Atlanta crafts amendment to law to allow musicians to play - CBS46 News

Atlanta crafts amendment to law to allow musicians to play

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In the last few weeks, two street musicians were arrested for playing their music in Atlanta. They landed in jail for panhandling, but the man who crafted the law said it's clear that law must be changed.

Eryk McDaniel was arrested on May 31 while playing his trombone outside of Turner Field.

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 said he never said a word, but police said because he had his case out, that was enough for the arrest.

Violinist Johnny Arco, whose real name is Juan Pablo Chavez, was arrested May 9 and charged while 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 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.

"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," said Bond.

Bond said he has the support of other council members.

"I think any law would be flexible in this situation and I'm hoping that we will be more reasonable," said Council member C.T. Martin.

Bond said he should have amended legislation to present at the Public Safety Committee meeting on June 11.  He expects the full council to pass the law in July.

"We're going to address this problem and fix it," said Bond. "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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