The City of Alexandria is reviewing noise ordinances regarding busking, following the recent arrest of a street performer.
Shortly before 10 p.m. on Friday, September 2, an Alexandria police sergeant observed Krista Clouse performing near the corner of King and N. Lee Streets in Old Town. The sergeant informed Ms. Clouse that while she was free to continue singing, she could not use a speaker system without a permit. After the singer continued to use the speaker system, she was arrested and brought before a magistrate. The magistrate issued a warrant for a misdemeanor noise violation and released Ms. Clouse pending a trial date.
After reviewing the arrest, the Commonwealth’s Attorney advised the City that this type of noise violation should have first been addressed by a civil notice of violation. If a written order to cease or abate was thereafter issued, and a person refused to comply with the written order, a criminal arrest would have been appropriate. As a result, the case will not be prosecuted, and the charge will be dropped.
“I would like to publicly apologize to Ms. Clouse for the way this situation was handled,” said City Manager Mark B. Jinks. “While we are obligated to enforce certain restrictions, we did not follow the correct procedure in this case.”
The City is reviewing this arrest and the general application of noise ordinances to street performers, so that performers, enforcement staff, and the community have a clear understanding of the rules. The City’s goal is to ensure that performers’ rights are protected while also addressing neighborhood concerns and maintaining Alexandria’s active street performance scene.
During the initial review period, police officers and other enforcement staff will seek voluntarily compliance if noise violations are reported or observed. By mid-September, the City will issue clear guidelines to staff and the community regarding enforcement. Staff will follow with a comprehensive review of all City noise ordinances and will recommend any needed changes to City Council.