NYPD arrests 'Spider-Man' in latest dose of Times Square issues

A man dressed as Spider-Man was arrested on charges that he hit a police officer who told him to stop harassing tourists in Times Square. Junior Bishop, 25, of Brooklyn, was charged with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.

The New York police department said the officer assaulted on Saturday was one of about 50 patrolling the bustling tourist area; he stepped in after Bishop demanded at least $5 from a woman with whom he posed for a picture, instead of the $1 tip she offered.

The arrest of Spider-Man, as police referred to Bishop throughout a matter-of-fact news release, came weeks after the New York city council said it was considering legislation to regulate the costumed characters in Times Square. It was the latest in a series of incidents involving men behind the masks.

In the last two years, a man dressed as Sesame Street's Cookie Monster was charged with shoving a two-year-old, a person attired in Super Mario's overalls was accused of groping a woman and an Elmo figure pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after unleashing an antisemitic tirade.

The NYPD commissioner, William Bratton, last week endorsed the measure to combat what he called Times Square's "Elmo issues".

Police said a costumed Bishop "put out his hand and told the woman 5s, 10s or 20s only". Police said the officer told him he could only accept tips, not require payment.

Bishop yelled and cursed at the officer, police said, and told him: "Mind your own [expletive] business."

Police said the officer then asked for identification and, when Bishop failed to produce any, moved to arrest him. Bishop broke free and punched the officer in the face, police said, causing a cut and eye swelling.

The officer, whose name was not released, was treated and released at New York University's Langone Medical Centre. Other officers arrived and hauled Spider-Man away.

Bishop's mother answered the phone at their Brooklyn home late on Saturday and said he was not at home. She said she was not aware of his work in Times Square or his arrest. Information on Bishop's lawyer was not available.

Last month a different Spider-Man was convicted of harassment for a February 2013 episode in which he cursed and complained that a woman did not tip him after posing for a photograph with her children. Phillip Williams later punched the woman in the face and knocked her to the ground out of self-defence, he said, after she hurled snow at him.

The bill under council consideration would require licences and background checks for costumed performers but copyright issues have held up final approval, since most of the costume wearers are not authorised by the characters' owners.


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