Park Police handcuffed and took away a man impersonating Sesame Street's friendly red monster Elmo on Sunday. The man reportedly harassed passers-by regularly with angry and violent anti-Semitic tirades at New York's Central Park.
On Sunday, police surrounded the middle-aged man, removed his costume head, placed him in an ambulance and drove him to hospital for evaluation.
According The New York Times, the man had been visiting the park regularly for months, harassing visitors with angry xenophobic and anti-Semitic rants. The Elmo impersonator, regularly seen at the pedestrian plaza, had gained notoriety for his unfriendly attitude and behavior. He also often vented anger at other Elmo impersonators who tried better than him to get the Sesame Street character right.
Contact Music reports that on Sunday afternoon, police officers surrounded the Elmo impersonator by the entrance to the Park Zoo while he harassed passers-by with his usual tirades.
The Times reports that Luis, a 25-year-old Elmo impersonator, said: “He would stop and say that we were all illegal immigrants and that people shouldn’t have their photos taken with us." Luis said that whenever he spotted the angry Elmo, he would move to another place.
The Smoking Gun reports the Elmo impersonator was often heard complaining about "Jewish cops" that were harassing him. He would also often recommend "The international Jew" to passers-by. The Inquisitr reports "The International Jew" is an anti-Semitic pamphlet series originally published by the famous auto magnate Henry Ford.
The fake Elmo said in a video posted online: “If you start your own business in this city, Jews will harass you." A woman nearby gasped at the comment, saying: "That is the scariest Elmo I've ever seen in my life! O My God!"
The New York Times reports that although it is illegal for people to dress as the Sesame Street character, the show's parent company, Sesame Street Workshop, rarely takes any legal action against them. According to Stanford Law School professor Paul Goldstein, there are too many people on the streets impersonating Elmo. The New York Times reports the law professor said, "a lawsuit could be tricky to win. Unlike a street vendor who sells fake Louis Vuitton handbags, impersonators could argue that their Dora the Explorer or Spider-Man acts do not compete directly with the company’s ability to make money."
Following news reports that may have confused the xenophobic anti-Semitic Elmo impersonator with the real Elmo, a spokesman of Sesame Street Workshop said Sesame Street muppets are "known the world over, and we do not condone unauthorized representations of our characters."
According to The Smoking Gun, police say the man was not arrested. He was only detained briefly and taken to Metropolitan Hospital Center for psychiatric evaluation.