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NYPD braces for 'wilding' gang violence in Times Square on Easter

NEW YORK CITY -- The NYPD is again planning to beef up patrols in Times Square and Midtown the night of Easter Sunday, a day that in recent years has seen violence as part of a yearly gang initiation ritual following the Javits Center car show.

Police say the Easter Day "wilding" started years ago but became especially violent in 2010, when hundreds of gang members attended the annual auto show at the Javits Center, then conducted gang initiations in Times Square.

Two women were shot during the sprawling brawl, two other people were wounded and several police officers injured. More than 50 people were arrested.

Since then, police have beefed up Easter patrols and monitored activity at the car show. The Daily News reports the NYPD is also monitoring social media to look for gang members who may be planning a "mobbing" through Times Square.

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There have not been any gang incidents on Easter since 2010, and the NYPD is looking to keep it that way.

"For me, it's a religious holiday and it should be respected," said Michael Hoard in Times Square Friday night.

The police "are here to protect us, that's the bottom line," said Al Centrella of Hempstead, who was in the area with his wife to see a show.