Calls for crackdown on costumed characters after 'Spider-Man' charged in Midtown scuffle

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Monday, July 28, 2014
Call for crackdown after man dressed Spider-Man accused of punching cop
Anthony Johnson has the latest details from Times Square.

MIDTOWN (WABC) -- There are renewed calls for a crackdown on costumed characters in Times Square, after a man dressed as Spider-Man allegedly punched a police officer who told him to stop harassing tourists.

Junior Bishop was arraigned Sunday on charges of assault, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. His bail was set at $3,500.

Police say the officer interceded after Bishop demanded at least $5 from a woman he posed for a picture with, instead of the $1 she offered.

The officer told the costumed 25-year-old he could only accept tips - not require payment.

Police say a yelling, cursing Bishop broke free from arrest after failing to produce ID and punched the officer in the face before being hauled away.

Some of the people who dress up and take pictures for tips say they are often harassed, and say the Spider-Man incident is not a fair characterization of the hard-working men and women trying to bring smiles to the faces of visitors, and earn a few bucks.

However, there have been several recent incidents where police have been involved. In June, a Spider-Man character was accused of groping, and a Statue of Liberty character was arrested.

The Head of the Times Square Alliance issued a statement saying, "This incident is yet another reminder that many, though certainly not all of these so-called friendly characters are actually violent and aggressive and have troubling criminal records. A rigorous licensing scheme would address this, and must be implemented."

(Some information from the Associated Press)