New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is launching a “multiagency City task force” to “address the growing problem of topless individuals and costume characters in Times Square.”
De Blasio announced the move on Friday following days of headlines noting women who are making money by soliciting tips in Times Square while wearing nothing but body paint. Other street performers who roam the popular tourist destination dressed in costumes have also generated controversy.
“Millions of families and visitors come to Times Square every year to see and experience the bustling metropolis of New York City — the Crossroads of the World,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Yet that experience has been diminished by the proliferation of topless individuals and costumed characters who too often harass people and expose families to inappropriate acts. To ensure all are welcome, and to continue the great success that is Times Square, the City will aggressively pursue every avenue for regulating these behaviours. This task force will identify the best legal and regulatory ways to move forward and keep Times Square the popular destination site for visitors and families from New York City and across the world.”
The statement from the mayor’s office said the performers have caused “concerns … about both the appropriateness of topless individuals in Times Square, as well as aggressive solicitation by topless individuals and costumed characters that oftentimes becomes harassment of New Yorkers and visitors alike.”
De Blasio’s task force will be co-chaired by New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton and the city planning commissioner. It will include members from nine different city agencies including the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD. While it is legal for people to be topless in New York, the city is reportedly considering several solutions including shutting the pedestrian plazas in Times Square and designating the area a park, which would prevent people from soliciting tips.
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