This Tuesday, the NYPD 6th Precinct posted a series of photos on Twitter showing individuals cleaning up an area in front of the Silver Center for Arts and Science that is often occupied by the homeless. The first photo in the series shows individuals sleeping, and the next three show the process of cleaning up the area, removing the blankets and hosing down the vent.
“Clean up performed in today on Washington Place,” the tweet read. “Great job by all those who participated!”
The tweet and the accompanying photos were taken down on Wednesday evening, and the precinct posted an apology, clarifying they only cleaned up the area after the people in the first photo had left the location.
A subsequent tweet from the account stated that there is a “chronic problem” of unsafeness in this area and that the aim of the precinct is to make the West Village safer for everyone.
Some students hope that the precinct learns from the media backlash they received and focuses on implementing programs that do not treat vulnerable populations as problems of unsightliness that need to be solved.
“It’s about fixing our approach to the problem of homelessness, not just moving the homeless people,” CAS first-year Andrew Califf said.
The area, which is on top of heat vents that provided warmth to those sleeping, is usually covered in blankets and flattened cardboard boxes, which were removed in the clean-up process.
Students who frequent the Silver Center found the photos quite disturbing and the treatment of the individuals degrading. The first photo, which showed people sleeping in the area, was especially concerning to students.
“It’s not just about [the homeless individuals] near campus. This doesn’t solve the problem,” Stern first-year Martin Pakciarz said.
Over 60,000 New Yorkers are without permanent shelter in the city. The de Blasio administration has faced criticism for its lack of progress on the issue, especially since many homeless people opt to spend the night on streets or the subway due to poor living conditions at the city’s shelters.
The NYPD 6th Precinct’s last tweet on the subject reminded people that if they have concerns and they live in the neighborhood, they can attend the precinct’s “Build the Block” meetings, which aim to find solutions in collaboration with residents.
Email Mansee Khurana at [email protected]