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Controversial Police Patrol Tower Removed From Tompkins Square Park

By Lisha Arino | July 28, 2015 3:46pm
 Police removed a SkyWatch tower from Tompkins Square Park, which had been installed to monitor quality-of-life issues.
Police removed a SkyWatch tower from Tompkins Square Park, which had been installed to monitor quality-of-life issues.
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DNAinfo/Lisha Arino

EAST VILLAGE — A police patrol tower has been removed from Tompkins Square Park, just a week after the NYPD installed it to monitor quality-of-life issues.

The tower was absent as of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, EV Grieve first reported, although it is unclear when it was taken down. The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’m real happy. I’m glad,” said 53-year-old Edward Arrocha, who has lived in the East Village for more than 20 years, as he sat on a park bench. "I think…most people are relieved that it’s gone because it doesn’t belong here. It’s an intrusion in the park.”

The white SkyWatch tower has been a controversial structure in the neighborhood since it was installed last Tuesday following a New York Post article about an increase in homeless people — many with drug issues — sleeping in the park.

Many residents said they found the tower unnecessary and intrusive, arguing that the park was safe and the number of homeless people relatively small.

“In some ways, I felt like it was Big Brother watching you,” Arrocha said.

Nearly 700 people had signed a petition calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to remove the tower soon after it appeared in the park while a Twitter account posing as the tower called for its removal while poking fun at the situation.

A group of protesters also planned to hold a “campout” outside the park to protest the increased police presence and to support the homeless.

“We think it’s a victory for us that the tower was moved,” said John Penley, who co-organized the campout.

Demonstrators will continue with the weekend-long sleepover on Aug. 7 through 9 in a show of support for the city’s homeless, he said.