Out of the pandemic, into the “bad old days.”
A extremely organized crew of squeegee men marked Monday’s unofficial begin of summer season by aggressively wiping down motorists’ autos simply blocks from Times Square — utilizing buckets of water from the close by Port Authority lavatory.
The Post watched as 4 squeegee men converged on automobiles and SUVs ready on West fortieth Street close to Ninth Avenue underneath the supervision of a fifth man who directed them like an air visitors controller.
The cops “don’t f–k with us — no summons, no nothing,” one of the men stated.
Their targets have been primarily dear rides with New Jersey license plates, together with a BMW sedan and an Acura SUV.
One driver barely cracked his window to hand over some money however one other exchanged a fist bump with a squeegee man.
Some of the men didn’t put on masks whereas interacting with the motorists.
The crew members appeared to have stashed their gear in a single day beneath a inexperienced tarp wrapped round a close-by tree, retrieving it after they confirmed up for “work” in the morning.
One arrived ingesting from a bottle hidden inside a black plastic bag whereas one other — who was the first on the scene — took a bucket into the close by Port Authority Midtown Bus Terminal, the place he apparently stuffed it with water in the restroom.
The disturbing scenario unfolded only a day after The Post’s entrance web page revealed the deteriorating conditions in Manhattan’s famed Washington Square Park, the place photographs captured rampant, open-air drug use and discarded syringes.
In response to The Post’s reporting, the NYPD introduced it will be closing the Greenwich Village inexperienced area two hours early — at 10 p.m. — on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
A 53-year-old girl who encountered the squeegee men on Sunday, whereas driving into Manhattan from New Jersey for lunch with a buddy, described feeling her “heart racing” as she was confronted by one man she described as “a creepy guy.”
“He came toward me. I said, ‘No, no, I don’t need to be squeegeed,” she stated.
“Meanwhile, it’s raining. He said, ‘Do you have any money?’ And I said ‘No, I have absolutely no money.’”
But the man eyed her pockets on the passenger seat and stated, “You are lying. You have money. Give me money,” she recalled.
“He was more than harassing me. He was wildly aggressive…As a woman in a car, that’s just an awful scene.”
She added: “I remember the bad old days in New York. This is one of the things that was there.”
Meanwhile, close by retailers complained that the squeegee men stole from them and have been scaring away their prospects.
“We are living in hell here. We are doing business in hell,” stated a disheartened-looking Farhana Farooq, proprietor of the LaSani Grill.
“When we try to stop them from coming in here, they pee and bang on the glass in front.”
Farooq added: “They are dangerous. Sometimes they fight — they turn on each other.”
A employee at the Lincoln Gourmet Deli stated, “Two days ago I saw one of them chasing a couple with the squeegee because they were taking pictures of them. It seems like they were tourists.”
The employee additionally stated the squeegee men “jump in front of the cars and start cleaning” — even when drivers attempt to wave them off.
“Then they demand money,” the employee stated.
“I want something to be done about it. I want them gone, please.”
Ying Luo, who manages a neighborhood grocery retailer, stated the squeegee men “can be very aggressive,” including that drivers “give them dollars for them to go away, not because they are cleaning or anything.”
“They seem to make a lot of money,” he stated.
So much of instances by the finish of the day, I see them with tons of stacks of money.”
A Manhattan cop stated: “We used to lock up squeegee guys, but the district attorney won’t prosecute — so we stopped.”
“This is the least violent crime that he doesn’t prosecute,” the cop added.
“We can give them a summons but they could give their name as Fred Flintstone. The quality of life will only continue to decline unless the laws are changed.”
On Monday, The Post noticed cops repeatedly ward off the squeegee men by flashing the lights on their cruisers, however the panhandlers merely relocated to a close-by intersection every time.
Under a regulation enacted by the metropolis in 2006, it’s unlawful for anybody to aggressively strategy a motorist or automobile occupant “for the purpose of either performing or offering to perform a service in connection with such vehicle.”
Violators face a most of 16 days in jail and a $100 wonderful.
A spokesman for outgoing Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. stated, “Our office evaluates all arrests for this offense and prosecutes those who engage in aggressive behavior.”
Additional reporting by Larry Celona and Steven Vago