WSP Regular Banned from Park for Drug Dealing Tempts Fate and Is Arrested 81st Time

So, the issue of “drug dealers” at Washington Square is something that gets some people very upset and others just shrug. There was one theory that once the park was redesigned the NYPD would be able to better monitor all activities (not certain that’s really ever been the issue — and there are certainly enough cameras now) and it would end. Well, apparently, one “regular” has been arrested 81 times —

The NY Post first reported early March 30th:

A drug dealer logged his 81st arrest last weekend when cops busted him for marijuana in Greenwich Village, authorities said.

… [Mr.] Wayne was cuffed at 1:25 a.m. Saturday after officers spotted him with weed in Washington Square Park, cops said.

Wayne had so many prior busts there that he had actually been banned from the park, cops added.

This was followed by pieces in DNAinfo and Gothamist. DNAinfo reported:

Drug dealing in Washington Square Park is considered a small-time and nonviolent offense, [Sixth Precinct Deputy Inspector] del Pozo said. Because sentencing is small, too, dealers tend to be repeat offenders. …

Sixth Precinct police are arresting people in the park daily for selling drugs, del Pozo said. They also often find sellers trying to scam would-be pot smokers with black tea and oregano.

It’s interesting that the NYPD Sixth Precinct considers drug dealing “a small-time and nonviolent offense” and yet the Bloomberg Administration has been criticized for making NYC the “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World” – for people caught with the substance on them.

Allegedly, in this instance, the goods were “sticking out of his pants’ back pocket.” Although is that true? The Bloomberg Admin has also been criticized for this —

Per Gothamist:

the number of low-level pot arrests during the Bloomberg administration is greater than in the 12 years of Mayor Koch, plus the four years of Mayor Dinkins, plus the first two years of Mayor Giuliani combined.

140 people are arrested every day for marijuana possession in NYC, according to stats released by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services—despite the fact that possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana was decriminalized 30 years ago, provided it’s not burning or in public view. Critics say cops conducting stop and frisks trick “suspects” into bringing their marijuana into public view, thus justifying an arrest.

In addition, this arrest story raises other questionsWere the police just circling the park at 1:25 a.m. (park’s closing time is technically midnight) and happened upon Mr. Wayne? Was he seen from afar via the cameras in the park? Who is in the park then?

Previously at WSP Blog:

* The NYPD Will Be Watching YOU at Washington Square Park April 5, 2010

NYC Parks Department Concedes Artists Have Right to Sell Art in High Line Park Post Arrests

Visit the recently debuted A Walk in the Park Blog to hear the latest on the High Line Park where artists were arrested three times in recent months for selling artwork in the new park. Artist and activist Robert Lederman is prepared to challenge the City Parks Department with a new lawsuit. He has previously prevailed in federal court where it was decreed that it is a First Amendment right for artists to be able to sell art in a public park.  Mr. Lederman met with NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe after the arrests. Subsequently, the Parks Department has retreated from their original position (that this vending is illegal because a permit is required or an issue of “public safety”) and said they would no longer authorize Park officers to arrest artists in the park.

$153 million of public funding has been allocated to the High Line Park’s creation. Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates writes at A Walk in the Park Blog that that money could have been directed towards “communities that desperately need their already established parks fixed up.”

From the blog:

On Saturday [12/12] artists were allowed to sell their wares on the High Line without incident for the first time. The day before, the Parks Department reversed its position which had resulted in three arrests. Their previous vending policy only permitted selling items which included designer muffins, exotic teas, coffee and gelato. Unlike the “expressive matter” vendors, commercial concessions bring in revenue to the city.  The City is currently negotiating a sole source concession agreement with the Friends of the High Line (FOH) which would allow the group to keep revenue from items sold on the park property. Since its opening in the Spring, the City has allowed 29 different permitted commercial vendors on the High Line but no art vendors.

In addition, Croft writes: “One would think that the Friends of the High Line would have made every effort to accommodate artists instead of actively trying to discriminate against them.”

From the Friends of High Line Park:

Artwork is a logical inclusion for the High Line; artists, gallery owners and art collectors were among the earliest supporters of its transformation into a public park space, and it runs through some of the most culturally significant neighborhoods of Manhattan. “