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  1. #1
    Forum Contributor 2008 saxxsymbol's Avatar
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    Default Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    The Tampa Tribune ran an article today about saxophonist Andre Pierre who was arrested in Ybor City near Tampa Florida for playing his sax on the sidewalk.
    The report states he was warned about collecting donations without a permit. When he failed to heed he was arrested. He was charged with one count of vending without a permit.
    First amendment attorney Luke Lirot posted his bail and agreed to represent Pierre.The police are holding his King Soprano Saxophone for evidence.

    The article was written by editor Howard Altman who can be reached at 813-259=7629 or haltman(at)tampatrib.com

    This sounds like harassment to me. What do you guys think?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    I'd think that if he was warned, then he had an opportunity to fix the problem. Unless the permit was unduly hard to get, or incredibly expensive, he should have gotten one. This issue would then be moot. As it is, there was an ordinance. He knew about it. He knew what would happen. He ignored it. What they said would happen, happened. Don't know how much of a case he's got.
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  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2008 saxxsymbol's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    He was warned not to take donations, he was arrested for improper vending.The attorney believes it is a First Amendment issue. He doesn't think the player can be prevented from playing on a public sidewalk. I think the harassment comes into play when they seize his horn for evidence.
    I am proud to be a Saxgourmet Endorsing Artist !

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  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    Yeah well... things like that happen when you ignore the law or believe you're above it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    I think you're probably right about seizing his horn. Seems mean spirited to me. Of course, one could argue that as long as it is not in violation of a noise ordinance, he should be able to play on a public street. On the other hand if 17 people were doing it, every other block, with some of them probably doing it very badly (making noise on a saxophone, in order to avoid prohibitions against panhandling), it might not be a good situation. I'm sure that the issue is one of accepting money. It still seems, IMHO, that the whole issue could and should have been avoided by simply heeding the warning and getting the permit. I wonder if Dr. Phil could bail out the saxophone :-)
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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    Quote Originally Posted by saxxsymbol View Post
    The police are holding his King Soprano Saxophone for evidence.
    I think the harassment comes into play when they seize his horn...
    Oh, I don't know. Maybe he was playing Song Bird.
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    I hate to say it, but he was warned. And there's a list of legal precedents a mile long that give cities the right to limit street vendors and, sadly, street musicians too.

    But I believe that impounding the man's horn is definitely a cruel act. This is especially true if he needs that sax to make a living. Where I live, they don't take your log truck if they catch you over-loaded (over 80,000 lb. load) on a State Highway. They give you a ticket costing about the same as a load of logs and they let you go.
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  8. #8
    Forum Contributor 2008 saxxsymbol's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested Intampa Florida

    I think that is the problem. he was not ticketed he was arrested and his horn seized as evidence. He is a very poor man who is or was recently homeless.
    His horn was his way of making money. He has no money to defend himself and these folks are at the mercy of a system that has none.
    I not defending him ignoring a warning from a law enforcement officer, i just don't think they should seize his horn as evidence. They need to hold it to prove he really did play the horn??
    I am proud to be a Saxgourmet Endorsing Artist !

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    Saxgourmet Super 400 alto, Jody Jazz DV 7
    Steve Goodson Model SP Bari, Jody Jazz Classic 7
    Fibracell reeds

    myspace.com/groovusband
    youtube.com/saxmanchuck

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    Thumbs down Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    From afar I also believe there are more intelligent ways to apply local ordinances. I also think a busker is not a street vendor. So maybe it boils down to what or how well he was playing? (or near whom)
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    The way I see it there is some wiggle room in this one, if the reports are correct. He was warned for taking "donations." He was arrested for "vending." Vendiing is engaging in selling. Donations are given without getting something in return, they are a "gift" no vending/selling involved. A lot depends upon how the local ordinances are worded and the lawyer's ability.

    (as for the seizure, it's common here. There are some Prosecutors driving around in Corvettes etc seized in "criminal" activities. Before trial too.)

