New York City’s troubled Washington Square Park again descended into chaos overnight Friday when a woman was left bloodied and bruised after being trampled on by terrified crowds trying to flee a man armed with a large knife and a taser.
Tensions have boiled over in recent weeks after violent rowdy late-night events saw stabbings and brawls, and sparked complaints from neighbors. There have also been needles seen in the park, as drug use and sales has run rampant, according to police and residents.
The latest incident unfolded at around 12.40 am Saturday morning when Jason McDermott, 42, began waving a taser in the direction of a group of people who were gathered inside the historic park for another night of late-night partying, the NYPD told DailyMail.com.
Police said McDermott was also in possession of a large knife at the time.
Partygoers, who have descended on the park for nightly raves in recent weeks, were sent into a panic and ran for safety from the suspect.
In the chaos, one 43-year-old woman, who has not been named, was knocked over and trampled by the fleeing crowd.
DailyMail.com photos show the woman sat on the ground with blood pouring from her face following the incident. A man was seen handcuffed and being led away by police.
Police said the woman was transported to Bellevue hospital in a stable condition with lacerations, contusions and abrasions.
McDermott was arrested without incident and was charged Saturday morning with menacing, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.
The NYPD said there were no other injuries from the incident and the park remained open for the rest of the night – long after the midnight curfew.
The violent night comes amid a surge in violent crime across New York City and fears mounting that the city is returning to its dark days of the 70s and 80s.
A woman was left bloodied and bruised in Washington Square Park on Friday night after being trampled by terrified crowds
The woman was seen with blood pouring from her face Friday night ad NYPD officers went to her aid in the park
Washington Square Park descended into chaos when the woman was left bloodied and bruised after being trampled on by terrified crowds trying to flee a man armed with a large knife and a taser
A man was seen handcuffed and being led away by police following the incident in the historic park; police said they arrested the suspect
The attack happened at around 12:40am – after the New York Police Department failed to enforce a midnight curfew on the park
Witnesses on the scene initially said the woman had been slashed in the face during an argument.
They said they believed she was a local resident who had entered the park to complain about the loud noise, and was attacked during an altercation with a reveler.
It is not clear if the woman or the suspect were among the partygoers in the park when the incident took place.
Hundreds of revelers had descended on the park again Friday night for the latest in a string of parties which has left local residents in the affluent area fuming and the police apparently powerless to step in.
The NYPD had said this week its officers would enforce a midnight closure time if requested to do so by the Parks Department.
On Wednesday, Rodney Harrison, the NYPD’s Chief of Department, the highest ranking uniformed officer on the force, told reporters at City Hall that fliers would be handed out to park visitors reminding them to clear out by the midnight closing time.
On Monday, mayor Bill De Blasio downplayed the violence and chaos at Washington Square Park in recent weeks, telling reporters that he believes the situation will resolve itself ‘naturally.’
It came as liberal residents who live nearby told how they are afraid of asking for more cops to tackle the daily after-dark raves because they don’t want to be viewed as less progressive.
New Yorkers living around the historic Manhattan park told the New York Times they feel it is ‘time to draw the line’ on the escalating parties which they claim have left many ‘too afraid to go inside.’
The incident unfolded at around 12.40 am Saturday morning when Jason McDermott, 42, began waving a taser in the direction of a group of people who were gathered inside the historic park, the NYPD said
Police said McDermott was also in possession of a large knife at the time. Partygoers, who have descended on the park for nightly raves in recent weeks, were sent into a panic and ran for safety from the suspect
A man was seen being arrested by cops. Police said the suspect was arrested and charged with three counts Saturday
Police help the injured woman. In the chaos, a 43-year-old woman, who has not been named, was knocked over and trampled by the fleeing crowd
Police said the woman was transported to Bellevue hospital in a stable condition with lacerations, contusions and abrasions
The NYPD said there were no other injuries from the incident and the park remained open for the rest of the night – long after the midnight curfew
However, they admitted their desire to rein in the revelry clashes with their attitudes toward policing at a time when liberals are calling for greater police reform in the wake of the cop killing of George Floyd.
