Monday, November 22, 2010

Parents Rally To Support Ticketed Chess Players In Inwood Hill Park

Parks Department Adds Tables for Chess Players in inwood Hill Park as Communiy Rallies in Their Support

Yacahudah "Y.A' Harrison, one of the seven men ticketed for playing chess at Emerson Playground in Inwood Hill Park sits with Jayson Jones, 8, a boy he has taught to play. Mr. Harrison was ticket in the playground located at the corner of W 207th St and Seaman Ave in Manhattan. Under Parks Department rules playgrounds are off-limits to adults without children under 12. The rule - meant to protect children from illegal activity - is arbitrarily enforced. Each year hundreds of thousands of people - if not more - eat lunch, read, study, and use park bathrooms located inside playgrounds without receiving fines or incident. (Photo: Carla Zanoni/DNAinfo)

Jayson's Mother, Jackie Rodriguez-Jones, 36, told A Walk In The Park, "I don't want them to move away from this playground. That's the main reason we were all taking about how upset we were that they got ticketed."

My eight year old son asked, "'So mom what do we do now, where do we play chess?"' That was my main concern. This is a positive element in this playground - I've been here thirty years."

Parks Department Solution. On Sunday, the agency placed two picnic tables a block away from the playground near Inwood Hill Park's main bathroom. "Does that mean that they will have to be all the way by the bathroom - which my kids will not be going to play chess," asked Jackie Rodriguez-Jones. "I prefer these chess table stay next to the playground because the kids say what this for, what's going on, that's gets them interested." (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

On Sunday, multiple adults were sitting at the tables inside the playground, eating lunch, doing work, drawing without a child while the NYPD watched from a patrol car.

"It can't be just enforced here, it has to be a city wide rule, either enforce it or change the rule," said Zaida Grunes. "Its too expensive to move out all the chess tables out of playgrounds. How many playgrounds do we have in all five boroughs that have chess tables? So it has to be enforced across the board or not at all."

"What I do think is that it is probably a bit class motivated," said Inger Tilsen-Breton a neighborhood resident of seven years, five as a mother. "I'm not sure because I don't know who blew the whistle. I could imagine that it had something to do with some people asking about what are they doing here, why are they not gainfully employed. So you hear phrases like that you can't help but thinking it has something to do with people being fearful of homeless people, less fortunate people. That was my impression."

Reacting to the Police Department's decision to release prior arrest information of two men ticketed, Rodriguez-Jones said, "Honestly when they make a choice then they have to back it up, and to back it up they had to make it seem like these were terrible people. There are not terrible people." – Geoffrey Croft


A group of 20 children, parents and residents rallied Saturday in support of the seven chess players who were ticketed by the NYPD for playing chess in Inwood Hill Park this October, according DNAinfo.

Although the Parks Department initially asked the protesters to leave the playground area where they gathered, workers ultimately installed picnic tables in another area of the park where they said chess play would be allowed.

"They put that table in the wrong place," said a Parks supervisor, referring to the chess tables near the playground where the ticketed men had set up their game.

Earlier this week, the NYPD's top spokesman defended the tickets, saying two of the men had prior arrests and that police were being unfairly persecuted in the community for doing their job.

"We’re here to support the guys," said event organizer Jackie Rodriguez-Jones, 36, who brought one of the players a card and chess pieces as a gift from her and her eight-year-old son Jayson Jones.

"Thank you for teaching my son and I good chess tactics," read the card addressed to the players. "You guys are a positive element in the community."

Juan Torres, one of the men ticketed in Emerson playground, playing with Jayson Jones, 8.

Read More:

Northhattan - November 22, 2010 - By Brett Teal

DNAinfo November 21, 2010 - By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo - November 19, 2010 - By Carla Zanoni

New York Post - November 19, 2010 - By Jamie Schram and Dan Mangan

A Walk In The Park - November 19, 2010

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