  11. #11

    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Would this be considered vending or rights to free speech? I thought vending would be considered someone actually selling a product. (Watches, DVD's, T-shirts etc.) Generally someone selling their paintings, books, or photographs are not required to obtain a license because they are protected by First Amendment guaranteeing free speach. I don't know...but music from a saxophone speaks to me! On the other hand, he would still be required to follow rules of street vendors. From my understanding they have certain streets they can not vend on and times of day to vend. Not really sure if he was violating this or not.

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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Reading this thread made me curious as to whether Tampa has specific laws about busking, as opposed to street vending per se. I googled about and wasn't able to find anything definitive (which makes me think they don't have such laws), but I did find a bit of testimony from a busker that gives some insight about both sides of this issue:

    Tampa, though, was a different animal. Not a cool vibe there really, at least, for busking. There's a little historic strip down there called Ybor City, which, as the Rasta vendor told me, was at one time a good place for street music, but no longer. Ybor City is basically a party block on the weekend, the street gets shut down, and it basically turns into a giant contained modern bacchanalian, complete with its very own police branch. Apparently, one doesn't need to be possessed of a high degree of discernment to become an Ybor City police officer, and they hounded me, shut me down several times, referred to me as a panhandler, sometimes threatened to arrest me, and were basically like automaton goons ruining what would otherwise have been a fat place to busk! I think it was on my fourth or fifth Ybor City "Dodge the Cops" busking adventure, that I finally gave up the city and largely declared Tampa a Vortex of Evil. For the first few outings, and after my first shutdown, I adopted the strategy of setting up not on the main drag (and be instantly spotted by the Trolls), but to set up a street or two back, which although not as awash in traffic was still quite busy, and quieter. For some reason, the Trolls weren't programmed to accost buskers as quickly on the nearest two parallel streets, and I could work a random amount of time before the next Troll encounter. When I did pick up a Troll, I would simply scout out another spot. During this time, I picked up a crackhead sidekick from the charming surounding area, who was rather magnetically drawn to the fish in my guitar case - someone had dropped me a $10 for my best Garfunkel imitation. I think the crackhead was Bill. Bill explained to me how, if we were to go into business together, how quickly I could multiply that $10 bill, by which time had spontaneously leapt into my pocket with such speed and dexterity as to make any of the minstrels of old proud, I hope. I decided to ditch Bill and set up elsewhere, as he was starting to scare off the rich people, and that evening ended when I hastily had to pick up my guitar case and flee - not from the Trolls, but from a slowly approaching flood of urine which one of the drunken throng had depositied on the other side of the bench upon which I sat.
    But alas, the showdown. Eventually I got frustrated from having to dodge around in the back streets evading crackheads and urinating college students. I decided to make my stand, on the main drag. I had a folding stool, acoustic guitar, and a backpack full of goodies - a mini amp and crybaby. An empty storefront was calling out to me, a recessed alcove right on the street, it was perfect. I started to play, and that guitar case rapidly transformed into a treasure box, like $30 in just an hour or two, it was rockin'. I took a quick break to drink some water out of my backpack and get out the mini and crybaby, and I'm telling you, Ybor City would have never been the same....but even as I uncoiled the cord, a pack of five Trolls were upon me, all in nice new uniforms and not a brain among them. The Lead Troll told me I'd be arrested if found panhandling out here again, and it was one of those bogus moments when you feel like you've been kicked in the stomach, wandering back to my truck and the drunken students and the indifference, I'm certain Ybor City is one of the Layers of the Abyss and recommend y'all steer clear of that hellhole.

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 Canadiain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Seems like a fair cop to me...he was playing to get money, didnt have the permit he needed for that and didnt get one when warned.

    Since when was busking a first ammendment issue? What about my right not (lets say for the sake of argument) to have to listen to a bad homage to Kenny G while going about my daily business.

    Taking his instrument...without knowing the history its hard to say, but it seems excessive unless he's a repeat offender, or unless it policy to do that to everyone.