Their concerns come as a professor questioned the motives behind some of the complaints about the noisy park raves, saying they are targeting young people of color.
‘Is it really just about noise? What is it about really?’ Setha Low, director of the Public Space Research Group at the Graduate Center at CUNY, told the Times.
‘This is another old-fashioned conflict where one scenario is that you want your neighborhood to appropriate the park and take care of it. On the other hand, it is a public space resource for the city.’
The local residents in the rich, elite Greenwich Village neighborhood are largely white while the partygoers are typically more diverse and have traveled to attend the parties from other parts of the city.
The public park in the heart of the Big Apple has been a growing source of tension in recent weeks.
With bars and restaurants facing tight restrictions over the last year due to the pandemic, it transformed into a popular party destination.
Now, as the parties and reports of crime increase – and COVID-19 restrictions have lifted – residents and ravers are coming to blows.
On the one side, young revelers say the park is public property. They question why they cannot use the space to enjoy parties and why the wealthy Greenwich Village homeowners nearby should have the power to decide who has access to it.
On the other side, residents claim the park has become a site of increased drug use and violence, leaving them scared to walk around the area and left grappling with the noise later into the night.
Hundreds of revelers had descended on the park again for the latest in a string of parties which has left local residents fuming
The late-night parties have seen stabbings and brawls, and sparked complaints from well-heeled neighbors
On Monday, mayor Bill De Blasio downplayed the chaos at Washington Square Park in recent weeks, telling reporters that he believes the situation will resolve itself ‘naturally’
Liberal residents who live nearby have told how they are afraid of asking for more cops to tackle the daily after-dark raves because they don’t want to be viewed as less progressive
One resident whose family has lived in the same house around the park for almost half a century said the park resembled ‘a war’ some nights
Partygoers claim the park is a place to ‘chill out’ away from the violence and police hostility in some other parts of the city
The New York Police Department failed to enforce a midnight curfew on the park Friday night
One resident whose family has lived in the same house around the park for almost half a century told the Times the park resembled ‘a war’ some nights.
‘What pains me is that this park is for everyone, and now some people are too afraid to go inside,’ said Erika Sumner, who is the head of the neighborhood association the Washington Square Association.
Another resident Carmen Gonzalez said she was concerned about rising drug use after her young daughter picked up a used syringe from the park.
‘Once the sun comes down, the park changes drastically. It’s time to draw the line,’ she said.
However partygoers told the Times the park is a place to ‘chill out’ away from the violence and police hostility in some other parts of the city.
People gather inside Washington Square Park Friday night for another night of late-night revelry and drinking
A group of young people gather inside the park which has become a growing site of tension between local residents and partygoers in recent weeks
Some revelers in the park were seen drawing and writing on a huge canvas in the park as night fell on the city
The park has transformed in recent months as partygoers moved in, sparking complaints of noise and anti-social behavior from residents
Revelers dance the night away in the historic park where the NYPD has failed to keep a handle on the midnight curfew
This is the park you come to chill out,’ said Edith Molina from the Bronx.
‘In the Bronx, you have gang violence, and police run you out of parks. Here, police don’t do anything.’
David ‘Shaman’ Ortiz, who organizes parties at the park, has branded critics of the noisy raves ‘Karens’ and ‘Kevins.’
In an effort to tackle the simmering tensions and find solutions for both sides, a community meeting was held Wednesday.
Hundreds of locals joined the meeting at Lady of Pompeii Church to complain that the park ‘has become a drug den’ and a ‘free-for-all’.
Several hundred turned up to air their grievances, with around 100 turned away from the meeting.
Volunteers distribute free food at Washington Square Park in the heart of New York City during Friday daytime
A visitor to the park is seen picking up some free clothes and shoes which volunteers set up in the park during the day
People enjoy pizza in the park by day while by night the park has repeatedly descended into chaos drawing the ire of residents
The park has attracted crowds of young people bringing local complaints about loud music, drugs, and violence of late
Daytime scenes show a calm park with volunteers dishing out free food and offering free clothing to people passing through
A man drinks a beer in Washington Square Park Friday daytime which has become a party destination for many in recent months
A man smokes marijuana inside the park in the daytime. At night, police have failed to enforce a curfew on the park sparking anger from residents
Meanwhile, protestors outside argued against an increased police presence at the park and claimed residents were just upset because ‘it’s bad optics for them [the white people] to see black and brown people’ at the park.
