Andrew Kalleen is a street musician (busker) who performs regularly in subway stations in New York City. While subway riders enjoy the musical relief he provides from the monotony of state-run transportation, there are some individuals who do not enjoy Kalleen’s performances: New York police employees. Especially Michael Franco.
In fact, Kallen reports that NYPD employees have stopped and harassed him six times before. And just like Eric Garner, Kalleen decided that he wasn’t going to take it anymore. Things came to a head when Franco began to harass and intimidate Kalleen during a recent performance. Kalleen recalls,
“I was going to stand my ground and do the right thing. If you’re respecting those around you, and you are within your rights, you should continue to do as you please, no matter what anyone else says—no matter what ‘authority’ figure they are.”
Franco demanded that Kalleen stop playing and leave the subway. Kalleen calmly presented him with a copy of the state legalese that clearly permits such performances. Franco even read it out loud. But that didn’t matter.
Franco proceeded to assault Kalleen at least three different times. He swatted at Kalleen’s hands while he played, he grabbed his guitar and yanked it off him (hitting Kalleen in the mouth with the instrument), and eventually grabbed him with the assistance of an undercover cop in the audience and thrust Kalleen against the wall.
And the whole time? Kalleen just kept singing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” He says he chose the song because it’s about fear:
“I think fear really holds us back in a lot of ways. It’s the bottom of a lot of problems.There was nothing broken down there, until the police came.”
Members of the New York-based EasyBitz heard about the assault on Kalleen and decided to reach out to him. Because Kalleen takes tips for his performances and EasyBitz specializes in Bitcoin payments for physical merchants, they offered to make him a client. They set Kalleen up with a Bitcoin QR code to put on his guitar case and a client web page to promote his appearances.
“I will pledge to continue putting good things into the world,” Kalleen says.
“Bitcoin seems to be a way that people can take back power, and that’s a phenomenally important thing to be doing right now. Becoming independent of the currencies all over the globe is a huge step, so welcome to the age of independence.”
If you live in New York or plan to visit, you can catch Kalleen performing late nights at the southbound platform of the subway, where the Metropolitan G stop meets the Lorimer L stop.
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