NYC Parks Department Statement on Recent Arrest of Artist Oriel at Washington Square Park

To follow up on the story first reported here at Washington Square Park Blog from Wednesday: “An Artist Was Aggressively Tackled and Arrested at Washington Square Park. His Offense: Displaying Art on the Ground.” Hyperallergic published a good piece in which WSP Blog was quoted and included a response from the city Parks Department, as follows:

In an email sent to Hyperallergic, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) said, “This defendant has received multiple summonses and 311 complaints in recent months.” It follows: “On the day in question, officers asked him for identification to issue another summons for violating parks regulations. He refused to provide identification and the officer attempted to arrest him. This individual resisted arrest and began to choke the officer.”

NYC Parks’ statement continues:

The individual, who was not following our expressive matter rules, was told multiple times that he could not have his artwork displayed on the ground, and was asked to turn off amplified sound, for which he did not have a permit.

[…] The individual became aggressive and uncooperative; would not provide identification when instructed, and failed to comply to the direction of the officer, which led to the attempt to arrest.

The initial anticipated charge was failure to comply, though he were subsequently charged with criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation; resisting arrest; attempted assault in the third degree; harassment in the second degree.

“Our Parks Enforcement Patrol officers’ first course of action is to educate parkgoers to our rules,” the department concluded. “If not followed, the next step would be to issue summons, and only in extremely rare circumstances would we effectuate an arrest.”

Read the full story: Artist Tackled, Pepper-Sprayed, and Arrested While Selling Art in Washington Square Park at Hyperallergic.

Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

An Artist Was Aggressively Tackled and Arrested at Washington Square Park. His Offense: Displaying Art on the Ground

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6 thoughts on “NYC Parks Department Statement on Recent Arrest of Artist Oriel at Washington Square Park”

  1. Was he chocking the officer in the video? I’m not seeing that. Did he choke the officer before the video was made? Also, you can’t be arrested in NY for not having ID but you can be detained. The police report says they were attempting to arrest him after refusing to show ID. This would not be legal.

    • Hi Crane,

      Thanks for your comment. That’s interesting. I was told by someone who was there that something happened prior to when this video started (the person chose not to elaborate so I don’t know details), so perhaps that is part of their allegation in the Parks Department statement. I didn’t know that about not being able to arrest for not showing ID. I suppose his lawyer will be able to use that.

      As I wrote in the first piece and the Parks statement backs up, it is really rare for PEP to attempt arrest. Nonetheless, it feels like there could have been another way to deal with –


    • He did identify himself several times. As a former hockey player I thought the lad showed terrific restraint. The Sargent clearly had his arm around the lads neck and while the 4 pounced on him I distinctly read him say “I can’t breath”. If that is what Manhattan has become I suppose it shall come off the list. Shameful!

  2. As some of us who frequent the park know, this guy has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Gentlemanly, polite and charming when it comes to selling his art; but often rude and belligerent when it comes to respecting his fellow workers there. The email from the PEP officers sounds very fair to me. Of course, the video is made to sympathize with him and to look very unfair. But what did he do to provoke this? The email explains it, finally. The popular opinion of this guy is so wonderful, but apparently, they haven’t witnessed his other side, as more than a few of us have. I believe he deserves what he got.

  3. starving artist professor? ever had anyone lay hands on you? remarkable control by the lad. the Sargent clearly had the perp in a full nelson leading to perp stating I can’t breath? because his art is on the ground? if you say so.


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