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Judge Halts Arrests For Hollywood Movie Mascots

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A federal judge issued an injunction against the city of Los Angeles on Wednesday, halting the arrests of actors who dress up as movie characters along Hollywood Boulevard and solicit money from tourists who pose for photos with them.

The temporary injunction was sought in U.S. District Court last August on behalf of at least four actors who were arrested by Los Angeles police officers in June, according to plaintiffs attorney Carol Sobel.

Since then, Sobel said, other people who dress up as movie characters were threatened with arrest and forced off Hollywood Boulevard.

In his written ruling, U.S. District Judge Dean D. Dean Pregerson found that officers unfairly enforced city ordinances against solicitation, loitering and sidewalk blocking.

Pregerson wrote that the actions of the police "selectively and impermissibly" targeted the characters to prevent them from performing and soliciting tips along the famous tourist destination.

"This is a victory for the First Amendment," Sobel said. "The characters are Hollywood."

Matt "Wolverine" Balke said the decision now allows him to return to Hollywood Boulevard.

"We are excited to be back on the boulevard," he said.

A trial date was not set.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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