Police Abuse

Awaited Police Crackdown on Times Square Performers About to Begin?

Topless women in brainless city

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Steven Pisano/flickr

Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) got a budget passed that included funding for 1,300 new police officers. While de Blasio did his rhetorical co-opting thing by insisting "black lives matter" when that slogan was trending, he's remained steadfastly in favor of the kind of aggressive, petty law enforcement that lead to interactions that end with otherwise peacable, unarmed people being killed by cops. The policy goal of hiring 1,300 new officers, rather than shifting currently employed officers in a way that prioritizes what's important, fits into that ideology of total policing. 

Is New York City starting to get a sense of what the new police officers will be used for? The New York Police Department (NYPD) is preparing to deploy a squad of officers to deal with "quality of life" issues in Times Square, like the topless women, costumed characters, and other First Amendment street entrepreneurs soliciting donations in exchange for photos or whatever else. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton insists the department is looking for volunteers, but unless the NYPD has a cache of officers sitting around doing nothing (certainly very possible in government employment, though not something the government would admit) those volunteers will have to be replaced by other cops. So you get a sense of what New York City wants to prioritize with 1,300 new officers—it's not violent, or even property, crime but non-violent, consensual behavior some New Yorkers demand the government stop other New Yorkers from participating in. Almost like New York City is a giant prison. 

Bratton wanted to get Disney and Marvel, who own the rights to many of the costumed characters represented on Times Square, on board with the crack down but they don't appear to want to get involved. The New York Daily News reports

"They want no part of it," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on the John Gambling radio show. "We've encouraged Walt Disney, 'Put your characters out on Broadway free of charge so people don't have to worry about their kids being groped,'" he said. "We said to them, effectively, 'Since you control the rights of them, put them out in front of the Disney Theater.' They want no part of it." 

For what it's worth, when I worked as Shrek in Times Square almost 10 years ago, my employer insisted someone came down from the Disney office in Times Square and told him it was ok for him to operate there. I highly doubted the story, but certainly given the contemporary copyright climate, it would be very difficult for the costumed characters to operate in Times Square if the rights owners put up a fight. 

Disney, at least, may not be against cracking down on the costumed characters insomuch as it's against getting actively involved. A spokesperson for Disney told the Daily News the company's "been working for years in trying to get legislation that would require registration and the identification of these costumed characters." (I thought registering costumed characters was a Marvel thing?) The spokesperson says Disney considers it "a public safety issue." Were it not for meddling residents and companies, surely New York City would be an anarchist wasteland, where free people put on spectacles to attract tourists and their money. I think that's what Escape From New York was about. The horror. 

Related: The New York Post has a story from a woman who decided to be a topless street performer for a day and write about it, and found the money was pretty good and so was the work environment. She did see someone her manager identified as an undercover cop complaining about the women being objectified, but he appeared to be the only one.

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  1. Oh, this can’t start soon enough*.

    *JK

  2. If they’re wearing body paint then they’re not actually topless. And how come no one has a problem with that Naked Cowboy guy? People in the US are such uptight prudes.

    1. The Naked Cowboy wears briefs. It’s pretty misleading.

      1. Like a semi-naked cowboy
        Riding out in a thong at a star-spangled rodeo
        Like a semi-naked cowboy
        Getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know

    2. Doesn’t really matter since it’s not against the law for a woman to go topless in NYC.

      I would still call them topless, myself.

      1. Are they wearing a top? No. So, Topless.

        Does bodypaint count as not-being-nude is the proper question. I’m not smart enough to answer that one.

        1. No. Unless you spackle the nipples first.

          1. *whips it out*

            *my putty knife, that is*

          2. #mikerowe

  3. Topless women in brainless city

    I think I might be in love with you, Ed.

    “They want no part of it,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on the John Gambling radio show. “We’ve encouraged Walt Disney, ‘Put your characters out on Broadway free of charge so people don’t have to worry about their kids being groped,'” he said. “We said to them, effectively, ‘Since you control the rights of them, put them out in front of the Disney Theater.’ They want no part of it.”

    Ha. Evil corporation refuses to oppress people when the government asks them.

    1. Yeah, that’s the best part of it. And Disney is notoriously protective of its IP. I can only imagine the gut-busting tantrums that ensued.

