The city of Alexandria apologized Wednesday to an opera singer arrested in Old Town last week after busking without a permit.
About 10 p.m. on Sept. 2, an Alexandria police officer saw Krista Clouse performing near the corner of King and North Lee streets in Old Town, according to a statement from the city. The officer told Clouse she couldn’t use a speaker system without a permit, the statement said.
After Clouse continued to use the speaker system, she was arrested and brought before a magistrate, who issued a warrant for a misdemeanor noise violation and released her pending a trial date. The commonwealth’s attorney determined the arrest was inappropriate, according to the statement.
Clouse should have been issued a written order to stop singing, not been arrested, the city said. The charge against her was dropped.
“I would like to publicly apologize to Ms. Clouse for the way this situation was handled,” City Manager Mark B. Jinks said in a statement. “While we are obligated to enforce certain restrictions, we did not follow the correct procedure in this case.”
Clouse, a soprano who grew up in Alexandria, said in a telephone interview that she had been singing in Old Town for nearly six years, and wasn’t sure what spurred her arrest.
“I don’t know why all of a sudden I was actually targeted,” she said. “. . . It’s not a place new to me.”
Alexandria said it is reviewing its busking ordinances.
Video of Clouse’s arrest shows her singing “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the musical “Evita” as she was cuffed and put into a police car as passersby cheered her on.
“Keep singing, honey!” one said.