Washington Square Park ‘drug den’ horrifies Greenwich Village

A lawless, drug-infested Washington Square Park is horrifying even famously free-spirited Greenwich Village residents.

“We may be liberal but this has gone too far,” lamented Steven Hill, who has known as the neighborhood residence since 1980. “There have always been drugs in the park, mostly pot, but what’s emerged this spring is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

Washington Square Park’s northwest nook was overtaken in latest months by a crack-and-heroin-filled “drug den,” whereas boisterous, booze-soaked raves across the central fountain have stored neighbors up till the wee hours and left the historic inexperienced area trashed every morning.

The metropolis responded to greater than a month of complaints and quite a few Post queries by erecting limitations on Tuesday, closing off the northwest nook to each authorized and unlawful makes use of, whereas cops in latest nights have boosted their presence.

The northwest part of Washington Square Park has become a hangout for drug users, which locals say has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The northwest a part of Washington Square Park has change into a hangout for drug customers, which locals say has grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

But neighbors are nonetheless incensed by the situation of the park and what they imagine are token efforts by town to return it to lawfulness.

“The zombies are now near the fountain, as well as next to the chess [southwest] corner. They’ve simply moved up about 200 meters from the now shuttered end of the park,” one indignant neighbor emailed The Post on Wednesday. “I think all hell is going to break loose.”

The Post toured the park this week, after the “drug den” was closed, and nonetheless discovered the flower beds affected by syringes and scores of empty drug capsules. A park gardener instructed Hill he discovered two dozen syringes whereas tending the grounds Wednesday morning.

Increased drug use and dealing has the usually liberal neighborhood up in arms.
Increased drug use and dealing has the often liberal neighborhood up in arms.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

Another resident contacted The Post following a latest 8 a.m. stroll to the park’s canine run, reporting a feminine giving oral intercourse to a drug supplier, with different males “lined up for their turn” with their pants open.

Another neighbor captured video of unlawful fireworks lighting the air above the arch within the early Friday morning hours, previous the park’s unenforced midnight closing time.

‘The zombies are now near the fountain.’

An indignant neighbor emailed The Post

The park, with its majestic Romanesque arch on the finish of Fifth Avenue, is among the metropolis’s most scenic landmarks and lengthy a haven for festive New Yorkers and guests alike to let their freak fly. The space can also be residence to New York University and among the metropolis’s most coveted actual property.

But over the spring emerged an “open-air drug bazaar” – a virtually 24-hour-a-day parade of addicts, drug peddlers and prostitutes, some overtly hitting pipes or capturing up with syringes on benches.

NYPD information reveals theft is up 73 % this 12 months within the sixth Precinct, which covers the park. Sex crimes have surged 36 %. There have been two shootings –up from none final 12 months. There have three circumstances of grand larceny and 4 felony assaults reported contained in the park alone within the first quarter of 2021, earlier than the present surge in warm-weather exercise.

NYU points common security alerts concerning hassle in a park lengthy promoted as a college asset, together with two college students who had been assaulted within the park two weeks in the past. In late April, a park melee disrupted the filming of the Amazon comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

Steven Hill, 68, lives in the area and says drug use in the park has gotten worse lately.
Steven Hill, 68, lives within the space and says drug use within the park has gotten worse these days.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

Police scuffled with late-night occasion goers in one other April incident earlier than a cop was punched within the mouth. Just days later, a man was slashed and hospitalized attempting to interrupt up a combat there.

“The situation in the park and its surroundings has gotten out of control,” stated Ruth Wyatt, who has lived with a view of the landmark for 25 years.

Hill texted The Post lately after witnessing one significantly disturbing incident:

“Passed by the benches of addicts, one smoking crack or whatever (and also) a young man shooting up into a vein in his arm without a care who was watching, drawing blood into the barrel of the syringe, shaking the syringe, before he pushed the blood back into his vein.”

Drug use in the park has gone up since COVID-19 swept through the city residents say.
Drug use within the park has gone up since COVID-19 swept by means of town residents say.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

“I know drugs have been in Washington Square Park for a long time, but I have never seen anything like this before,” stated one other native resident, Jennifer Nyp.

Drug enforcement throughout town has all however disappeared throughout the de Blasio administration. New York City reported simply 5,372 drug arrests final 12 months, by far the bottom on file. The decline is essentially linked to the 2019 decriminalization of pot and final month’s legalization of weed, however not solely. The variety of drug arrests have declined yearly underneath the de Blasio regime. There had been almost 20,000 drug arrests in 2013, the 12 months earlier than de Blasio took workplace, and greater than 38,000 in 2000, underneath Mayor Giuliani.

‘I know drugs have been in Washington Square Park for a long time, but I have never seen anything like this before.’

Jennifer Nyp

Just a few days earlier than the police “crackdown,” a Post reporter handed by means of the northwest nook drug den and thrice inside a minute was supplied a procuring cart of narcotics, together with “fine bud,” cocaine and crack. One peddler supplied $20 luggage of crack, or six for $100.

Another crack supplier, Tony from the Bronx, almost emaciated and sporting a North Face stocking cap even on the nice and cozy May night, hawked “eight-balls” [an eighth of ounce] of cocaine for $350, and as a lot crack as we needed. He additionally supplied to promote the pipe wanted to smoke the rocks of cocaine proper there on a park bench.

Tony later adopted the reporter onto the road, screaming. Offers of crack had been straightforward to seek out once more Thursday evening, after the addicts had been scattered across the park.

