Level 1 Mobilization called
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An extremely large, disorderly crowd at Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park prompted police to call a Level 1 Mobilization and evacuate sections of the park shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Thousands of park-goers streamed out of the park along the Joralemon Street and Old Fulton Street exits, or headed along Furman Street to Atlantic Avenue. Traffic in Downtown Brooklyn was jammed as emergency vehicles tried to get to the park.
"There were fights, about ten of them," one young man, who had been playing basketball on Pier 2, told this reporter. Another youth said he thought police had used pepper spray on the crowd, but that was not confirmed. The Brooklyn Eagle has reached out to NYPD for comments.
Linda DeRosa, president of the Willowtown Association, told the Eagle that she became alarmed earlier in the afternoon when she saw massive crowds walking to the park along Joralemon Street.
"I emailed the 84th Precinct, I emailed the park and said there's going to be trouble.
"I heard from nobody," she said.
DeRosa said that she also reached out to some Brooklyn Bridge Park CAC [Community Advisory Council] members, who have "always ben supportive" in the past about security concerns.
DeRosa said an 11-year-old neighbor watched "a huge fight" break out right in front of his house on Joralemon Street on Tuesday.
"The kids were punching each other." One youth was assaulted and robbed, she said.
"This is the first warm day. What are we going to do? They don't listen," she said, adding that this is the fourth year violence has broken out in and around the park.
"I've already been to three meetings. They're assuring everyone they got it this year."
A park spokesperson told the Eagle on Wednesday that the entire park was not evacuated, as many park goers were told, only several sections, including the Pier 1 / Old Fulton Street entrance and the greenway adjacent to Pier 2. Pier 2 was closed to those wanting to enter it as well. The spokesperson said that those already on Pier 2 were allowed to stay.
"BBP staff worked closely with the NYPD's 84th precinct Tuesday to manage crowding issues and ensure both a safe clearing of overcrowded park sections and continued operations throughout the rest of the park," the spokesperson said.
Visitors told this reporter they were turned away at the Old Fulton Street park entrance by police. Many said they were disappointed they had to leave due to the actions of a few, especially on such a warm, sunny day. These included tourists from other countries, who wasted no time finding the nearest subway.
Police standing guard near the A train stop on Cadman Plaza West near Old Fulton Street seemed mystified by the size of the crowd which poured up from the park and speculated on whether it was the warm weather or a school holiday that drew so many.
The Brooklyn Heights Association issued statement on Wednesday:
"The latest incident on Pier 2 leading to the forced evacuation of a portion of the park and mayhem on our streets has become an all-too-familiar and dismaying annual ritual. The combination of school vacation and warm weather guarantees a surge of park users and the potential for the incidents that have now occurred in three consecutive years. To ensure the safety of all those who want to use the park and those who live nearby, a better plan is needed to handle the crowds that inevitably appear at this time of the year. This can only happen if park officials, the NYPD and the community work together to address this situation before incidents occur, so that the park and NYPD are not faced with having to react only when matters have already gotten out of hand."
A similar evacuation took place on May 11, 2016, after hundreds of young people gathered at Pier 2 and a brawl reportedly broke out. According to an unverified report from a park goer on social media, a fight had taken place involving “bats canes bottles knifes grips it was like world war park.”
Another fight broke out on May 9, residents said.
Yet another dispersal took place during Spring Break week last year. Citing large crowds, violent incidents and death threats on social media, police closed down Pier 2 on April 27, 2016.
One person was assaulted on Pier 2 on Monday, April 25, 2016 as well, according to an NYPD spokesperson. No arrests were made.
On April 15, 2016, police arrested two men following the outbreak of gunfire. The shots scattered crowds enjoying the basketball courts and other exercise facilities on Pier 2. Two men were arrested.
Park officials said after last year's incidents that they were taking a series of steps to remedy the situation, including monitoring Pier 2 for capacity by additional staff members, and controlling access points to the pier. Additional patrols by the 84th Precinct and the Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) were also expected.
Story updated Thursday to reflect that sections of the park were evacuated, not the entire park. Also added statements by the Brooklyn Heights Association, and a comment by Linda DeRosa of the Willowtown Association noting that the park's CAC has always been helpful in the past on security matters.