Locals stop municipal police from intervening with living statue in Turkey’s Kırklareli
KIRKLARELİ – Doğan News Agency
Locals in the northwestern province of Kırklareli have not allowed municipal police to stop a living statue from performing his art. Passersby have supported the street artist’s performance with loud applause, forcing the municipal office to leave the place of the incident without taking any action.
The incident arose on the evening of May 7, when the living statue performer Batuhan Öztürk appeared on the city’s İstasyon Avenue. Passersby showed great interest in Öztürk’s performance, taking pictures of him.
However, after a while, a municipal police officer arrived and told Öztürk there had been complaints against him over “begging.” He said Öztürk had to receive written permission from the Kırklareli municipality to perform his art on the street, also likening him to a “peddler.”
Öztürk, however, reacted against the officer’s comparison. “They sell two kilograms of plums and are paid in return. But, I do not ask anyone for money. I wander around cities. If I had organized something here, if I had disturbed people with high volumes of music, then I would need to receive permission from the municipality. I am not limiting anyone’s rights or freedom,” he said.
“This is not a situation against the municipality’s laws. I have been performing street art actively for the last 10 years in many cities,” Öztürk added.
Locals who stopped to watch the living statue also reacted against the officer’s intervention, pointing out examples of others who were playing guitars and saz on the same avenue.
“Our mayor is not against art, it is wrong of you to intervene with an artist. As citizens, we also protest this,” one of the locals said.
“Alright to those begging, but look at this kid, what great art he performs. Or, are you trying to get him to pay taxes? Explain that to us. Has he opened a shop for him to require permission?” said another passerby.
The municipal officer told the locals they were “making him the scapegoat.”
“I am a civil servant. Someone had complained, so I came here to check the situation. You are making me the scapegoat. Someone had complained on the phone and had said there was a ‘beggar.’ That’s why we came,” he said.
Upon increasing protests from passersby, the police officer left the avenue without carrying out any legal action, while Öztürk continued to perform his art where he left off.