On an otherwise normal day in late January, Brendan Kavanagh, a well-known performer who frequently enlivens London’s St Pancras station with histunes on the piano, found himself in a tense situation while broadcasting a livestream on YouTube.
A group of Chinese tourists, distinct in their bright red scarves, interrupted his performance, insisting that he cease filming them, escalating the situation to involve the local police.
The altercation was initiated by a woman claiming to work for a Chinese TV station. She queried whether the camera could capture her image and subsequently asserted filming was prohibited. Kavanagh insisted on his rights to film in public spaces, saying, “We are in Great Britain, we are not in China.”
Tensions rose out of hand when Kavanah was accused of an attempt to physically touch one of the female tourists during his apparent gesture towards a Chinese flag she was holding.
In defense, the pianist explained he only made contact with the flag. Further explaining, Kavangah drew attention to the small red flags embellished with five yellow stars.
The performer adamantly reaffirmed his rights to film in public places in the UK, where no expectation of privacy applies.
The conflict caught a bystander’s attention, who suggested that the displeased tourists should leave the premises. The situation drew the attention of two police officers.
One of the tourists prompted a male officer, complaining about Kavanagh filming them and his refusal to delete the footage. The officer reiterated Kavanagh’s right to film in a public space, while a female officer urged Kavanagh to put down his phone.
However, Kavanagh held his ground, asserting that he was within his rights in a free country. While one of the officers questioned him about the alleged attempt to touch a tourist, he mentioned, “That’s why I have a camera.”
The incident concluded with the tourists and officers dispersing, leaving the performer to resume his lively music session after declaring, “Free speech prevails.”
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