Yesterday, a Times Square Spider-Man punched a policeman in the face when asked him for identification. James Bishop, also known as Spider-Man, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer. The officer intervened when Bishop demanded a minimum of $5.00 from a tourist, who only gave him $1.00, for having her picture taken with him.
The police said that Bishop punched the officer in the face twice while swearing at the officer, telling him it was none of his business. The officer had asked Bishop for identification. Bishop’s first punch knocked the officer’s hat off his head, when a second officer joined in to try to help bring Spider-Man to the ground. Other officers rushed over to help them, but by that time the man was already lying on the pavement, being handcuffed. As soon as Spider-Man was subdued, the injured policeman was taken to Langone Medical Center for treatment. He was treated for swelling of the face and severe pain and released.
Police sources said that Spider-Man, also known as Junior Bishop, would be arraigned on Sunday in Manhattan Criminal Court for felony assault and other charges. Bishop is a panhandler, they said, with a history six other of arrests. He was arrested in Times Square in April for carrying a knife; the disposition for that case is unknown. In July of 2013, he was arrested in Brownsville for punching a woman, for which he pled guilty to assault third, a misdemeanor. One policeman jokingly said Times Square Spider-Man was giving Spidey a bad reputation by punching a policeman. He said that the real Spider-Man would never do something like that.
Chief Commissioner Bill Bratton is well aware of the problem in Times Square. Less than two weeks ago, he met with people who live and work on Times Square and Broadway to discuss their quality of life, paying particular attention to the costumed characters that walk along the Square asking to pose with tourists for a small fee. Bratton said he thought it was okay for them to pose for pictures and ask for a bit of money in exchange. He did agree that the activity needed to be regulated, telling the attendees there was no regulation in place at the present time.
City Councilman, Dan Garodnick, is in the process of drafting a bill that would require Times Square costumed characters to be licensed by the city. He also said that copyrights could be an issue. Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said that some costumed characters are trying to take advantage of tourists, while others are just trying to make a living. Something has to be done, he said.
The New York Post interviewed Spider-Man’s masked friends, others that walk up and down Times Square, to see what they knew about Bishop allegedly punching a policeman. José Martinez, dressed as Batman, complained to the reporter. The policeman has been harassing everybody, he said. Martinez went on to say that Spider-Man did not harass the policeman, telling him that his identification was in his car. He proceeded to tell the reporter that the cop grabbed Spider-Man by the neck and tried to choke him; that was when he resisted arrest. A costumed Minnie Mouse, identified only as “Maria,” said Spider-Man asked for tips politely and just wanted to work.
By Dennis De Rose