Police Watch: Homeless man stabbed in Union Square, Man wanted for burglaries on West 14th

HOMELESS MAN STABBED IN UNION SQUARE PARK
A homeless man was stabbed by a group of men in Union Square Park early Monday morning, DNAinfo reported. Police said that the 39-year-old homeless man was arguing with the men near East 14th Street and Union Square East around 3:30 a.m. when they stabbed the victim in the chest and fled. It wasn’t immediately clear what the argument was about or how many people were involved, but no arrests were made at the time of the incident.

MAN WANTED FOR MULTIPLE BURGLARIES ON WEST 14TH STREET
Police are looking for a man wanted in connection with a number of burglaries at multiple businesses inside 154 West 14th Street in the West Village earlier this summer. Police said that the suspect entered the offices of Grove Atlantic on Wednesday, July 26 around 1:33 a.m., reportedly getting in by forcing open the front door. Once inside, he stole four laptops.
The second incident occurred on Saturday, August 5 around 10 p.m. when the suspect entered Atelier Esthetique by forcing open the door. He also allegedly forced open the register and took $300.
The man was described as Hispanic and was last seen wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Statues coming to life at parks

Historical figures will speak through technology

July13 Statue Peter Stuyvesant

Statue of Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Most of the time, the monuments built to honor historical figures go unnoticed by New Yorkers. Up on their pedestals, how could they even hope to compete with whatever is below, flashing on park goers’ cell phones? Fortunately for our forefathers, a history-loving Dane has found a way to get the stories behind the statues told today in a modern way.

David Peter Fox, a TV producer and documentary maker from Copenhagen, has for the past 18 months been organizing installations in different cities where statues speak to park goers via their smartphones. The project began in Denmark, then later went on to London and then the Unites States in San Diego and Chicago. Then on Wednesday, July 12, Talking Statues came to New York.

“I got the idea in 2013,” said Fox, reached on the phone this week. “I was curious about the stories that are behind statues.”

To make the project a reality, Fox and others fundraised to be able to hire a team of actors, one to play the part of each statue, and writers to come up with the material. To hear any of the 35 city monuments’ stories, participants just approach a statue, and scan a code on a sign. They will need a wi-fi connection and a QR scanner or scanning app on their phones to do this or they can type the web address they see on the sign. After that, the individual will be contacted from the great beyond.

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Police Watch: East Village woman stabbed, Man arrested for hitting cop with car

EAST VILLAGE WOMAN STABBED IN HOME INVASION
A man broke into a 31-year-old woman’s East Village apartment on Sunday night and stabbed her, The New York Post reported.
The victim, Cassidy Helmken, told police that she heard a knock around 8:30 p.m. and the man pushed his way into her apartment when she opened the door. Along with stabbing her, the attacker stole $500 in cash from the victim. Helmken is being treated at Bellevue Hospital for a collapsed lung and several gashes. Gothamist noted that Helmken’s apartment is on Avenue B near East 13th Street.

MAN ARRESTED FOR HITTING COP WITH CAR
Police arrested 40-year-old Raheem Starr after he hit a police officer with his car while leaving a parking lot at East 23rd Street and the FDR last Sunday around 3 a.m. Police were responding to a disorderly group of people who had just left a party boat and while police were attempting to disperse the crowd, Starr allegedly rammed through a barricade and clipped the officer, causing minor injuries to his knee and hands. The officer fired one round from his gun after the car hit him while trying to flee, but no one was hit by the shot. A 29-year-old man was also arrested but police said that the case is sealed and had no further information on that suspect. Starr was charged with reckless endangerment.

Robbery suspects

ROBBERY AT WEST 23RD ST. F/M STATION
The NYPD is asking the public’s assistance identifying two men who robbed a woman on the subway after showing her a gun.
At West 23rd and Sixth Avenue on Thursday, June 15 at 9:30 p.m., police said that the two men approached the 22-year-old woman on the downtown platform and asked if she could cash a check for one of them. The victim declined, at which time one of the men lifted his shirt and displayed what appeared to be a silver gun. The suspect then demanded that the victim go to the nearby Chase Bank, where she deposited a check and withdrew $600 cash, which was given to the other suspect, who was wearing a white hat. Once this transaction was completed, the suspects fled the location. There were no reported injuries as a result of this incident.
The suspects are described as black men, approximately in their mid 20s. One individual is 6’4” tall, weighing 200 lbs. and the second individual is 5’10” tall, weighing 170 lbs. The surveillance photos were taken from the subway station.
Anyone with information in regards to this robbery is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

