Reopen NY: Promoter facing consequences after holding weekend music event

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, August 24, 2020
Promoter facing consequences as crowds gather at music protest
Joe Torres reports on the controversy over a musical protest event in Westchester County.

OSSINING, New York (WABC) -- An event promoter is facing consequences for a "musical protest" held in Westchester County this weekend that allegedly violated pandemic-related restrictions.

Brian Johnson, the founder of, said he went through all the proper channels to hold a peaceful, socially distant musical protest Saturday night along the waterfront in his hometown of Ossining.

"I went through the normal channels. I went to the secretary. She told me to reach out to the police, let them know what's going on," Johnson said. "Of course, they gave me their COVID concerns. I expressed to them that we were going to have masks, gloves, sanitizer."

But Ossining's police chief says Johnson was denied a permit for the gathering and was informed he'd be in violation of local ordinances. Furthermore, enforcement action would be taken if he moved forward.

Police ultimately did not pull the plug on the event, but added there will be consequences.

"I see him as a promoter, a business and he was looking at in excess of 50 people coming to his business," said Ossining Police Department Capt. Jeff Giorgio. "And my understanding is it's up to a $10,000 fine."

Johnson showed Eyewitness News videos other other town-approved events earlier in the summer. The events had far more people who appeared to disregard social distancing protocols.

He's baffled why those gatherings were allowed and why his wasn't - all in the town where he grew up and where many police officers are his friends.

"The cops didn't arrest anyone because no laws were broken," Johnson said. "No one did any crimes or anything. We were within our constitutional right to protest."

"He was told he would get a summons," Giorgio said. "We're not put going to put handcuffs on somebody in the middle of this event. It wouldn't be prudent."

Johnson says his event was promoted and advertised as a protest. The police maintain it might have started that way, but it didn't end that way.

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