Hot dog vendor brutally beaten at NYC's Washington Sq Park speaks out

Food vendor, 66, attacked during out-of-control Pride party in Washington Square Park reveals revelers broke his nose and left him fearing for his life after he refused to swap US flag on his cart for rainbow banner

  • Nader Hassaneen, 66, was punched in the face several times late on Sunday night as the city’s Pride celebrations continued in Washington Square Park 
  • Hassaneen had hot sauce thrown in his eyes when a woman attacked him for flying the American flag instead of the Pride flag
  • One bystander claimed Hassaneen used a homophobic slur – an accusation he denied in an interview with The New York Post 
  • At least three people were also arrested earlier on Sunday afternoon 
  • NYPD officers were seen in riot gear using pepper spray on parkgoers 
  • Tensions were already high between the police and LGBTQ community after uniformed NYPD cops were banned from attending any official Pride events until at least 2025
  • Throughout June, with COVID restrictions lifted, Washington Square Park has been the site of rowdy all-night parties and even illegal boxing matches 
  • The park has been the site of stabbings and drug taking, to the fury of well-heeled local residents in Greenwich Village 
  • Revelers have continued to defy police and refused to leave at the closing time, whether it be midnight or 10pm, dancing the night away and leaving the park trashed 

A 66-year-old hot dog seller has told of his terror as he was attacked by a woman in Washington Square Park on Sunday night, describing how he feared he would ‘bleed to death’ as he was punched in the head and had hot sauce thrown in his eyes.

Nader Hassaneen, an Egyptian immigrant and street vendor, told The New York Post on Tuesday he would ‘never go back’ to the Manhattan park, which has been plagued by crime in recent weeks.  

The trouble began during Sunday’s Pride celebrations, he said, when just before 11pm a woman pulled an American flag from the cart, demanding it be replaced with a rainbow Pride flag.

Nader Hassaneen, an Egyptian immigrant and retired street vendor, was attacked in Washington Square Park on Sunday night, receiving a smashed lip and bloody nose. He was seen bleeding from his head after being punched in the face several times by a woman

People could be seen tending to Hassaneen in the street following the beating late on Sunday night

An argument with a food vendor at the corner of Washington Square North and 5th Avenue led to the assault on Sunday night

‘I was videotaping it and telling her she shouldn’t do that,’ Hassaneen told The Post from his home in Brooklyn.

‘My friend asked her, ‘Why did you do that?’

One person who filmed the scene said that Hassaneen used a homophobic slur, but he denied that.

‘I would never do that. I don’t have a problem with them,’ Hassaneen said.

‘I know it was their parade. It was their day. They came out to have fun and enjoy themselves.’

One of his attackers threw the hot sauce the situation escalated.

‘My eyes were burning,’ Hassaneen told The Post in Arabic, while his daughter translated.

The victim was later taken to hospital for further treatment as a result of the attack 

‘A lot of people were hurting me and pushing me around. They punched in the back of the head. I didn’t know I was bleeding.

‘I have a broken nose. They say I might need surgery.

‘When I saw the blood in my cap and I was bleeding from my nose, I thought I was going to bleed to death.’

He added: ‘I’m never going back there.’

Police were quick on the scene, and the attack was captured on camera.

‘I felt safe because the cops were around. There were about 30 or 40 cops near the arch,’ he said.

‘But I was scared when they came at me. There were a lot of people coming at me at the same time.’

Hassaneen and Abdelalim Abdelbaky, 28, who operates the cart, said it was not the first attack on him or his employees in a park plagued by recent violence and illegal drug use.

‘Most of the people in the park are good, but you have some bad ones and they are giving the park a bad name,’ Abdelbaky said. ‘They should keep them out of the park. I don’t take my kids to the park, I don’t want them to see something bad.’

Hassaneen’s 24-year-old daughter Soha Ahmed said she was shocked by the attack.

‘That’s when I realized how bad it was. It’s just not right,’ she said.

‘They are out there for love and then then it gets chaotic and violent.’

No arrests have been made in the assault. 

The park was quiet and calm on Monday night for the first time in weeks, after the local police precinct decided to enforce its usual midnight closing time. 

The city’s Pride celebrations were marred on Sunday evening after skirmishes with police who used pepper spray to regain control.  

NYPD officers used pepper spray on Pride attendees who were in the Greenwich Village park early on Sunday evening after revelers got angry with how police responded to a break in the metal barricades surrounding the popular park. 

After a chaotic couple of days the scene at Washington Square Park is tranquil as a small group of parkgoers sit on benches past the midnight curfew just a few feet away from NYPD officers on patrol 

NYPD officers lined up at the Washington Arch in the early hours of Tuesday morning as the chaos dies down at Washington Square Park following multiple standoffs and arrest with unruly revelers during the city’s Pride weekend 

The calm scene at Washington Square Park in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a wild weekend of assaults, including a food vendor who was injured after getting hit in the head by a woman

Members of the New York Police Department push back people after a food vendor was attacked

Social media users described officers as shoving one of the broken barricades into a woman who was on the other side. 

