"Cookie Monster" has been arrested after shoving a 2-year-old child to the ground in Times Square. The man behind the mask, Osvaldo Quiroz-Lopez, took a photo with the child, but when the mother did not offer any money, he shoved the child.
Police charged Quiroz-Lopez with assault and endangering the welfare of a child, the New York Daily News reported. It's part of a larger problem that tourists and New York police are dealing with in heavily populated areas such as Times Square. More and more adults are dressing in costume characters and engaging in inappropriate behavior.
In June, an unidentified man dressed as "Elmo" repeatedly went on anti-Semitic rants in front of large crowds in Central Park. He was eventually arrested and taken for psychological evaluation, but not before causing tourists and those around him a great deal of discomfort.
"He would stop and say that we were all illegal immigrants and that people shouldn't have their photos taken with us," a vendor named Luis told The New York Times.
"If you start your own business in this city, Jews will harass you! Read 'The International Jew' by Henry Ford!" the man yelled, according to a video posted on YouTube.
"That is the scariest Elmo I have ever seen!" one tourist caught on tape exclaimed.
"A few Elmos chase people for tips," Girish Dani, who dresses up as Spiderman, told The Gothamist. "I heard one or two Elmos drink whiskey, and this could be an issue. The costumed crowd on Friday included four Elmos, three Mickey Mice, two Puss in boots, and a Grinch," he added, proving how competitive the market can be for costumed characters.
The NYPD finally stopped issuing citations to those dressed illegally as the characters after too many of the characters showed up in court. A memo was sent out stating that characters would be exempt from the traditional fine, but that doesn't mean that they are exempt from outright illegal behavior.