Ticket me Elmo? NYC mulls law for impersonators

Global News

NEW YORK – New York City officials are turning up the heat on Elmo, Cookie Monster and Statues of Liberty impersonators — Times Square costumed characters who often demand money for posing in photos with tourists.

The city wants to rein in a summertime spike in badly behaving characters, such as the Spider-Man accused of punching a police officer recently.

“This has gone too far,” a frustrated Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week. “It’s time to take some real steps to regulate this reality.”

But that could be easier said than done. Legal experts say proposals for a city law to possibly require licenses and background checks could violate free-speech rights.

At issue is whether the characters can be considered street performers protected by the First Amendment or are engaged in commercial activity subject to regulation. It comes down to whether the characters merely hope for tips or demand…

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