Rittenhouse Square singer is acquitted

Posted: July 03, 2007

Rittenhouse Square singer is acquitted

Anthony Riley, jailed for refusing to heed a police officer's demand that he stop singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" in Rittenhouse Square, walked out of court a free man Tuesday.

Municipal Court Judge Karen Simmons found the 20-year-old not guilty of disorderly conduct, saying: "This is America, not Afghanistan."

Riley faced a three-month sentence for the March 27 incident, which has caused the city to review what sorts of music can be performed throughout Fairmount Park.

Arresting Officer Greg Wilkinson testified that Riley was singing so loudly that he drowned out the police radio. "All he had to do was lower his voice and this never would have happened," said prosecutor William James.

Witnesses called by the defense testified that when Riley asked what the law was, Wilkinson said he was the law. When Riley asked whether he was still in America, the officer replied: "This is Afghanistan."

Defense lawyer Evan Shingles argued that his client had every right to ignore an unlawful command.

– Daniel Rubin

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