Nearby residents and visitors to New York’s Washington Square Park have told how they now avoid the landmark after dark amid fears of violence, a day after another night rave sank in chaos.
On Friday night, a woman was bloodied and bruised after being trampled on by terrified mobs trying to flee from a man armed with a large knife and taser.
The man with the knife and taser is said to be Jason McDermott, 42, sources told DailyMail.com. McDermott was arrested at least 10 times between 2010 and 2014, according to the sources.
Now locals have told how the park changes after dark, from a calm and relaxing atmosphere during the day to chaos when the sun goes down.
As the raves in the park intensified, there were allegations of prostitution and public sex acts, historic smoking turned into hard drugs, and allegations of people carrying guns like baseball bats.
DailyMail.com spoke to park visitors on Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the woman – who has not been named by authorities – was injured.
Nearby residents, afternoon park visitors and business owners who spoke to DailyMail.com have called on police to step up enforcement of the midnight curfew and stop motorcyclists roam the park.
All said they would not go to the park tonight, fearing further violence.
Mayor Bill De Blasio played down the chaos in Washington Square Park in recent weeks on Monday, telling reporters he believed the situation would work out “naturally”
Across from the northwest section of the park, one block from the iconic arches where most revelers congregate at night, two women took in the sunlight through the downstairs window.
Christa Shaub, who has lived in the area for 15 years, and Amy Heinemams, who has lived there for six years, said partying in the park is nothing new, especially during the summer months, but “it ‘s is exaggerated after the pandemic “.
âIt’s an open park, but you have to have respect for people,â Shaub said. âWe need regulations.
While they think the park is safe during the day, Heinemams said, “I will not be walking through the park at night.”
In a small niche under the canopy of trees and surrounded by shrubs just south of the arches, a group of a dozen elders play with an acoustic guitar and dance to songs by Bob Mellencamp.
The guitarist and one of the vocalists – who said his name was Richie – said he had been coming to this place for about eight years and other members of the band had been doing so for decades.
They all live in the apartments across the street. They knew some of the homeless people who roamed the park by name.
But Richie said they made it a point to get out of the park by 5 p.m. at the latest.
âWe’re not going to deal with what’s going on at night and we don’t want to be a part of it,â Richie said.
Guitarist Richie says he’s been coming to this place for about eight years, but now makes a point of getting out of the park no later than 5 p.m.
Last week, the park’s night scene exploded with multiple assaults and cuts. Police held an emergency meeting on Wednesday, which pitted residents against protesting revelers. A few hours later the park was crowded again.
On Wednesday and Thursday nights, the balance seemed to be approaching a pre-pandemic standard, and then Friday night’s chaos hit the chaos button.
Karen Bartolo, now in her 50s, has a deep reverence for the park’s rich history and said she has been playing music in Washington Square Park since she was 15. Every weekend she was here.
âThey played music, smoked weed and had a great time,â she said. “They played music until 2 a.m., but there weren’t any amps or big bass systems that could blast music for blocks.”
âBut what is happening in Washington Square now is horrible,â she said.
She said: âAt night this park was the place. But now people are crazy. The same day. But at night? Forget that.’
She added: âIn the 60s we had our problems, but we came together. We need to meet now.
Bartolo, along with several other park visitors who spoke to DailyMail.com on Saturday afternoon, spoke of an escalation in hostility between police, revelers and park neighbors.
There are too many “aggressive police,” she said, but the children “get out of hand” and encourage law enforcement.
“It can’t get violent,” Bartolo said, “otherwise we are a lost cause.”
Karen Bartolo, now in her 50s, has a deep reverence for the park’s rich history and said she has been playing music in Washington Square Park since she was 15.
Nighttime evenings saw stabbing and brawling, and drew complaints from well-heeled neighbors
Tensions have boiled over in recent weeks after violent, rowdy nightly events saw stabbing and fights, and sparked complaints from neighbors. According to police and residents, needles were also seen in the park as drug use and sales escalated.
The latest incident happened at around 12:40 a.m. on Saturday morning when Jason McDermott, 42, started waving a taser at a group of people who had gathered inside the historic park for another night of partying nocturnal, the NYPD told DailyMail.com.
Police said McDermott was also in possession of a large knife at the time.
The revelers, who have descended on the park for nightly raves in recent weeks, panicked and ran to seek safety from the suspect.
In the chaos, an unnamed 43-year-old woman was run over and trampled on by the fleeing crowd.
Photos from DailyMail.com show the woman sitting on the floor with blood streaming from her face after the incident. A man was seen handcuffed and taken away by police.
Police said the woman was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition with lacerations, bruises and abrasions.
McDermott was arrested without incident and was charged on Saturday morning with threatening, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.
The NYPD said there were no other injuries in the incident and the park remained open for the rest of the night – long after the midnight curfew.
The Violent Night comes amid an upsurge in violent crime across New York City and growing fears the city will return to its dark days of the 70s and 80s.
The NYPD had said this week that its agents would impose a midnight shutdown time if the parks department asked them to.
NYPD department chief Rodney Harrison, the force’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, told reporters at city hall on Wednesday that leaflets would be distributed to park visitors reminding them to leave before closing from midnight.
Mayor Bill De Blasio played down the violence and chaos in Washington Square Park in recent weeks on Monday, telling reporters he believed the situation would resolve itself “naturally”.
The public park in the heart of the Big Apple has been a source of growing tension in recent weeks.
With bars and restaurants facing strict restrictions in the past year due to the pandemic, it has turned into a popular party destination.
Now, as parties and crime reports increase – and COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted – residents and ravers are coming to blows.
On the one hand, young revelers say the park is public property. They wonder why they can’t use the space to host parties and why the wealthy landlords of nearby Greenwich Village should have the power to decide who has access.
On the other side, locals say the park has become a site of increased drug use and violence, leaving them scared to wander the area and struggle with the noise later that night.
The NYPD had imposed a 10 p.m. weekend curfew on the park two weeks ago following complaints from residents.
This sparked clashes between police and revelers that night, with 23 people arrested and eight cops injured on a night of unrest on June 5.
Locals told how the park changes after dark, from a calm and relaxing atmosphere during the day to chaos when the sun goes down