  4. This is a witty, hilarious Deadspin/Gawker comment?

    i know several women in confederate states who also would pick cousins over a black man

    1. I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit on this.

      1. The comment itself, or how everyone who comments at Gawker loves it?

        1. I highly doubt she/he knows anyone from “the confederate states” or that anyone would openly admit they are racist/incestuous to some douche bag.

          1. Ok, mea culpa, I didn’t click on the link cuz I thought it was going to be some brain dead gawker piece. Turns out it was a joke and I’m a humorless curmudgeon.

            1. It wasn’t a great joke, IMO, but the guy is a hero over there for it.

              1. It’s an Ok joke, but nothing to write home about.

  5. I was Taco John for a parade in 1984. My dong was painted yellow, but no one could see it and it really had nothing to due with the mascot job.

    1. You know, a shot from the doctor clears that right up. The dripping and pustules as well.

      1. Eh. I’ve gotten used to it.

      2. Where would he get his inspiration from, then?

    2. I’m kind of disappointed that the mascot is just some one-dimensional racial stereotype and not something a little more evocative of the name Taco John. Like what if they dressed you up as a urinal full of tacos?

      1. I doubt anyone would have taken the coupons I was handing out.

        1. Do you really want repressed bougie squares like that to eat discounted tacos in the first place?

          1. I don’t see why you should have to pay full price for tacos if there are discounts on offer, Hugh.

          2. I was being paid to do a job, Hugh. A job handling out coupons in a giant hollow Mexican head.

            1. Your job as a performance artist is not just to promote a fast food restaurant, but to push the boundaries of your audiences ideas of good taste. I would expect you to know that, even if the Taco Johns people didn’t.

              1. Maybe the performance was that I played the character as I was supposed to.

                Did I just blow your mind?

  6. Remember that there are already something like *36,000* NYPD officers. Yes, that is thirty-six thousand. The NYPD is a fucking army, and its commander is the mayor. And he just added more than a thousand more.

    I remember after Katrina, I saw a news story stating that NOLA had 1,200 police officers. Not only did that number surprise me because I was used to obscene NYPD numbers, but realize that de Blasio just added, as a one-off, more police officers to the NYPD than existed in the entirety of the NOPD before Katrina.

    1. Those numbers shocked me too. With that many armed parasites it is no wonder that place is so damn expensive.

    2. Jebus! That is the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divs…plus.

      1. There’s gotta be some conversion factor when comparing to real soldiers.

        1. Just subtract the ROE.

  7. For what it’s worth, when I worked as Shrek in Times Square almost 10 years ago, my employer insisted someone came down from the Disney office in Times Square and told him it was ok for him to operate there.

    I’m sure Disney has no problem with anyone being Shrek anywhere at any time. Go ahead and pull your dong out while you’re in the suit too, see if they care!

    1. Yeah, that story reeks of swamp gas. If they were asked they’d pretty much have to disapprove. I think it’s an uneasy truce with the Disney people happy to ignore the situation to avoid the bad publicity of coming down on the street performers (and depriving the children…).

      1. Plus free publicity that they don’t have to take responsibility for when the people in costumes do something bad.

  8. Tell Disney what to do with their property, free of charge. He can always choke out Bob Iger for noncompliance. Shoot Goofy, or Pluto. BRATTON SMASH

  9. OT: Stupidest study in America finds out something everyone already knows to be true, still manages to fuck it up.

    CNN reports on a new study that claims some blind people “make judgments about others based on their race.”

    Obviously. Why wouldn’t they? There are signifiers of race other than skin color, such as the way voice sounds, so a blind person would clearly be able to pick up on this. Plus, a lot of racism is actually just about cultural differences causing friction, and a rich white blind person will have just as many differences with a poor black person as any other rich white guy.

    And they still fucked up a study that found the obvious:

    The findings come from interviews conducted in person and over the phone with 25 people who were either born blind or severely visually impaired, or who lost their sight as children or adults. A researcher asked the participants, most of whom lived in the northeast United States, about whether they thought about race and also how it affected their feelings about a person.

    No study that has 25 participants should ever be taken seriously. Plus, obviously people who lost their sight as adults can be racist since they would have developed ideas prior to losing their eyesight.

