The battle for Washington Square Park raged on as protesters and revelers were out in full force Friday night to take back their park.
Last weekend, Lower Manhattanites were left shocked by the use of force employed by the NYPD to enforce a new 10 p.m. weekend curfew that led to a standoff between citizens and police in Washington Square Park. Arriving in riot gear, officers could be seen tossing around individuals who refused to abide by the new rule, leading to over 20 arrests.
One-week later, protesters began with a preemptive strike.
Although several tabloids have written scathing articles citing rampant drug use, a group striving to fight for the park believe the recent surge in law enforcement stems from wealthy locals complaining of noise pollution.
At just past 5:30 p.m. on June 11, park freedom fighters made a call to arms.
“You might have been getting beat on by the NYPD for the last couple of days. They’ve been coming in here, without no probable cause, without no reason, and I know a lot of y’all have been wondering why that has been happening,” a protester known as Des said. “People that live in this community across the street and all along here are putting in complaints saying that we are in here acting animals, but when I look around here, we don’t see no animals. I see a bunch of college students and human beings trying to enjoy life. They said once the vaccines were approved that everything would go back to normal, so what’s the problem? Why can’t we go to this park and enjoy ourselves?”
Chanting “People over profits,” protesters rallied outside of The Brevoort at 11 Fifth Avenue where the doorman swiftly locked the entrance doors. Bemused residents gazed out from their windows while those below promised to return each day if the curfew continues to be enforced.
After several minutes NYPD officers arrived, which did not sit well with demonstrators. Protesters surrounded the lone squad car making lewd hand gestures.
Although there was a brief scare as the patrol car attempted to drive away, which saw a number of individuals almost getting struck by the vehicle, those at the rally marched back to the park without further incident.
As curfew loomed, Washington Square Parj was bustling with life. Pulsating lights ignited the greenspace while pounding music thanks to an onsite DJ had groups of young adults and teens creating a mosh pit.
Smoke and the stench of alcohol wafted on the air as partygoers danced and even poured vodka into open mouths.
“We are vaccinated and just want to party!” one woman told amNewYork Metro as she danced with a friend.
In addition to the party, skateboarders showed off their tricks by hopping seats while couples kissed beside the iconic fountain.
Although attendees put on a brave face, there was almost an unheard sigh of relief and sense of victory that washed over the park after the 10pm curfew came and went with no sign of the NYPD.
Friday night came as a big victory for those fighting to maintain their hangout spot. However, while round two went to park goers it is clear the class warfare is only just beginning.