The NYPD has placed a patrol tower in Tompkins Square Park, less than a week after Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton each made separate visits to the park.
According to the two NYPD officers manning the SkyWatch Tuesday night, they’d been with the tower since it was erected in the park that morning. Though neither officer could give the Observer a specific reason for its presence, one suggested it was in response to the park’s homeless population. A July 10 article in the New York Post reported an increased number of homeless residents in the park and related concerns from the park’s East Village neighbors.
Dominique Parrott, 19, has lived in the East Village since 2008, and inside the park since he became homeless in 2013. He told the Observer that the increased police presence was concerning because the tower itself didn’t look safe, but that he thinks the complaints are coming from the neighborhood’s newest residents, who misunderstand the park’s history and culture.
“Don’t come to an already-made park where there’s already been homeless people for years. This isn’t a regular park. This park is famous for homeless people,” Mr. Parrot said. “I sweep this park everyday. The homeless people clean where we chill… I don’t see any yuppies walking over here and grabbing a broom for their dog park.”
Penny Rand, a woman who lives nearby and frequents the park, has started a petition to advocate for removing the tower immediately. Ms. Rand’s petition, titled “Take Down the Police Tower in Tompkins Square Park” was posted on thepetitionsite.com Wednesday morning and had over a hundred signatures as of noon on Thursday. In the post, she described the park as a mostly peaceful, enjoyable space, and Tuesday’s increase in police presence is what is most disruptive. In her petition, Ms. Rand described increased media attention by the Observer and Post as overstating the park’s number of homeless people and neighbors’ concerns.
“We appreciate the efforts of the 9th Precinct doing their job,” Ms. Rand wrote. “On foot. In patrol cars.”
This story is part of a series on Backsliding NYC. See the rest of the stories here.