real name is Juan Pablo Chavez, was arrested May 9th and charged whilst he was playing in a MARTA station. An official from MARTA said Arco was arrested for breaking state law, which states a person cannot sell anything or panhandle at a transit station. Arco spent an extraordinary five days in jail.

Atlanta City Council’s public safety committee chairman, Michael Julian Bond, is now crafting an amendment to the current law to specifically allow street musicians to play, as long as they’re not aggressive. He crafted the original revisions and said the law was never intended to go after musicians saying “The revision of the law was specifically going after people who made folks feel like they were a target or a victim, like they had to give them money, like they were being harassed. Leaving a case open or a cup or a hat or whatever it is, that never was the target of what we were attempting to do” and Bond said he has the support of other council members sayimg “We’re going to address this problem and fix it” adding “I think everybody enjoys the music most of the time and we don’t want to hurt the fiddlers on the corner.”


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