Edmonton busker Jarret Gray. (Supplied photo/Facebook)
An Edmonton busker claims police used unnecessary force to arrest him while he was performing outside Rogers Place last week.Jarret Gray says an Edmonton police officer slammed him against an electrical box and handcuffed him after he asked why he had to stop playing his violin. Gray said he then received a $285 ticket for aggressive panhandling.Gray says he is a regular busker who commonly plays outside the arena’s doors closest to the casino entrance during Oilers games. He said he has been asked to move before but Thursday’s altercation was the first time he has had an issue with police.“I was packing my violin up to leave and to listen to him but you know I’m still talking while I’m doing it — I think pissed him off,” said Gray. “So while I’m packing up he’s asking me for my name trying to write me a ticket even though I’m doing what he asked me to do.”Gray said he was then detained inside Rogers Place for about an hour and given his ticket.Police spokespreson Patrycja Mokrzan said in an email Friday it is customary for police to ask buskers to leave 104 Avenue before the end of Oilers games.“Mr. Gray was informed of the bylaw and offered the opportunity to comply but he chose not to cooperate with police when asked to vacate the area,” said Mokrzan.
Busker Jarret Gray was given this ticket for aggressive panhandling outside Rogers place last Thursday. Facebook
“Mr. Gray was then asked for ID by an officer for purposes of receiving a summons, a request he must comply with by law. He refused to do so. He was asked several more times, but did not comply. Mr. Gray was then arrested for obstruction of a peace officer.”Gray said he did not have any ID on him at the time of the incident.According to city bylaw an aggressive panhandling ticket can be issued if a busker is obstructing the passage of another person, if they insult or intimidate another person or if they are intoxicated.“The EPS rarely issues aggressive panhandling tickets, but in this case, due to Mr. Gray’s actions, the officer didn’t have any other choice,” said Mokrzan.Gray says he has filed a complaint with EPS and plans to fight the ticket.