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The New York Post reported Monday that “law and order” has returned to Union Square Park by way of tough love from the NYPD. Because the claim seemed a little hyperbolic, we went to the park around 7 p.m. Tuesday to check things out. Although the park’s stretch known as “Methadone Alley” was not filled with seemingly drugged-out people, the park was definitely not free from crime.
We stumbled upon a group of between 150 and 200 people who had gathered for a Make Music New York Mass Appeal program hosted by the New York City Guitar School. Right before the music — a collection of songs ranging from “Proud Mary” to “Firework” — really got going, the guitarist manning one of the microphones announced that a man’s bag had been stolen. Throughout the concert a group of three disoriented men danced among the throngs of guitarists. One was wearing what appeared to be a beaten-up top from a set of scrubs, and had a white hospital bracelet around his wrist. The men passed around a small plush leopard, and at one point two of them started grinding against one another.
But according to NYC Guitar School owner Dan Emery, the dancers were ultimately “not a big deal.” Their presence was “a little unfortunate,” he said, but what was more so was a stolen wallet, stolen backpack, and the fistfight that broke out behind the guitarists, who were stationed on the steps near the train station at 14th Street.
“A fistfight is a big deal,” Emery said.
When we approached him and announced our intention to discuss the Post‘s story claiming that crime had been completely cleaned up, Emery replied: “apparently, not.”
That said, there was a strong police vehicle presence at Union Square East. A police command post was stationed there the entire time we were at the park, and during our time there we saw at least two cars and a van.
“To me, honestly, I’ve lived here for 10 years. This is the Union Square I know and love,” NYC Guitar School teacher Jen Elliott told us when asked about her experience, during a break in the guitar playing.
Meanwhile in the world of comedy, The Daily Show also disputed the clean-up of “Methadone Alley” Monday when correspondent Samantha Bee took to Union Square’s streets to prove that curbing cigarette smoking was the least of the park’s problems. As she spoke to anti-smoking advocates, drug addicts stumbled behind her.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|New York City Outdoor Smoking Ban|
We put in a request with NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne to see if he had any comments on the Post‘s story. He has not yet responded.