A sliver of mercy as authorities apprehend ‘silver people’ in Jakarta

A group of manusia silver ⁠— literally meaning “silver people” ⁠— who usually perform on the streets as living statues and ask donations from passersby, had to deal with authorities in North Jakarta yesterday evening for violating the ongoing Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol. 

The Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) in Jakarta apprehended at least six people as they were busking without masks around Kebon Bawang neighborhood, greeting people on the roadside and coming up to those who were in their vehicles. 

The group, consisting mostly of teenagers, reportedly didn’t resist when officers took them away and brought them to the Satpol PP HQ, which is located in the North Jakarta mayor’s office nearby. 

“These silver people were then given a warning, signed statements [declaring that they will not repeat their offense] and then they waited to be picked up by their families or guardians,” Jakarta Satpol PP wrote on their Instagram post.

It appears that since the onset of PSBB, Satpol PP officers across the capital have intensified raids on street buskers, including silver people and ondel-ondel performers (a large puppet figure used in traditional Betawi folk performances). They’ve reportedly taken the measure after receiving reports from local residents and due to potential health risks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The National Commission of Child Protection (Komnas PA) recently criticized Jakarta Satpol PP for allegedly sending the mostly underage street buskers to social homes, as they were most likely forced by adults to beg for money on the streets.

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