Bill de Blasio defends going soft on crowds at Washington Square Park

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday downplayed the recent violence and chaos at Washington Square Park, saying the issues arose 'for a limited period of time'

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday downplayed the recent violence and chaos at Washington Square Park, saying the issues arose 'for a limited period of time'

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday downplayed the recent violence and chaos at Washington Square Park, saying the issues arose ‘for a limited period of time’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday downplayed the violence and chaos at Washington Square Park in recent weeks, telling reporters that he believes the situation will resolve itself ‘naturally.’

‘We’ve had some particular issues for a limited period of time in Washington Square Park and there’s been an effort to figure out the right approach,’ the mayor told reporters at a news briefing from City Hall.

De Blasio rejected the claim that the Parks Department doesn’t feel it has the requisite support from the New York Police Department to enforce closing times.

On Sunday, the NYPD declined to enforce a midnight closing time as revelers twerked, danced, and sang until around 3am, prompting neighbors to complain about the noise.

One person was reportedly arrested for vandalizing eight cars in the area but it was otherwise a largely peaceful event as scores of teens and college students twerked and socialized at the landmark.

Despite the relative calm, neighbors continued to complain about the noise. 

A spokesperson for a local neighbors association told DailyMail.com 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. 

The spokesperson, Erika Sumner, also told DailyMail.com that she was informed by local police that there are no plans to deploy extra officers to Washington Square Park on weekdays – when crowds continue to gather past curfew.

Sumner, a board member of the Washington Square Association which represents local neighbors, told DailyMail.com that de Blasio is off the mark. She said law enforcement officials are outmanned and that the mayor’s administration needs to bolster its deployment of officers. 

Revelers twerk and grind while partying well past the midnight curfew in New York's Washington Square Park late on Sunday

Revelers twerk and grind while partying well past the midnight curfew in New York's Washington Square Park late on Sunday

Revelers twerk and grind while partying well past the midnight curfew in New York’s Washington Square Park late on Sunday

Young people appear to be having a good time as they party late into the night on Sunday in New York's Washington Square Park

Young people appear to be having a good time as they party late into the night on Sunday in New York's Washington Square Park

Young people appear to be having a good time as they party late into the night on Sunday in New York’s Washington Square Park

Partygoers in New York's Washington Square Park cheer as a reveler chugs some tequila late on Sunday night

Partygoers in New York's Washington Square Park cheer as a reveler chugs some tequila late on Sunday night

Partygoers in New York’s Washington Square Park cheer as a reveler chugs some tequila late on Sunday night

Scores of revelers gathered in the park on Sunday and partied well into the night as police declined to enforce a midnight curfew

Scores of revelers gathered in the park on Sunday and partied well into the night as police declined to enforce a midnight curfew

Scores of revelers gathered in the park on Sunday and partied well into the night as police declined to enforce a midnight curfew

The New York Police Department put up barricades cordoning off the legs of the Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park on Sunday after vandals defaced the historic landmark

The New York Police Department put up barricades cordoning off the legs of the Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park on Sunday after vandals defaced the historic landmark

The New York Police Department put up barricades cordoning off the legs of the Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park on Sunday after vandals defaced the historic landmark

Two police officers are seen above in Washington Square Park on Sunday evening. Police barricades are seen above around the legs of the arch

Two police officers are seen above in Washington Square Park on Sunday evening. Police barricades are seen above around the legs of the arch

Two police officers are seen above in Washington Square Park on Sunday evening. Police barricades are seen above around the legs of the arch

Young people are seen above socializing inside the park late on Sunday night. There were no reported incidents of violence

Young people are seen above socializing inside the park late on Sunday night. There were no reported incidents of violence

Young people are seen above socializing inside the park late on Sunday night. There were no reported incidents of violence

A spokesperson for a local residents association told DailyMail.com that the crowds in the park did play music but it 'wasn't very loud' and 'wasn't making our windows vibrate'

A spokesperson for a local residents association told DailyMail.com that the crowds in the park did play music but it 'wasn't very loud' and 'wasn't making our windows vibrate'

A spokesperson for a local residents association told DailyMail.com that the crowds in the park did play music but it ‘wasn’t very loud’ and ‘wasn’t making our windows vibrate’

‘What’s happening in Washington Square Park is a complex issue and not simply about quality of life or closing the Park at night,’ she said. 

