Police say at least 23 people were arrested Saturday night after officers enforced the new 10 p.m. curfew in Washington Square Park.
Officers in riot gear used force to move out the scores of people who remained inside the park past the deadline. Some of those gathered inside the park were taking part in protests against the new curfew.
Police used loudspeakers to tell the crowds to disperse or be arrested for unlawful entry.
The NYPD and the Parks Department instituted the temporary weekend curfew amid complaints of large and rowdy crowds, drug use and loud music.
Park-goers NY1 spoke with are divided on the issue. Some argue the park has become dangerous as of late.
“The park has turned into a nightmare for those of us with kids,” said local resident Maria Rose. “There's constant drugs, constant nudity. There's sexual acts here all the time. The trash in the mornings has become really obscene and it's really not a place for kids anymore, let alone adults.”
Others say the new curfew and added police presence are unnecessary.
“I feel like there's really no need for a curfew here,” said SoHo resident Candace Fraser-Macgregor. “It's kind of such a lively area, especially at night. I don't really understand why it's happening."
Charges against those who were arrested are now pending.
On Sunday, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) condemned the NYPD for what they say is a dangerous overreach: “Cops are once again intentionally escalating tensions w/ protesters + brutalizing them alongside park-goers + unhoused people. Enforcing a park curfew doesn’t call for riot gear, threats of tasers, and violence.”
The NYCLU said that protest monitors will be at Washington Square Park Sunday night.
The weekend curfew at the park is in effect indefinitely, according to the Parks Department.