Pride participants already were wary of any police presence following a confrontation in the same park, at the same event last year. NYC Pride banned uniformed cops from any of its official events this year, and until at least 2025, over fears their presence would ‘harm’ attendees. The decision came in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.  

Riot police were then seen surrounding the area in riot gear including shields, helmets and visors. Some police officers had their batons out.

Around the park’s perimeter, officers formed a chain on police bikes before scores of them flooded the park. There were at least three confirmed arrests.

Police clashed with revelers during Gay Pride festivities after trying to clear a street on the edge of Washington Square Park

Police dragged away a woman during a skirmish with police on Sunday afternoon at Washington Square Park

A person breathes fire in Washington Square Park as people gathered to celebrate Pride

At least three people were arrested as officers and Pride participants were battling against one another

Pro-gay-rights New Yorkers confront members of the ‘Key of David Christian Center.’ The small group protested the Gay Pride celebration outside Washington Square Park

The Queer Liberation March, which replaced the traditional Gay Pride March this year, explicitly banned gay police officers from joining the event, and asked that no police be present for the march itself, claiming that the New York Police Department is a racist and homophobic institution

Several women were seen being apprehended by police officers during the confrontation at Washington Square Park

Police stand by as a confrontation with Pride goers took place in areas close to the park

Officers dressed in riot gear and police bikers were seen lining the perimeter streets of the park

At least three people have been arrested in Washington Square Park during Pride celebrations on Sunday afternoon. Police were pictured dressed in riot gear together with helmets, shields and batons drawn

Following a clash with police officers, people remained in the park until sundown 

A fire-eater lit up the sky after a tense standoff with police earlier on Sunday evening

People gather in Washington Square Park for the 3rd annual Queer Liberation March in New York on Sunday. Several people were later arrested following the Pride celebrations

People arrive to Washington Square park as they take part in the Queer Liberation March, which later erupted into clashes between some attendees and New York Police Department officers 

Dozens of police vans and uniformed officers swarmed the area in preparation for any trouble

‘There’s talk of mace happening right now at Washington Square Park. There is a sea of cops here,’ Twitter user Christine Chung wrote early on Sunday evening. 

Another Twitter user, Meredith Cash, wrote: ‘I am currently watching NYPD charge Washington Square Park with riot gear (helmets, pepper spray, batons) … potentially to break up pride celebrations? 

‘It certainly looks like they are confronting people celebrating pride from my vantage point. 

‘The NYPD has attacked the Queer Liberation March, used pepper spray, and arrested at least one person. Now they’re out in force, and riot gear, threatening more arrests. This is why it’s no cops at Pride. 

When asked for a comment from the NYPD over the use of pepper spray, an officer said that ‘no official details had yet been relayed from the field’. 

At least one person could be heard chanting through a megaphone: ‘The NYPD is not welcome at Pride!’ to encouraging cheers of those nearby. 

One Twitter user attempted to explain how the melee broke out. Pride-goers were congregating close to the iconic arch and a metal barricade was moved to create more space for those inside the park.

Cops already inside the pen started shoving it back into place, then a woman became agitated and pushed it back at the officers. In return, another officer then moved the metal barricade back into a woman. 

Parkgoers then ran over to the barriers to yell at police for not being more careful and hurting the woman. At this point the NYPD reportedly used pepper spray.  

Over the last month the park has often been the scene of anti-social behavior with everything from illegal boxing matches, to raves and drug taking, although the majority of this has occurred after nightfall, often with police attempting to enforce a curfew. 

LTBTQ Pride Parade marchers are seen gathering at Washington Square Park in New York City before police appeared to break up the event 

Tensions were already high between the NYPD and those celebrating Pride after organizers of New York City’s event decided to ban LGBTQ police officers from marching in uniform. 

The Reclaim Pride Coalition held its third Queer Liberation March from Bryant Park to Stonewall National Monument and Washington Square Park. The liberation event does not allow police or corporate participation. 

The march commemorates the 1969 Stonewall uprising, sparked by a police raid on a gay bar and tensions between law enforcement and some parts of the LGBTQ community still exist, a half century later.

Twitter users were in disbelief at what was happening in the park during what was supposed to be a celebratory event

Last year, the NYPD attacked marchers or partiers twice during Pride weekend.  

The role police officers should play in the annual parade has been debated for years, but it took on new heat amid a national reckoning around police brutality.

New York City’s streets a year ago were awash in protests over the death of George Floyd and clashes between demonstrators and officers. 

‘Folks still have challenging and traumatic and many times horrific relationships with law enforcement,’ said John Blasco, a parade regular. 

