Washington Square Park provocateur arrested, parties stop

Washington Square Park neighbors hope the midnight madness is finally over — after a party host and provocateur whose raucous antics plagued the famed space was arrested last week.

David “Shaman” Ortiz was taken into custody just before midnight on July 21, when he stepped in front of a slow-moving cop car in a futile effort to stop the breakup of his last rowdy Greenwich Village gathering, authorities said.

“They tried to run me over,” Ortiz told The Post a day after his arrest. He posted a video of the incident, in which he was charged with misdemeanor obstructing governmental administration, on his Instagram.

The 29-year-old, who was quickly released, has been making residents near Washington Square Park miserable for months, organizing large parties well past the park’s midnight closing time which drew hundreds and were accompanied by a host of illegal activities: fireworks, boxing matches, drug use, unlicensed alcohol sales and amplified music, which is banned in city parks.

At the same time, violence had escalated as a quality-of-life crisis consumed the park in recent months. The city has been unable to contain the army of homeless, mentally ill and addicted publicly consuming drugs, who neighbors say have made the park increasingly unsafe.

A man with a portable amplified sound system argued with members of the New York Police Department at Washington Square Park during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, May 21, 2021 in New York, N.Y.
David “Shaman” Ortiz was taken into custody just before midnight on July 21.
James Keivom

But since Ortiz’ arrest, the park has been “noticeably better,” said Ruth Wyatt, who has lived with a view of the landmark for 25 years.

“I don’t think it’s time to declare victory just yet,” cautioned another park neighbor, who acknowledged an increased police presence around the park.

Ortiz leads a group called the “We Outside Crew,” and in June told Washington Square Park neighbors “you should move” if they didn’t like his after-hours festivities in the iconic park. He’s also a former city employee who recently left the staff of District 37 Councilwoman Darma Diaz (D-Brooklyn).

David 'Shaman' Ortiz
The 29-year-old, who was quickly released, has been making residents near Washington Square Park miserable for months.
Instagram

His arrest came hours after he reiterated during a Community Board 2 meeting that park neighbors who don’t like the noise should “move to the suburbs.” Protesters supporting Ortiz, including one holding a We Outside Crew sign, taunted NYPD Captain Stephen Sparato throughout the meeting, at one point calling the 6th Precinct commander “a racist piece of s—t.”

Recent improvements “mark the end to the unusual level of lawlessness we’ve seen since April,” the Washington Square Association said on its website and in an email to members this week. “The police are closing the park at midnight, the turnaround for graffiti cleanup is more consistent, amplified sound has been drastically reduced, there’s been less than a handful of fireworks launched in the Park since July 4.”

Mayor de Blasio finally vowed a Washington Square Park crackdown last week.

“We’re starting to be able to focus again on quality-of-life concerns,” he said Tuesday.

Ortiz had claimed his free public parties harmed no one, and instead enabled post-pandemic New Yorkers who couldn’t afford high-priced clubs and restaurants to enjoy the city.

David "Shaman" Ortiz speaks at a Community Board 2 meeting about Washington Square Park.
David “Shaman” Ortiz speaks at a Community Board 2 meeting about Washington Square Park.
William C. Lopez

After his arrest, the Brooklyn native maintained he’s no enemy of the cops — and that he was “shunned” by the Black Lives Matter movement and kicked out of their Manhattan encampment last year for being pro-cop.

“They called me a pig lover,” he said.

But he also claims the NYPD is wasting its time “trying to babysit us” at Washington Square Park.

He now says the party will go on, whether it returns to Washington Square Park or finds a new home in Coney Island or elsewhere in the city.

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