“I originally set up in the middle of the street but was told by an officer that I was going to go to jail if I kept playing and that I couldn’t play in the street,” Pittman posted on his YouTube page. “I then asked if I could just move it back to the sidewalk and the officer said yes. So I did.”
Dozens of people are seen in the video cheering for Pittman during his performance. After he was done, Neptune Beach police officers are seen in the video approaching him.
Neptune Beach Police Chief David Sembach said they let Pittman finish the national anthem “out of respect.”
“He was told he was going to have to stop playing. He went to the sidewalk and continued playing, and it was only after that the crowd was getting hostile, so the only way to stop it, since he wasn’t going to stop playing, was to take him out of the location,” Sembach told WJXT.
Sembach added that “there’s always two sides to the story.”
“They only show on YouTube what they want you to see. The whole thing was not on YouTube, and as I said, he was told the first time, ‘You could not play. It was causing a disturbance.’”
Lane Pittman says he got permission to play on the sidewalk. The police chief, who wasn’t even there, says the police told him to stop playing. the police chief also says the crowd was getting hostile because Pittman wasn’t stopping playing. The crowd wasn’t causing a disturbance. They wanted Pittman to play more music.
The police could have easily diffused the situation by asking Pittman, who had already complied once by moving, to move again as the crowd was blocking the road. Arresting him was not necessary, particularly as he was compliant to their wishes.
Caleb Rowland, Pittman’s lawyer, says he hopes that this can get resolved without any charges.
“I’ve never seen a law that says you can’t play the national anthem on a sidewalk,” he told WJXT. “Disturbing the peace could be used to cover a lot of conducts that may not necessarily be criminal. I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what the state attorney decides to do with it.”
Pittman has no previous criminal record and plays in his church’s band, as well as coach high school lacrosse. He also hopes to be the next mascot for the Jacksonville Jaguars.