By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 29, 2003 02:29 PM

Actor Steve Buscemi, a former New York City firefighter, was among 20 people arrested for trespassing on May 25 in Brooklyn as part of a protest against the closing of several New York City firehouses, PEOPLE reports in its latest issue, which arrives on newsstands Friday.

The “Fargo” star, 45, taking a break while shooting a “Sopranos” episode, told The New York Times, “It was the first time I’d been arrested for demonstrating.”

While interviewing Buscemi, Times columnist Joyce Wadler writes that she thought she heard “chuckling” at the other end of the phone line, arousing her suspicions that the actor may have had previous brushes with the law.

“But it’s, y’know, a long story,” Buscemi told her, before coming clean by saying: “When I was young, it was just a stupid thing I was doing with my friend. We got kicked out of Burger King, and the guy said, ‘Don’t come on the property.'”

This occurred when he was 16 or 17, the Times reports. Added Buscemi: “We went to get my friend’s car in the parking lot, he grabbed me and called the cops. I was arrested for criminal trespass.”

The same charge was placed against Buscemi on Sunday. As for why he was protesting — the actor is not alone, as many New Yorker are outraged by the city-wide closing of firehouse due to municipal budget problems — Buscemi cited 9/11, telling Wadler: “These guys were really devastated, and 20 months later, it’s still there. Some of them are just now seeking counseling.

“The Fire Department has given so much already. We shouldn’t be asking them at this time to be making more sacrifices,” he said.