Bill Bratton: People want more policing in NYC, not less

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton on crime surging in US cities and a NYC mayoral candidate who supports the ‘defund police’ movement.

New York City’s Greenwich Village is home to movie stars and other big-name celebrities – and lately, a host of crime and violence issues both inside a local park and on the neighborhood’s streets.

Just Wednesday, the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced it was looking for a man who broke into a Greenwich Village apartment and rubbed his penis on a 10-year-old girl’s feet.

The man is believed to have slipped into the apartment through a fire escape around 1 a.m. on June 11, police said. The girl awoke to find the man standing at the edge of her bed. 

Police said he fled from the apartment shortly thereafter through the front door and was later seen riding a bicycle. 

But Greenwich Village, which is also home to New York University and The New School’s main campus, had been making headlines even before last week’s sick crime, particularly in the neighborhood’s beloved Washington Square Park.

The park is located between University Place and Washington Square West and is famous for its circular meeting spot at the center. But recent reports of anarchy and crime, including violence, partying and drug use, have caused some local residents to grow concerned.

Washington Square Park in New York City on Sept. 27, 2007. (Mychal Watts/WireImage)

In April, filming of the hit Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” inside the park was interrupted when a man disrupted the crew and a brawl broke out, Showbiz 411 reported at the time. According to the report, showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino was “visibly shaken” following the events.

“[S]he was crying, asking, how did this happen?” a bystander told the site.

Video obtained by The Hollywood Fix shows the disruption in the middle of the park, which was busy with the film crew in costume and members of the public at the time. 

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS LANGUAGE THAT IS EXPLICIT AND OFFENSIVE

And according to a recent New York Post report, two NYU students were in Washington Square Park in the middle of May when they were assaulted. 

Locals also told the Post drug use has been more prominent than they’ve ever seen.

“I know drugs have been in Washington Square Park for a long time, but I have never seen anything like this before,” neighborhood resident Jennifer Nyp told the news site. 

Ruth Wyatt, who has lived near the park for more than two decades, told the Post: “The situation in the park and its surroundings has gotten out of control.”

At the beginning of June, the news of crime and rampant drug use inside the famed park prompted the NYPD to move the park’s midnight curfew up to 10 p.m. 

But chaos ensued between people within the park and police who arrived to enforce the newly instated curfew – including those clad in riot gear. Police ultimately arrested 23 people, the NYPD told Fox News at the time. At least five officers were injured, the department said. 

City officials ultimately suspended early curfew days later, on June 11, after park-goers refused to comply. That same night, police said three people were assaulted, including one person who was slashed and another who was stabbed. 

The next day, a 27-year-old homeless man allegedly pushed a 77-year-old cook at the Washington Square Diner into a glass window because he was asked to leave the restaurant for bothering customers, according to a Post report. 

During a press conference at the park Thursday, Elizabeth Crotty, a candidate for Manhattan district attorney, said she walks her dog there every morning and referenced quality of life crimes, drug dealing and “soon-to-be-violent crimes.” She noted: “It is not coincidental we are in Washington Square Park. Washington Square Park has been calling out.”

“We need to be ahead of it so everyone feels safe,” she told reporters. “Washington Square Park is emblematic of the rest of New York City, and the rest of New York City, in every neighborhood, people are not feeling safe.”

The average home in Greenwich Village is listed at $1.3 million, according to Realtor.com.

The neighborhood has boasted wealthy residents, movie stars and other Hollywood A-listers, including Taylor Swift, Alec Baldwin, Seth Meyers, Hilary Swank and disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein and his then-wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman.

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    Alec Baldwin seen walking in Greenwich Village on October 3, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images) (Getty Images)

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    Taylor Swift is seen in Greenwich Village on July 18, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Gotham/GC Images) (Getty Images)

Baldwin and his family have been known to rest their legs in a spacious penthouse condo in the Village’s Devonshire House, according to the Post. He reportedly nabbed the home, located on East 10th Street near University Place, in 2011 for $11.7 million, but began discretely trying to sell it starting in January.  

Swift rented a four-bedroom home on Greenwich Village’s Cornelia Street – just “steps from” the park – in 2016 and paid $39,500 per month, Curbed New York reported. Her stay at the carriage house was reportedly short-lived, and the home later sold for $11.5 million.

Weinstein and Chapman owned a sprawling townhouse on Bank Street near Waverly Place, located just across the street from the famous Waverly Inn. Following their contentious divorce amid widespread sex crimes accusations against Weinstein, he and Chapman sold the 5,000-square-foot space in March 2018 for $25.6 million, Page Six reported at the time. 

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    Two pumpkins are placed on the steps outside of Harvey Weinstein’s Greenwich Village home on October 12, 2017 in New York City. (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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    Harvey Weinstein leaves his Greenwich Village home, 13 Bank street, Friday April 3rd 2015. (Marcus Santos/NY Daily News via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The NYPD’s 6th precinct, which oversees Greenwich Village and the West Village, reported an 80% increase in felony assaults during the most recently available weeklong period, from June 7 to June 13, compared to the same time last year, statistics show. During that same period, grand larcenies were up 183%, petit larcenies were up 138.5% and misdemeanor assaults were up 366.7%. 

Meanwhile, robberies were down and no incidents were reported in any of the other crime types. 

During the most recent 28-day period, reports of robberies, felony assaults, larcenies, “other sex crimes,” hate crimes and misdemeanor assaults were up, with the latter showing an increase of 480% year over year, precinct statistics show. Shooting and burglary incidents were down.

On Wednesday, hundreds of local residents attended an emergency meeting hosted by the 6th precinct to address concerns related to Washington Square Park crimes, according to FOX5 New York. Protesters gathered outside the church where the meeting was held to speak out against the police department.

“Of course no one is abiding by the curfew, they’re lawbreakers,” Jackie Toboroff told the news station at the meeting. Toboroff is running for a city council seat. “They’re doing drugs, they’re fornicating, there are syringes. I have two kids. I don’t want to have to navigate stepping over syringes.”

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