chapter  3
20 Pages

Times Square: New York’s Most Disorderly Place

On February 13, 1969, chief inspector Sanford D. Garelik of the New York Police Department (NYPD) lambasted the courts for convicting only twelve out of 292 people arrested in Times Square during a six-day crackdown of “undesirables.” After the fi rst day of the massive arrests, The New York Times reported that “the police began a crackdown on drunks, homosexuals, loiterers and other undesirables in the Times Square area last night, although the cold weather apparently kept many of them away.”2 The New York Times shared Garelik’s frustration with the courts and agreed that Times Square had become a “nesting ground for muggers and degenerates.” They contended that while “the right of every accused person to all the protections the Constitution provides to assure fair trial must never be infringed . . . the judges operating within those rules need not turn their courts into revolving doors that put hoodlums back on the streets almost as soon as they are picked up.”3 Days later, Frederick L. Strong, New York City Criminal Court Judge, characterized the police operation as a “dragnet.”