Washington Square Park shuts down early due to violent groups, drug use

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan -- Washington Square Park is full of life during the day, but at night it has a dark side.

Kyler James, a writer, and a tarot card reader has been coming to the park for 12 years.

"There's a lot of crazy stuff in this park, I'm one of the sane ones here," he said.

Recently there have been protests and huge street parties, where the crowd turned violent and threw bottles at police officers.

Crime in the 6th Precinct is up 62 percent in the last year, and now activities like drug use and prostitution plague the park, causing it to shut down on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at 10 p.m.

Michael Sarnoff, a father of two, is praising the move.

"I do think the pandemic has hurt it, I don't think it was this bad," Sarnoff said, "There are a lot of people who aren't wearing clothes, and I don't want them to see that. And you smell a lot of odors, and I don't want them to smell...it seems dangerous."

Parks maintenance crews clean the park daily in the morning and at night, and they have found various drug paraphernalia, including hypodermic needles.
"A lot of community residents have expressed concerns. Parks historically have had a closing time. This is an effort to make sure there is real respect for community concerns about noise and safety," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

However, not all people agree - take Joane Olbirch and her husband, Ed, for example. They say young people need to get together, and human beings need to get together.

And people sure do need to get together - with safety being a top priority.

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