MAN ARRESTED FOR GRAMERCY BURGLARIES
Police arrested 48-year-old Earl Brown for burglary in front of 15 East 18th Street last Monday at 1:18 a.m. A witness working at 873 Broadway told police that he was working late when he heard a loud banging from the business next door. He said that he saw a man wearing a white shirt and a Yankees hat repeatedly ramming his shoulder into the door in an attempt to gain entry. Police said that Brown also rang the doorbell of the witness’s office, allowing the witness to see him through the peephole. The witness then called 911 and a suspect fitting the witness’s description was stopped at the side exit of 15 East 18th Street. Brown matched the description provided by the witness and he was allegedly in possession of a stolen Apple MacBook, a stolen Dell laptop and a stolen Canon digital camera.
Brown was later charged with an additional burglary from 115 East 23rd Street where he allegedly damaged the magnetic doors and swiped property at an earlier date.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SWIPING TIPS AT SECOND AVENUE PIZZA PLACE
Police arrested 35-year-old Raul Galvez for petit larceny inside Mike’s Pizza at 415 Second Avenue last Sunday at 8:09 p.m. Police said that Galvez entered the restaurant and stuck his hand inside the tip jar on the counter. He allegedly removed cash and fled from the location but he was apprehended outside the restaurant by the business owner.

MAN NABBED FOR POT AT ASSER LEVY PLAYGROUND
Police arrested 31-year-old Ryan Betances for possession of marijuana at the Asser Levy Playground last Wednesday at 5:01 p.m. Police said that Betances was smoking alleged marijuana while inside a public park while there were children present on the playground. Betances also allegedly had a jar containing loose marijuana inside his bag and a small bag of alleged marijuana inside his wallet.

MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUG DEAL IN UNION SQUARE PARK
Police arrested 37-year-old Douglas Zimbler and 31-year-old Sean Keenan for a drug deal in Union Square Park last Wednesday at 6 p.m. Police said that Zimbler sold a quantity of alleged crystal meth to Keenan. Both men were charged with possession of a controlled substance and Zimbler was additional charged with the sale of a controlled substance. Police said that Keenan was also in possession of a pipe with alleged crystal meth residue.

MEN BUSTED FOR SELLING ‘LOOSIES’
Police arrested a 34-year-old man in front of the men’s shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesdayfor selling loose Newport cigarettes without a vendor’s license. Police also arrested a 50-year-old man for selling loose Newport cigarettes outside the shelter. The suspects were charged with violating tax law and unlawful peddling.

Subway ‘groper’ nabbed in Union Sq.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a 24-year-old man for groping a woman inside the 14th Street/Sixth Avenue subway station after he was spotted in Union Square almost a week later.

Police said that on May 27, Valence Simpson slapped and grabbed the woman’s buttocks while inside the station at 1:36 p.m. When she turned around and said, “How dare you?” Simpson allegedly responded, “I just did.”

The victim told police that while Simpson was walking away from her, he allegedly turned around to face her, walking backwards while making faces at her, at which point she reportedly used her cell phone to take photos of him.

Police created a wanted poster from the photo and an officer spotted Simpson inside Union Square Park around 6:20 p.m. last Thursday. When police showed Simpson the poster, he allegedly identified himself as the person in the photograph.

He was charged with sexual abuse. His lawyer did not want to comment on the case.

Homeless man arrested for attempted rape in Union Square

Union Square Park (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Union Square Park (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A homeless man was arrested for the attempted rape of a 23-year-old woman on a sidewalk just north of Union Square Park early Sunday morning.

The victim, who told police that she had been drinking earlier in the evening with a friend, said that she sat down at the northwest corner of Park Avenue South and East 17th Street and fell asleep on the sidewalk. When she woke up around 1:30 a.m., 39-year-old Nelis Calix was allegedly standing over her with his pants down.

There was a blanket covering her and she didn’t know where it came from, but her pants were also partially pulled down, she reported to police. A witness said that he heard her yelling, “no” and “help” multiple times while Calix reportedly lifted the blanket that was covering her. According to the District Attorney’s office, Calix went between the victim’s legs and attempted to rape her before bystanders intervened.

