Slammer jammers! Arrested buskers sue city, use money to fund new album • Brooklyn Paper

Slammer jammers! Arrested buskers sue city, use money to fund new album

Their train has come in: Subway musicians Jadon Woodward and James Gallagher sued the city after police arrested them for busking on a platform — now they can support themselves without busking.
Photo by Jason Speakman

They got their advance from the big 5–0!

A pair of Bushwick buskers who sued the city after police cuffed them for performing on a subway platform say their allegedly wrongful arrests have done wonders for their careers, as they’re now using their big payout from the city to fund a new album.

“We are tying this back to music in a whack way!” said Jadon Woodward who has been performing in a hip-hop duo with guitarist pal James Gallagher for the past five years. “We wouldn’t be able to do this with as much focus if not for the unfortunate incident.”

The city in March paid each of them around $18,000 to settle a suit after a police officer arrested them for performing acoustically at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn G train stop Downtown in late 2013.

The duo claim authorities ran their names three times trying to find prior conviction without any luck before charging them with solicitation and loitering — even though busking on platforms is legal.

The police let Gallagher go after a few hours, but held Woodward, who is black, overnight for 19 hours — a disparity they called “racist” — and a court later cleared them of all charges.

The pair fought their case at the state level for about a year before hooking up with Williamsburg subway singer Andrew Kalleen — who made headlines in October 2014 when cellphone footage of an officer arresting him for performing Metropolitan Avenue G train station went viral — and the collective suit quickly made it to federal court.

The officers in both arrests denied all the charges, but the city agreed to settle, paying the collective trio $54,500, which they split three ways.

Woodward and Gallagher say they’re pouring most of their windfall into their new album, which they’re currently recording at a studio in Bushwick and plan to self-release.

The extra cash has ironically afforded them the financial freedom to give up busking while they focus on the record full-time, but they say they plan to return to their subterranean stage once the album is complete.

Still, the pair aren’t exactly recommending a night in the slammer as a funding model, and they hope their court victory spares other buskers from the same fate.

“We were taken down, but in the end this is a triumph,” said Woodward, “We’re showing our community of performers that if we keep pushing we can find justice with solidarity.”

The Police Department declined to comment.

Reach reporter Madeline Anthony by e-mail at manthony@cnglocal.com or by pnone at (718) 260–8321.

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