Batman and Spider-Man are usually the ones helping police catch the bad guys, but the tables were turned last week when these two superheros were arrested in the middle of Times Square for allegedly engaging in a fist fight.
According to police reports, 41-year-old Jose Escalona-Martinez and 35-year-old Abdel Elkahezai were dressed up as superheroes in Times Square on Saturday night when the incident occurred. The two men, dressed respectively as Batman and Spider-Man, had been offering photos in exchange for tips throughout the evening, when another man allegedly began heckling the two caped superheroes.
Details regarding the incident are unknown at this time, but witnesses reported seeing Batman and Spider-Man “team up” on the heckler, 23-year-old Thomas Rorke. Police say Rorke sustained injuries to the head, face and chest, resulting painful but not critical injuries. Escalona-Martinez and Elkahezai were charged with misdemeanor assault in connection with the incident.
There’s been no comment by either Escalona-Martinez and Elkahezai regarding the incident, and it’s unknown whether or not they’ve sought legal representation.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the only incident involving Times Square street performers being arrested. Last month, Woody, Minnie Mouse and the Statue of Liberty were all arrested after they allegedly demanded tips from tourists in exchange for taking their pictures. Current city laws allow street performers to request tips, but only in a non-aggressive manner. If a superhero demands a tip, he or she could be arrested.
Lawmakers are debating whether or not to pass new laws to better regulate this industry. Many lawmakers view street performances such as this as a Wild West. Other than the “don’t ask for tips in an aggressive manner” rule, street performers are given the freedom to do pretty much whatever they want. This has opened the doors to a number of arrests and disputes.
Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance shared some insight into the trend in a recent statement to the press. Tompkins noted that three arrests have been made in the past 10 days (of making the statement). These arrests involved the Statue of Liberty, Spider-Man, and a third character.
“In the last 10 days alone, we’ve seen two Statues of Liberty arrested, a Spider-Man convicted of harassing a tourist, and now a third character arrested for groping a woman in Times Square. The situation is out of control and a licensing and regulatory scheme must be put in place,” said Tim Tompkins.