Plainclothes cops keep eye out for Times Square hustlers

6 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A day with Saira, one of the original topless painted ladies of New York City.

NEW YORK – In the summer of topless, painted women in Times Square, a team of New York Police Department officers fanned out on a recent night in their own getups — shorts, T-shirts and backpacks that allowed them to blend in with the crowd. New York’s top cop toured Times Square Friday — a day after a topless painted lady was busted on prostitution charges — and said he doesn’t see the area’s seedy past returning.The Bank of America executive presumably had plans to see “The King and I” on Broadway before wading into the chaos of Times Square on Wednesday evening to befriend its infamous street performers. This week, police have uncovered activity that may suggest they haven’t yet entirely succeeded in creating a new image for this popular tourist destination. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and John Miller, a top deputy, were on Seventh Ave. near W. 45th St. to conduct a “survey of quality of life conditions,” according to Bratton’s Twitter page.

Maybe he’d have his photo taken with The Naked Cowboy, or Elmo, or even one of the bare-breasted “desnudas” he’d seen in the papers, before Mayor Bill de Blasio has them all cuffed and whisked away. But Walters, from Charlotte in North Carolina, allegedly struck her near the right ear before being arrested by a police officer who was on foot patrol nearby. The current flap about New York City’s Times Square—and both its costumed and un-costumed characters—has led numerous observers to comment that the square is slipping back to the seedy and dangerous conditions of the early 1990s. Women decked out in thongs and patriotic-themed body paint – called desnudas, the Spanish word for naked – have become an attraction in the bustling intersection this summer as they offer to take pictures with tourists in exchange for tips.

As city politicians scramble to determine how to curb the effect of the desnudas on Times Square’s wholesome image, they have publicly lamented the fact that public toplessness and panhandling are not illegal in New York. “The whole situation is a disaster I think for tourists and New Yorkers and the family friendly image,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told The New York Daily News. Bratton, part of a task force created to clean up the Crossroads of the World, called the pedestrian plaza “a public space without public-space rules.” Bratton’s comments came one day after Destiny Romero, 20, and Jason Perez, 23, were arrested for selling $200 worth of cocaine to an undercover cop — and for Romero offering to perform a sex act on the officer. Back home, there are no topless women fleecing people for their money outside (though there are plenty doing it indoors.) Given this rare opportunity, Walters did what any sensible senior employee at the second biggest bank in the country would do: He cozied up to two of the half-nude panhandlers, their breasts painted with patriotic colors, for a touristy photo op. His bail was set at $1,500 during an arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court Thursday night. ‘That man needs to pay for what he did to me,’ she said. ‘He hurt me.

Romero and the other so-called desnudas became the target of city officials last month after a series of Daily News stories exposed both them and the shady men who handle their funds. He grabbed us in the middle of the street and we tried to get away from him and he still kept trying to assault us.’ Reportedly, the square’s famous ‘Silver Cowboy’ also tried to break up the scuffle. The bustling mixture of panhandlers, visitors, vacationers and commerce — together with the specter of terrorism — makes Occasions Sq. “some of the complicated environments on the planet,” Police Commissioner William Bratton advised The Related Press. “The difficulty is learn how to hold it a protected and orderly place inside the regulation.” In contrast to 20 years in the past — a seedier period when junkies, hookers and bar fights nonetheless have been information of life — Occasions Sq. is among the most secure spots within the metropolis.

Over the summer, body-painted topless performers – referred to by mass media as “desnudas” – have polarized New York City and turned Times Square into an unlikely battlefield for gender equality. And I like the shocking aspect, and the conversation that it starts.” Wearing a black robe while awaiting her turn to be painted, Nicole said there’s no way her job should jeopardize Times Square’s future as a pedestrian thoroughfare. “This focus on us is just a distraction,” she said, as painter Chris Oliveri brushed an American flag-shaped heart onto her street-performing partner’s chest. “It’s just a few small complaints getting blown out of proportion into talking about destroying something that costs millions of dollars. Not long ago, the mecca of American tourism was populated by sex workers, transvestites, drug addicts and petty criminals, rather than middle-class tourists. However that hasn’t curbed outrage over aggressive costumed characters and so-called desnudas — ladies sporting thongs and overlaying themselves solely with patriotic physique paint — looking for ideas in trade for pictures. Kim and Bill Allen, visitors from Delaware, say they’re more concerned about a proposed closure of Times Square’s pedestrian plazas than they are offended by semi-nude street performers. (Matt Kwong/CBC) “We can count as many as 200 of those people who are hustling and hawking.

Walters was arrested at the scene and charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. (Court documents say he “struck, shoved, and kicked” Carrasquillo). And of those, maybe a quarter of them are engaging in improper, predatory behaviour,” Tompkins said. “But this points to the fact this is a small and manageable problem that doesn’t require ripping up the plaza.” Before that, news outlets reported on a costumed Super Mario who allegedly groped a woman, an expletive-laden rant from Batman, brawling Statues of Liberty, a Cookie Monster who allegedly shoved a boy, and a Toy Story Woody who was arrested on sex charges. That same night, police also arrested Mark Walters, a 46-year-old businessman from Charleston who allegedly assaulted another topless woman after accusing her of stealing his wallet. As the ladies turned a tabloid sensation, the NYPD introduced it was forming a brand new unit of about 100 officers to bolster present patrols in Occasions Sq..