Parties broke out at the park again Thursday night, though the scenes were much quieter than recent times.
People were seen dancing together, fire eaters performed to the crowd and some appeared to be selling alcohol from portable coolers.
The NYPD had imposed a 10pm weekend curfew on the park two weeks ago following complaints from residents.
This sparked clashes between police and the partygoers that night, with 23 people arrested and eight cops injured in a night of unrest on June 5.
The midnight closing time was restored after police on Saturday lifted a 10pm curfew that was prompted by local residents who said the crowds were making noise late at night while also making the area unsafe.
The curfew was then lifted, restoring its normal midnight cut-off time.
Residents in New York City’s elite neighborhood of Greenwich Village met with the NYPD on Wednesday over Washington Square Park. Protesters and police are seen outside the meeting
The line to get into the community meeting to discuss the rise in crime at Washington Square Park extended beyond the block
Protestors stand outside Our Lady of Pompeii Church, where a community meeting was being held about the situation
Since then, cops have taken a hands-off approach to enforcing the curfew, with revelers partying on well into the night.
Last Saturday, the park turned somewhat chaotic with two people stabbed, a man beaten and mugged of his phone and a 77-year-old cook at a nearby diner attacked.
The violence in Washington Square Park comes as the NYPD struggled under a surge in violent crime in 2021.
Felony assaults are up eight percent for the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period last year, while rapes are up by 3 percent.
NYPD data shows shootings in the Big Apple have increased by 64 percent year-on-year, while murders are up 13 percent.
The numbers are disturbing in themselves, but the violence has intensified and taken place in public places, like parks and subways, and in front of witnesses and surveillance cameras.
Earlier this week, former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton warned American cities, including New York City, are in for a ‘very, long dangerous summer’ as murder rates have skyrocketed
Statistics show shooting crimes have been up this year city-wide compared to last year
And there aren’t any short- or long-term answers, Bratton told CNBC‘s Shepard Smith on Monday.
‘Unlike the last crime epidemic that took decades to build up to the early ’90s, this one has occurred, literally, overnight,’ Bratton said.
‘It’s like the virus, it’s literally, out of nowhere, and so solutions are not immediately apparent.’
In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo called the surge in violent crime a ‘major problem’ and said unless the NYPD gets a handle on it soon, the city would become undesirable.
‘New Yorkers don’t feel safe and they don’t feel safe because the crime rate is up. It’s not that they are being neurotic or overly sensitive – they are right.’ he said.
Washington Square Park through the ages: From Native American farm land to public execution site and military parade ground
Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, Washington Square Park is known for its iconic arch and fountain.
But long before they were built, it was an area of marsh land with a natural waterway named Minetta Creek home to fresh trout.
The Native American Lenape tribe cultivated the land in the 1600s before it was taken over by the Dutch.
The Dutch then offered some of the land to African-born slaves they freed in 1642 – but the free black farmers then lost the land again under English rule.
In 1797, the City’s Common Council converted the land into a Potter’s Field – the name for an area where the poor were buried. The site is also thought to have been the site of public executions.
Then, in 1826, the area around the park was converted into a militia training ground named Washington Military Parade Ground. The next year, some parts were turned into a public park.
Famously, Samuel F.B. Morse gave a public demonstration of his new invention – the telegraph – in the park in 1838
After the City’s Department of Public Parks was formed to look after the city’s parks in 1870, it underwent a major redesign with curved paths and shaded areas to provide an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The iconic marble Washington Arch was built between 1890-1892 and other monuments were erected over the coming years.
Throughout the 20th century, the park increasingly became a site of protest and performances with labor unions marching after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, and the Beat generation and folkies setting up in the park.
Later redesigns followed and the Arch was restored in the noughties.
The park, now named after George Washington who was inaugurated as the first US president in New York City in 1789, continues to be a popular place for protests and cultural events.