BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | A 35-year-old man was slashed in the arm near The Battery in what appears to be a fight between two rival groups of ticket sellers on Wednesday.
Witnesses told DNAInfo that the two groups were chasing each on State St. in the Financial District when the man was slashed.
Police say the man was taken to Lower Manhattan Hospital at 1 p.m. and is in stable condition. They would not release any other information.
Just a week before the stabbing, police said they were well aware of the fierce competition for tourists between vendors near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal.
“These sightseeing tickets-tours salesmen prey on tourists,” Captain Mark Iocco, the First Precinct’s commander, said last week. “They’re becoming a huge problem.”
At the end of May, the New York Post reported that two tourists were bamboozled out of $400 for two tickets to the Staten Island ferry, which is free.
The precinct has stepped up its enforcement of the area, stationing additional cops at the terminal and by Battery Park, now known as The Battery, he said at precinct’s community council meeting June 25.
In addition to the beefed up patrols, plainclothes cops — dressed like tourists with hats and cameras — are also stationed there. The plainclothes are trying to get close enough to listen in on conversations between the hawkers and the tourists — trying to see if there is some kind of fraudulent ticket being sold, said Iocco.
“These guys get very very aggressive,” he said. “They’re telling [the tourists] anything to sell them something.”
He said police officers have also been reassigned from Soho to that area.
The precinct is employing its scooter task force to drive up and down near the sellers to get them off their game a bit, said Iocco. The hawkers have a system, he said, communicating by radio when they see the police coming and then moving to another spot.
The day before the stabbing, there were numerous ticket sellers conversing with tourists on the plaza near the ferry terminal. Touts shouted “Statue of Liberty, guys?” and “helicopter ride.” There were several uniforms on display — beige, light blue short-sleeved shirts, deep red and blue jackets as well as long-sleeved white shirts with lettering. Some sported green Statue of Liberty crowns while they talked to tourists in Spanish and English.
One ticket seller lamented the “one bad apple” — the hawker who sold expensive tickets for the free ferry — as ruining the business for others.
“Tourists look at us like scam artists,” he said. The hawker, who identified himself as Rico Rodriguez, wore a beige shirt that had “Tourism Inc.” and “sightseeing” on it.
He said he’s now careful to avoid selling in the park or on Dept. of Transportation property like the ferry terminal.
Iocco has met with the Downtown Alliance and the Battery Park City Authority about this issue and is looking to start a campaign for tourists — some sort of signs or handouts in several different languages — to alert them.
The police have been making a lot of arrests as well as issuing summons for trespassing — ticket sellers are not allowed to vend on Parks Dept. or Dept. of Transportation property, said Iocco.
But so far it has been ineffective.
“They get thrown out. They go to court,” he said. “They’re back the next day.”