“The condition of (Washington Square Park) is disgusting,” stated Susan Lee, a Tribeca resident operating for City Council. “It’s literally anarchy. The police can’t do anything. The park rangers can’t do anything.”

Locals say drug use in the park has increased in recent months.
Locals say drug use within the park has elevated in latest months.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

Lee lately stepped in feces whereas campaigning within the park, “and I wasn’t sure if was from a dog or a human,” she stated. Appalled, she threw out her sneakers and walked residence in socks.

“The last few weeks have been hell,” stated Diane Nardone, president of the board at 11 Fifth Avenue, a 20-story co-op steps from the park, citing the late-night raves with banned amplified music that echoes throughout the neighborhood. Wheeled automobiles, together with bicycles, are formally banned, however gas-fueled motorbikes have run freely throughout the park’s pedestrian footpaths most evenings.

Nardone stated residents of her constructing, and others round it, are able to flee the neighborhood and possibly town if the scenario doesn’t enhance quickly.

A bunch of residents lately penned an indignant missive to native leaders demanding motion on 20 totally different bullet-pointed issues with the park.

Residents say the northwest part of Washington Square Park has become more of a drug hangout than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents say the northwest a part of Washington Square Park has change into extra of a drug hangout than it was earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

“We are fed up,” the letter says repeatedly, itemizing an array of quality-of-life issues, together with “the lack of enforcement of basic long-standing laws and illegal activity;” the “urination, defecation, spitting, discarded drug paraphernalia, alcohol bottles and cans and general filth in those areas of the park;” and “junkies sleeping, having sex, generating trash and intimidating patrons of the park.”

An impromptu assembly within the park on May 21 with state Sen. Brad Hoylman left neighbors flustered. Hoylman can also be a candidate for Manhattan borough president.

“It seems clear to me that he doesn’t want a law and order solution to anything,” stated Brian Dube, who has lived on the north aspect of the park since 1981.

“Hoylman said a lot of nothing,” added one other neighbor who attended the assembly, however requested that his identify not be used. “He pointed his fingers at everybody. De Blasio. The police. NYU. PEP [Parks Enforcement Police]. ThriveNYC [the mayor’s failed mental health initiative]. He’s a bobber and a weaver. We walked through a cloud of crack smoke to get to the meeting and he acted like it was normal.”

A bunch of residents lately penned an indignant missive to native leaders demanding motion on 20 totally different bullet-pointed issues with the park.
Twitter

Hoylman didn’t reply to repeated efforts by The Post to achieve him. He cancelled a public assembly within the park deliberate for May 22 simply minutes after being contacted by The Post.

“Hoylman a disappointment,” learn the topic line of 1 group e-mail that went out after the assembly.

The metropolis Parks Department declined a request by The Post to interview Commissioner Mitchell Silver, however issued an announcement that it’s “working to increase programming in [the northwest] section of the park.”

‘I know what every cop is thinking. It’s this unhealthy and it isn’t even summer season but.’

Michael Alcazar

That effort features a new afternoon arts & crafts program for kids on the tables within the park’s northwest nook that began on Wednesday, hours after the “drug den” was closed off, in partnership with the Washington Square Park Conservancy.

Conservancy spokesperson Grace Harman stated that “the drug problem … precedes the pandemic” and that it “works to mitigate the issues with our own creative, program related solutions” whereas “WSPC-supported gardeners ensure that sightlines are open so it’s harder to hide illegal activity in the more tucked away areas of the Park.”

Drugs, crime and different criminality, she stated, are “the responsibility of the NYPD.”

Dube, and different residents, say that police have been lacking in motion, too, similar to political leaders.

“All the issues we’re looking to address can be fixed in 15 minutes by NYPD,” he stated. “But they’re no longer interested in enforcing anything. I’m pretty disgusted with the entire situation.”

The Post toured the park this week, after the “drug den” was closed, and nonetheless discovered the flower beds affected by syringes and scores of empty drug capsules.
J.C.Rice for NY Post

He added, “De Blasio seems like the worst mayor ever. The city is just going down the sewer.”

Neighbors stated they had been instructed throughout a latest group assembly with police that manpower on the sixth Precinct is down 50 % over the previous 12 months. The NYPD wouldn’t affirm that determine. But one supply instructed The Post that the precinct’s headcount is down “significantly” and {that a} 50-percent discount “sounded plausible.”

The de Blasio administration chopped $1 billion from the NYPD funds final 12 months.

But NYPD says it’s stepping up its presence within the park in response to the present disaster.

“The Commanding Officer of the 6th Precinct is working to address the crime and quality of life conditions in Washington Square Park,” NYPD spokesperson Jessica McRorie instructed The Post. “These efforts include the assignment of public safety officers to exclusively patrol the park.”

Drug use in Washington Square Park has some residents worried.
Drug use in Washington Square Park has some residents frightened.
J.C.Rice for NY Post

Michael Alcazar, a retired NYPD detective who labored undercover in Washington Square Park and is now an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, stated NYPD funds cuts, the disbanding of the anti-crime unit, cop retirements and anti-police public sentiment have had a adverse ripple impact.

“Policing the area is not difficult with the use of undercovers and anticrime,” stated Alcazar. “But investigators have been redeployed to backfill uniform patrol at least three days out of the week, leaving investigators little time to conduct narcotics and vice investigations. The priority right now is the uptick in shootings and homicides. There’s so much going on in the city right now and police have been redeployed everywhere.”

Added Alcazar: “I know what every cop is thinking. It’s this bad and it isn’t even summer yet.”

Additional reporting by Dean Balsamini.

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