BREAKING NEWS
Search for worker trapped in Waihi mine after accident ... Read more
Close

Police versus the Times Square superheroes

Last updated 11:52 12/08/2014

Related Links

'Spider-Man' slugs officer in Times Square

Relevant offers

News

Ancient canals found under Mayan temple in Palenque, Mexico Airlines team up with food organisation, OzHarvest, to deliver meals to the hungry Australian couple who raffled off their island in Micronesia pick a winner Airlines to bring more Asian tourists into the South Island Dog owner finds loophole in subway rules, brings his husky on board What happens if you catch all Pokemon? Hotel sponsors you to travel the world Solar plane takes off from Egypt on final leg of world tour I saw you write Allah in a text: Misunderstanding on flight leads to friendship Famous flyer: Greece is the word for Masterchef judge George Calombaris Is the motorised suitcase, Modobag, cool or lame?

New York police have begun handing out fliers to tourists in Times Square telling them that tipping the costumed superheroes and children's characters who pose for photographs is optional, and to call the 911 emergency number if they have complaints.

The fliers are part of an aggressive crackdown after a string of arrests of people dressed as characters who have gotten into confrontations with tourists or police, including one dressed as Spider-Man charged last month with punching a police officer who intervened in a tipping dispute.

"Tipping is optional," the fliers say in capital letters, printed in five languages in partnership with the Times Square Alliance, which promotes area businesses. "If you have any complaints, talk to a police officer or call 911."

Police said they arrested three more characters oat the weekend, the first day the fliers were handed out: men dressed as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Elmo. Police also gave another man dressed as Iron Man a court summons.

All were charged with disorderly conduct for obstructing pedestrian traffic, while the man dressed as Spider-Man faces an additional charge of aggressive solicitation.

Dozens of people dressed as characters roam the crowded footpaths and plaza around Times Square on any given day, stretching their arms out toward passing children, many in somewhat ratty costumes. They typically carry laminated cards or pouches labelled with the word "TIPS," which they wave at tourists after a photograph has been taken.

The city's highest officials have taken notice. Bill Bratton, the police commissioner, has expressed concern about the "Elmo craze". Mayor Bill de Blasio says the behaviour of the characters should be regulated.

Men dressed as Elmo and Batman rejected the idea that they are no more than panhandlers in fancy dress.

"This is not a problem for me, this is good," Victor Aldea of Passaic, New Jersey said of the fliers after lifting up his Elmo head. He said he and other performers never insisted on a tip, and would settle for a child's smile.

Jose Escalona-Martinez said the US Constitution gives him the right to wear whatever he likes in Times Square - a Batman costume, in his case - and questioned police priorities.

"If they want to do that job, passing out fliers, not looking for real crimes, it's fine with us," he said.

Ad Feedback

- Stuff

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content