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Man Allegedly Armed With Taser, Large Knife Arrested At Washington Square Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Things turned violent early Saturday morning as partiers packed Washington Square Park.

The park was packed Saturday afternoon with people enjoying themselves and no bad behavior going on, but area residents say it becomes a very different scene the later it gets.

For weeks, people who live nearby have been complaining about people drinking, doing drugs and urinating in public.

Video shows hundreds of partygoers dancing to a DJ set up in the middle of the park Friday night, but some residents who live nearby don't think it's so fun.

They say they're tired of hearing noise all night and the sound of loud mopeds and motorcycles. They also complain of crime and violence.

One man told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge he doesn't feel safe walking his dog through the park anymore.

"It's difficult because I'm not against young people coming and dancing and having a party. The problem is it's a cover for people who deal dope and want to have fights and all kinds of mayhem, and the police are afraid to do anything," he said.

Police say just before 1 a.m. Saturday, a 42-year-old man caused people to panic. Investigators released a picture of a Taser disguised as a flashlight he allegedly waved around, along with a knife.

Officers say some people started to run and knocked down a 43-year-old woman, who was trampled. She was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries.

The man was arrested and faces several charges.

In the last few weeks, a temporary 10 p.m. curfew was attempted, but that led to clashes with police, who then stopped enforcing it.

David Ortiz is one of the organizers of the parties.

"I would love for the space to be open all night. I think we need to handle the space responsibly as adults ... I feel as if when they impose, a curfew they're impeding on our first amendment right, which is the right to freedom of speech and the right to rally," he said.

Police, politicians and the community have been meeting to talk about how to stop the chaos.

"They should have a curfew. Safety is very, very important. People, tourists won't come to New York unless you feel safe," Richie Firestone said.

"It's New York City. You can't really complain about a city that's always awake. There's always going to be something crazy happening. There's always something going on. If you don't like it, you shouldn't be here," another person said.

"People need to get this pandemic out of their system, right? So everyone's restless. They're like, oh, finally I have my freedom back," a woman named Adela said.

Signage at the park says it's open from 6 a.m. to midnight. Friday night, police did not appear to enforce a midnight closure, witnesses say.

Saturday evening, officers were seen pulling up and lining up barricades as a preventive measure.

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