The NYPD says it's investigating the rough arrest of a 64-year-old man for playing a fiddle in Chinatown's Columbus Park last month; you may recall the YouTube video showing an angry crowd of senior citizens surrounding mace-wielding cops as they handcuffed the bloodied musician, who appears to have resisted arrest. The incident occurred when officers took action on a rarely enforced rule against amplification in the park, where for years a group of senior citizens have gathered to sing songs and make music. The crackdown has outraged many of the park regulars, but some locals say they're glad the music died.
The best reaction comes from Anthony Maruffi, who runs a parking lot near the park. "If they want to do it, they can turn it down a bit — you don’t need the whole neighborhood to hear it," Maruffi tells City Room. "If I can’t smoke in the park, they can’t play with mics in the park. That sounds fair to me." Another local tells City Room the noise from the park was "just incredible," with up to five groups competing "to see who's louder."
But the music lovers say they need amplification because many seniors in the audience are hard of hearing, and without a microphone the high-pitched vocals can get drowned out by the instruments. The performers are required to get two permits for the weekend concerts, one for assembling and one for amplification. They say the assembly permits are only allotted once a month, and wonder what they're supposed to do about the other three weeks—go smoke cigars in the parking lot with Tony Maruffi?
On Sunday, the arrested man, Wu Yizhou, finally returned the the park, where the music continued, albeit without vocals. Yizhou didn't play yesterday, and said that after his arrest he spent the night in the Tombs. His disorderly conduct charge was dismissed, but the D.A. says he still faces charges of making “unreasonable noise” in a city park and resisting arrest.