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‘N.Y.P.D. Blue…Statue’; Park arch under 24-hour guard

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Not on their watch.

Sixth Precinct police are keeping an extra-close eye on the Washington Square Arch around the clock after two vandals pelted it with red paint balloons on June 29.

In fact, they couldn’t be any closer. At any given time, at least two officers are posted right next to the arch.

In addition, during the day, eight officers now rotate in and out of Washington Square Park, just to be ready in case protests pop up there, according to police. On Tuesday afternoon, two squad cars with a detail of cops were posted in clear view just a stone’s throw away on the other side of Washington Square North.

Both piers of the arch are also cordoned off by metal gates to keep anyone from getting near enough to even think of reaching out and writing graffiti on the historic marble monument.

Police are now being assigned to guard the Washington Square Arch at all times. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Speaking of keeping an eye on the arch, the vandalizing of it was a black eye for the city. Locals, understandably, were very upset over the paint-bombing of the twin George Washington statues on the Village landmark, one of the cops on “arch duty” noted early Tuesday afternoon.

In fact, they said, monuments all over the city are also being similarly protected by police right now.

Washington led the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was the nation’s first president, but was also a slave owner. He freed his slaves in his will when he died.

The two arch vandals are still on the loose.

The two George Washington statues, including “Washington at War,” above, on the Washington Square Arch were splattered with red paint on June 29. (Photo by The Village Sun)

In addition, the park fountain was back on, shooting its plume of water up into the air once again.

Back on June 29, the day the arch was vandalized, the water wasn’t flowing. That same day police finally removed a naked homeless man, Matthew Mishefski, 25, from the park, who for weeks had been living in the dry fountain basin.

The Washington Square fountain is back on — and furniture-free. (Photo by The Village Sun)

According to police, the Parks Department was asking the cops to take a lenient approach toward Mishefski.

“The Parks Department was letting him in there,” a Sixth Precinct community affairs officer told The Village Sun back then. “They said he was allowed to be in there for 30 days because he was doing a protest. They were like, ‘He’s allowed to be in the fountain area, he’s doing a protest.’”

Mishefski, who calls himself the son of God, had decked out the fountain with various furniture, including a table, several chairs and even a recliner.

As for why the water feature was turned off in June, though, one of the officers guarding the arch Tuesday said it wasn’t because the homeless man was living in it but because of “coronavirus — and they were fixing it.”

As the fountain sprayed away on Tuesday, a different homeless man washed himself off in its cooling waters amid the heat wave.

After the arch was paint-bombed at the end of last month, it was quickly powerwashed the same day to remove the offending pigment. Even after cleaning, though, at least one “ghost” of earlier graffiti is still visible in the porous marble. “F— 12. Since 1492,” reads the shadow of one scrawl — “12,” meaning “police” in the current anti-cop protester lingo.

ASAB — All Statues Are Bastards? The monument to Samuel Sullivan Cox in Tompkins Square was recently graffitied. (Photo by Paul DeRienzo)

Apparently, not all statues citywide are being guarded around the clock, though. In Tompkins Square Park, the one of Congressmember Samuel Sullivan Cox was recently tagged with another anti-police favorite — ACAB, for “All Cops Are Bastards” — along with an anarchy symbol thrown in, for good measure.

Cox served in Congress in both his home state of Ohio and New York. Known as the “Letter Carriers’ Friend,” he passed legislation leading to paid benefits and a 40-hour workweek for postal employees. Mail carriers raised $10,000 to fund the monument.


  1. Ina Ina July 24, 2020

    Watch the Arch but not the drug dealing in the NW end of the Park? Let the Park Enforcement Patrol officers watch the Arch and let the NYPD bust the dealers. Parents want and deserve a safe and clean park back. Tired of escorting my kids around the minefield of needles and rubbish. We support our Police and want them to fight crime, not babysit statues.