Other nearby witnesses called 911 to report the crime and Calix attempted to flee but he was arrested shortly after 1:45 a.m.

The victim was transported to Bellevue Hospital, where she was treated and released.

Police sources said that Calix has 18 prior arrests, including public lewdness, and he was arrested for sexual abuse in 2002 in the Bronx. Police said that Calix also frequently goes by different names. He is being held on Rikers Island for $50,000 bail and has a court appearance this Friday.

Calix’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Nothing uncool about Geek Street Fair

Participants could participate in the construction of what would become a 10-foot-wide ball of hexagonal shapes with MoMath. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Participants could participate in the construction of what would become a 10-foot-wide ball of hexagonal shapes with MoMath. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, October 13, Google hosted its third “Geek Street Fair” at Union Square Park. The midday event, attended by students from nearby schools, included interactive booths where kids could see robots, get behind the wheel of a student-built racecar and play games with a science or tech twist.

Participating companies and organizations with booths included Flatiron’s Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), Google (which has an office in Chelsea), Facebook, Pinterest, The Cooper Union, First Robotics and Black Girls Code. At the Cooper Union booth, the racecar on display, which students raised $50,000 from sponsors to build, was a popular stop.

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3 local organizations holding food festivals as fundraising events

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

By Sabina Mollot

Supporting neighborhood organizations is about to get very tasty.

This is because three local organizations are holding food tasting events this month bypassing more traditional kinds of fundraising events. The hosts are, respectively, the Union Square Partnership, hosting the 21st annual Harvest in the Square festival on September 22, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, holding the fourth annual Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood on September 24, and Solar One, holding an Oktoberfest event on September 27.

Details for each event are as follows:

Harvest in the Square benefits its host’s efforts to maintain and beautify Union Square Park as well as fund summer programming. Over 50 local restaurants will participate at this event, held under a giant tent at the park’s North Plaza.

A handful of those include Croque Monsieur, Gramercy Tavern, Ngam, Rosa Mexicano, Strip House, Flats Fix, Black Barn, The Pavilion, The Poke Spot, Union Fare and Hill Country Chicken. There will also be tastings from a dozen regional wineries.

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Subway musicians take their act to Madison Square Park

Bands working the subway, including Bandits on the Run (above), are featured in the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s new concert series, “Above Ground.” Photo by Dave Fitz)

Bands working the subway, including Bandits on the Run (above), are featured in the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s new concert series, “Above Ground.” (Photo by Dave Fitz)

By Sabina Mollot

At Madison Square Park, one of the surest signs that summer has officially arrived is not with the Shake Shack line snaking halfway around the park—since it’s like that even in the winter — but with the start of its various events.

For years now, summers in the park have included Thursday morning concerts and theater for kids as well as Wednesday night concerts for adults — and they’re all free. The evening “Oval Lawn” concert series has been going for 13 years and another concert series, “The Studio,” which runs at the park in the fall, and is the domain of Americana/bluegrass bands, is now in its tenth year.

This year, however, the Madison Square Park Conservancy has launched yet another series, this one featuring the best of what the city’s subway platforms have to offer.

Called the “Above Ground” series, the concerts have been running at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays since June 24 with buskers headlining. The series will continue for three more Wednesdays with performances by Bandits on the Run (July 15), Mariachi Flor de Toloache (July 22) and Underground Horns (July 29).

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Police arrest hammer attack suspect

Photo of hammer attack suspect

Photo of hammer attack suspect

The man shot by police yesterday who’s believed to be the hammer-wielding lunatic who attacked four people on Monday, has since been arrested.

Police announced on Thursday morning that the man, who’s been identified as David Baril, has been arrested and charged with seven counts of felony assault as well as criminal possession of a weapon.

Baril was approached by the cops on a midtown street Wednesday morning when, according to the NYPD, he began swinging at a female officer, Lauren O’Rourke, with a hammer. It was her partner, Geraldo Casaigne, who shot Baril, striking him twice, once in the right arm and once in the torso. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Police said he is in critical but stable condition.

Baril was stopped by the cops after they recognized him as the suspect behind a string of random attacks on three women and one man, who were each struck on the head with a hammer. The cops had been in the area for an unrelated assault, according to the Post, who added that Baril has a long rap sheet that includes assaulting a police officer and jumping a counter at a KFC and punching an employee.

