Seven men ticketed for playing chess in park

November 18, 2010 4:19:47 PM PST
It's a comforting rule for parents, no adults in New York City playgrounds unless accompanied by a child, but has it gone too far?

A group of men have been ticketed for playing chess on a designated chess table located inside the Emerson playground in the Inwood section of Manhattan.

"It's vindictive, it's malicious and it's very ugly," said Yacahudah Harrison.

Those are words you wouldn't expect to hear about a playground but many believe are fitting given what happened at Inwood Hill Park.

"We see them playing all the time, it's harmless, teach kids how to play, it's been blown way out of proportion," said Rob Walsh, a parent.

There are a group of regulars who play chess inside the gated area.

That all ended when police made their move, handed out tickets to seven men for disobeying a sign that says it prohibits adults in this area, except in the company of children.

"You can't make an exception to that law cause once you do there will be excuses," said Renee Barnett.

Two of the men say they were well aware of the sign and so before they began playing chess and they asked a Park Ranger if it would be ok. They say the ranger not only gave them permission but an explanation.

"She said 'Oh yeah, I wouldn't enforce that law, that's made for child molesters or people taking photographs of children", said Harrison.

The Parks Department says the rule is "Designed to protect children using our playgrounds and to deter inappropriate adult use of space."

Police believe they acted appropriately adding two of the men had prior arrests, although they wouldn't specify which ones or if the officers who wrote these tickets even knew that at the time.

A possible compromise is putting a chess table, outside of the gated area, but then again this is the game of chess where nothing is straight forward.

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