Why would Cookie Monster ever want to make you cry? That’s what is happening in New York City’s Times Square, according to tourists who say the men and women who dressing up as favorite childhood characters—from Cookie Monster, to Elmo, to Super Mario—are shoving kids, using foul and racist language, and are trying to extort money from tourists, The Associated Press Reports. At least three characters have been arrested in the past seventh months.
Cookie Monster is just the latest to feel the strong arm of the law. "He was using words that were really bad,” said Parmita Kurada of Stamford, Conn., who told police she got into a dispute this week with a man in a Cookie Monster costume who demanded $2 for posing with her 2-year-old. She also said that Cookie pushed her child and called him obscene names.
“It was very scary for us, and I was crying. I didn’t want to provoke him, so I said, ‘We’ll give you the money, but stop yelling!’” she said. Osvaldo Quiroz-Lopez, 33, was charged with assault, child endangerment and aggressive begging.
Now Christine Quinn, New York’s city council president and a gay candidate for mayor, says she’s looking into the “horrible situation,” adding, “it’s very challenging legally because dressing up in a costume and walking around Times Square, is we believe, a First Amendment-protected activity.”