On Monday, his crime spree reportedly began by attacking a man on West 35th Street, a woman sitting inside Union Square Park, a woman walking on West 17th Street west of Sixth Avenue and a woman near Madison Square Park.

O’Rourke sustained abrasions and lacerations to the back of her head and back and taken to Bellevue Hospital. Casaigne was also taken to Bellevue for tinnitus. Both officers have been treated and released.

Police Commissioner Bratton visited the two officers at the hospital on Wednesday.

Note: This article is updated from the print version about the shooting to include information about the arrest and additional details about the incident from the police.

Two women attacked with hammers in Union Square

Police sketch of hammer attack suspect

Police sketch of hammer attack suspect

A hammer-wielding nut bashed two women over the head on Monday night in seemingly random attacks in Union Square.

At around 7:30 p.m., a 28-year-old woman who was sitting on a bench in Union Square Park was struck over the head with the tool by an unknown man who’d pulled it out of a bag.

Police and an EMS team responded and the victim was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, where she was reported to be in stable condition.

Approximately 10 minutes later, a 33-year-old woman walking west on West 17 Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was also struck on the back of her head from behind. The suspect then fled in an unknown direction.  The blow caused an injury to the woman’s scalp and she was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital in stable condition. Both women have since been treated and released.

The suspect is described as black, in his 30s, with a medium build, and was wearing a black waist length jacket, a dark-colored baseball hat, dark jeans, black sneakers, and a black backpack.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or texting tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.

UPDATE: Police have released a photo of the suspect.

Photo of hammer attack suspect

Photo of hammer attack suspect

Flatiron and Union Square BIDs gear up for holiday season

A family poses for holiday portraits at Union Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A family poses for holiday portraits at Union Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Neighborhood groups have been kicking off the holiday season this past week with events aimed at promoting local businesses as shopping destinations as well as consumer safety during a busy time of year for crime. Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner Julie Menin was on the Flatiron’s south public plaza last Thursday to remind consumers to be vigilant while shopping during the holidays and the Union Square community kicked off the holiday shopping season with free professional portraits in the pavilion on the north plaza on Sunday.

Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, said that this year was the first time portraits were offered. “We’ve been doing some new community events but this one is really to kick off the holiday season,” she said. The schedule was booked for the day and Falk noted that people were having their photos taken with family and some people even brought their pets. “We’re excited that the community is coming out,” she said, adding that this is one of the new holidays programs the Partnership is adding this season.

The Association for the Help of Retarded Children (AHRC), based in Lower Manhattan, usually takes a weekly field trip to Union Square on Sundays. They meet at the Barnes and Noble across from the north plaza and were able to get a group photo because they happened to be in the area. Leroy Dyer, the program supervisor, takes the kids on recreational trips every weekend and he said that the kids were excited that the event happened to coincide with their weekly outing.

Meanwhile, Menin was at the Flatiron Plaza doling out tips on how New Yorkers can get the most for their money during the busy shopping season. She cited the list of “10 Things Every Consumer Should Know,” which is available on the city website at nyc.gov/consumers. The list includes tips about making a budget, being alert for holiday scams and being aware of consumer rights.

Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID executive director, speaks at the Flatiron Plaza. (Photo by Cameron Blaylock, courtesy of Van Alen Institute)

Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID executive director, speaks at the Flatiron Plaza. (Photo by Cameron Blaylock, courtesy of Van Alen Institute)

“We want to support small business and make sure that hardworking New Yorkers get the most for their money,” Menin said. She added that some of the important tips to keep in mind are to compare prices and be aware of stores’ refund policies. Parents should also be particularly aware of product recalls, which can be checked through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at cpsc.gov.

“We want residents to be aware of all the great small businesses that are here, regardless of the neighborhood, but we do have a lot of both independent and national businesses in the Flatiron District,” Flatiron BID executive director Jennifer Brown noted at the event. “There’s something for everyone here. We want to encourage people to shop local and help independent businesses thrive.”

Edward Snowden statue booted from park

A statue of NSA leaker Edward Snowden gets wheeled into Union Square Park. Not long afterwards, the sculptor, Jim Dessicino, was told he had to remove it. (Photo by Brian Wagner)

A statue of NSA leaker Edward Snowden gets wheeled into Union Square Park. Not long afterwards, the sculptor, Jim Dessicino, was told he had to remove it. (Photo by Brian Wagner)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday afternoon, NSA leaker Edward Snowden made an appearance at Union Square Park. Although greeted with enthusiasm by some, he was nonetheless thrown out of the public space that has been home to countless political protests, by a government official.

