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Monday, August 02, 2010

Just Like Old Times


In most places, eight police vehicles and a swarm of officers pursuing a drug bust is a serious event. On Saturday night in Washington Square Park, at 11:30 PM, various vehicles came hurtling at high speed from all directions - two unmarked black cars, a taxi (used by police), and several regular NYPD vehicles. They easily and quickly trapped the perpetrator, who offered no resistance, only saying, "What?"

It had all the drama of a major arrest of one of America's Most Wanted, but my understanding was that this huge show of force was just for the arrest of a drug dealer caught making a transaction. I say "just" because selling drugs is an everyday and all day activity in this park.
If you look at all like a potential customer and are strolling through Washington Square on a busy day, you will be offered drugs by numerous dealers at a number of key locations - strategic intersections where most pedestrians have to pass through. The mantra "smoke, smoke" is familiar to all habitués here and just laughed off as part of the natural environment and business as usual.

Drugs have been regularly sold in Washington Square Park since time immemorial. Dealers are well known by regulars in the park and the police. The miscreants are quite well versed in the law and know how to operate their business in a way to generally avoid arrest. The activity had virtually disappeared since the recent renovation (see here) but, as would be expected in New York City, and particularly in this park, drug activity has crept back in and often feels just like old times.

What is ironic, and would be perhaps astounding to nonregulars, is that a regular group of musicians and singers continued their musical activity just steps away from all the commotion, completely undaunted, unfettered and apparently uninterested.

Rather than a cause for alarm, surprise, disruption or curiosity, the whole affair just seemed to add voices to the backup singers. Guns, police running, screeching tires, searchlights in the bushes, sirens and handcuffs were all part of a comforting ambiance that made everyone feel that it was just like old times :)

Note: On August 6, 2009, I wrote Chess Monsters and told of an incident where I witnessed a shooting, yet incredulously, while players ran for cover, an onlooker stopped the chess clocks during the incident and playing resumed, barely missing a beat. You can read the story here.

4 comments:

Leslie said...

Yup...sounds just like the Washington Square Park I've known and loved since 1969. Marijuana is forever; we might as well make it legal on a national basis...could raise some nice tax money from those sales.
;-)

Chicken Underwear said...

I have had some really good times in that park. (So I am told).

Steffe said...

I have never tried any drugs, except for alcohol (I am enjoying a Guinness as I'm typing this), but I have several friends who has died because of drug addiction.

JoSsS said...

great, i was there, i'm trying to see how these comments work, let's see :)