The video starts off with an Albany cop telling a skinny musician that he was blocking the sidewalk, which seemed wide enough to include a pair of car lanes.
It ends with the cop grabbing a woman’s camera who questioned exactly how the musician was blocking the uncrowded sidewalk in the capital of New York state.
Now Albany police officer Glenn Szelest is on paid administrative leave as the :42 second video continues to go viral and his superiors investigate the incident.
The video was uploaded to Youtube on Thursday and so far has received almost 20,000 views.
From the way Leif Mulch, the musician, describes it on his Youtube channel, Szelest was apparently bored because there are no laws forbidding people from playing music on sidewalks.
Officer Glenn Szelest rolled up on me during my third song to tell me I had to stop. This in Albany, where the Arts are encouraged and nourished, so say some. Officer Szelest got very mean very quickly with me and a bystander, and for no reason he detained us both and wrote me a ticket for, of all things, “disorderly conduct.” He even tried to grab the camera out of my witness’s hand. As you can see here, NOTHING about my conduct was even remotely disorderly.
(That didn’t keep one woman, who had not seen the goings-on, from calling out to thank the several officers who eventually showed up for back-up, for their “service.” Every junta has its fans.)
PS since the officer would not say what ordinance he was referring to when he told me to stop playing, but instead advised us to “go to city hall” and they would explain it to me there, and that I needed to “get a permit,” we went to city hall as soon as he let me go.
No one at city hall knew anything about any ordinance authorizing an officer to chase away a busker, nor is there any need for a permit of any kind, according to the City Clerk’s office. And yet, somehow, I have a court date for this and am facing jail. Stay tuned.
Szelest, who has been on the force since 1994 and made more than $99,000 in 2013, was investigated by his department in 2006 after he was accused of showing up to work drunk after partying all night with fellow officers.
But he was cleared of that allegation after the police union argued that the breathalyzer used to prove he was drunk had not been calibrated properly.
So we’ll just have to wait a few weeks until they can determine which loophole they can use to clear him of violating a citizen’s right to record him in public.