Elmo is supposed to be Sesame Street’s friendly red monster, but the person dressing up as the favorite children’s character and spewing violent and anti-Semitic slurs at tourists in New York’s Central Park apparently got the character wrong.
Park police on Monday arrested a man who had been berating tourists and passersby for the past few months, the New York Times reported. The Elmo, who often stationed himself at a pedestrian plaza on Broadway, had gained notoriety in the city for his boorish behavior and rants against fellow impersonators.
“He would stop and say that we were all illegal immigrants and that people shouldn’t have their photos taken with us,” Luis, a 25-year-old Elmo impersonator from Peru, told the Times. Luis said whenever he saw the angry Elmo he would move to another part of Times Square.
The man was known to complain loudly about the “Jewish cops” harassing them, The Smoking Gun reported. He also suggested that people read “The International Jew,” a series of anti-Semitic pamphlets originally published by auto magnate Henry Ford, report said.
“If you start your own business in this city, Jews will harass you,” the man said in one video published online.
Though it is technically illegal for the impersonators to dress as the Sesame Street Muppet, they rarely face legal action from the show’s parent company, Sesame Street Workshop. There are often too many imitators for companies to do anything about, Stanford Law School professor Paul Goldstein told the Times. In New York alone there are dozens of people who dress up as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and Minnie Mouse, taking pictures with tourists in exchange for cash.
The man, whose name was not released by police, was taken to Metropolitan Hospital Center for evaluation.
Video of the angry Elmo being arrested by Park Police while spouting anti-Semitic remarks (explicit language):