Not Even Batman Gets a Pass

Barney the purple dinosaur was one of the few remaining characters on Hollywood Boulevard Thursday evening

Heroes and villains are expected to play by the same rules on Hollywood Boulevard. Be courteous and respectful, and never ask for tips or step on Superman's cape.

But an increase in the number of complaints about the costumed characters near Hollywood and Highland has led to a crackdown.

The LAPD confirmed late Thursday the arrests of nearly 20 characters -- including Catwoman, Yoda and Zorro. The charges included aggressive begging, blocking sidewalks and misdemeanor narcotics charges.

Several were found to have prior arrests for narcotics, theft and forgery. One arrested character is a registered sex offender.

"I knew this day was going to come, eventually," said Joe McQueen, who left his Hulk costume at home Wednesday. "We live in America, don't we? This is not America."

Most of the complaints about the characters involve aggressive begging. It's ok to walk down street in costume and accept tips, if offered. But it's illegal to ask for money.

"A tourist doesn't give them a tip or a large enough tip and they start calling them four-letter words and chasing them down the street," said Leron Gubler, of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "We've had reports of characters who have been shooting up drugs on side-streets. Now, they're not all like that."

The city is considering whether a new ordinance is needed to address the issue. It was only within the last five years that tourists and shop owners began complaining to police.

Only about six characters were on the boulevard Wednesday afternoon.Batman spoke with a reporter as he was taken in custody.

"Yesterday, I stood out in one spot for about four hours... loitering," said Batman, aka Tony Tomey. "They didn't arrest me then."

Barney was not part of the recent sweep.

"Every year, they sweep the boulevard like this," the purple dinosaur said. "They try to thin out the herd. This has been the most aggressive tactic I've seen."

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