Wednesday 29 June 2022

NYPD violently arrest a beloved busker with toy cats on the subway

NEWS AND COMMENT-NEW NEW YORK CITY, USA: The cats in this story are incidental to it but it caught my eye. A New York City subway saxophone busker, John Ajilo, has been operating on the subway for 5 years. He's been entertaining the millions of people who use this transit system and his act is called "Dancing Is Happiness". He operates out of the Herald Square subway spot.

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which would stop it working here. I have no control over this.

The interesting twist to his performances that he has toy cats dancing in front of him. It looks a bit odd but like I said it catches the eye. And he does occupy quite a a lot of space but, that said, he's been there a long time and nobody has complained as far as we know.

John Ajilo arrested
 John Ajilo is arrested for allegedly doing nothing wrong. Image: Instagram user ppv_tahoe.

And then suddenly, the NYPD turn up in force and arrest him. Fortunately, a subway user videoed the encounter. And it's pretty brutal and uncomfortable. Initially he talks to the cops and then they suddenly grab hold of him. He shouts "I'm not doing anything wrong". He struggles and then the other cops join in and restrain him.

And it seems that the reason why they arrested this guy for apparently doing nothing wrong is that the New York City Mayor Eric Adams rode the New York City subway system last week for three hours plus and was shocked at what he saw. He saw a lot of unattended crime and decided on a crackdown. 

It seems that the police took it upon themselves to crack down on John Ajilo in a kind of cleanup process. But if he has done nothing wrong in terms of criminality then it is the police who have done something wrong: they have arrested him falsely. They falsely imprisoned him. And technically, the police should be liable for the crime of false imprisonment and assault.

We don't know why John Ajilo uses dancing cats as part of his act. It is probably because he realises that, on the Internet, cats are very popular and have been for ages. He probably saw them somewhere and decided to put them in his act to add a bit of colour and entertainment.

The general public who have seen the video question whether it is a useful use of resources for the police to arrest a busker in this way while serious crime soars in New York City and terrified commuters refuse to take subway trains. A series of high-profile crimes on the subway has left users with the feeling that the subway is unsafe and so they avoid it.

As is the case with the London Underground, there's been a 60% drop in users of the New York City subway since pre-pandemic times with roughly 3.4 million daily commuters using the system. This might be a permanent state of affairs as employees have adopted flexible working practices which means there is no longer the daily commute to work for a large number of people. 

This in turn means that there is going to have to be some fundamental change to the number of employees working on the subway and the number of trains running if it is to breakeven financially. The same problem exists in London.

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