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Archive for June 16th, 2010

Crazy Seaport Experience

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

So, last night- June 15th- the Working Harbor Committee held one of its periodic tours of New York Harbor and both myself and a group of friends attended. Unbeknownst to us, however, a free concert was being offered by a local radio station. Whoever produced this show, incidentally- as in the individual- was criminally negligent regarding crowd control -IMHO. By 6 pm, the entirety of pier 17 was overwhelmed with thousands of kids, and the crowd backed out from the river a good two blocks up Fulton street.

from nydailynews.com

The raucous crowd massed on the Seaport’s cobble-stoned streets spun out of control during a lull that followed a performance by opening act DJ Ninjasonik.

“It was a riot,” said Melanie Gerald, 22, of Brooklyn, who was caught in the middle of the mayhem.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A small miracle, the steel staircases didn’t collapse under the weight of all these folks. They had come to see an act starring someone named Drake, and when word went around that the NYPD cancelled the show due to the uncontrollable numbers of people, they started throwing all sorts of things at each other and the stage. To be fair, however, NYPD had a meager footprint mustered around this massive legion- and normal crowd control techniques like sectioning the crowd into “pens” and limiting entry points to controlled gateways were entirely absent.

It really, really smelled of weed. If it smells like weed in the 21st century financial district, especially around a tourist attraction like the South Street Seaport, NYPD is clearly not in control.

from brooklynvegan.com

Chris La Putt was on hand to see Ninjasonik play less than one song at South Street Seaport this fine Tuesday evening (6/15). As previously mentioned, not counting Hanson’s soundcheck, that was all the music the giant crowd got to hear. Headliners Hanson and Drake never got to perform as the cops quickly shut down the free show to be safe.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Our vessel departed, followed its course, and upon our return- it became obvious that NYPD was very much in control again. Helicopters circled overhead, less than a thousand feet up, and several Harbor units were also observed patrolling and illuminating the coastline beneath the FDR drive. Our boat, which normally docks at Pier 17, made a rough adjustment and moored to Pier 11 allowing us to debark.

from nytimes.com

The police said that chaos erupted shortly after 6:30 p.m. when word got out that Drake would not be arriving until 8 p.m. People began throwing things off the balcony down to audience members below, and the police ended up arresting at least two people for disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration. The concert’s promoter eventually shut the concert down for safety reasons, the police said.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vehicles flashing their bubble lights were observed in long lines, creating a mobile wall and acting to separate the crowd into manageable segments. Hundreds if not thousands of kids were roaming around, angry at having missed the opportunity to experience the concert. Real menace hung in the air, although both kids and cops seemed to maintain a measure of civility on one hand and professionalism on the other. Above, the choppers.

How things have changed, in the City of Greater New York, since your humble narrator was a boy in the 1970′s.

check out this video from black348 at youtube.com

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Even as late as the mid 1990′s this kind of situation would follow a script familiar to all, angry Cops bashing heads and kids breaking windows. There were a few scuffles, and a few bad actors were observed on both sides, of course. However, my friends and I- the youngest of whom was 30 and the oldest 60- remained unmolested and untrammeled. The kids were just being kids, the cops were just being cops.

also from youtube, check out this video by UrbaNiista

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Maybe this sort of situation is part of the reason that the cops do those scary training exercises of theirs, when 50 or more Police radio cars will move through the Shining City in a great serpentine formation. All I can say is that I was there, disconnected from the event- an Outsider, as always- and that the problem originated when the crowd was allowed to “do what it wilt”, which became the whole of the law for a time.

And kids, here’s a bit of wisdom from the 1980′s- never call a New York City Police Officer anything other than Sir. The fact that you’re still breathing indicates that they are showing restraint, you don’t want to test their patience, and most cops respond to polite behavior. Act all nutty, and they can hit you with boats, helicopters, missiles- anything they want to. You can’t win an argument with a cop on the street, go quiet and let the lawyer handle it.

finally- check out the local abc affiliate’s report on the scene.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

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