The NYPD Is Cracking Down on Subway Characters

New York City Subway dancer Marcus Walden ( Mr Wiggles)  performs with other members of his dance crew November 23, 2010. The dance crew of Donte Steele (Thebestuknow); Tamiek Steele ( B/Boy LJ) and Marcus Walden ( Mr Wiggles) perform their roughly 45-second routine between stops on the train running from 125th Street in Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Photo: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Newish police commissioner Bill Bratton, who subscribes to the "broken windows" theory of policing, has vowed to focus on cutting down on minor crimes in an effort to prevent New York from becoming the pre-Giuliani-style criminal paradise promised by candidate Bill de Blasio. And it looks like he's following through underground: As of mid-March, 89 subway purveyors of items like churros and electronics have been arrested — that's 80 percent more than during the same period last year, according to the NYPD. Meanwhile, panhandlers — a category that includes the city's beloved "showtime!" dancers — are up 232 percent. (256 have been locked up in 2014.) It's only a matter of time before subway passengers have only their fellow commuters to pretend to ignore.