Four more costumed characters in Times Square were processed through the criminal justice system over the weekend. According to an NYPD spokesperson, two Iron Men, a Spiderman, and an Elmo were all detained from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday night. during a "quality-of-life initiative."
Queens resident Wilmar Suarez, 32, was arrested and charged with aggressive solicitation and disorderly conduct. Javier Hernandez, 37, also from Queens, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Jose Maria, 25, of Passaic, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. And Khalid Lahmadie, 40, was given a summons for disorderly conduct.
A person is guilty of disorderly conduct in New York if
1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior; or 2. He makes unreasonable noise; or 3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or 4. Without lawful authority, he disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or 5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or 6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or 7. He creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.
The arrests came as the police distributed flyers to tourists in Times Square that say "Photos with costumed characters are free. Tipping is optional."
These photos are not "free." The Staten Island Ferry is free. Asking for directions is free. Costumes and food and shelter all cost money in a city where nearly half the population is poor, where positions that pay less than $15/hour make up 31% of the total job market.
Posing for a photo and walking away without tipping may satisfy the contextless letter of the law, but it ignores the reality that standing in a sweltering suit for dollar bills is how some people survive.