Of course, it wasn’t the real Snowden, but a larger-than-life-size statue, which had been on display as part of the annual Art in Odd Places festival on 14th Street.

And as for the reason for its removal, it wasn’t anything political, according to the Parks Department, but the statue’s creator, Jim Dessicino, had apparently needed a permit to have the statue in the park, and he didn’t have one. The statue was scheduled to have been on display at the park from 9 to 5 p.m. but at around 1:45 p.m. the Parks Enforcement Patrol officer told Dessicino that Snowden had to go.

“It’s a funny way our parks are run; even our public spaces aren’t really public,” Dessicino later said. However, he also noted, in an interview with Town & Village, that the officer who told him to leave was very polite, allowing him ample time to cart the statue away to his nearby car. “He said, ‘Listen man, I love your sculpture, but you just can’t have it here. My boss will have my head,’” Dessicino said he was told.

A Parks Department spokesperson, Philip Abramson, later told T&V what Dessicino had been told, which is that the reason for the removal was the lack of a “special event permit.” “No permit was issued though so we asked for it to be removed,” Abramson said.

Edward Snowden statue at Union Square Park (Photo by Brian Wagner)

Edward Snowden statue at Union Square Park (Photo by Brian Wagner)

But prior to the statue leaving the park, it got plenty of attention from the press and passersby, especially international tourists. Those stopping to look and ask questions included a Swedish woman, a group from France, a group from Israel and a man from Tunisia. They also seemed to like the spot Dessicino picked to display the statue, he said, which was a few yards away from the Lincoln monument outside the playground.

The attention it was getting is why Dessicino believes he was singled out while other festival participants in the park got to stay.

At the time he was shutting down his installation, this reporter was in fact speaking to two other artists in the park, both of whom weren’t being confronted by police or Parks Enforcement.

However, one of the artists, Ienke Kastelein, had previously gotten kicked out of another space, the sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town. Kastelein’s installation was a bunch of traveling chairs that she was inviting people to sit on and, if they chose to, engage her in conversation.

“A lot of people were getting booted from their spots,” Dessicino said.

And apparently, that is nothing new. Ed Woodham, a teaching artist who’s the founder of Art in Odd Places, told Town & Village that the festival doesn’t apply for permits so artists getting shooed away from the park has happened many times before and artists are also often made to leave the sidewalks in front of various properties. Normally, the festival works around this by letting artists know which areas are typically problematic.

“This year it slipped through the cracks,” Woodham admitted.

Earlier, he’d spoken with Kastelein, who’s from the Netherlands, and who became concerned after being told by Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety officers that she’d need to take her project elsewhere. At the time, some of the residents were sitting in the chairs.

“She was on the sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town and they told her to leave,” said Woodham. “They’re pretty protective.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Ienke Kastelein in front of her installation, “Walking with Chairs” at Union Square Park, was previously told to move on from a sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Ienke Kastelein, in front of her installation, “Walking with Chairs” at Union Square Park, was previously told to move on from a sidewalk in front of Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

But, while Union Square Park has also been typically a place where artists are shooed away, Woodham said one artist had fought successfully for the right to display his piece, “Tourist in Chief” there. This was in 2011, and AiOP participant Leon Reid IV had initially been turned down by the Parks Department in his request to put a Yankees cap, camera and shopping bags on the Washington monument. So, “he got a lawyer and forced the issue,” Woodham said.

This year, he noted how one of the artists behind a project called “Complimentary,” Leah Harper, was also initially given the “private property” argument by a building’s management employees. The installation was a candy dispenser that gave out compliments on paper instead of candy. The employees had argued that the machine was attached to a beam that was part of the building. However, after speaking with a curator, they eventually changed their minds and let “Complimentary” stay.

“They said, ‘We’ve been looking to have art around here, anyway’,” said Woodham, who added that the owner even expressed interest in getting more art in the future.

Things also ended up working out for another artist, Kevin Townsend, who was told he couldn’t draw in chalk on the sidewalk. He ended up drawing in chalk on the windows of the 14th Street Y, after the Y gave him permission to do so, and the drawings remained on view throughout the weekend. Woodham added that the frequent resistance to the installations can sometimes work in artists’ favor. He called Snowden’s ouster from the park “wonderful” for the festival and the artist due to an article it got in the Daily News and other publications, including this one.

