An unidentified man dressed as the Sesame Street character Elmo has been hospitalized after going on an anti-Semitic rant in the middle of Central Park. According to police, this was not the first time the man had dressed as the character and decided to go on a racial rant.
"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.
The man would take photos with children in between hurling anti-Semitic, often obscenity-laced, phrases at those around him. Some of those people decided to tape the man's rants and put them on YouTube.
"If you start your own business in this city, Jews will harass you!" he shouted in one video filmed in Central Park. "Read 'The International Jew' by Henry Ford!" he urges Central Park visitors.
The man also complained that he wasn't making any money "because of the Jewish cops and company."
Tourists were left stunned by the man's rants and, as one exclaimed, "That is the scariest Elmo I have ever seen!" Some, however, found the man's statements horrible but the images of Elmo being taken away by authorities rather amusing.
"Only in New York: Elmo has an anti-Semitic meltdown in Central Park," tweeted Henry Hodge, Jr.
Other videos of Elmo harassing tourists have surfaced on YouTube, and police believe they may be of the same man. A spokesman for the Sesame Street Workshop released a statement on Monday saying, "The 'Sesame Street' Muppets are known the world over, and we do not condone unauthorized representations of our characters."
Anyone familiar with Times Square knows that on any given day, a plethora of cartoon characters such as Elmo, Cookie Monster, Minnie and Mickey Mouse may be wandering through the streets, posing for photos and taking donations. However, it is rare to see one of these beloved characters actually harassing their fans.
Imposter Elmo was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.