By NICOLE NEMETH
Liv Gains and her father held a “busk-in” protest on March 18 in response to her recent run-in with local authorities.
The inspiration behind this musical protest happened on March 11 when the 19-year-old was placed in handcuffs and charged $65 for singing and playing her guitar on city streets. It happened out front of the Giant Tiger store in the Galt core of Cambridge. Because of the widely publicized street performance, Cambridge politicians are now working on a new street performance bylaw.
As of right now, there are no laws against busking in Cambridge, with the exception of the Cambridge Farmers’ Market which requires performers to obtain a permit. Gains was not ticketed for busking, but was cited for solicitation of a captive audience in a prohibited area where there is a taxi stand or public transit stop. However, there is no bus stop in front of Giant Tiger, and no official taxi stand.
Gains, who feels she was hassled by the officer, and her father held the event in protest of the ticket and to garner support. During the busk-in multiple musicians entertained a large crowd which cheered them on, and spilled off of the sidewalk and onto the street. Police officers were nearby but did not intervene.
With the recent warmer temperatures, downtown has been bustling with people of all kinds, including buskers. Their music adds a nice touch to our downtown atmosphere, which has always been full of art and festivals. I find it appalling that buskers in Cambridge have to deal with being hassled by police officers, especially because there are no laws in place that give them that right.
I hope that any new laws the city creates around busking in Cambridge are beneficial to everyone involved. A bylaw will help make it clear to buskers and police officers what is allowed and what isn’t, without that grey area that seems to have confused people in the past.