LOWER MANHATTAN — Relieved Lower Manhattan residents thanked cops Thursday night for clearing Occupy Wall Street protesters out Zuccotti Park — blaming the movement for creating a spike in crime in Lower Manhattan over the past month.
"Thanks to the Police Department for doing such a marvelous job," said Marcia Wunsch, who lives on Liberty Street overlooking Zuccotti Park, at Thursday's meeting of the 1st Precinct Community Council. "We appreciate what you've done."
Wunsch was one of about a dozen residents who applauded Deputy Inspector Ed Winski, the precinct's commander, as well as the NYPD for clearing the protesters' tents out of their Lower Manhattan encampment in a predawn raid last Tuesday.
Since the anti-greed movement began on Sept. 17, some residents have complained about the noise coming from Zuccotti Park, protesters relieving themselves in public spaces and the impact that police barricades have had on local businesses. There have also been a number of people arrested at the park for alleged sexual assaults and other crimes.
Other residents have previously criticized the police for the way the raid was carried out, including the NYPD's decision to bar the press from documenting it. But only one of the residents at Thursday's meeting, Mary Perillo, who lives on Cedar Street, expressed that concern.
According to NYPD officials, the demonstrators have been responsible for a spike in crime in the neighborhood over the past month, including a 400 percent increase in the number of felony assaults.
Before the NYPD's raid Tuesday, major crime in the 1st Precinct had increased about 8 percent in the 28-day period ending Nov. 6, compared to the same period the previous year, NYPD figures show.
The increase was driven by a surge of 15 felony assaults during that period, compared to just three in the same period last year. Most of the assaults involved Occupy Wall Street protesters attacking police officers, Winski said.
The figures do not include police officers injured during Thursday's demonstrations around the New York Stock Exchange and at Zuccotti Park, which led to nearly 250 arrests. One officer who was hit with a star-shaped piece of glass had to get 20 stitches on his left hand, police said.
Winski said that the NYPD's crackdown on the protesters' encampment and strict enforcement of new rules set for the park should cut down on crime and ease residents' concerns about their health and safety.
"Is it perfect? No," Winski said.
"There's going to be some bumps in the road. But I think we're on a path to bring quality of life back to the residents."
On Friday morning, one day after thousands of protesters marched through the Financial District and across the Brooklyn Bridge and clashed with cops, Zuccotti Park was quiet. Only a few dozen protesters milled around, and even fewer were expected to stay there overnight.
But looking ahead, several residents said they are still concerned about noise in the park, especially after the protesters spent much of Thursday chanting and drumming.
Winski said protesters are no longer allowed to bring drums into Zuccotti Park because they are considered a large container that could conceal a weapon.
Protesters are also prohibited from drumming while sitting on the sidewalk, but they are allowed to drum while walking around the perimeter of the park, as long as it is before 10 p.m., Winski said.
The NYPD will likely continue to maintain a large presence around Zuccotti Park, but the responsibility for patrolling the interior and managing the entry points will fall to Brookfield Properties, the owner of the park.
The company's private security force has 30 guards assigned to the park around the clock, Winski said.
Winski also said that he hopes that the metal barricades surrounding the park will be removed soon, though it is too early to say when that might happen.