Mayoral hopeful Eric Adams on Sunday decried the “open disorder in our parks” after The Post reported on the recent violence and vandalism at Washington Square Park — but he proposed a less “heavy-handed” solution than cops in riot gear.
“Parks in our city are family places. They should not be about drugs and disorder, they should be about our sons and daughters,” the Democratic frontrunner told The Post after a campaign stop at a church in Queens.
“We can’t have open disorder in our parks,” said Adams, a former NYPD cop. “That is not acceptable.
“But we could do it without being heavy-handed in the process,” he added.
Adams said the city needs to employ a “real, comprehensive approach” to stop the violence, raucous partying and open drug use — in lieu of the recent strategy of NYPD officers forcefully clearing the park while decked out in riot gear to enforce a since-lifted 10 p.m. curfew.
“We don’t have to go in with the SWAT team. We don’t have to go in with helmets and gear,” said the Brooklyn borough president, who leads most polls of the race to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.
And Andrew Yang, a top-tier contender whose standing in the race has slipped in recent weeks, said the city “can assign police officers in Washington Square Park in a manner that would make it a safe environment for people to be able to gather.”
“It’s unacceptable that we are seeing this kind of violence as New Yorkers in an environment that we can secure,” Yang told The Post while he marched in a Puerto Rican Day parade in Bushwick. The moderate Democratic candidates’ comments come after left-wing candidate Maya Wiley said last week that the NYPD’s aggressive curfew enforcement is an example of the city “wasting” its resources.
Wiley — who during Thursday’s mayoral debate wouldn’t commit to letting cops keep their guns — said Sunday that police should “go after anyone who’s committing a crime,” when asked how best to handle the out-of-control Lower Manhattan park.
“First of all, police presence in a place like a park is an appropriate place for police to be present. There’s a big difference between being present and just clearing out people who aren’t doing anything,” the former top de Blasio lawyer told The Post after receiving an endorsement in Jackson Heights, Queens, from the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee.
“When you see someone doing something wrong, that’s exactly what the police are there for and should go after,” she said.
Wiley added that when the police unwisely focus on matters where the city doesn’t “need them,” it’s more difficult for cops to establish “the community relationships they want to have.”
Meanwhile, mayoral contender Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, said it is “unacceptable that we have random acts of violence occurring in the city.”
Garcia added that the city needs to ensure it does not “slide backwards” to the level of crime it was home to in the 1970s and ’80s.
“We’ve turned the corner, and now we seem to be confronting an epidemic of crime in the city,” Garcia said during a campaign stop in Brooklyn on Sunday.
“I was here in the ’70s and ’80s. We can’t slide backwards.
“We can’t have open air drug dealing,” the candidate added. “We can’t be allowing that to occur in the city. We have to be respectful.”
Adams, a fellow tough-on-crime candidate, said the situation needs to be dealt with — though he conceded the city must use a tactful strategy.
“We need to go in with real support services, interact with people on the ground, find out the needs,” Adams said Sunday.
“But we have to really invest in it, and then we need to go to our other parks so we don’t create this atmosphere in the first place,” he said of his vision for how to handle recent mayhem and law-breaking in Big Apple green spaces.
“We have to improve our quality of life in this city,” Adams added. “Let’s get this under control and then reach out to our other parks. Let’s amp up our park enforcement.”
The Post reported that on Saturday, six people were injured in and around Washington Square Park in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village — including a man who was beaten and two people knifed in a wild brawl.
A 10 p.m. curfew had been put into place at the park about two weeks earlier amid mayhem there — and led to clashes with cops. The restriction was lifted Friday, going back to midnight — although people flaunted even that time restriction Saturday.