Friday, November 19, 2010

NYPD Arbitrarily Writes Summonses To Chess Players In Inwood Hill Park

Joanna Johnston, whose 7-year-old son learned how to play chess from the men at the playground, was moved to write a letter on the matter to the 34th Precinct, the City Council, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Crime is on the rise in the Inwood area according to the news and in addition to what we see and hear about in the neighborhood, is chess really something that should be considered a threat to the neighborhood?" she wrote.

Chess Players Ticketed in Inwood
Yacahudah "Y.A." Harrison playing chess with a neighborhood child this summer on the table with a chessboard inlay inside Emerson Playground at Inwood Hill Park. Mr. Harrison was one of seven chess players issued a summons on October 20 by NYPD police officers from the 34th Precinct for playing chess inside the playground. Under Parks Department rules playgrounds are off-limits to adults without children under 12. That rule however is arbitrarily enforced. (DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni)


A group of seven mild-mannered chess players are due in criminal court next month after police officers from the 34th Precinct issued them summonses for playing their favorite board game in Inwood Hill Park, according to DNAinfo.

The men were ticketed on Oct. 20 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 furnished with stone chess and backgammon tables — separated from the play area by a fence.

"There is a problem in this area with drug dealing, but the police have time to write tickets to people playing chess?" asked Yacahudah Harrison, 48, one of the men who received a summons for "Fail[ing] to comply with signs."

The men said the police pulled right up to the corner of 207th Street and Seaman Avenue, and came directly to their table. Now they're due in criminal court on Dec. 28.

Captain Jose Navarro, of the 34th Precinct, told DNAinfo he had reviewed the ticket and stood by his officers' actions.

"Under my direction, uniformed officers routinely enter the parks to enforce closing times and other regulations; all designed to protect the community," he wrote in an e-mail.

"The NYPD allows for officers to issue summonses in lieu of effecting an arrest for appropriate offenses."

But Inwood residents expressed outrage that the NYPD would target the chess players in light of the men's history as caretakers and teachers for the next generation of Inwood chess players.

"This is a positive thing for our kids to see and do, it's a positive mental activity for them," said Regina Christoforatos, 38, whose 6-year-old daughter Zoe has been learning chess in the park.

Yacahudah Harrison got a ticket as he was playing chess in Emerson Playground at the corner of W 207th St and Seaman ave in Manhattan.

Yacahudah Harrison got a ticket for playing chess in Emerson Playground at the corner of W 207th St and Seaman Ave in Manhattan. (Photo: Florescu/NY Daily News)

Read More:

DNAinfo - November 17, 2010 - By Carla Zanoni

New York Times - November 17, 2010 - By Andy Newman And Nate Schweber

DNAinfo - November 18, 2010 - By Carla Zanoni

New York Daily News - November 18th 2010 - By Mathew Bultman And James Fanelli

New York Post - November 18, 2010 - By Perry Chiaramonte, Jamie Schram and Dan Mangan

Cops Moved In Wearing Bullet-proof Vests, Stunning Onlookers
CBS - November 18, 2010

New York Times - November 17, 2010 - By Dylan Loeb Mcclain

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