New York police officers have their hands tied when it comes to policing the behavior of the aggressive, mostly naked street performers that harangue unsuspecting tourists in Times Square.
Known by the Spanish word for “naked,” the so-called “desnudas” are professional panhandlers who strut about in body paint — and little else — asking for tips to pose for pictures with visitors. Along with other costumed performers, including Minnie Mouse, Elmo and the Incredible Hulk, they often physically accost or hurl insults at tourists who refuse to pony up.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the desnudas to confine their hijinks to Designated Activity Zones (DAZ) in Times Square, but as the New York Post reports, NYPD officers patrolling the plaza are reluctant to issue the ladies summonses when they stray outside the approved area.
The reason: most of the desnudas are illegal immigrants.
NYPD officers know that the desnudas are in the U.S. illegally, but under the de Blasio administration, going after illegal immigrants is highly discouraged, a department source told the Post. The mayor has been an ardent defender of New York’s “sanctuary city” status, pushing back against the Trump administration’s threats to strip certain federal funding due to the city’s limited cooperation with immigration authorities.
Proposals to require the desnudas and their costumed compatriots to register with the city have floundered because the panhandlers are illegal immigrants and are not likely to comply with the rule. City Hall doesn’t appear interested in cracking down on illegal immigrants for what it considers petty violations, reports the Post.
The city established eight DAZs last year following a series of embarrassing confrontations between the panhandlers and Times Square tourists. In one incident, a performer dressed as Spider Man tangled with a Virginia family after they refused to give him a tip for posing for a picture.
In the 12 months after the DAZs were enacted, the NYPD issued 220 summonses to the panhandlers. That works out to well below one citation per day, despite what concerned citizens describe as flagrant disregard for the rules.
“It’s a total fucking scam, and it happens thousands of times a week,” Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins told the Post.
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