The Times Square entertainer known as the Naked Cowboy spent one night in a Florida jail after he was accused of aggressive panhandling and resisting an officer. The performer, whose real name is Robert Burck, was in Daytona Beach for Bike Week, an annual motorcycle rally that typically attracts hundreds of thousands of people.
After his arrest, Burck told the judge he had been coming down to Bike Week for more than two decades to perform, WOFL-TV reported. Burck also explained that his act simply involves playing the guitar in his underwear and that he does not explicitly ask anyone for money while he’s performing.
Burck ultimately pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and was ordered to pay a fine.
Here’s what you need to know:
Burck Resisted an Officer & His Guitar Was Damaged in the Process, Police Said
Burck had been performing along Main Street in Daytona Beach on Saturday, March 6. He posted a video of his act to his official Facebook page earlier in the day.
Daytona Beach Police officers arrested Burck around 4 p.m. after officers noticed bystanders giving him money. According to the charging document available on the Volusia County Clerk of Court website, officers observed Burck “holding a multi-color guitar, which was strapped across” his chest and taking pictures with fans.
The officers noticed some of the bystanders “placed United States currency inside the guitar’s center sound hole in the area of Main St/S Fern Ln, which was approximately 10 feet away from the front door of a commercially zoned property.”
The report states Burck was taken into custody for panhandling. He was further accused of refusing to follow an officer’s orders and resisting as the officer tried to move him against the patrol vehicle. The report adds that the “headstock of the guitar broke during this incident.” A witness was recording and shared the footage on YouTube.
Burck Was Accused of Panhandling While Standing Too Close to a Business, Which Would Have Violated a City Ordinance
#Breaking: Robert Burck aka @TheNakedCowboy in #Volusia County Court, facing panhandling and resisting arrest charges. The well-known street singer was in #DaytonaBeach for @BikeweekDaytona. #FOX35 #news pic.twitter.com/ySN4EU75l2
— Matt Trezza FOX 35 (@Fox35Matt) March 7, 2021
Burck was initially cited for aggressive panhandling and resisting an officer without violence, which is a misdemeanor offense.
The aggressive panhandling offense stems from a Daytona Beach city ordinance that took effect in February 2019. The ordinance specifies areas where panhandlers are not allowed to ask for money, such as within 20 feet of a commercial property, such as a retail store. The ordinance also applies to ATMs, public transportation facilities, outdoor dining areas and public restrooms operated by government agencies.
A person can be charged with “aggressive panhandling” if they “approach or speak to a person in order to demand, request, or beg for money or a donation of valuable property in a way that would cause a reasonable person to believe they are being threatened with imminent bodily injury or that a crime is going to be committed upon themselves, someone in their company, or property in their possession.”
But as Burck has since explained, his act does not include asking people for donations, although fans are known to give him tips. In a statement to People after the arrest, Burck described the nature of his arrest as a lapse in judgment on the part of the officers:
I’ve enjoyed Daytona Beach Bike Week yearly for over two decades. It’s the perfect environment for a good old Americana Style Naked Cowboy performance.
The new ordinance to curtail ‘panhandling’ exists now to keep impoverished people from begging people for money in front of their business establishments. When the Daytona Police included myself, Naked Cowboy, in that group of offenders, they grossly erred in their judgment. When they assaulted and treated me like a criminal with zero respect, they initiated damages.
Burck Spent One Night Behind Bars & Was Ordered to Pay a $223 Fine
Burck was booked into a Volusia County correctional facility on March 6, inmate records show. According to records available on the Volusia County Clerk of Circuit Court website, Burck spent one night behind bars before he was released at 11:15 a.m. on March 7.
The court record shows the aggressive panhandling charge was dismissed. According to WOFL-TV, Burck told the judge there had been a misunderstanding because he was “not asking for money. I just play the guitar and people take pictures and sometimes they put money in.”
Burck entered a no contest plea to the misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer without violence. A court document shows Burck was ordered to pay a fine of $223. The report also notes that adjudication of guilt was withheld, meaning the judge did not formally convict Burck on the charge.