Ticketed For Playing Chess In A Public Park

The NYPD must really be desperate for cash if they have the time to ticket chess players – ya know, the real criminals. I actually thought this was a joke until multiple news articles started showing up. And i’m really surprised, with homicides in New York City up from 471 to 532 in 2010, reported rapes up 15 percent from 2009 and robberies up by 4.6 percent ,that they have the time to go after the really dangerous people like two men sitting at a table playing a board game.

We’ve long maintained that chess is one of the least aggressive gentleman’s sports, just a wee bit behind Horseshoes on the blood-and-sweat chart. Who could find fault in benign chess players? But no minor infraction is too small for the NYPD: according to DNAinfo, seven chess players are due in court this month after they were arrested in Inwood for the grave offense of playing chess…on chess boards…in a park…illegally!

The seven men were given summonses for being inside of Emerson Playground, a children’s play area off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors. But the men were in an area filled with stone chess and backgammon tables, completely separated from the play area by a fence.

The NYPD and Parks Department had defended their decision to ticket the men, on the grounds that there are signs clearly stating that adults are not allowed in the playground area without the the company of children. Police also said some of the men had a history of prior arrests.

The last sentence “some of the men had a history of prior arrests”. Two of our CopBlock founders are currently fighting a court battle. They were arrested for taking a picture of a police officer. I was once issued a field arrest for eating a Taco in the parking lot of Taco Bell that is forever on my record.  A cop pulled up, after not showing him the respect he thought he deserved for wearing a costume and badge I was told “be thankful I’m not taking you to jail”.

So what does having a prior arrest have anything to do with playing chess in a public park that is funded by our money? In my two examples do we sound like dangerous criminals that should not be allowed there? How about the cops, do any of them have arrest records?

The article also states that they were in the playground or child area of the park. Since I have never seen an adult playground where should they go to play this dangerous game? I have two types of parks in my area one for dogs and one for everyone. Now if these previously “arrested” men where going up and down the jungle gym with the children taking picture or interacting with the kids there would defiantly be a cause for concern. And if they were on a sex offender list they wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the park but they were only playing Chess.

Here are a couple responses from residents in the area

News of the tickets created an uproar in the neighborhood and worldwide, with some residents defending the NYPD’s actions and others expressing outrage.

Supporters joined the chess players at court Tuesday, as several people congratulated the chess players after the decision.

“This was just ridiculous,” Jeannie Monte, a lifelong New Yorker, told the men. “Everyone should be allowed to use the park and play chess.”

Mary Panzer, a four-year resident of Inwood and friend of Harrison and his wife, also wrote a letter of support to be presented to a judge should the case go to trial.

“At a time when New York City can seem forbidding and everyday a struggle, the Harrisons remind us that we all have the ability to create a tolerant, considerate, and truly pleasant place to live, simply by getting to know our neighbors,” she wrote. “Their presence is one of the things that makes Inwood — and in fact New York City — a wonderful place to live.”

The case was dismissed by the judge, but only because the NYPD wrote the wrong code on the ticket.

A judge threw out the NYPD’s case against two men ticketed for playing chess in an Inwood Hill Park playground, saying police wrote the summonses wrong.

The summons were written as 103.3, the code for being in the park after stated park hours, but according to the NYPD’s own reasoning, they should have been written as 103.1, in which parkgoers have to abide by the stated signs, Whiten said. The summonses were written at 2 p.m., which is within stated park hours.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Mark Whiten decided within minutes of the start of the men’s hearing on Tuesday that police issued the tickets based on the incorrect classification.

I thought I lived in America “Land of the free” unless you want to play chess in a public park.

Full Article


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