NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Wednesday that police officers will be ‘enforcing the closing' of Washington Square Park 'if requested’ to do so by the Parks Department
The New York Police Department will enforce closure times at Washington Square Park after declining to do so this past week after rowdy visitors partied well into the night and in some cases committed acts of violence, sparking complaints from neighbors.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Wednesday that police officers will be ‘enforcing the closing...if requested’ to do so by the Parks Department.
The midnight closing time was restored after police on Saturday lifted a 10pm closing time that was prompted by local residents who said the crowds were making noise late at night while also making the area unsafe.
Last week, violence and clashes broke out when police tried to enforce a 10pm closure after residents complained of loud noise.
The NYPD arrested 22 people when enforcing the 10pm closure time while the violent mob injured five officers.
Shea appeared alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio at his City Hall news briefing on Wednesday - the first time that the city’s top cop appeared at a press conference alongside his boss since March.
Residents of the Washington Square Park area plan to air their grievances on Wednesday evening as a local community meeting is scheduled with NYPD officials.
De Blasio has been widely criticized for his hands-off approach to the violence at the park.
On Monday, the mayor downplayed the violence and chaos at Washington Square Park in recent weeks, telling reporters that he believes the situation will resolve itself ‘naturally.’
‘We’re working very closely with the Parks Department,’ Shea told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the administration’s plans on how it intends to address the situation.
Shea appeared alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) at his City Hall news briefing on Wednesday - the first time that the city’s top cop appeared at a press conference alongside his boss since March. Rodney Harrison (right), the NYPD’s Chief of Department, the highest ranking uniformed officer on the force, told reporters at City Hall that fliers will be handed out to park visitors reminding them to clear out by the midnight closing time
A large crowd of visitors is seen above at Washington Square Park in New York City on Tuesday night
Visitors to Washington Square Park are seen above inside the fountain on Tuesday night
Police officers are seen above questioning a group of men after they tried to drive their vehicle underneath the arch to shoot a music video
Shea said that there will be a ‘presence of police officers’ at the park.
‘Our goal is pretty simple here - for people to be allowed to use the park because it is a beautiful park..but also [to maintain] public safety,’ the commissioner said.
‘We’ll continue to be there for the residents of that community.
‘We are intending on being there [and] enforcing the closing with the Parks Department, if requested.’
The images above show a man dressed as Joker (left) and a fire performer (right) entertaining visitors on Tuesday
Young children use chalk to draw on the pavement inside Washington Square Park on Tuesday
NYPD officers question a group of men who tried to drive their vehicle under the arch to shoot a music video
An NYPD vehicle and barricades are seen near the Washington Square Arch late on Tuesday night
At least three NYPD police cruisers are seen above outside Washington Square Park in New York on Tuesday night
Rodney Harrison, the NYPD’s Chief of Department, the highest ranking uniformed officer on the force, told reporters at City Hall that fliers will be handed out to park visitors reminding them to clear out by the midnight closing time.
‘I think that’s going to be a step in the right direction,’ Harrison said on Wednesday.
Harrison said that police will only be called upon in case the Parks Department’s uniformed officers need assistance.
‘We’re going to allow the Parks Department to take the lead and go into the park and try to escort people outside the park during the hours of closure,’ Harrison said.
‘Unfortunately we’ve had incidents in the past that got a little contentious.
‘If it gets to that point, that’s when the NYPD will step in and assist.’
Images from late Tuesday night show crowds of young people gathered at the park, though residents said the noise level was low and there were no reported incidents of violence or unrest.
Young people were seen entering the fountain and crowds observed a fire performer who was entertaining guests.
Christine Adapon, a local resident, told WPIX-TV that the parties and loud music after sundown are becoming intolerable.
‘There are DJs who start in the evening, they start dance parties,’ she said.
Several young people are seen above frolicking in the fountain in Washington Square Park late on Tuesday night
Visitors to the park cooled off inside the fountain in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday night
A man dances to music being played in Washington Square Park on Tuesday night
'I've seen the park go through a lot — damage, neglect and a lot of crime, drugs and everything but I have never in my whole life seen such disrespect to neighbors and police,' she said.
This past weekend, the parties escalated into violence that included slashings and muggings.
Adapon said in the 35 years she has lived in the area, she doesn’t remember it being this bad.
Another local resident, Bill Ruiz, told WPIX-TV that visitors to the park are becoming rowdy.
'People are crossing the line, being rude, smoking reefer,' Ruiz said.
'People screaming and pushing on each other, riding bikes and skates unruly.'
