Street performer Leif Solem was recently harassed by Albany Police Officer Glenn Szelest while busking, another term for performing on the street.
Solem was confronted by Officer Szelest in front of 7 North Pearl St. while playing his guitar. A woman bystander witnessed and recorded a 43-second video of the confrontation, which Solem posted on Youtube.
Officer Szelest claims the shirt Solem placed on the ground for tips in front of a vacant building looked like he was panhandling and ticketed him for disorderly conduct for blocking the sidewalk.
After the bystander questioned the officer, Szelest calls for backup by saying he was dealing with unruly panhandlers. The officer even tried to grab the phone from the woman’s hands.
Solem stated in an phone interview with News 10 that this was the first time he was ever stopped by police. He said the officer quickly became condescending. Solem told News 10 that the officer asked him rhetorically, “You were picked on in school weren’t you,” and became really demeaning and belittling.
A police spokesperson stated that the department was made aware of the video on Monday and is currently conducting an investigation.
Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox stated: “To my knowledge, there is no ordinance against busking.” Cox also stated that Officer Szelest has been reassigned to administrative duty while an internal investigation takes place.
Szelest is a 21-year veteran of the Albany Police Department.