Complaints have been made over the influx of topless women prancing around Times Square and charging tourists to be in photos, deeming it inappropriate and offensive. Even so, whether it’s a man dressed as Elmo or a semi-nude woman posing for tips, Times Square is everyone’s to share, says Gabriel Russell, who works in the area. “I don’t care how naked they are, it’s just like the Elmo costume people to me. Across her chest are painted the words I <3 NY, which she really does – after all, she says, in which other city in the world could her African American and Pakistani parents have met?

The division already has been responding to complaints about hustlers through the use of methods acquainted in drug investigations; it deploys undercovers, plainclothes surveillance groups and intelligence to detect and deter crime associated to the panhandling. “It is lots of ready and watching,” Inspector Joseph Dowling, one of many commanders main the initiative, stated whereas touring Occasions Sq.. “And when there’s legal exercise, guys pounce on it.” “You possibly can peacefully beg, you possibly can peacefully ask for cash, however what you’ll be able to’t do is intimidate individuals, block their path or maintain onto them,” stated Lt. Phone numbers were exchanged with Romero and her handler, Jason Perez, and in a later phone call Perez offered to sell the undercovers drugs, police said. His base salary is roughly $213,000, with $155,000 in additional compensation tossed in, according to Glassdoor, a recruiting website with a database of 8 million company reviews, including salary reports from employees at those companies. The officers directed the suspects to a hotel, where Perez allegedly sold them cocaine and the synthetic drug “molly” for $200 and Romero offered to perform oral sex for another $200 before both were arrested, police said.

Telephone numbers have been exchanged with Romero and her handler, Jason Perez, and in a later telephone name Perez provided to promote the undercovers medicine, police stated. The officers directed the suspects to a lodge, the place Perez allegedly bought them cocaine and the artificial drug “molly” for $200 and Romero provided to carry out oral intercourse for an additional $200 earlier than each have been arrested, police stated.

It used to be nicer, she says; but now it’s full of ladies looking for “easy money”. “It’s disgusting,” she adds. “I don’t think women should express themselves like that. The pedestrian mall is not currently such a space—and unless they are behaving aggressively or threateningly, neither the costumed characters nor the ladies who have been dubbed the “desnudas” are breaking the law. Street performers dressed as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Princess Anna from Disney’s Frozen and Iron Man solicit a photo-taking Times Square tourist for a tip. (Matt Kwong/CBC) Out of principle, they won’t be intimidated by the NYPD, who keep an eye on them from a distance while directing confused foreigners towards the subway. “From the day I started I knew it was gonna become a movement,” she says. “This is something that should be talked about. Because commercial activity is involved, we may be able to act against some of the “awful-but-lawful” disorder by ensuring that individuals are paying the taxes that make the city work, and that they are not violating applicable business and vending rules.

Think about why you don’t like it, think about where you’re coming from.” This summer, hundreds of New Yorkers have demonstrated in favour of women’s equal right to expose their bodies at will under the #freethenipple banner. Last week, New York Post’s Amber Jamieson worked “undercover” and topless for a day, concluding in a frontpage story that the controversy was “deeply sexist”. They see us and they automatically think we’re gonna be a man’s commodity.” Why does America have a problem with her exposing her own body to make money, she wonders aloud looking up at billboards above her, but not with Pepsi doing it systematically? The NYPD will not create a variation on the stop, question and frisk controversy by sending its least experienced cops out to parse constitutional subtleties. Instead, in keeping with the neighborhood policing practiced in other parts of the city, I want the officers who work Times Square to know the ground, know the players and, most of all, know the law.

The cops arrested him one evening shortly after De Blasio’s speech, on old trespass and marijuana charges, and quizzed him about his relationship with the performers (“Was he their pimp? Indeed, I am hopeful that the task force, on which I will be serving, can explore a range of options for addressing Times Square, including regulatory possibilities. If you got the best, you gotta give the best.”). “This is supposed to be the land of the free, but the government always tries to keep you at a certain level,” he says. “I’ve been doing this for four years and when media started coming after us, I realized that women have it just as hard as minorities do,” he says, adding that somehow they’re more vilified than the drug dealers a block away. “I’m all about equality.

I respect the women more than I respect the men.” In a small bag slung across his chest, he holds on to their tips: anything from a couple of dollars to twenties. Saira emphasises that she actually gets catcalled less here than when she’s off work, fully dressed – if anything, men often seem nervous as they awkwardly puts their arms around their bare waists.

They don’t belong to Saira’s clique: all from Latin America, some with huge silicone breasts, they catcall passersby, stroking them with feathers. If De Blasio had only bothered to come out here, he’d get the difference between her team and a few bad seeds, she argues. “People want us, believe it or not.

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