A spokesperson for a local neighbors association told DailyMail.com earlier this week that 'amplified music and singing' has continued into the wee hours of the night, forcing residents to take sleeping pills so they can doze off.
On Sunday, however, visitors to the park stayed past the midnight curfew, though police did not move in to evict them from the area.
The relative calm this week is a far cry from last week’s mayhem which saw two people stabbed, an elderly cook attacked, and another man beaten and mugged.
Over the past year police have had to cordon off the legs of the historic Washington Square Arch after vandals defaced the landmark.
Earlier this year, the NYPD removed the cordon - but had to reinstall it in recent days after vandals spray-painted graffiti on it.
On Saturday, two men, one aged 24, were stabbed during a 10-person brawl.
Around 50 people were dancing in the park - which is surrounded by a mix of rent-controlled apartments and upmarket homes - at 2:15am when an argument erupted, and spiraled into a stabbing.
One of the victims identified themselves to cops as 'Psycho Wilson' according to the New York Post, and has been uncooperative. A 21 year-old woman was also shoved to the ground, with all three victims expected to recover.
Violence erupted on June 5 (above) when police used riot shields, batons and even their patrol cars in order to force parkgoers to leave
Riot police had to use physical force on June 5 (above) as they tried to enforce a new 10pm curfew in Washington Square Park in New York's Greenwich Village
Police could be seen firing pepper spray at individuals at one point during the mayhem on June 5
Police could be seen physically struggling with parkgoers who refused to leave on Saturday, June 5
Police formed a chain in order to force people out of the park following residents' complaints on Saturday, June 5
One man was arrested after he was seen threatening police with a bottle on Saturday, June 5
Boxers have held underground unsanctioned bouts in New York City's Washington Square Park, surrounded by cheering crowds, wild videos shared online have shown. This video was posted to Instagram on June 8
Just two hours before that stabbing, a 43 year-old man filming an argument on his phone had the device snatched out of his hand, with his two attackers then punching him in the face and kicking him.
And on Saturday morning, a 77 year-old cook at the nearby Washington Square Diner was shoved into a plate glass window after kicking a troublemaker out.
The victim, named only as Constantino, suffered a gash to his head after the assailant - who the NYPD named as 27 year-old Gregory Conwell - hurled him into the diner's window, which shattered on impact.
Diner manager George Takos told the Post: 'He started cursing and screaming and yelling and doing whatever he wanted, and then he grabbed the chef and threw him on the window.'
Cornell - who is said to be a serial troublemaker - was chased by Constantino's colleagues and held on the ground until police arrived. He is said to have bitten one of those good Samaritans, and now faces a felony assault charge.
Meanwhile, a party organizer condemned for planning raves at the crisis hit park has branded residents who complained 'Karens' - and told them to move away.
Party promoter David 'Shaman' Ortiz, 28, also branded male critics of the noisy raves 'Kevins' who want to 'steal joy' in an interview with the New York Post.
'This is my response to the residents. If you have an issue with amplified sound and you live in the downtown area, you live in the Washington Square Park area, then you should move,' Ortiz, who lives in Queens, said. 'I'm not letting anybody steal our joy.'
Washington Square Park - which sits in Manhattan's ritzy Greenwich Village, has been described as 'ground zero for the city's descent into crime and chaos.'
In a recent Instagram story, Ortiz also referred to the NYPD as 'the biggest gang in New York' while he also claimed to be the person who got NYPD Chief Terence Monahan to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter at the park last summer.
The image above shows a vandalized statue attached to Washington Square Arch last week. The vandalism has forced police to cordon off the legs of the arch
Vandals scrawled anti-police graffiti on the legs of the arch in the above photos taken last week
The park, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of lower Manhattan, has long been a destination for bohemian crowds to hang out, enjoy music and party with friends, in part because of its proximity to New York University.
But residents say all night parties with loud music, public drug abuse, impromptu boxing matches and cars spinning donuts are too much to contend with, and have begged NYC officials to step in to help them.
And Ortiz, who lives in the Queens borough of the city across the East River from Manhattan, has thrown the massive raves in Washington Square Park despite not living anywhere near it.
Crime in New York has spiraled since COVID hit US shores, with felony assaults rising eight per cent for the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period last year.
A total of 7,971 assaults took place between January and the start of June 2020, compared to the 8,604 recorded so far this year.
Rapes are up by 10 per cent this month, compared to 2020, with 108 recorded this month, compared to 99 over the same period in 2019.
And robberies - which includes muggings - have soared by close to 40 per cent this month, from 782 for the same period in 2020, to 1,086 this year.