EAST VILLAGE — An online petition is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to take down a police patrol tower in Tompkins Square Park, saying it is unnecessary “and just a display of muscle that infringes on our enjoyment of the park.”
“Take down the tower. We don't want it. It makes us feel violated, insulted and angry that you chose this path under the guise of protecting us,” reads the petition, which nearly 100 people have signed so far.
The mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton visited Tompkins Square Park last week, after the New York Post reported a rise in homeless people, many with drug problems, sleeping in the park. The New York Observer also published an editorial encouraging the city “to remove the homeless every night.”
An NYPD spokesman said the temporary post was set up to assess conditions in the park and monitor the quality-of-life issues raised by residents and the media. The department originally planned to place it on the street but could not do so without blocking the roadway, he said.
The tower's presence in the park is at the discretion of Borough Commander Assistant Chief William Morris, the spokesman said.
The mayor's office reiterated that point in a statement from Press Secretary Karen Hinton.
“How long it stays is up to the Boro Commander. They are displayed prominently and openly in a public space, as is the case in other areas of the city where various conditions exist. Bottom Line: This is a temporary 'high visibility' police command post to address safety issues on a temporary basis,” she said.
The petition, created Wednesday night by Penny Rand — who EV Grieve described as a longtime neighborhood resident — argues that homelessness is not an issue in the park.
The park has “one or two benches occupied by homeless people,” Rand acknowledged in the petition, as well as “crustie kids that show up in the parks every summer” but they are “a very small percentage of people who are in the park everyday.”
“Mostly, the park is filled with parents with kids, dog people, scooters, runners, bike riders, skate boarders, flowers, lawns, people sitting on the grass reading, sitting on benches commiserating with their friends, neighbors, listening to music, the occasional conga players, musicians performing, photographers, painters, gardener, park workers … none of whom feel unsafe,” she wrote.
Rand did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The petition also criticizes de Blasio for letting “the NY Post, [Post owner] Rupert Murdoch, The New York Observer and [its owner] Jared Kushner…dictate how you treat the citizens who voted for you.” Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, also owns several buildings in the neighborhood, the petition noted.
“Please listen to the people who do live here, and frequent that park, morning, noon and night,” the petition said.