Additionally, by the next day, Snowden was back in action, appearing on 14th Street at 9th Avenue. After the festival ended, the statue left the city, with its next destination the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. As for why Dessicino chose the National Security Agency whistleblower as his subject, the artist told T&V he had a few reasons.

“This person was important and I think will continue to be important,” said Dessicino. “Monuments are normally commissioned by governments, but (his) self-sacrificial action is not going to be recognized, and that’s why I stepped in.”

He added that he and Snowden are just a year apart in age. “I thought that he’s become representative of what millennials could do,” said Dessicino. “We often get termed as being self-serving and self-involved.”

As for Kastelein’s installation, during an interview, she said she’d gotten the idea for the traveling sit-down experiment from a residency she’d done at a psychiatric hospital. Patients there, she said, tended to be “disconnected” from their environment.

“In Dutch when you ask someone, ‘Where are you?’ you’re saying, ‘Where do you sit?’ They would say, ‘I’d rather be elsewhere,’ ‘so it’s ‘I’d rather sit elsewhere.’”

“Walking with Chairs,” she added, had been responded to positively by the public. Certain areas, like Union Square and Stuyvesant Town, were the most successful spots along 14th Street, in terms of getting people to actually sit down. “This is one place where people don’t hesitate to sit down,” she said of Union Square.

Meanwhile, in Stuyvesant Town, participants were interested in making conversation. “I connected to several people and had a very nice conversation about not communicating with neighbors, so this was a perfect way to communicate.”

Police Watch: Waterside Plaza heroin bust, senior missing from East 6th

HEROIN BUST AT WATERSIDE

Police arrested 45-year-old Joseph Hirsch for intent to sell a controlled substance at 25 Waterside Plaza last Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Police had a warrant to search the address and Hirsch was allegedly in possession of a quantity of heroin and pills. He was also in possession of two scales, police said.

HEROIN ARRESTS ON WEST 25TH

Police arrested 28-year-old Abel Estevez and 28-year-old Yamile Irizarry for sale of a controlled substance at the corner of West 25th Street and Sixth Avenue last Wednesday at 4:58 p.m. Estevez and Irizarry allegedly sold a quantity of heroin to an undercover police officer.

CITIBIKE ‘THIEF’ NABBED

Forty-one-year-old Christian Damgaard was arrested for possession of stolen property in front of 35 West 27th Street last Saturday at 9:43 p.m. Damgaard was seen at the location unlocking a Citibike, which he had allegedly painted purple to conceal the Citibike name and serial number. He was unlocking the bike with his own personal lock and chain, police said. A check with Citibike found that the bike had last been docked at East 40th Street and Fifth Avenue on September 2 at 11:21 a.m. and hadn’t been returned since.

SENIOR MISSING FROM EAST 6TH ST. HOME
The NYPD is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a missing person within the confines of the Ninth Precinct. Stephen Kritsky, 86, was last seen on Thursday, September 11 at approximately 12 p.m. inside his home at 230 East 6th Street. He is described as 5’9” and 125 lbs.   Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

MAN ARRESTED FOR TWO GUNS

Police arrested 29-year-old Raymond Williams for possession of a weapon last Wednesday at 4:35 p.m. Williams was found operating a rental car without being on a rental agreement. Pursuant to a search warrant, Williams was allegedly found to be in possession of two loaded .40 caliber semi automatic firearms. Both contained magazines capable of carrying 15 rounds, police said. Williams also allegedly admitted that he was in possession of two fraudulent credit cards.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘FOUR LOKO’
Police arrested 39-year-old William Morton for violating New York State laws at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street last Tuesday at 10:34 a.m. Morton was allegedly holding an open container of Four Loko in Union Square Park in plain view.

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘XANAX’

Forty-seven-year-old John Powers for possession of a controlled substance at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street last Tuesday at 4:01 p.m. Powers allegedly had an open container of Four Loko inside Union Square Park in public view. He was also in possession of Xanax pills and a pipe with alleged marijuana residue, police said.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER CAR ACCIDENT

Police arrested 48-year-old Emmanuel Bamfo for an unclassified traffic misdemeanor at Avenue C and East 23rd Street last Tuesday at 5:58 p.m. Bamfo was involved in an accident at the location and a license check found that Bamfo was allegedly operating the car with a suspended license. There were no injuries in the accident.

