Last June 5th When the NYPD Extremely ‘Enforced’ Washington Square Park’s 10 p.m. Weekend Curfew

It was last year, Friday, June 5th, 2021, when the NYPD came into Washington Square Park in riot gear using excessive force and extreme policing to “enforce” the 10 p.m. weekend “curfew” the De Blasio Administration put in place. It only heightened tensions. This was the saddest scene I’d witnessed in 13 years of covering this public space.

Excessive policing was introduced at that time and continues to this day. People are being harassed and unreasonably arrested. #TakeBackOurPark

What I wrote when the curfew was official rescinded:

The early weekend curfew of 10 p.m. at Washington Square Park didn’t make sense; it wasn’t the right way to handle any issues going on at the park. It only inflamed the situation. Now, due to public push back, the curfew has been rescinded.

Although Mayor de Blasio on Brian Lehrer’s show earlier Friday, June 11th acted clueless as to whether the earlier curfew would continue; later that night, the NYC Parks Department told NY1 that “there was no plan to implement the 10 p.m. curfew.”

Yay. The curfew ending has reverted this park’s closing time back to 12 midnight. The curfew began over Memorial Day weekend but was not enforced after last Saturday’s closing where people pushed back which involved police in riot gear and resulted in 23 arrests.

June 5, 2021

Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

Early Weekend Curfew at Washington Square Park Officially Rescinded June 13, 2021

NYPD Enforce 10 P.M. “Curfew” at Washington Square Park; People Push Back, Pepper Spray, Riot Gear, Arrests June 6, 2021

City Clamps Down: New Curfew in Effect at Washington Square Park Over Next Two Weekends May 29, 2021

Photos: NYPD Implementing 10 P.M. Curfew This Past Weekend at Washington Square Park June 1, 2021

Mayor de Blasio On Washington Square Park Weekend Curfew | Questions Around “Policing of Public Space” June 3, 2021

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5 thoughts on “Last June 5th When the NYPD Extremely ‘Enforced’ Washington Square Park’s 10 p.m. Weekend Curfew”

  1. You say “Excessive policing was introduced at that time and continues to this day. People are being harassed and unreasonably arrested.” Anyone who has been to the park recently knows this is not true. The police are almost nonexistent in the park. It has never been legal to set up a vendor stand in any park without a permit unless it’s for First Amendment protected activities, like selling or distributing written materials. Yet there is a daily bazaar of people with tables selling all kinds of goods, most notably various cannabis products. We all know recreational cannabis has been legalized, but no licensed stores have been opened, and all these sales are illegal. The police hardly do anything about it, occasionally confiscating a table, and then only because there have been instances of armed robbery of some pot vendors. Then you have the hard drug shooting gallery in the area near the northwest corner which the police rarely do anything about. Nor has there been any progress in dealing with the reckless skateboarders who have illegally taken over the central plaza in front of the arch. The character of the park changes over the years (I’ve lived in the area since the 80’s), but the recent changes are the worst I’ve seen. Yet the police maintain a hands-off strategy, mostly looking at their phones. The park is hardly “excessively policed” as you suggest.

    • Hi Seth,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think you and I are talking about different things here. So, it depends what time you are in the park and what you consider problematic. There are people being arrested and harassed by NYPD — there are many videos of this happening. It’s not everyday, more likely later at night, but it is happening.

      What you noted is not what I’m referring to. To be clear, the only reason there has been excessive vending, which never existed years prior – there are a few reasons; Covid plays a role more recently – is because Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro hated the idea of artists being in the park with their art on the ground so instead of saying you can’t sell, you can only vend by donation (which truthfully is what I thought was the outcome of his convoluted presentation before Community Board 2 in maybe 2014), he said you must have a table. Seems like a small thing but made it worse over time. Drove some real artists out, etc. Now during/after heightened Covid (who knows what phase we are in now), it got more pronounced.

      Someone said to me people are struggling so she wasn’t going to take issue with it and I guess at this point I agree. However, it is ONLY the aftermath of Bill Castro’s ill-considered decision which was meant to spite the actual artists.

      As far as your other comments, the Mayor himself is looking the other way on cannibis sales in parks as he stated recently. The skateboarders * were * ‘contained’ to Garibaldi Plaza – which I get was not always ideal – but as time went on, they moved to the fountain and the Arch. So, hey, maybe letting them stay at Garibaldi would not have been a terrible idea.

      Decisions have consequences. And police are not being ‘hands off.’ Their ‘hands on’ may be just when you are not looking.

      Thanks for writing in. I know you care about the park. And what happened last June was horrible – that is not the way an administration governs an issue like this and *that* is what I was reporting on primarily. But also, yes, noting a change in demeanor and atmosphere at the park which had primarily been a ‘kind’ stance for the longest time and that seemed to work.



    • The police arrive usually around 6pm, and are present earlier on weekends. But they have chosen to focus only on musicians performing music. They leave alone persons blaring pre-recorded music, as well as the myriad unpermitted vendors selling trinkets and cannabis products. They also leave the northwest corner denizens to continue using narcotics and leaving litter under benches. The park has historic and cultural significance as a location for protests, performance art, and live music, particularly acoustic folk music performed by amateurs and up and coming professionals. What the NYPD and park personnel have achieved in turning WSP into a flea market may have lowered the decibel level compared to 2021, but at what cost? We have plenty of places to buy junk while inhaling incense, and we hardly need another. At this rate, the park is scarcely better than if Robert Moses had realized his dream to run an interstate through it.

  2. WSP Blog needs to do something constructive, talk about the real issues in the park. Hard drug sales, skateboarding, hazards for seniors and children, increase in crime and selling of stolen/ shoplifted goods in the park. Stop whining and talking about conspiracies, fake fascism, and be an advocate for the public interests. No one wants to see this illegal crap in the park. Not one. It’s only a matter of time till there is a drug dispute and someone or child takes a stray bullet. Wherever there is drugs and a lot of cash crime will surely follow. No one really cares about happy hippies and youth smoking pot. No one really cares about the cops responding to an out of control rave in the park that left people injured and the park trashed. They did their job it’s history.The continued illicit crap is destroying the park and you seem to be blind to this. Post photos of the dealers and buyers. Do some good and go after elected officials and the do nothing community board members who turn a blind eye. Prove your editorial integrity and post this critical view and do some real community advocacy.

    • Hi Momof3,

      Thanks for your comment and writing in with your perspective. Of course, there’s a lot of ‘tone’ here. What you’re referring to about the police is NOT what happened on June 5th or since. However, it seems you may not be aware of the history over the last dozen + years so please see my response to Seth above your comment for context. I hope it’s helpful to you in understanding the history of Washington Square Park, a very important, eclectic, should be welcoming to all public space.



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