‘If you’re an officer … of course you should be able to celebrate and express your pride, but you don’t need to do it in a uniform that has perpetuated violence against many of the people who are trying to celebrate their pride that day.’ 

For others, presence of LGBTQ police marchers is an expression of hard-fought diversity and inclusion that should be celebrated, a hallmark of how integral LGBTQ people are.

‘Why should I have to hide a part of me,’ asked Ana Arboleda, a sergeant with the NYPD who has marched in the parade several times and is the vice-president of the Gay Officers Action League. 

‘Why should I have to take off (the uniform) as if I’m ashamed?’ 

The ban is not the first for a Pride march; Toronto Pride hasn’t allowed uniformed police since 2017, and Vancouver Pride started limiting its role then as well, while Capital Pride Alliance started doing so in 2018. Denver PrideFest isn’t allowing law enforcement to take part in its virtual event this year, and neither is the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, which takes place in Seattle but is separate from Seattle Pride.

In New York City, an alternative to the Heritage of Pride event called the Queer Liberation March, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition as a rebuttal to what they consider a too-corporate, too-comfortable main parade, has never allowed a police presence since its 2019 inception. 

Members of the Gay Officers Action League of the New York police department are cheered during the gay pride march in 2013 in New York. This year, organizers of New York City’s event banned LGBTQ police officers from marching in future parades while wearing their uniforms

Members of the New York City Police Department carry flags, including one with the rainbow colors, during New York’s Gay Pride Parade, pictured eight years ago in 2013

NYPD police officers march along Fifth Avenue during the gay pride parade in 2014

A police officer applauds as parade-goers shout and wave flags during the New York City Pride in 2016

An NYPD officer grabs a youth by the hair as another officer clubs a young man during a confrontation in Greenwich Village after a Gay Power march in New York in August of 1970

In Washington Square Park on Saturday night, the park endured yet another night of debauchery in what has become a flashpoint for the city’s out-of-control crime rate. 

Large groups of party goers who had congregated at the park were dancing and playing music well beyond Saturday night and into Sunday morning, breaking a midnight curfew.

There were even three impromptu boxing matches on Friday night, with referees and time keepers. 

A fighter dislocated his shoulder during one of the bouts, but as of noon Sunday, no serious violence or arrests had been reported in the park, as in prior weeks. 

The boxing is the latest in a long-line of anti-social behavior that has been occurring in the park despite efforts to clear the area, usually by 10pm. 

Revelers had been gathering around thundering sound systems for consecutive nights of drinking and smoking marijuana despite a police order to close the park after people ran away from a man who was brandishing a knife and a taser last Friday night

A woman carries a boom box as people pack up and leave the party, which had been raging for several nights and disturbing locals earlier this month

People continue to party in Washington Square Park as NYPD cops stand back and fail to enforce the closing time, pictured last weekend

Throughout June, with COVID restrictions easing, Washington Square Park has been the site of rowdy all-night parties, stabbings and drug taking, to the fury of well-heeled local residents in Greenwich Village. 

From Memorial Day weekend onwards, the usual midnight closure of the park was brought forward to 10pm, in a bid to end the loud late-night drinking and partying, and limit the antisocial antics, but the efforts have rarely succeeded. 

The curfew saw violent confrontations with the police, and running battles in the streets of Greenwich Village as officers attempted to force people from the park.

Earlier in the week, an illegal rave continued for several nights with revelers blasting out music on thundering sound systems.  

Residents have been continually plagued by moped riders and skateboarders in the area. 

‘Starting Monday, the NYPD is going to empty out the park at midnight and stay consistent with it,’ a source described as close to the department and a neighbor of Greenwich Village’s Sixth Precinct told The Village Sun on Thursday, just prior to the weekend’s festivities. 

‘They’re going to bring in as many officers as they need and say, ‘Point your feet in that direction and go.’ They will be asking everyone to leave the park.’   

Revelers made the best of the unenforced curfew on Saturday and early Sunday morning, with a group of young merrymakers gathered in a circle with dancers in middle while others congregated around a drummer. 

Meanwhile, a mobile DJ was set up with a mixing station and a large speaker. Amplified music has been a key complaint of neighbors, but their complaints haven’t stopped the loudspeakers and crowds revelers. 

The pride march had ended earlier in the day on Saturday, with marchers seen dancing in the park’s iconic fountain.

A group of party goers gather in a circle to watch dancers twerk in Washington Square Park on June 26

At least five illegal boxing matches took place on Friday night with timekeepers and a referee

Revelers continued to gather in the Manhattan park last Sunday night despite a police order to shut the park at 10pm

Back at Sunday’s Pride march, for the second consecutive year, the lingering pandemic consigned New York’s annual Pride march to the virtual world on Sunday, even as its alter-ego, the Queer Liberation March, took its edgier message through the streets of Manhattan.