ARRESTED FOR ‘SUPREME’

Police arrested 46-year-old Thomas Scott for sale of a controlled substance in front of 107 East 14th Street last Tuesday at 4:20 p.m. He was allegedly selling a narcotic drug labeled Supreme.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT

Police arrested 21-year-old Gage Quinones for assault at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street last Sunday at 3:19 p.m. Quinones allegedly punched the victim in the face while they were having an argument inside Union Square Park.

DUANE READE ‘ROBBER’ BUSTED

Ron Cusick, 32, was arrested for grand larceny in front of the Duane Reade at 71 West 23rd Street last Saturday at 2:20 p.m. Cusick was attempting to flee from the store and when he was stopped by a loss prevention officer. Police found that he was allegedly in possession of a brown bag that concealed merchandise he was trying to take without paying. When the loss prevention officer was escorting Cusick to the office, he allegedly attempted to flee a second time. While he was cuffed and detained in the office, he pushed up his legs and caused damage to a printer, police said. He was also in possession of an alleged crack pipe.

MEN ARRESTED FOR SNORTING ‘COKE’

Police arrested 23-year-old Alejandro Vilasuso and 26-year-old Hojoong Kim for possession of a controlled substance in front of Molly’s bar at 287 Third Avenue last Sunday at 12:30 a.m. Vilasuso and Kim were allegedly snorting cocaine from their hands. Kim also allegedly dropped the bag of cocaine to the ground in an attempt to conceal it.

TEEN ARRESTED AT KIPS BAY GRISTEDES

Police arrested a teen for petit larceny in front of the Gristedes supermarket at 512 Second Avenue last Saturday at 1:22 p.m. Store security saw the teen take food from the store display and conceal it in a shoulder bag. The total amount of the items taken was $40.68. The teen is attending the Secondary School for Law in Brooklyn and is currently in the care of the ACS facility at 492 First Avenue.

UNLICENSED SUNGLASSES ‘VENDOR’ BUSTED

Police arrested 35-year-old Joseph Stuart for violating New York State laws in front of 33 Union Square West last Thursday at 5:31 p.m. Stuart was allegedly selling sunglasses on the street without a proper general vendor’s license.

SLEEPING IN CARDBOARD HOUSES
Joseph McMillan, 25, and Ramon Valdes, 63, were arrested in front of 13 West 27th Street last Wednesday at 6:22 a.m. for violating New York State laws. McMillan and Valdes were allegedly sleeping on a public sidewalk with cardboard boxes covering their bodies. Neither man had valid ID.

Letters to the Editor, June 19

Tenants want details, not vague statements

To the editor:

Ok… so we applaud our political representatives before we hear what they have to say … Ok… so we applaud repeatedly while they speak without knowing the implications of what we hear. Ok… so we leave the rally at our City Hall with the thought that perhaps in unity we are getting closer to our wishes.

We were, after all, assured that Fannie and Freddie will not finance a deal unless the deal guarantees long-term affordability. We hear, in one way or another, that the mayor’s folks are working a deal with CWCapital that would a) satisfy the bondholders and b) guarantee that some apartments would remain affordable.

I hope that I am wrong on all accounts, but does any of that have the sound of what we want? A deal?

Made by whom? Representing whose interests? Long-term affordability? For whom? Affordable apartments? Of those… how many, and for whom? So CWCapital gets to keep the place? “Keep” is rather a firm thing. There is nothing ambiguous or equivocal about “keep”… and we get… what? Well, right now, whatever it is, it is heavy on ambiguity and equivocation (wrapped in emphatic assurances).

As I see it, we really have not squared off against the principle that we are mere tenants living on someone’s property at, quite close to, their pleasure. We haven’t squared off against the prevailing grip that government has no real right to interfere in the running of business. Business is, after all, private.

Nowhere along the line has our side insisted that the private exists within the public, through the will of the public, with the financial (socialism) support of the public. That form of restraint, along with civility has been our self-imposed handicap.

So perhaps, just perhaps, the next time a political leader speaks, we consider holding applause until, by answering our questions, we are shown to what non-generalities that leader is committed. In that way, over time, political leaders may come to speak to us with a focused demonstration of acknowledgement and respect, and we, for our part, more than placards and background to a center that is not us.