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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    :resolutely trying to prevent thread highjack: I was going to post something about how wrong it was to take the guy's horn, but then I read what Reedsplinter turned up. I think legal arguments in this case are irrelevant. Its clear that the local gendarmerie is going to do whatever they damn well please in their efforts to rid the area of the evil buskers. I don't know what their problem is, but it's evident they don't much care about legal niceties. I'd stay the hell away from there.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 harmonizerNJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Getting back to the original topic here, here's my two cents:

    1. I don't think this is a free speech issue. I might have a more restrictive view than some on this point, but if free speech is such an important activity to protect (and I think it is), then you cannot let a whole bunch of other activities (such as playing a sax on a public street) be admitted into that category of activity.

    2. I agree that confiscating the guy's horn was excessive and needless.

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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    ReedSplinter:

    Thanks for that article. That really helps put things into perspective.

    But I have a question. If you are gong to busk, do you not call the local city folks first to find out what the regulations are? Where I'm from, a lot of places would love to have a few street musicians on the weekend. But I'm sure they would prefer them to be located in certain places and play at specific times. This kind of cooperation usually buys a lot of goodwill with local authorities, no matter what the local laws really say.

    And most policemen walking a beat aren't stupid as indicated in the article. They are usually very young, inexperienced, underpaid and they don't know much about the law themselves. In the article above, why didn't the guy find out if he needed a permit to play there? Even if no permit is required, he might have gotten a letter or email from the proper office stating this. That way he would have had something to show the police.

    When I did environmental work, I used to have to break into abandon buildings and once I drilled holes through the sidewalk across from City Hall in Little Rock. I even drove around with seized meth-amphetamine laboratory equipment in the back of my pickup truck. It may not be fair, but the responsibility was always on me to show the police that I had the right to be there and had the right to be doing what I was doing.
    Good Luck,

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  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Member michaelbaird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Guess, I'll have to mark busking in Tampa off of my "things in life to do list."

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Quote Originally Posted by Enviroguy View Post
    ReedSplinter:

    Thanks for that article. That really helps put things into perspective.

    But I have a question. If you are gong to busk, do you not call the local city folks first to find out what the regulations are? Where I'm from, a lot of places would love to have a few street musicians on the weekend. But I'm sure they would prefer them to be located in certain places and play at specific times. This kind of cooperation usually buys a lot of goodwill with local authorities, no matter what the local laws really say.

    And most policemen walking a beat aren't stupid as indicated in the article. They are usually very young, inexperienced, underpaid and they don't know much about the law themselves. In the article above, why didn't the guy find out if he needed a permit to play there? Even if no permit is required, he might have gotten a letter or email from the proper office stating this. That way he would have had something to show the police.

    When I did environmental work, I used to have to break into abandon buildings and once I drilled holes through the sidewalk across from City Hall in Little Rock. I even drove around with seized meth-amphetamine laboratory equipment in the back of my pickup truck. It may not be fair, but the responsibility was always on me to show the police that I had the right to be there and had the right to be doing what I was doing.

    I've never done street music, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt, but: I think what you say here is reasonable and "right," but I suspect that some buskers are not sufficiently organized to get that done (or maybe even think that thought), and others are allergic to dealing with the "authorities." And since most municipalities have no specific regulations dealing with what they do, they occupy a gray area. On the other hand, in places like San Francisco and New York, as I understand it, busking is well regulated, and the folks who busk in those places, and others with a strong community of buskers and a supportive but clear municipality, know what to do and what not to do. Municipalities where busking is going on need to create clear regulations about it, IMO. Then when the authorities confront a musician on the street, he or she either will nor will not be operating within a clear set of guidelines, and the consequences too will be clear.

  19. #19
    Distinguished SOTW Member DanPerezSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    I just saw a news article the other day about Ybor City, where a police horse stepped on a guy's foot, and the guy got arrested for pushing it off. "Assault on a police animal..." And in the comments section all the locals started throwing around the N word and saying he and his kind should all be in jail anyway. Sounds like a great place, and fairly similar to my recollections of FL... This is why I stay in the Northeast and the West Coast. The rest of the country from PA to TX is just scary to me.

  20. #20
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saxophone Player Arrested In Tampa Florida

    Taking his horn as evidence is just plain stupid.

    Exhibit A: a saxophone. Does exhibiting a saxophone in court prove he was playing it in the street? No, it just proves he owns (owned) a saxophone. Not an offence (yet).

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