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Times Square Spider-Man's Alleged Police Assault Sparks Calls for Regulation

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The mayor says it's time for real steps to regulate those costumed characters you see in Times Square after a man dressed as Spider-Man allegedly punched a police officer over the weekend. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

This Statue of Liberty and this Spider-Man bring smiles to tourists' faces.

The characters are, of course, looking for gold—or at least silver or greenbacks.

The concern now, though, is over their character.

"Some are a little scary—a little pushy, little scary," one visitor says.

Over the weekend, 25-year-old Junior Bishop, dressed as Spider-Man, was arrested after police say he punched a police officer.

The officer had just finished telling a woman she could tip whatever she wanted.

This guy says he's the real deal and the not-so-friendly neighborhood Spider-Man gives guys like him a bad name.

He and other web-slingers want the government to step in.

"Regulations is the best thing. Because if it was regulations, this won't happen," he says.

"Some of these folks have a real temper," says Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.

Tompkins says there are as many as 80 masked men and women in the area each day.

"Some of these folks are honest, you know, trying to earn a living; other folks have a recent criminal record or an aggressive streak in them or, frankly, are just shaking down people," Tompkins says.

"The Naked Cowboy" says tips are nice, but completely optional. He started his routine 16 years ago—and says the problems started when part of Broadway was turned into a pedestrian mall.

"You're with Mickey Mouse one second and the next thing you know you got the whole Mouseketeer gang and they all want five bucks a piece," says Robert Burck, also known as "The Naked Cowboy."

"Something is wrong," says Bronx City Councilman Andy King.

City council member Andy King says he's writing legislation to license these masked characters, requiring background checks.

"We want to make sure when a five-year-old comes out here, he or she enjoys that experience.

As if to illustrate the point, during our interview, a man started a fight with one Spider-Man over money.

Nothing came of that argument, we're told.

The legislation will be proposed next month.

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