Though it hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention as the occupation of Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, which was widely recognized as the genesis of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that exploded in the years after the financial crisis, the occupation of Washington Square Park has shown no signs of slowing down, even with the Big Apple’s crowded mayoral primary just one day away.
Some have even likened the park to a “no go zone”, a reference to areas (typically outside the US) where high rates of violent crime prompt outsiders to avoid the area.
Late last week, the NYT published a lengthy piece chronicling the situation at WSP, which has long had a reputation as a haven for the homeless and for drug dealers. Since the city imposed a curfew a few weeks back, the park has become a rallying point for activists and partygoers alike who are trying to make a point about reclaiming public space. The bougie residents who live in the area surrounding the park told the NYT that the situation “felt like war”.
After the NYPD first clashed with revelers in the park on June 5, the city ordered the police to stand down, prompting homeowners and renters who live near the park to brace for “a summer of chaos and sleepless nights.”
Edith Molina, 19, came down from the Bronx. “This is the park you come to chill out,” she said. “In the Bronx, you have gang violence, and police run you out of parks. Here, police don’t do anything.”
On recent weeks, the NYT reported that the number of visitors in the park sometimes balloons to more than 1K people, packed into a 9.74-acre piece of land in the heart of Greenwich Village. With the homeless and the crowd of young revelers has come drug dealers, who have created an influx of crack and heroin dealing in the park. The Daily Mail added, in a story published Sunday night, that residents have also complained about “prostitution and public sexual acts” being carried out in the park.
Speaking on Monday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believes the situation will resolve itself “naturally”.- READ MORE
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