EAST VILLAGE — A weekend-long campout near Tompkins Square Park is in the works to support the homeless and protest the NYPD’s placement of a patrol tower there earlier this week, organizers said.
Participants will sleep outside the park at East Seventh Street in what organizers have dubbed “Camp New York Post” from Aug. 7 to 9, which coincides with the 27th anniversary of the Tompkins Square Riots of 1988, EV Grieve first reported.
Co-organizer John Penley said the encampment’s name is a nod to the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, which recently wrote about an increase in the number of homeless people sleeping in the park — many of whom have drug issues, the paper claimed.
Shortly after the Post published its stories — and after The New York Observer published an editorial about the park’s homeless issue — the NYPD placed a patrol tower in Tompkins Square Park.
“The point we want to make is that the reason for doing this is not just the tower it is because we believe the NY Post used the sad plight of homeless people to create a return to Giuliani style policing in relation to the poor and those suffering from poverty, mental illness and gentrification and we do not want that to continue,” the event’s Facebook page read.
“Bring a tent, water and noise makers. Support the right of homeless people to enjoy a public park.”
“All of a sudden, it’s open season on these people. Why?” said Paul DeRienzo, who organized the event with Penley and has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. Although there are homeless people in the park, they said, it has not been a problem.
An NYPD spokesman said the tower would allow police to assess conditions in the park and monitor the quality-of-life issues raised by residents and the media. It is unclear how long the structure will remain in the park.
The campout will be peaceful, DeRienzo and Penley said, and the protesters will not block the sidewalk. Free food and cold non-alcoholic drinks will also be available, according to Facebook, and there will be no fires.
Other community members have also spoken out against the increased police presence in the park. A petition calling on the mayor to remove the tower has received more than 300 signatures so far and the structure already has its own Twitter account, which has been posting snarky updates since Tuesday afternoon.