Friday, July 11, 2014

NYC: Pols Promise a Solution Against ‘Elmo Bullies’

Though complaints about Times Square can fill an entire encyclopedia, at the latest Times Square Alliance’s Midtown conditions meeting, one issue took center stage: how to deal with Elmo, Hello Kitty and Spiderman, among other costumed characters.

Costumed characters that panhandle or offer pictures in exchange for money have proliferated in Times Square, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, adding to the usual commercial chaos of the famed town square.

And while they may seem cuddly, elected officials said the characters are a serious problem.

“This is a cancer on Times Square that has to be excised soon. It spread from the West Coast, where it began in Hollywood, outside of Mann’s Chinese Theater,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said. “The panhandlers are exploiting the First Amendment, but I don’t think you have a First Amendment right to harass and threaten people as some of these characters have done.”

The alliance’s director, Tim Tompkins, said they’re not all bad — but their presence, and the number of complaints, has grown in the last two years.

“The problem is not with the folks that are out there making kids happy in an appropriate way, the problem is the folks that are both subtly and not so subtly intimidating and harassing people,” Mr. Tompkins said.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told reporters she was open to examining a slew of possible solutions.

But she said those characters who are not doing the right thing have become a real problem for tourists and children.

“They accost people. I’ve seen it with my own eyes — they ask to take a picture, they ask for money, they chase people to the ATM sometimes for money. They are very aggressive and it doesn’t show a good picture of New York,” Ms. Brewer said.

Councilman Andy King has already drafted a bill that proposes a licensing scheme and will present it at the next stated meeting at the City Council. Mr. King said he knew his bill would have to be sensitive to First Amendment rights.


The first Amendment does not support bullying so it should not be too hard to draft a bill penalizing it that would be upheld in the courts


Anonymous said...

NYC, the highest mugging, armed robbery and violent crime rates in the country (except for chicago).

How about you morons start THERE before going after this minor annoyance?

stinky said...

A shakedown operation in plain sight needs to be slapped down asap. To not do so would be to invite the escalation of such tactics.

“The superior doctor prevents sickness; The mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness; The inferior doctor treats actual sickness;”

Mediocrity beats inferiority.

Bird of Paradise said...

The Big Apple there's way too many worms in its core

Anonymous said...

Harassment, threats and menacing is not a First Amendment issue.
Being there is fine, intimidation and assault is entirely a different matter.

Go Away Bird said...

Ban the bullies from the city and countryside