NYPD Command Center on Pier 45 Would Scare Off LGBT Youth, Group Says

By Andrea Swalec on January 31, 2012 11:55am 

FIERCE organizer John Blasco presents the needs and concerns of his organization at a July 25, 2011 community meeting.
FIERCE organizer John Blasco presents the needs and concerns of his organization at a July 25, 2011 community meeting.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

WEST VILLAGE — An advocacy group for gay teens is opposing a proposed NYPD outpost on the Christopher Street Pier, saying the heavy police presence would drive vulnerable youth away from the Hudson River refuge.

"A command center would be a huge problem," John Blasco, the lead organizer of the group FIERCE, which serves LGBT youth of color, said at a meeting Monday night.

"We're talking about people who have faced violence and harassment from police, not just in the West Village but all over the city," he added. "Having [a police command center] there would make LGBTQ youth feel unsafe." 

Pier 45, just north of Christopher Street, has served as a de facto refuge for gay and lesbian New Yorkers for decades. But some West Village residents say that despite their pride in the neighborhood's gay history, noisy teens and young adults who frequent the pier clog sidewalks and keep them up at night. 

That's why the NYPD's Sixth Precinct is looking to create the outpost. Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo, the precinct's commanding officer, said on Jan. 25 the post might be created in the vacant information booth at the base of the pier.

But Blasco said FIERCE — Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment — will ask to speak with Sixth Precinct officials about alternatives to a command center there. 

If the Christopher Street Pier becomes inhospitable to LGBT young people, they will lose one of the only places many kids feel they can be themselves, Blasco said. 

"I don't know if they know where they would go," he said. "There are no other safe spaces." 

Community Board 2's waterfront committee is looking at other solutions to the long-standing pier dispute, including the possible creation of a series of summer arts events to attract a wider range of people to the pier and engage youth who hang out there. 

"Public space deserves to be safe space," Susanna Aaron, a committee member, said at the meeting. "I think everyone can agree on that." 

PIer 45, known as the Christopher Street Pier, in the West Village.
PIer 45, known as the Christopher Street Pier, in the West Village.
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Flickr/Mat McDermott

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