By Sabina Mollot
Residents of Kips Bay have long complained about homeless men in the area being out of control but on Friday morning, the antics of one bum managed even to shock locals when he dropped his pants and peed across the street from a school.
Around two dozen fourth graders were outside the school on East 33rd Street, PS 116, when it happened, as was one boy’s father, who was there to chaperone a class trip.
The parent, Mitch Horowitz, watched as the man exposed himself and urinated, not bothering to face away from the kids outside. “He was not even standing next to a wall,” said Horowitz. “He was in full view of passersby and kids who were lined up outside.”
Fortunately, Horowitz said, he didn’t think any of the kids happened to see this, since they were busy talking amongst themselves about Pokemon and other matters.
“Thank God for childhood,” said Horowitz. “They weren’t scrutinizing things going on across the street like I am.”
He and another parent as well as the class’s teacher quickly herded the kids onto a school bus, but the man, who Horowitz suspected was homeless due to his disheveled appearance, continued to hang around after pulling his pants back up. At one point, he approached the bus and smiled at the kids, who were mostly around nine years old, inside. That’s when Horowitz snapped a photo of the man on his phone, and called the cops.
The photo was also posted later on a neighborhood Facebook page (Third and 33rd), where irate neighbors share photos of homeless encampments and other offenses. Often, complaints involve the 30th Street men’s shelter as well as the nearby Mainchance intake center.
Later, Horowitz, a Murray Hill resident, told Town & Village he hadn’t heard back from the cops on the issue, although other times he’s made complaints, officers from the 17th Precinct have been responsive. Previously, he’d called 911 to report a homeless encampment in St. Vartan’s Park, which the police then broke up.
Still, Horowitz said he feels that in the past six months or so, the quality of life in his neighborhood has deteriorated as a result of the spike in homelessness. Even a squeegee man, he noted, has taken up residence.
Horowitz first noticed the arrival of the man two weeks ago, working the traffic headed for the midtown tunnel at 37th Street and Lexington. “He dresses in military fatigues approaching cars with a cup, soliciting money from people at traffic lights,” said Horowitz.
This in particular, along with the recent urination incident, struck him as reminders of the bad old days of New York City.
“It reminds me of 20 years ago when street people adopted this attitude of ownership of the sidewalks,” said Horowitz. “I’ve gotten more concerned (about what happens) around the school.”
Recently, minor crimes like public urination have offenses that come with the risk of a summons, rather than arrest. However, according to one cop with the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI), there is still the possibility of an arrest if public lewdness is also involved.
Asked about this case in specific, the cops said it was difficult to say if there would be an arrest or summons. Police told T&V they didn’t have a record of an arrest for the incident, and Horowitz said the schoolbus took off for the Museum of the New City before he could find out if police ever arrived at the scene or if the man stuck around.