Break dancing group sparks controversy on SEPTA trains

WEST PHILADELPHIA - March 14, 2014

SEPTA surveillance video shows 'Project Positive' dance members on the Market-Frankford line during evening rush hour this past Tuesday. They were seen break-dancing then doing what police describe as aggressive panhandling and harassment.

This week, SEPTA police arrested the group's founder Damon Holley and dancer Donny Thompson after an officer witnessed them on the Broad-Street line.

Both men were charged with disorderly conduct and defiant trespassing.

Police say this isn't their first brush with the law and riders have complained.

"Not only are these folks endangering themselves with what they are doing on a moving train but they're endangering people sitting there," said Chief Thomas Nestel.

The group has several videos on YouTube that were uploaded a year ago where police say they intimidate riders for cash. They break down how much riders should give based on their ethnicity.

"It's very concerning, the language that's used, the harassment or threatening-type nature, it's demeaning towards groups," said Chief Nestel.

"We have heard people's comments, we've taken it into consideration, we've changed the lines, we have made it appropriate for children and families of all ages," said Damon Holley, Project Positive.

Outside of a performance at a local school on Friday, Holley says the 7-year-old group has good standing in the community and that they raise money to perform at schools.

He also says they've made other changes.

"Project Positive's main goal is to turn the negative into the positive," said Holley.

"We're trying to get the attention of this group and people who are acting in the same way that this group is, and let them know that SEPTA won't tolerate it," said Chief Nestel.

So will the group be trying their moves on the train again?

"No, not anytime soon. Hopefully we'll elevate to other things and won't have to do that," said Holley.

The group says they want to work with SEPTA police in the future.

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