    • Village Mom Village Mom July 25, 2020

      I agree, the playground west of the arch stinks of pot smoking and the playground area by the “mound” behind the chess tables is the same. I don’t want my kids getting sick — there is always trash, spit and the smell of urine. You can’t even walk down the paths without being bombarded by stench or someone hawking drugs or shoplifted goods. Several mothers and I have called the mayor’s office and the news media. We also joined the neighbors’ group, which is lobbying with other neighborhood and block associations. It’s terrible.

  2. Hary Pincus Hary Pincus July 22, 2020

    No one has the right to destroy the beautiful works of art and architecture that belong to everyone, upon their own whim. What will be left to us if individuals can simply vent their angst upon the art and architecture that was created by our forebears which generations of New Yorkers have held dear as a legacy for our children? As our city becomes increasingly cluttered with glass-box condos that could exist anywhere, our beloved landmarks have even greater significance than ever.

    Ironically, the Washington Square Arch has been a symbol of resistance since January 23, 1917, when a group of artists led by Marcel Duchamp, John Sloan and a blonde violinist named Gertrude Dick (who gave out business cards that simply read “Woe” because, as she explained, “Woe is me”) slipped past a guard, mounted the 110 steps to the top of the arch, and drew up a parchment declaration that stated “henceforth Greenwich Village would be a free and independent republic.”

    So is freedom equivalent to destruction, or creation?

  3. steve stollman steve stollman July 22, 2020

    When I had my newsstand in front of City Hall in the 1980’s there was a demonstration one day which was composed of several thousand Chinese women, workers in the local garment trade, mostly in miserable factories mere blocks from these hallowed halls, who wanted to send a message to the politicians huddling inside that here were vital matters concerning them that needed to be addressed. They all wore hats made of yesterday’s newspaper which carried a dual message: that they could make something with their hands, and that they were desperately poor and could only afford such a hat.

    There was no chance whatsoever that these women, many of whom were surely illegal immigrants who would do anything to avoid becoming entangled with the bureaucracy, were capable of doing anything at all disruptive or even aggressive, much less violent. There were, however, hundreds and hundreds of policemen arrayed on the sidewalk all around the block up to Chambers Street and City Hall Park, and plenty of cars and who knows what equipment in support. This was at a time when there were no fences protecting our House of Local Government, no guard stations with required IDs and X-raying of your possessions. I stood in my stand and marveled at the enormous expense that had been expended for no reason whatsoever. If you include the value of intimidating these people and letting them know how lowly they are regarded, maybe you can justify the millions of dollars spent to help maintain the order of something that was already totally ordered. If that same force had been assigned the task of inspecting all of the workplaces that these people were complaining were dangerous, unsafe and substandard, and writing fines to the owners for not supplying ventilation or bathrooms or proper wages or other humane features to their places of employment, that would make a lot of sense. Forming a corral around them and treating them like the replaceable parts in some moneymaking machine was uncalled for but not unexpected given their status. It is this kind of mismanagement of resources that is as disturbing in many ways as beatings, albeit less severe or dramatic. If Police are deployed in order to protect and expand our rights they will be welcome, even honored, for their work. If they’re the cowboys and we’re the cattle, not so much.

    And one cop is enough to protect the Arch, which honors how much just one man can do, if given the opportunity. He can always radio for backup if the occasion arises. Send the rest around to inspect sweatshops and write fat fines for those where social distancing is considered a bad joke and they make masks (as piecework, made illegal more than a hundred years ago), but still, nobody wears them.

  4. Paul DeRienzo Paul DeRienzo July 22, 2020

    I read several speeches by Samuel S. Cox as a member of the House of Representatives, he was a bitter anti-abolitionist who once said, “I cannot see any especial difference between the republicanism that sustains emancipation proclamations and the real old genuine Congo Abolitionism. They are two separate links of the same sausage made of the same original dog.” This speech was made January 13, 1863 (two weeks after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Lincoln) before the Democratic Union Association at 932 Broadway, New York, NY. Cox also supported amnesty for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, and supported a leading Copperhead politician in Ohio accused of making treasonous (pro-Confederate) statements during the Civil War. Why the postal workers liked him is still a mystery and the statue, according to Wikipedia, was considered a poor likeness.

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