Musician Arrested, Strip Searched, Thrown in Jail for Singing Without A License

By Jack Burns

Oklahoma City, OK – In the land of the free, playing music in public can get you arrested and extorted. A street musician has found himself in a legal battle after a judge charged him with “soliciting without a license,” stemming from an incident in which he was approached by police, and he responded by asking where he was legally allowed to play his guitar.

Ryan Dalee Strader was first hired by the Oklahoma City Arts Council in the early 2000s as a street performer. He said he typically “makes up songs on the spot about pedestrians as they were walking by.” But his red carpet welcome was jerked out from under his feet, even though his act “Ry Dalee and Evangeline” has performed all over the state.

“I would watch as the cops would come and arrest people for performing on the street without a license, even though they had a license to do so,” Strader said. After a while, he said he simply stopped buying the license to perform. In his mind, it did not matter to Oklahoma City who had a license, as all street performers were getting caught in the police state’s dragnet. Strader decided to see if free speech was dead in America.

He said he showed up on the street on Nov. 15, 2016, and started singing. He was approached by four armed police officers who told him he was, in essence, panhandling—soliciting money from passersby.

Strader attempted to reason with them, “I never sold anything so I don’t know what I could be peddling,” he said. But he agreed to leave the Bricktown district where he was first hired to sing.

As he was leaving Bricktown, passing over the Freede Bridge, Strader said he turned to face the officers once again, and he asked them where he could go to exercise his First Amendment right to sing. When he did, he was immediately arrested for “obstruction of justice” and received a ticket for “soliciting without a license.”

“We were on a 16 foot-wide pedestrian bridge, and it was just me and four officers. It’s still mind-boggling to me,” Strader said.

It was a rude awakening for the artist, who said he was harassed and ultimately arrested for “asking questions.” As The Free Thought Project has reported on numerous occasions, police will arrest citizens for questioning their orders, and will charge them with “obstruction of justice.”

When Strader went to trial on Dec. 7, the judge found him guilty and ordered him to pay fines totaling $240, for the crime of asking the police where he could sing, and where he was allowed to exercise his freedom of speech.

Strader described the ordeal as humiliating. He said he was stripped of his clothing, placed in an orange jumpsuit, and spent 27 hours in jail, all for singing without a license and getting on a few officers’ nerves.

When asked if the judge would have mercy on him, Strader told The Free Thought Project that he thought the court was a “rubber stamp” court but praised his lawyer for representing him. “I feel lucky for that. I have an amazing lawyer,” he said as he stated he is now appealing the judge’s verdict.

“They won,” Strader said. “Because I told them that I was leaving and I would not be back. It’s been over a year. No, I’m never going back. I’m out of their city. I’ll never go back and perform again.”

We asked Strader what he thinks a victory would look like.

“For the unconstitutional statutes to be removed from the criminal code, and for the cops to stop harassing peaceful citizens who are just sharing some art,” he replied.

Strader said several of his friends who are also artists have been constantly harassed by police, and the consistent manipulation of the law and harassment by police have led several performers to simply stop attempting to entertain.

Strader told TFTP that Megan Armstrong, who works for the OKC licensing division, relayed information to him from the city’s attorneys assuring him the police would not bother him or arrest him if he would put up signs around himself, when he is singing, which warn people “not to engage” the artist. But Strader said that human interaction is what it is all about for him.

I never would have done this on my own. I was way too introverted as a person. That first time out I met people I never would have met otherwise, friendships that have lasted to this day, because we were playing music live in public.

Strader and his wife will continue to play classical piano, guitar and harmonica to anyone who will invite them. In 2012, Ry Strader won the David Wilcox Emerging Artist award, left his job in the oil field, and embarked into the music industry. Together, he and Evangeline have four children and live in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

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19 Comments on "Musician Arrested, Strip Searched, Thrown in Jail for Singing Without A License"

  1. I’m proud to be an amerikan where at least I know i’m free, to do whatever the bloodsucking parasites tell me to do at gunpoint and knife to my throat

    • Alice On Morphine | December 17, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Reply

      that’s about it, but soon you’ll have to throw in drones and 5g cell towers as their lethal instruments.

  2. Vlad TheSkewerer | December 18, 2017 at 5:34 am | Reply

    I still talk about the street musicians I saw in SF over 30 years later. Joan Armatrading set up with her Strat and a battery powerd amp and bass tracks by the visitor center, a couple wicked flamenco guitarists, a guitar/sax duo in Chinatown, all excellent players. I thought what a cool feature to this city, almost makes up for the urine soaked alleys.

