Violinist Johnny Arco arrested while playing music at MARTA - CBS46 News

Violinist arrested while playing music at MARTA

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A violinist who has performed in cities across the country said he spent five days behind bars after he was arrested in a MARTA train station.

Violinist Johnny Arco, whose real name is Juan Pablo Chavez, was arrested May 9 and charged with misdemeanor panhandling and vending without a permit for selling CDs.

He was playing his violin at the Five Points station.

"What punishment for what crime?  I didn't do anything wrong," Arco told CBS Atlanta News.

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.

A spokeswoman said the transit agency received a complaint from a passenger about Arco's violin playing. Others, however, said they were not offended by the music.

"I don't see what harm musicians are doing," said David Powell, who rides MARTA and is a part-time musician. "I have yet to see one aggressively ask for money." 

Others said allowing musicians to play brings a big city feel to the streets of Atlanta.

"I think it brings a lot of joy and happiness to the community to have people out here playing," said Hafeza Hinton. "That's entertaining. Why wouldn't it be? It's culture."

"I can play anywhere I want in New York as long as I'm not on someone's property and they don't want me there," said Arco. "Our subway system, they allow it. They welcome it."

He spent five days in the Atlanta city jail but said he leaves the city with no hard feelings.

"I'm going to remember having a great time," said Arco. "This place is awesome. I learned a lot."

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