Times Square Alliance Demanding Action on Aggressive Costumed Characters

News   Times Square Alliance Plans Press Conference to Demand Action on Aggressive Costumed Characters
Victims of solicitation and harassment will speak March 28.
Various cartoon figures wrangle passersby for photos
Various cartoon figures wrangle passersby for photos

Have you ever been bullied by the aggressive "tip"-demanding costumed characters who have overrun Times Square since it was converted into a pedestrian mall?

Have you wondered whether New York City had the resolve or means to do something about them?

The Times Square Alliance will hold a press conference in Duffy Square, the uptown quadrant of the bowtie-shaped crossroads, at 11 AM March 28 “to detail the need for the City to regulate pedestrian plazas and to recount their negative experiences with hawkers and hustlers in Times Square,” according to their announcement.

The New York City Council recently introduced legislation to give the NYC Department of Transportation the authority to manage and regulate pedestrian plazas throughout New York City. The bill, officially designated as Intro 1109, will be the subject of a City Council public hearing March 30.

In a survey cited by the Alliance, 61 percent of Times Square employees reported experiencing a negative encounter with costumed characters or commercial solicitors, with 51 percent of those respondents saying that interaction made them feel unsafe.

Expected at the Monday press conference will be Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins, City Councilman Dan Garodnick and a selection of New Yorkers and Times Square-area employees who have experienced “the negative impacts of aggressive solicitation.”

The solicitors dress as popular cartoon or movie or video game characters, occasionally as the Statue of Liberty, sometimes as naked carnival dancers who wear nothing more than body paint. They offer to pose for pictures with tourists, then demand payments, sometimes as much as $20, which are supposed to be voluntary tips. Those people who decline to tip are sometimes treated aggressively, which has led to complaints and several arrests.

New York Magazine reported that the pace of arrests has been picking up in recent months, which may have prompted the City Council hearing.

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