Although New York City had hoped to enlist Disney and Marvel in a crackdown on troublesome costumed characters in Times Square, the police commissioner insists the entertainment giants "want no part of it."
The New York Daily News reports that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton singled out the two companies for refusing to take action against the performers -- long a thorn in the sides of local businesses and politicians -- for unlicensed use of their trademarks.
“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,’” Bratton said Thursday on the John Gambling radio show. “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.”
Times Square has had a history of problems with the costumed characters, who pose for photos with tourists, typically expecting money in return. Fights have broken out between performers (in June, Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse brawled over a tip), and between characters and tourists and police (earlier this month Spider-Man grappled with a man who was allegedly harassing other performers).
According to the New York Post, legislation introduced last fall in City Council that would require Times Square performers to undergo background checks and carry identification has stalled due to in-fighting.
Contrary to Bratton's comments, a Disney spokeswoman claims there's little the company can do about the performers wearing costumes of Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man and Elsa the Snow Queen, simply because they don't know who's behind the masks.
“We have been for years working with previous and current administrations as well as the City Council trying to get legislation passed that would require registration and identification of these costumed characters,” Disney's Zenia Mucha told the Post.
Pressure has mounted in recent weeks for police and politicians to do something about the Times Square performers, in part due to widespread coverage of the painted topless women who've been introduced into the mix.