TIMES SQUARE in New York City was once the cities seedy underbelly. The area once full of sex shops, drugs and high crime rates is now one of cities biggest tourist attractions. However, a new and unlikely criminal element has been making headlines in the form of costumed street performers.
The AP reports that most of the street performers are poor U.S. immigrants who don character costumes and beg people to pose for photos with them. The photos of course aren’t free and what on the surface looks like a little fun has turned ugly on several occasions during the last year.
Last week a man dressed as Cookie Monster has been accused of shoving a two-year-old to the floor after the young boy’s parents did not produce a $2 fee quick enough.
The story has garnered significant publicity and the child has been quoted as being terrified of Cookie Monster and no longer willing to watch Sesame Street on TV.
This most recent event follows a highly publicised arrest of a man dressed as Elmo making anti-Semitic rants in the square while a man dressed as Super Mario was also arrested and has been charged with groping a woman.
The performers are likely to be in violation of trademark laws operating without the consent of the parent corporations of the characters they impersonate. However, under U.S. law arrest would be difficult to enforce and that the performers are protected by their First Amendment rights.
Next time you’re in New York, make sure you keep a look out for the costumed performers, and if you decide to get your photo taken with one of them, for your own sake – pay them! Alternatively if you’re looking for a career change we’ve got the perfect selection of cartoon character costumes to get you started, just please, please, be on your best behaviour!