‘Criminal activity and assaults have risen dramatically and with people throwing bottles, there is no way that four PEP (Parks Enforcement Police) officers can safely close the park. 

‘There has also been a significant rise in the number of homeless with comorbidities and mentally ill people who desperately need social services. 

Sumner said that the ‘depth of the budget shortfall from the pandemic is still unknown so city government is largely existing in a hiring freeze, which means no one has the resources needed.

‘Whatever the approach, it must be a multi-pronged, strategic effort that won’t be addressed “naturally”.’ 

Sumner said that she was told by local police that extra officers will be deployed to the area only when ‘there’s an indication that things are getting out of control and there’s an incident.’ 

She said that police are hesitant to enforce curfew and risk clashing with those who violate closing time because of a perceived lack of support.  

‘There’s quite a bit of anti-police sentiment now and that makes it difficult to move forward,’ Sumner told DailyMail.com.

The midnight closing time was restored after police on Saturday lifted a 10pm curfew that was prompted by local residents who said the crowds were making noise late at night while also making the area unsafe.

Violence erupted on June 5 (above) when police used riot shields, batons and even their patrol cars in order to force parkgoers to leave

Violence erupted on June 5 (above) when police used riot shields, batons and even their patrol cars in order to force parkgoers to leave

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

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

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 firing pepper spray at individuals at one point during the mayhem on June 5

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 could be seen physically struggling with parkgoers who refused to leave on Saturday, 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

Police formed a chain in order to force people out of the park following residents' complaints 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

One man was arrested after he was seen threatening police with a bottle on Saturday, June 5

One man was arrested after he was seen threatening police with a bottle on Saturday, June 5

‘All parks have a closing time,’ the mayor said on Monday.

‘We’ve seen historically that closing times are implemented pretty smoothly all over the city by the Parks Department.

‘If they need help from the NYPD, that’s fine.’

De Blasio said that the situation is fluid and that law enforcement is considering various solutions to balance people’s wish to gather in the park with the neighbors’ desire for peace and quiet during the late hours.

‘When the park can be open a little later, that’s great – so long as that doesn’t interfere with the quality of life of that community,’ the mayor said.

‘That’s being assessed constantly by the Parks Department and the NYPD.

‘They simply determine the closing time that makes sense and they act on it.’

When the mayor was asked about park visitors ‘pushing back’ against police attempts to enforce curfew these past two weeks, he replied: ‘That’s not a lot of time, respectfully.’

‘What the Parks Department and the NYPD are trying to do is reset the balance properly [and] obviously do it in a way that involves communication and not conflict.

‘They’re experimenting with different approaches to get it right.’

The mayor said that ‘we’ve had a number of nights when things went pretty smoothly. We had a few nights where they didn’t.

‘It’s going to lead to a natural outcome here,’ de Blasio said.

‘We’re going to keep working on it, led by the Parks Department [which will] determine the right closing time and I think we’ll get into a pattern that works pretty soon.’ 

Sumner told DailyMail.com that it appeared there was a ‘shift’ in the manner in which police have handled the large crowds as officers took a hands-off approach on Sunday.  

Partygoers gathered in the park in New York City on Sunday night for what looked like a peaceful event

Partygoers gathered in the park in New York City on Sunday night for what looked like a peaceful event

Partygoers gathered in the park in New York City on Sunday night for what looked like a peaceful event 

The park has recently been the site of violent demonstrations and clashes with police. The image above is from Sunday

The park has recently been the site of violent demonstrations and clashes with police. The image above is from Sunday

The park has recently been the site of violent demonstrations and clashes with police. The image above is from Sunday

Several of the revelers in the crowd can be seen consuming alcohol as they partied into the night on Sunday

Several of the revelers in the crowd can be seen consuming alcohol as they partied into the night on Sunday

Several of the revelers in the crowd can be seen consuming alcohol as they partied into the night on Sunday

Some of the revelers can be seen holding Puerto Rican flags as Sunday marked Puerto Rican Pride Day in New York City

Some of the revelers can be seen holding Puerto Rican flags as Sunday marked Puerto Rican Pride Day in New York City

Some of the revelers can be seen holding Puerto Rican flags as Sunday marked Puerto Rican Pride Day in New York City

The image above shows people gathered around the large fountain in the center of Washington Square Park on Sunday

The image above shows people gathered around the large fountain in the center of Washington Square Park on Sunday

