A day after a stabbing in Riverside Park left five hospitalized including a toddler, residents on the Upper West are concerned that increasing homelessness in the city is making stretches of Riverside Park unsafe.
Last year the city had a record number 50,000 homeless, and New Yorkers that often visit that stretch of Riverside Park at 65th Street where the stabbing occurred say they've seen an uptick in homeless people in the park.
"I've seen erratic people here before, it happens all the time," said Jude Camorra, 76, on his way to the park Wednesday morning. "I've actually warned some of the ladies who sit here and sun by themselves. It's an issue."
The man accused of wielding half a pair of scissors and stabbing five people is Julius Graham, 43, who had recently been staying in a Bronx shelter. He's been charged with five counts of assault and criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.
On Wednesday morning, parents pushed strollers down the walkway, and joggers raced along the river with no sign of Tuesday's violence, and no extra police presence.
There are currently 81 Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers assigned to cover all city parks. That's twice as many as last year, according to a Parks Department spokesman.
The NYPD said it is in frequent communication with these officers, but wouldn't confirm whether it will beef up police in any particular areas. "Security will be assessed and officers will be deployed accordingly," said an NYPD spokesman.
Parks advocate Geoffrey Croft said for years he's been calling for additional park enforcement. He points to several recent incidents in which New Yorkers have been attacked in parks and called it "mind boggling," that there aren't more officers in city parks.
A woman was attacked recently in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, several bikers were beaten along the Hudson River bike path and robbed and a man was fatally assaulted in Union Square this year.
A homeless man sleeping in Riverside Park, near the site where 5 were recently stabbed. Residents in the Upper West Side say the number of homeless in Riverside Park as increased (Stephen Nessen/WNYC).