Pride celebrations turn violent as NYPD clashes with crowds in Washington Square Park – CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – Pride celebrations turned violent Sunday in Washington Square Park.
Police said several officers were injured, but visitors to the park say the heavy police presence provoked crowds.
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Thousands of people gathered in Washington Square Park on Sunday as the city celebrated its annual pride march, but the party got tense around 7 p.m.
A cell phone video shows hundreds of police in riot gear heading towards the park.
“The NYPD has attacked queer people celebrating pride,” witness Ash Tifa said.
Some of the clashes between police and park visitors were filmed.
“A group of NYPD officers attacked, grabbed and arrested people who were simply standing on the sidewalk,” said Jay W. Walker of the Queer Liberation March.
At least four people were arrested in the park Sunday evening on charges ranging from disorderly driving to assaulting a police officer.
NYPD says people threw bottles at police.
“They create provocative situations in the hope that they will create an aggressive response from the protesters,” Walker said.
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Sunday’s skirmish comes after weeks of contention around the park.
Residents complained of messy revelers destroying property and attracting violence at night.
The NYPD recently passed and then lifted a 10 p.m. curfew.
“The presence of the NYPD was quite unnecessary and only served to escalate and provoke violence in a crowd of peaceful, cold and cheerful participants,” witness Carli Rhoades said.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke exclusively with Department Head Rodney Harrison about Sunday’s showdown.
“Couple incidents where we asked people to move out and unfortunately they got agitated. There were two assaults on a police officer, which was worrying, ”he said.
The chief admits that the officers used pepper spray on the crowd.
“It is currently under investigation and our Manhattan South investigation team will determine what it will need, if there will be any punitive actions resulting from it,” Harrison said.
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Bauman asked the Chief how he plans to monitor the park without adding to these tensions in the future. He says the answer is communication between officers and park visitors.