Mother brings topless 2-year-old daughter to panhandle around Times Square

When a topless mother brought her 2-year-old daughter - also topless - to panhandle in Times Square on Monday, the issue of artistic freedom became quite controversial. The police asked the mother to put a shirt on her child because it was cold outside.

New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the New York Post that police officers asked Maria Diaz to put a shirt on her topless 2-year-old girl as it was cold outside. The officers plan to speak to the city's child welfare workers regarding the incident. Bratton said:

"That's the craziness of this issue of 'artistic freedom' when it goes to the extent of [the mother] — if, in fact, that was the mother — exploiting that young child for whatever purpose in the square there. My understanding of the [cop's] request or the demand to put the shirt on the child had nothing to do with the idea of the artistic expression, but rather just concern about the child's welfare, that it was getting cold in Times Square. I'm pretty upset about it, as I think any parent would be, about using a child in that fashion."

That evening, both Diaz and her daughter were topless and sported black heart paint across their chests. They were holding up signs with the letters "N" and "Y." Louisianna tourist Stef Watakins, who witnessed the incident, said:

"I think she should be covered. The baby doesn't understand what's going on. There are strange people in the world, and this is Times Square."

After speaking to the officer, Diaz put a shirt on her daughter and left the scene.

The low temperature on Monday evening was 59 degrees.

Watch this video to learn about NYC's plan to end panhandling in Times Square:

Times Square May Soon Be Free of Topless Women and Elmos

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