TIMES SQUARE — Elmo and the Caped Crusader may soon have a new addition to their costumes.
Elected officials and the Times Square Alliance announced legislation on Monday that would require costumed characters in the tourist mecca to wear photo identification cards.
“This bill is strictly about safety in the city of New York,” said City Councilman Andy King, of The Bronx, who is sponsoring the bill. “We just want to know who you are. We want to make sure everyone is obeying the law.”
The bill, which will officially be introduced in the City Council on Wednesday, comes after the arrests of several Times Square characters over the last few months on charges ranging from assault to blocking the sidewalk.
“This is Times Square,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, at Monday's press conference. “Quirky is fine. Creepy is not.”
Dozens of characters protested the legislation as the press conference was going on.
“This bill is nothing more than a means to single out costumed Times Square performing artists by impeding their ability to perform,” said Lucia Gomez, executive director of La Fuente, an immigrant advocacy group working with the characters. “The need to defend public safety must be balanced with rights of individual expression.”
But Jose Escalona-Martinez, 41, who has dressed as Batman in Times Square for the last four years, said he had no problem wearing an ID card.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I think everybody needs identification to do the job. I don’t need to be hiding. I think it’s a great idea.”