    • Almost makes up for it, but those days are long gone. I’m from San Francisco, and you can as of last year add feces to those alleys – as well as to sidewalks and planters and yes, even stoops. I remember the days when you could go to GG park and see Santana or Joplin just jammin’; Joplin even has her own tree that she used to play under, it’s like a shrine now. The Fillmore District used to be OK, but not sure about now, because SF, and in fact, CA chewed me up and spit me out last year – best move ever. 😉

  3. Psychic Warrior | December 18, 2017 at 7:47 am | Reply


  4. I wish death upon the current pigs,judge, prosecutors and law makers.

  5. I bet if Frank Sinatra had decided to sing there the Mafia would have “arrested” the cops, the judge, mayor….etc.

  6. michael lawless | December 18, 2017 at 11:26 am | Reply

    put on a burka and the police wont bother u

  7. Sorry, but why would anyone in their right mind live in Oklahoma?

  8. Welcome to Trump’s America! You have only the rights the cop in your face says you do, regardless of what the law says…BECAUSE HE IS THE LAW!

  9. A police state is one of the many inherent consequences of government established without the benefit of Yahweh’s immutable moral law as its standard, such as the United States Constitutional Republic;

    “[B]ecause they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law … they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind….” (Hosea 8:1, 7)

    For more on how Yahweh’s immutable moral law applies and should be implemented today, see free online book “Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant” at

    Then “A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government.”

    Find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

  10. A police state is one of the many inherent consequences of government established without the benefit of Yahweh’s immutable moral law as its standard, such as the United States Constitutional Republic;

    “[B]ecause they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law … they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind….” (Hosea 8:1, 7)

    For more on how Yahweh’s immutable moral law applies and should be implemented today, see free online book “Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page and scroll down to title.

    Then “A Biblical Constitution: A Scriptural Replacement for Secular Government.”

  11. Free Man (NOT) | December 18, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Reply

    I’ve posted this before. This says it all.

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

    Ayn Rand

    • There are over 4000 federal felonies passed by congress.
      Read “Three felonies A Day” by Harvey Silverglate and see how the “system” really works.
      Every one of us can be ensnared by what is truly a “criminal” justice system.

  12. Most municipalities require a busking license as the state insists on their cut on anything the public engages in monetarily, but the reaction by the police in this case, as the face of the state, was way over the top. Across a broad spectrum there seems to be a hidden policy of shutting society down through state sanctioned heavy handed policing, demanding total subservience from the public to all the state’s out of control demands. No feeding of the poor or homeless, no front yard vegetable gardens, no children’s lemonade stands, no begging by the destitute or starving, mandatory vaccinations, no collecting of rain water and most egregiously no constitutional rights zones and on and on. We are now witnessing the rousting of chickens from the MLK assassination forward to the Waco Texas massacre, the Ruby Ridge Weaver family assassination. the recent cold blooded murder of Lavoy Finicum by the FBI and too many other examples of how the American state ultimately deals with those who will not scrap and bow to the state’s authoritarian policies. Basically you have the freedom to obey….or else, which is the desired behavior to be publicly internalized by repeated abuses of policing powers. “None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.”

    “The state exists to enforce the dominance of elites, all the rest is propaganda, misdirection and obfuscation.”

  13. If you think it’s bad now, just wait and see how it is in a another year.
    Trump is handing out even more military equipment to these insane drugged out goon thugs with badges….to make you safe…what else.
    That’s all we need is an undisciplined, untrained, and ignorant police force armed with military weapons and equipment, many of whom are drugged out on steroids and speed, alcohol and self importance, in possession of military weaponry.
    Do you not realize that this will only convince these goon thugs they are now nothing more than an occupying army. Is it any wonder then, that cops in America consider themselves to be a military of their own? That they consider the rest of us as civilians or the enemy?
    The situation in America is going to worsen as those inside the deep state who actually control this country are now planning the final phase of turning America into a total police security state. They control congress, the White House, the courts and the lawyers. They control the mass media, they control the military, they control the wealth and they control you.
    It is already happening; the Constitution has been tossed into the trash bin. The Bill of Rights are being eviscerated, continuous spying, snooping and data collection 24/7 are no signs of a free society.
    The plan to use armed drones over America should be enough to frighten anybody.
    Americans need to come together and speak out with one voice.
    Unfortunately America has become seriously divided by racial and gender politics. This was deliberate.
    Together with a mass media that is nothing more than a mass propaganda outlet, the American people are being led to the slaughter.
    I suggest to all young people, leave America now. Find some other place to live and raise a family.
    There is nothing for you in your future but slavery and worse.

  14. CreatureOfTheNight | January 1, 2018 at 11:57 am | Reply

    Sounds like some police in OK City deserve to be shot.

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