John M. Giannone, ST

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Union Square Park, a place to play

Children’s yoga classes are part of the Summer in the Square free event series that begins on Thursday, June 12. (Photo courtesy of the Union Square Partnership)

Children’s yoga classes are part of the Summer in the Square free event series that begins on Thursday, June 12. (Photo courtesy of the Union Square Partnership)

Playground repaired, WiFi increased and restaurant opened

By Sabina Mollot

Fitness classes are part of the Summer in the Square program. (Photo courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

Fitness classes are part of the Summer in the Square program. (Photo courtesy of the Union Square Partnership)

Recently, the playground at the north end of Union Square Park, known as “Evelyn’s Playground,” got a bit of a makeover. A new soft surface replaced the one that had been there since it opened and had undergone much wear and tear. Along with heavy use, another destructive factor, which turned the spongy ground covering into Swiss cheese was high heeled shoes. At the newly opened playground, there are no heels allowed.
Other recent improvements to the park include increasing the free public WiFi network capacity eight-fold to accommodate more users and the return of solar-powered cell phone charging stations at three of the sitting areas. Then of course, there’s the controversial restaurant inside the park’s pavilion, fittingly named The Pavilion. It finally opened for business on May 1 after community activists lost a court battle arguing such a commercial enterprise didn’t belong on park grounds.
Jennifer Falk, the executive director of the Union Square Partnership, recently spoke with Town & Village about the restaurant, the playground improvements and other springtime work aimed at improving the Union Square district.

Evelyn’s Playground as it appeared when the surface was recently repaired (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Evelyn’s Playground as it appeared when the surface was recently repaired (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

On the new surface for Evelyn’s Playground, Falk said since the 15,000 square foot play space opened in December, 2009, replacing two smaller ones, “We’ve had an enormous amount of foot traffic.”
The former playgrounds, she pointed out, only totaled 5,000 square feet and these days more of the playground’s visitors come from further away just to enjoy it. It wasn’t just the size but the improved rides that have brought in more kids and the new safety surface, instead of the old asphalt, has been a hit with parents.
The funds to make the recent round of improvements, which had a pricetag of $175,000, were raised by the USP. In total, close to $350,000 was raised and some of that money will also go towards the park’s annual series of free programming, Summer in the Square.
As always the Thursday series, kicking off this year today, June 12, will include kids’ events, fitness and dance classes and low-key lunchtime jazz concerts. On June 12, things start early with “Wake up Yoga” at 7 a.m. Yoga storytime for kids starts at 10 a.m. With the Gazillion Bubble Show at 10:30 a.m. Things will wind down at 1 p.m. after jazz with students from The New School until the evening. (In response to feedback from a recent survey, the USP has expanded the SITS schedule to offer additional fitness classes in the evenings.) There will be a return of past years’ boot camp, running club and evening yoga.
As far as the new restaurant is concerned, Falk declined to comment on the controversy that’s surrounded its opening for close to a decade, other than to say she didn’t think the fact that alcohol is now served there was inappropriate for the setting. Because, she reasoned, “the food is much more of what’s focused on.”

The Pavilion restaurant (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The Pavilion restaurant (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Currently, the restaurant is just open for dinner but hours are expected to expand soon to include lunch and eventually breakfast. Price wise, it’s not the Tavern on the Green activists feared, but it’s no Shake Shack either. The menu now includes dishes such as hanger steak ($23.50), kale caesar salad ($11.95), short rib ravioli ($17.50) and oysters ($3 a piece) with ingredients bought from the park’s greenmarket.
Also among the arguments against the restaurant by the Union Square Community Coalition and other critics was that the Pavilion should be used for events, preferably for children, rather than a commercial enterprise. However, even with a business in the space, the kiddies haven’t been forgotten completely as now there’s Tuesdays @ The Pavilion, a free, weekly crafts and story time event from 3-5 p.m. Veterans also had their day at The Pavilion recently when the restaurant and the USP sponsored a luncheon for former servicemen and women in celebration of Memorial Day. The event was also in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the Manhattan VA Medical Center reopening after Hurricane Sandy. “The Partnership hopes to make this an annual event to continue to connect our local businesses with community organizations,” the USP wrote in a recent blog post.
The park has also recently undergone landscaping work, with the lawns reopening for picnickers and sunbathers.
For a schedule of events taking place throughout the summer, visit unionsquarenyc.org.