MARTA: Violin performance violated the law

12:48 AM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- MARTA officials defended one of their officer's decision to arrest a traveling musician who attempted to play an impromptu violin concert inside the Five Points station in downtown Atlanta.

Violinist Juan Pablo Chavez -- known as Johnny Arco to his fans -- says he's unlikely to mistake the MARTA transit system for the New York subway after being jailed in Atlanta for five days.

But MARTA officials insist he was not only violating their policy but breaking state law.

"We love music. We love musicians," MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris said. "But the one thing we can't tolerate is people who are going on the system and breaking the law."

The traveling musician says he visited Atlanta recently in an effort to enlarge his fan base outside New York city. Chavez says he was playing for passengers at the Five Points station when he approached by a MARTA police officer.

Chavez says the officer informed him that he wasn't allowed to perform inside the station but before he could pack up and leave he found himself under arrest.

Chavez says he spent the next five days inside the Atlanta City Jail before being released Monday. He was charged with misdemeanor panhandling, vending without a permit for selling CDs and not leaving the MARTA station when order to do so.

A MARTA spokesperson says the arresting officer was responding to passenger complaint about the music. The spokesperson says state law prohibits street musicians from panhandling or selling products unless they've been given permission first.

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