NEW YORK — Some costumed characters in Times Square ripped off their mammoth heads on Tuesday, showing their real faces to protest what they call a “hostile move” by police telling tourists they don’t have to tip for photos.

The giant Elmos, Mickey Mouses, Statues of Liberty and other beloved children’s characters – mostly Spanish-speaking immigrants – proclaimed their right to the meager survival cash.

“Si se puede!” they chanted in Spanish, meaning “Yes we can!”

One sign read: “We make the world smile,” and another, “Let us work.”

Earlier this month, New York police started distributing leaflets and posting signs in five languages telling visitors that tips are optional. As a result, tip intake has plummeted.

The crackdown followed a string of incidents in which some of the characters assaulted tourists, including children. Others harassed people and groped women. Last month, a Spider-Man punched a police officer telling a woman she was not obliged to pay.

The performers argue that most of them don’t demand money; they only suggest they be tipped.

More than 130 formed a group this week called NYC Artists United for a Smile to explore how the characters might regulate themselves instead of a proposed licensing process.

City Councilman Andy King is drafting a bill that would require a license for anyone in a costume trolling for tips, possibly including a small fee and a background check.