May 15, 2013

Musician jailed after performance in MARTA station

Associated Press

ATLANTA — A violinist who says he’s performed in cities across the country with no problems says he spent five days behind bars after he was roughed up and arrested in one of Atlanta’s commuter train stations.

Violinist Juan Pablo Chavez, known by his fans as Johnny Arco, was charged with misdemeanor panhandling and vending without a permit for selling CDs.

The arrest took place at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s Five Points station downtown.

Chavez said he tried to explain to an officer that he was from out of town, and that he didn’t realize he was breaking any laws. Chavez said he’s traveled across the nation, and other cities have welcomed musicians like him.

“Cop picked me up, grabbed me, slammed me against the wall, messed up my right shoulder,” he told WXIA-TV ( ).

A MARTA spokesperson says the officer was responding to a passenger complaint about music, and that the agency has a long-standing policy of not allowing street musicians unless they’ve gotten clearance ahead of time.

MARTA last month announced a new program of free live music at various stations on Mondays.

“MARTA Jazz Mondays is one in a series of ongoing initiatives the Authority has under way to cost-effectively enhance the transit experience for our customers as well as celebrate the community we serve,” the transit agency said in a statement announcing the program.


Information from: WXIA-TV,