The New York City Police Department is facing criticism from Democratic mayoral candidates after it cracked down while enforcing a curfew in a city park on Saturday evening.
Police, many in riot gear, descended on the popular Washington Square Park last night to clear it out following a recently-enacted 10 p.m. weekend curfew, which city officials implemented citing rowdy behavior in the park.
Video from the scene Saturday shows chaos after the police used aggressive tactics to get people out of the park. Police pushed residents with bikes and batons and shouted calls to disperse, and video showed officers chasing people on streets near the park.
In a statement to the Associated Press, the NYPD said 23 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Eight officers suffered minor injuries.
One mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley — a former MSNBC analyst who was recently endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — said on twitter that police were “terrorizing people to enforce an arbitrary curfew.”
Another candidate, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — a retired NYPD officer who’s viewed as one of most pro-police candidates — said that “scheduling a battle in a park at 10p every night isn’t smart.”
“Fighting crime is more often about being smart than being tough — that is how you have both safety and justice,” Adams wrote on Twitter.
Former presidential candidate and current mayoral candidate Andrew Yang also condemned the actions of the NYPD.
“Washington Square Park has always been a place to gather and enjoy summer nights,” said Yang, who has called for more police presence on subways. “Sending officers in riot gear and militarizing a public park should never be the answer.”
Candidate Dianne Morales — a non-profit organizer and former public school teacher — also blasted the action, calling it “appalling.” She demanded on Twitter that Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat all the candidates are running to replace due to term limits, “act immediately to stop this violent abuse of power and provide services to those in the park who are in need.”
The NYPD did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment. The New York City Parks Department, the Washington Square Park Conservatory and the mayor’s office also did not respond to requests for comment.
The mayoral candidates will face off in a primary on June 22, 2020.
The Associated Press contributed.