Arrests, Violent Clashes Follow Police Enforcement of Washington Square Park Curfew

Police confirmed at least 23 arrests by the end of the night

NBC Universal, Inc.

Chaos erupted around Washington Square Park late Saturday for a curfew showdown between police and crowds that tested the park's new 10 p.m. closing time.

Nearly two dozen people were arrested over the course of the night as hundreds of officers descended on the neighborhood to enforce the city's decision to close one of the busiest parks two hours early on weekend nights.

Around 10 p.m., the department began pushing people out of the park with bikes and batons as commands to disperse were broadcast over a loud speaker. Tensions quickly escalated as bottles were thrown and crowds of people were physically removed from the area.

Video flooded social media showing dozens of officers chasing after people through the nearby streets that surround the park. Eventually, the NYPD had removed everyone from the park and stationed officers at each entrance closed off by barricades.

A police spokesperson said eight officers suffered minor injuries while trying to clear the park. Most of the 23 people arrested were charged with disorderly conduct and given desk appearance tickets, the spokesperson said.

The Manhattan park is shutting down at 10 p.m. rather than midnight after concerns of large, loud crowds gathering at the park in past weekends and acting unruly. Video showed some jumping on cars, and police say items were thrown at officers and FDNY firefighters responding to a nearby fire. NBC New York's Adam Harding reports.

The weekend 10 p.m. curfew is new for the park, and follows what the city and some in the neighborhood have said are raucous parties and loud crowds spilling out into the nearby streets late at night.

The NYPD made the decision to close the park early on weekends in conjunction with NYC Parks, citing problematic behavior which has included "jumping on vehicles, making threats to officers, throwing objects such as bottles and other objects at police and in one instance throwing unknown objects at responding FDNY and EMT vehicles which were responding to a building fire.”

The NYPD has said the decision to close the park early will be regularly reviewed, but there is no planned end date for the new curfew.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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