The image above shows people gathered around the large fountain in the center of Washington Square Park on Sunday

Two uniformed police officers are seen above in Washington Square Park on Sunday night

Two uniformed police officers are seen above in Washington Square Park on Sunday night

Two uniformed police officers are seen above in Washington Square Park on Sunday night

People gathered in Washington Square Park on Sunday night for largely peaceful partying and dancing

People gathered in Washington Square Park on Sunday night for largely peaceful partying and dancing

People gathered in Washington Square Park on Sunday night for largely peaceful partying and dancing

Last week, violence and clashes broke out when police tried to enforce a 10pm curfew after residents complained of loud noise. That curfew was lifted on Saturday and the park returned to its regular hours, closing at 12am.

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 on Sunday is a far cry from last week’s mayhem which saw two people stabbed, an elderly cook attacked, and another man beaten and mugged.

Sumner told DailyMail.com: ‘It was a bit noisy [on Sunday night]. It wasn’t very loud last night at all.’

She added: ‘Of course they (the people in the park) were playing amplified music but it wasn’t making our windows vibrate.’

Sumner said that she and other local residents have been forced to take sleeping pills so that they can doze off at nighty. 

Sumner also told DailyMail.com: ‘I can say that last night the arch did not get debased, which is new.’  

She lamented the fact that over the past year police have had to cordon off the legs of the Washington Square Arch for fear that vandals would deface the landmark.

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

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

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

Vandals scrawled anti-police graffiti on the legs of the arch in the above photos taken last week

Vandals scrawled anti-police graffiti on the legs of the arch in the above photos taken last week

Vandals scrawled anti-police graffiti on the legs of the arch in the above photos taken last week

Vandals scrawled anti-police graffiti on the legs of the arch in the above photos taken last week

Earlier this year, the NYPD removed the cordon – but had to reinstall it in recent days after vandals spray-painted graffiti on it.

‘We just got the arch back and because of constant graffiti they had to put barriers around the legs again.’

Sumner added: ‘At least people can walk underneath it.’ 

She told DailyMail.com that residents who have been portrayed as wealthy people just complaining about noise are really concerned over an uptick in violent crime in the area, including assaults.   

Sumner said that on Friday a group of protesters led by one particular demonstrator with a bull horn march to the building on 11 Fifth Avenue and banged on the front door, alarming residents.

On Saturday, two men, one aged 24, were stabbed during a 10-person brawl, according to the New York Post.

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. 

The image above shows musicians performing for visitors to the park just before sunset on Sunday

The image above shows musicians performing for visitors to the park just before sunset on Sunday

The image above shows musicians performing for visitors to the park just before sunset on Sunday

People gathered around what looks to be a drawing in Washington Square Park on Sunday night

People gathered around what looks to be a drawing in Washington Square Park on Sunday night

People gathered around what looks to be a drawing in Washington Square Park on Sunday night

Visitors to the park observe what look like dressed-up mannequins placed near the fountain in Washington Square Park on Sunday

Visitors to the park observe what look like dressed-up mannequins placed near the fountain in Washington Square Park on Sunday

Visitors to the park observe what look like dressed-up mannequins placed near the fountain in Washington Square Park on Sunday

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.

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. 

The New York City man behind out-of-control raves in Washington Square Park has said that fed-up wealthy residents should be the ones to leave. Partygoers are pictured on June 10

The New York City man behind out-of-control raves in Washington Square Park has said that fed-up wealthy residents should be the ones to leave. Partygoers are pictured on June 10

The New York City man behind out-of-control raves in Washington Square Park has said that fed-up wealthy residents should be the ones to leave. Partygoers are pictured on June 10 

People are seen packing into Washington Square Park on Friday night, after cops declined to enforce a 10pm curfew brought in just last week

People are seen packing into Washington Square Park on Friday night, after cops declined to enforce a 10pm curfew brought in just last week

People are seen packing into Washington Square Park on Friday night, after cops declined to enforce a 10pm curfew brought in just last week 

Two women are seen dancing during a massive rave in Washington Square Park on Friday. Local residents say anti-social behavior is making their lives unbearable

Two women are seen dancing during a massive rave in Washington Square Park on Friday. Local residents say anti-social behavior is making their lives unbearable

Two women are seen dancing during a massive rave in Washington Square Park on Friday. Local residents say anti-social behavior is making their lives unbearable 

People are seen crowded into Washington Square Park near its iconic arch on Friday. It has been vandalized with anti-police graffiti

People are seen crowded into Washington Square Park near its iconic arch on Friday. It has been vandalized with anti-police graffiti

People are seen crowded into Washington Square Park near its iconic arch on Friday. It has been vandalized with anti-police graffiti

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.’  

