neighborhood news

Union Square Is a ‘Lawless City Within a City’

Have you ever walked through New York City’s Union Square and wondered to yourself, WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE SITTING AROUND? It’s a fair question. There’s nothing particularly lovely or charming about it, as far as New York’s parks go. There’s no official outdoor performance space (but admittedly plenty of room for capoeira), so why are there literally hundreds of young people there lying around all the time? Today, the Post has the answer: Methadone!

The problem centers around what locals call Methadone Alley, a bench-lined path along Union Square East. The section is named after its inhabitants who spill into the park after visiting the outpatient drug treatment clinics where they get their methadone fixes, said a law-enforcement source said [sic]. “The public is not safe. It’s a lawless city within a city,” said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates. “It’s a horror show that’s been going on far too long.”

Cops and Croft’s nonprofit are stepping up their vigilance in the area — so far this year there have been at least 84 drug-related arrests in and around the park. The Post has a list of some of the scarier offenses, including a 50-year-old who stabbed a 28-year-old passerby in the back three times while yelling racial epithets.

Just anecdotally, it doesn’t seem that all this awfulness has diminished in any way the masses that gather on the steps and pathways of the park. After all, those teenagers break dancing aren’t going to watch themselves.

Union Square Park sees spike in drug use, petty crimes [NYP]

Union Square Is a ‘Lawless City Within a City’