NYU and Twitter Encourage Pandemic Responsibility Around Washington Square Park

Meanwhile, another party protest is planned for the park.

Twitter has placed hundreds of mask-related tweets on sidewalks and buildings. The campaign is in part designed to promote wearing masks in public. (Staff Photos by Trace Miller)

Tweets encouraging mask-wearing were printed out and pasted on the sidewalk of Washington Square East as part of Twitter’s new campaign to add some levity to the typical messaging about masks. NYU put up its own messages about pandemic responsibility just around the corner, in the ground floor windows of 45 West 4th Street. 

NYU’s message states that “We are responsible and accountable. We are caring and conscientious. We are committed and focused. We are doing today what will best serve our city and our world tomorrow.” 

The signage appears to be an indirect and proactive response to the “protest parties” organized by America’s Peaceful Resolution in collaboration with Refuse Fascism, NYC Marchers and Black Advocacy Movement and hosted in Washington Square Park on the second weekend of September. Hundreds gathered for the demonstrations — many without masks.

As we became aware of activities in the park at which mask-wearing and distancing was spotty, in our communications we emphasized the importance of avoiding those kind [sic] of events and gatherings,” University Spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement to WSN.What events like the gatherings in the park change is not our policies, per se, but what we communicate and emphasize to our students.” 

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Beckman noted it is unclear how many attendees of these events were NYU students and expressed his confidence that students, for the most part, appear to be following health and safety guidelines.

“We don’t want students not to make use of the park,” Beckman said. “It’s a wonderful amenity, and being outside in spacious surroundings is a good way to interact with small groups of friends (while mask-wearing and maintaining the proper distancing). But we do want them to avoid the kind activities in the park — or anywhere else, for that matter — that are odds with our safety rules, and we are fully prepared to hold them accountable if they violate the rules.”

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 23, a group of unmarked workmen pasted viral Twitter posts to the sidewalk around Washington Square Park.

“Now that we’re 6 months into the pandemic … cities are seeing caution fatigue as people feel burnt out from these serious messages about masks,” Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy wrote in a statement. “So, Twitter and 7 U.S. cities are capturing the attention of local communities by putting real tweets at the forefront of local messages.”

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 20, Twitter rolled out billboards, murals and smaller installations, like the ones around Washington Square Park, in seven American cities. Residents of Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, Asbury, N.J. and Jersey City might see more pieces like these very soon.

“You want to sit with the cool kids? then wear your mask,” read a tweet from Twitter user @lightstairs_, one of the posts used by the campaign.

Black Advocacy Movement announced on their Instagram account, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, that a “profest” — a portmanteau for “protest fest” — is planned for Sunday, Sept. 26. The event’s taglines are “Uniting our Community,” “Justice for Breonna Taylor” and “Amend the Constitution.”

DJ Pumpkin will once again be on set for this protest party.

Shaman, the APR and Refuse Fascism organizer behind the prior protest parties, previously stated that more events were in the works; now, that statement is coming to fruition. After past protest parties, Shaman explained his thoughts on mask usage: his protest parties are dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement and awareness of police brutality — which, he said, is a far greater concern than COVID-19. Shaman declined to comment for this article on the upcoming event.

“Our message means more than worrying about our masks,” Shaman previously told WSN. “You are free to do as you will in this country. If we’re in a public space and you’re putting yourself at risk, we empower you to enforce the First Amendment. So if you want to be out here with a mask, you’ve got to have a mask. If you don’t, you don’t.”

Email Nick Mead at [email protected]

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