    Every person who tried ran this study should be executed for crimes against science.

    1. People just love for “science” to tell them their biases are correct. Scientifically, of course.

    2. White Power!

      1. White Powder!

    3. Oh, and most of them lived in the Northeast, so it wasn’t even a nationwide sampling. All you found is that blind people in Boston are racists, but they’re from Boston so of course they are.

    4. So they were blind….

      [puts on sunglasses]

      …but not color blind.

      1. (begins preparing guillotine for Tonio)

        1. FREE TONIO!

          *raise fist in power salute*

    5. what the fuck is that even supposed to demonstrate? Did they think that blind people were unaware that different races exist? Or that racists are only racist because they hate brown things?

  10. The New York Police Department (NYPD) is preparing to deploy a squad of officers to deal with “quality of life” issues in Times Square, like the topless women, costumed characters, and other First Amendment street entrepreneurs

    None these get at the real quality of life issues in Times Square, which mostly involve motherfucking crowds of slow-walking tourists. Slow traffic keep right! Learn when and how to jaywalk!

    1. Oh man, I’m paying for a bus load of kindergartens to get shipped up there just to fuck your work week up.
      /maniacal laugh

    2. *stops to take a picture*

      *stops to check map on phone*

      *stops just for the hell of it, with entire group taking the width of the sidewalk*

      1. *stops just for the hell of it, with entire group taking the width of the sidewalk*

        When I rule the world, this will be the only crime. And it will carry the death penalty.

        1. Well, that and not pulling into the intersection when waiting to turn against oncoming traffic.

          1. And standing on the left side of an escalator.

            That one gets summary execution though.

            1. In tourists defense, that rule only exists in the North East. There aren’t enough two story buildings in the south to need such a thing. Whenever family came to visit me in DC I had to explain escalator etic to them, and they were shocked the situation was common enough to need it.

              1. So, you’re saying that people who live where there are no escalators don’t need to be taught escalator etiquette because it’s painfully obvious that you don’t stand on the fucking left.

                I believe we’re all in agreement with the summary execution policy then, correct?

            2. There seems to be a lot of variation on escalator etiquette around the world. Some places, everyone just seems to stand wherever.

        2. This is why, whatever else I do or don’t do, I consider myself a decent person: I step out of the fucking way when I’m walking around the city and need to stop. And if I’m with others, I’ll make sure we bunch up on one side or the other, and not smack-dab in the middle of the sidewalk.

          1. That is pretty much exactly how I decide who is a decent person.

        3. I hate that. When I’m walking with a group I’m the one who corrals everyone.

  11. The NY Post pixelized her nipples in the article. Wimps!

  12. Why does anyone capable of feeding themselves live there?

    1. I’m sorry, did you find anarchotopia while I was sleeping?

      1. Look Nicole, people who make other choices than you must be stupid and wrong, because reasons. Don’t you understand anything?

    2. If NYers are capable of feeding themselves, then why do they need restaurants and food carts every 10ft?

      1. I suppose you grow everything you eat yourself?

        If you are capable of feeding yourself, why do you need a grocery store?

        1. way to poke holes in my attempt to have fun at newyorkers expense.

          Mr. Buzz Killington Esq. IV

    3. Big cities aren’t my thing, but there are many reasons to live in NYC. What big city doesn’t have a massive and fucked up government?

  13. We’ve encouraged Walt Disney, ‘Put your characters out on Broadway free of charge so people don’t have to worry about their kids being groped’

    “That way you’re liable if someone’s kid is groped!”

  14. As I understand it, it is EXPRESSLY LEGAL in NYC to go topless. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    If that is true, then what we have is a New York Mayor who apparently wants to give a lot of taxpayers’ money to a handful of street performers, following a lawsuit he cannot possibly win.

    1. You are correct about the legality of toplessness in New York.

    2. wants to give a lot of taxpayers’ money to a handful of street performers

      Similar to the Westboro Baptist Church scheme, where you win lawsuits and get paid. Genius. These women aren’t being assholes to people but actually providing much entertainment. I hope they get super paid.

  15. So no reflection at all about the execution of Goforth?

  16. I assume that Disney had no objections because Shrek is a DreamWorks character.

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