Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office deferred to the Police Department when asked if the city will again enforce a 10 p.m. curfew at Washington Square Park this weekend, according to a spokesman.
Hizzoner said he expects to use the curfew for the popular Greenwich Village space “rarely when necessary,” at his Wednesday daily press briefing — but when asked directly about the upcoming weekend, a spokesman kicked it over to the police’s press shop.
“Would probably have to defer to [Deputy Commissioner Public Information] on that,” Mitch Schwartz told amNewYork Metro.
The NYPD also declined to give its plans for the coming weekend, saying the decision to move the usual midnight closing time up by two hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays will be “reviewed on an ongoing basis,” according to Sergeant Jessica McRorie.
Like many other urban greenspaces, Washington Square Park had become a lifeline for pent-up New Yorkers during the pandemic, but police in coordination with the Parks Department, decided to close its gates earlier following a rash of complaints from residents about rowdy late-night parties, drug use, piles of garbage, vandalism to the iconic arch, and park-goers refusing to leave after midnight over the past two months.
On June 4, the 10 p.m. curfew happened largely without incident, but the following Saturday night, police called in the Strategic Response Group and bike-mounted cops to forcefully eject some 100 people who, police say, refused to leave and threw glass bottles at officers.
Videos posted on social media showed the tense scenes at the park, and cops arrested 23 people for charges like obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct.
Police also fenced off the northwest corner of the park, a dark section known as a place to buy and use drugs, which the Parks Department will keep locked up until further notice, according to a spokeswoman.
On Sunday night, the park was a lot calmer and police did not show up in riot gear, according to reports, and de Blasio praised the Department’s strategy.
“If we see something structural where we think we’ve got a community problem, a quality-of-life problem, something that is starting to grow and create conflict we’re going to get ahead of it. And lo-and-behold, you know, the curfew was used a few times, it did help to calm the environment,” the mayor said at his June 9 press conference.
A Parks spokeswoman echoed the Police’s statement, saying that the closure will be reassessed daily, adding that the agency plans to launch programming in the northwest section to improve that area at some point.
“We continue to work with PD to find the right balance of education and enforcement against illegal and after hour activities that impact the park and the neighborhood,” said Crystal Howard in a statement. “Enforced closures have been focused on addressing large after hours gatherings, amplified sound, excessive trashing of the park and other conditions on weekends.”