At approximately 7:53 p.m. on September 7, an altercation between a well-known New Haven street musician and an unidentified male pedestrian occurred on Chapel Street, ending in the destruction of the musician’s guitar and the arrest of the pedestrian, according to one eyewitness.
The New Haven Police Department, which did not respond to request for comment, took the pedestrian into custody, though it was not immediately clear whether an investigation was underway. The incident occurred while the musician was busking outside the storefront of idiom Boutique. The pedestrian approached the musician — known by many locals as a regular performer around New Haven’s streets — from the direction of the New Haven Green, according to an eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous because he had been threatened by the aggressor for calling the police. Maintaining eye contact with the musician, the pedestrian first verbally attacked the musician, shouting “God doesn’t love you” among other things, according to other eyewitnesses present.
The confrontation then escalated, as the pedestrian smashed the musician’s guitar on the sidewalk, and the two men began to exchange blows.
“I heard, first, what sounded like gunshots to me,” said the anonymous eyewitness, a recent Yale graduate now working in the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “I looked down the street to see that it was one guy smashing another guy’s guitar.”
Seconds after the incident had begun, a Yale Police officer arrived on the scene by bicycle, and the pedestrian fled down College Street, trailed closely behind by the YPD officer and three NHPD police cruisers. After a short chase, the suspect was soon arrested by the NHPD, according to the same eyewitness, who followed the chase to see what happened.
After the suspect fled, the musician, whose instrument had been destroyed beyond repair, appeared visibly distraught.
“I sort of helped talk down the musician, who was freaking out,” the observer said. “He was talking about how the guitar was his livelihood.”
Soon after, police officers spoke with the victim. A photo of the smashed guitar and a description of the incident was posted to the popular Facebook page Overheard at Yale, and while some students proposed creating a fund to replace the instrument, by Monday evening nothing had been established.
Despite this isolated incident so close to campus, students interviewed stressed that New Haven’s crime rates and homelessness problems have improved dramatically over the last several years.
“I think it is very easy to go through your time at Yale and kind of live in what we actively called the Yale bubble,” said Sadé Elizabeth ’19, a member of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. “Talking to people who were here a while ago, there was a problem with New Haven not being the nicest city at all times. Honestly, I think that is very different now.”
Studies have shown that homeless rates in New Haven have decreased in the past year. According to a “Point-in-Time” study conducted by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, there were 3,911 homeless people on the night of Jan. 26, 2016, which marked a 3.4 percent decrease from 2015 and a 13 percent decrease from 2007. In addition to the downward trend in homelessness, a federal study has shown a steady decline in New Haven’s crime rates over the last five years.
Mat Ferraro | firstname.lastname@example.org