The landmark park has been plagued by noisy parties with complaints becoming so bad the NYPD imposed a 10pm curfew two weeks ago that lifted Saturday. That curfew has since ended, amid repeated clashes between parkgoers and cops.

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 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. 

Crystal Howard, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, told the New York Post that park will keep midnight as its standard closure hour after the curfew was lifted.

When cops went to enforce the curfew on Friday, a ‘militant group’ started to taunt police, according to a woman who did not want to give her name to the outlet. 

‘It was a staged confrontation by the agitators, it was not some random event,’ said the woman who lives on Fifth Avenue overlooking the park.

The New York Post reported that the festivities went well past midnight as the officials ignored enforcing the closure of the park.

A fight broke out at 2:15 a.m. that sent three people to the hospital – one of whom was stabbed and another slashed with a razor blade, police said. 

David 'Shaman' Ortiz, 28, has since dismissed his critics as 'Karens and Kevins' who want to 'steal joy'. He lives in Elmhurst, Queens - miles away from the scene of his Manhattan raves

David 'Shaman' Ortiz, 28, has since dismissed his critics as 'Karens and Kevins' who want to 'steal joy'. He lives in Elmhurst, Queens - miles away from the scene of his Manhattan raves

David ‘Shaman’ Ortiz, 28, has since dismissed his critics as ‘Karens and Kevins’ who want to ‘steal joy’. He lives in Elmhurst, Queens – miles away from the scene of his Manhattan raves

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

The NYPD has put up a sign reading 'no alcohol' in Washington Square Park even as the city fails to enforce curfews

The NYPD has put up a sign reading 'no alcohol' in Washington Square Park even as the city fails to enforce curfews

The NYPD has put up a sign reading ‘no alcohol’ in Washington Square Park even as the city fails to enforce curfews

The landmark park has been plagued by noisy parties with complaints becoming so bad the NYPD imposed a 10pm curfew two weeks ago that lifted Saturday

The landmark park has been plagued by noisy parties with complaints becoming so bad the NYPD imposed a 10pm curfew two weeks ago that lifted Saturday

The landmark park has been plagued by noisy parties with complaints becoming so bad the NYPD imposed a 10pm curfew two weeks ago that lifted Saturday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People gather in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York, where police did not enforce a 10pm curfew on Friday

People continue to gather in Washington Square Park after the 10 PM curfew on June 6

People continue to gather in Washington Square Park after the 10 PM curfew on June 6

People continue to gather in Washington Square Park after the 10 PM curfew on June 6

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

A couple kisses while revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

A couple kisses while revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

A couple kisses while revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

Revelers party in Washington Square Park on Friday after violent clashes broke out between park goers and police when the curfew was enforced last weekend

According to WABC, a group of men wielding razor blades approached a 24-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman dancing inside the park. 

The suspects punched the woman and slashed the man on his left thigh, calf and arm before slashing another man who tried to intervene. The three victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, according to the outlet.

Leslie Rylee, another resident, sent a letter to the New York Post and local politicians in which she said Greenwich Village ‘has become a dystopian other world’ which she said is the result of ‘apathy, corruption and abject neglect by elected and law enforcement officials.’

Last week, when the NYPD arrested 22 people when enforcing the 10 p.m. curfew while the violent mob injured five officers, according to the New York Post. 

In an op-ed, the New York Daily News described officials as playing ‘whack-a-mole’ as people ‘suffering from mental illness and drug addiction are now using other areas of the park and surrounding streets instead.’ 

Adam Weprin, a longtime resident, told the New York Post that there are now ‘zero rules’ at the park.

‘Even with the public drug use, there are zero rules. It’s all out in the open. It’s chaos,’ he said.

William Abramson, director of brokerage for Buchbinder & Warren Realty Group which is the landlord for hundreds of nearby properties, said residents have found human waste in their doorways and passed out addicts on their stoops.

His company even hired private security six months ago to patrol their properties near the park after local politicians failed to address complaints. 

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.  

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