ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) - Instead of her singing, it was her arrest that was turning heads.
An Old Town Alexandria Opera singer and busker, or professional street performer, told WUSA9 she felt violated after she was arrested Friday night on a noise violation.
“I’m [takes a breath] still feel violated. The officers were arresting me for singing Opera in public when blocks away, there were drug dealers, there were people committing crimes,” Krista Monique Clouse said. “Recently in Alexandria there have been rapes, there have been murders and I was the one arrested for singing Opera in public.”
Online, Clouse is touted as an award-winning soprano. She said she has been performing in Old Town for about six years and claimed she and her husband both depend on the money.
On Friday night around 9:45 p.m., Clouse said she was singing near the corner of King and Lee Streets in Old Town when an officer asked her if she had a permit for the speaker. The officer later said he would have to issue a summons if she didn’t turn it off, according to Clouse.
She refused to do so, and said it was her First Amendment right. She posted a video of the arrest to her YouTube page.
Alexandria Police Spokeswoman, Crystal Nosal, said there were at least four conversations with Clouse to turn off the speaker before officers arrested her for disobeying orders. Police charged her with a noise violation.
Clouse performs to the music she plays out of Bluetooth speaker. After the Friday incident, she apparently went back on Saturday.
“I was actually down at King and Union,” Clouse said. “I went there and sang without my speaker just unaccompanied, people walk by and they look at you like you’re crazy. They have no idea what you’re doing and why.”
On King Street Sunday, one man’s jaw almost it the ground, he was that stunned over the arrest.
Mark Moran said he’s seen Clouse at least three times before, although he never knew her by name. He admitted he didn’t know much about city’s ordinances.
“A weekend night, no! That seems very strange!” Moran said. “My sense is that people like it and it’s hard to understand how she could be disturbing anybody.”
“It’s completely insane and there’s people that are actually doing things out here that need to be arrested for,” said Teneice Bowie as a flute played behind her Sunday afternoon.
She said that’s one of the reasons why people come to Old Town.
Eric Pose believed the arrest may have been too extreme.
“I’d say just turn the speaker off,” he said. “Her voice should’ve been pretty enough.”
Police released Clouse on her own recognizance. The Opera singer said she has a court date set for September 28.
The City of Alexandria’s website states “OEQ does not issue special permits for street performers in the right-of-way or the street. At no time may the streets or sidewalks be blocked without the proper right-of-way permits.”
It does, however, issue noise decibel restrictions at various hours of the day.
Furthermore, it states that a Noise Variance Permit must be obtained “to operate sound amplification equipment in the city.” That permit fee is $20.
More information on the City of Alexandria’s Noise Control Section can be found here.