The NYC Pride march, the city’s marquee LGBTQ+ event now in its 51st year, became a made-for-TV production as a cautionary measure to prevent coronavirus infections, which have dropped sharply as the number of people vaccinated has grown.

Only a small number of guests were invited to a three-block area where floats and musical acts paraded for the cameras, but organizer Sue Doster said ‘something in the millions’ of viewers were expected to tune in. 

Meanwhile, thousands organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition, whose parade began as a protest to the Pride march two years ago, marched more than 30 blocks down New York’s Seventh Avenue with rainbow flags and signs that included ‘Liberation and Justice.’

Coalition cofounder Jay W. Walker said the group was hoping to draw up to 70,000 marchers.

Pride colored fans and parasols on display at the 52nd annual New York City Gay Pride Parade, in New York

People participate in the Queer Liberation March on June 27, 2021, in New York City. The Queer Liberation March is an alternative Pride celebration free of police officers and major corporate sponsors

People gather at Bryant Park for the Queer Liberation March on Sunday in New York

Thousands of people celebrate Pride at night in Washington Square Park in New York City

People gather at Washington Square Park during Pride celebrations on Sunday

The theme for NYC Pride 2021 is appropriately titled ‘The Fight Continues’, and it refers to several national and local concerns, including police brutality, state anti-LGBT legislation, and economic hardship

Thousands of people celebrate Pride at night in Washington Square Park on Sunday

People celebrate Pride on Sunday night in Washington Square Park

People gather at Washington Square Park during Pride celebrations on Sunday

Artist Chris Williams (C) poses with his Pride Puppets outside the Stonewall Inn during the 3rd Annual Queer Liberation March

The Queer Liberation March is a ‘people’s march’ working to ‘reclaim the spirit and meaning of Pride’ with a motto of ‘No Corps – No Cops – No BS’ according to their website

People take part in the Queer Liberation March in New York City on Sunday

This year’s march started in Bryant Park and ended near The Stonewall Inn in the West Village

People watch the Queer Liberation March from their fire escape on Sunday

Ronaldo Pinto attends at Queer Liberation March in the West Village on Sunday

People gather and rally at the Queer Liberation March on Sunday close to Madison Square Garden

Amid Iravanipour rallies at the Queer Liberation March on Sunday with a colorful beard

People participate in the Queer Liberation March

The streets of Manhattan were packed during the Pride march on Sunday 

Under sunny skies with muggy conditions that felt like 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a racially mixed crowd of men and women chanted ‘No Justice, No Peace,’ and other slogans, some critical of the New York Police Department.

After linking last year’s message to the Black Lives Matter movement, Walker said this year’s theme is returning to the coalition’s standard: ‘None of us are free until all of us are free.’

Although the group had urged marchers to wear masks, few did. Last year’s march produced no discernable spike in new coronavirus cases, he said.

Both events commemorate the June 28, 1969, uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, when patrons fought back during a police raid. The defiant stand gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

The two groups have differed over their policies on police participation in their events, which the Reclaim Pride Coalition opposes. But Heritage of Pride last month also decided to bar uniformed police officers from its future parades. Doster said many of its Black, brown and trans members feel threatened by their presence.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attends New York City Pride on Saturday, where there was a smaller than normal parade due to COVID 

The senator addressed crowds while waving a rainbow flag as activists stood behind him with a banner expressing his support for LGBT people 

The main New York City Pride parade, which usually draws throngs of participants and spectators, is once again being presented as a television broadcast special, since now-lifted pandemic restrictions were still in effect at the time it was being planned

A participant waves to crowds during the parade on Sunday, which despite being smaller than normal still drew plenty of spectators 

New York City’s gay pride parades began in 1970 to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising, which started after a police raid on a Manhattan gay bar

Police stand guard as the parade continues. The organizers of Pride this year decided to ban police from marching in uniform 

Participants on the Pride parade in New York on Sunday. The event is one of the largest gatherings of the city’s calendar 

People meet at Bryant Park in preparation to participate in the Queer Liberation March on Sunday 

Plenty of people joined the parade on motorcycles, including this participant whose vehicle was decked out with several rainbow flags 

Sunday’s Pride event was broadcast on TV, with organizers hoping to attract an audience in the millions 

Parade participants celebrate New York City Pride on June 27, 2021 in New York City

The main Pride parade Sunday is virtual again this year, but demonstrators and celebrators were still making their presence felt in the city. Pictured is an attendee at the event Saturday 

A participant at Sunday’s Pride march holding a sign reading ‘Thank God I’m gay’ 

The event – pictured Sunday – commemorate the June 28, 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, when patrons fought back during a police raid. The defiant stand gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement

People gathering in New York for Sunday’s parade. The parade took place across three blocks of Manhattan with a large TV audience  

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