Chaos erupted in Washington Square Park Saturday night as NYPD officers clashed with parkgoers over a new 10 p.m. curfew.
At least 22 people were arrested for unlawful assembly and violation of park rules, according to law enforcement sources. Five cops were injured, the New York Post reports.
Videos posted on Twitter showed police in riot gear using physical force, including pushing and grabbing, to disperse the crowd.
Earlier this week, the NYPD and city parks department officials announced the temporary weekend curfew amid complaints of rampant drug use and the gathering of large, sometimes violent crowds.
“The decision to move the closing time will be reviewed on ongoing basis,” the NYPD said in a statement. “This decision was made due to safety concerns following several recent incidents where large, and sometimes violent groups have refused to leave the park, and engaged in disorderly behavior. This behavior 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.”
According to Gothamist, robberies have increased 72 percent in the 6th precinct, which covers the park, in the last year, while assaults are up nearly 30 percent.
“The parks are clearly not for people to use drugs, they’re not for people to do any other sorts of nefarious activities,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in an interview on Monday. He added that city parks were for “people sitting and enjoying themselves, for families and kids.”