As the city considers a bill that would require pretty much anyone wearing a costume in NYC to pay a $175 licensing fee, yet another Times Square costume character was arrested.
The NYPD's Midtown South Precinct Tweeted the news yesterday:
— NYPD Midtown South (@NYPDMTS) September 16, 2014
According to the Post's NYPD sources, "Rosa Sanchez, 36, was busted after 10 plainclothes cops posing as tourists took photos with her Tuesday during a sting, according to law-enforcement sources. The Elmo was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. after she allegedly became aggressive over a tip she was unhappy with. When Sanchez was searched at the station house, cops found that she had about $200 in singles, fives and 20s in her possession."
Sanchez was charged with aggressive solicitation. While the characters are allowed to accept tips, they are not allowed to intimidate Times Square visitors into posing with them and demanding money. This past weekend, a Batman and Spider-Man were arrested for fighting Times Square pedestrians who were heckling them.
The proposed "costumed individual" licensing program might seem like a good idea to those creeped out by Times Square Elmo zombies, but some critics argue it goes too far. According to the broad language of the bill, a permit would be required for anyone wearing a costume who is "interacting with the public" anywhere in NYC. A costume is defined by the legislation as:
An article of clothing, accessory, mask, paint, or other object that: (1) obscures or shrouds the face of a person beyond recognition; or (2) causes a person to resemble a character rather than his or her own personal identity
An advocate for street buskers told us, "It is difficult for us to see a valid public interest in requiring a license for any political speech in costume in the whole city," adding that it could be interpreted "to require a license for trick-or-treating in Halloween anywhere in New York City."