ATLANTA - A local musician who said he is getting harassed by police for playing in public is now filing a lawsuit with the support of the ACLU.
Channel 2's Lauren Pozen talked to Eryk Radical, who has been playing trombone around the Atlanta area for the last six years. He said performing is the main way he makes money for his family. Radical told Pozen he turned to music as a career because he is legally blind.
"I wasn't able to just go to McDonald's or even Walmart to get a job or any of those teenage jobs you get," Radical said.
He said he can only see a very little distance.
"I am like the iPhone 3 compared to the iPhone 11 compared to visual quality," he said.
Radical said every time he's had an interaction with police, they have been hostile, and have even damaged his trombone.
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He is now suing the Atlanta Police Department, MARTA Police and the Fulton County Sheriff's Department alleging unlawful arrest, excessive force and inadequate training.
"They don't just walk up and say, 'Excuse me sir,'" Radical said. "There have been times when I am playing and next thing I feel an arm on my wrist and I feel another arm."
Radical was first arrested in 2013 outside Turner Field. The Atlanta City Council then made changes to the city's panhandling ordinance to allow street musicians to perform in public.
But Radical said police aren't honoring those changes, and he keeps getting arrested or harassed.
"They stand there next to me with their arms folded and prevent people from tipping me," Radical said.
Radical is a father now, and he said this is putting a lot of stress on his family, when he feels he isn't doing anything wrong.
He wants the city to talk action, and hopes his lawsuit sends a strong message to do just that.
"Send out an email that says to leave street musicians alone, and here's why they are not violating the five things you claim they are violating," Radical said.
Pozen reached out to all three departments named in the lawsuit but they said they can't comment on pending litigation.
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