Bruce Leitch says merchants are being short sighted in not allowing busking at Langley Mall.

Bruce Leitch says merchants are being short sighted in not allowing busking at Langley Mall.

Busking ban background explained

Buskers had been allowed at Langley Mall without problems until one merchant became agitated about a medical marijuana dispensary petition.

Editor: This is a response to the nameless person who took issue with my original letter (The Times, Aug. 6).

It is difficult to respond to nameless criticism of my professionalism. I am unhidden, exposed and an easy target. Even though I am not afforded the courtesy of facing my accuser, I will attempt to explain the events that have led us to this controversy.  Mall merchants are already aware of these events, however, the public isn’t. Let’s bring everyone up to speed.

Buskers were allowed, and encouraged, to entertain at Langley Mall until one fateful day when a petition for a medical marijuana dispensary in Langley City was being set up at the mall. An unknown lady came by and began interrogating the petitioners about whether, or not, they had permission to set up there.

I was just finishing up for the day and left my gear to help mediate the dispute.  After calmly explaining to the lady that the petitioners had been there, on and off, all summer without issue, she turned on me and in a condescending tone said “You don’t have permission either.”

The next day, while busking as per usual, I was approached by two security guards and they asked me to leave. Why? They said they had received a complaint from a female merchant that there was an “aggressive panhandler” on the premises.

“I am a busker, not aggressive, or a panhandler” was my response. They said they were given a description of a person that matched my appearance. The female merchant lied to authorities in order to have me removed. Shortly thereafter, a link between buskers, panhandlers, drug dealers and thieves was fabricated and the new mall “policy” was concocted from the fabrication.

Webster’s Dictionary defines slander as follows:

“slan·der  – Noun – The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.”

Whether a person agrees or disagrees with the concept of busking, they do not have the right to discriminate, defame or otherwise slander those who do agree. If a person is slandered and can prove it; what would you have them do? What would you do? What would anyone do?

I am a peaceful man and not interested in damaging anyone, yet buskers have been painted as villains when the opposite is closer to reality.

I do unto others as I would have them do unto me.  I am by no means infallible and far from perfect, but I am a good person. When I see wrong, I stand up for what is right. I cross the street to speak with people that most folks would cross the street to avoid because I make a conscious effort not to judge and keep an open mind.

All we (buskers) wish to do is entertain so we can eat like regular people, pay the bills and maybe even have a beer at the local pub. We are pleasant, harmless, positive people with passion and soul.

We lift spirits, we create ambience, we spark memories, we make people dance, smile and sometimes even laugh out loud.  It is a certainty.

A majority of people would disagree with the insinuation that I, or any other authentic busker, would be the equivalent of a panhandler, drug dealer or thief. Maybe this is why my critic remains anonymous.

The reason I use the word “we” is because the ban not only affects me, but several others. The ban, created under false pretences, has resulted in hardship for those who rely on that income to make ends meet.

Do I sound unprofessional?

Bruce Leitch,

Langley

(name not withheld by request)