Frustration over closed parks causes protesters to cut locks to Brooklyn playground

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Stay-at-home fatigue is igniting a new battle in New York City as protesters in Brooklyn once again defied a city order and cut the locks off of playgrounds in their neighborhood.

A rally was held by members of the Orthodox Jewish community on Monday, outside Middleton Playground in Williamsburg, in an effort to call upon the mayor to open the gates and allow children to play.

Video shows protesters use a bolt cutter to open the lock to the gate and enter the playground.
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Frustration over closed parks led protesters in Brooklyn to cut the locks from a local playground on Monday.

Community activists say they're determined to liberate their children, and locks and chains have been broken in several parks in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

And they are being applauded by several of their local elected officials.

"This is the mayor's job and he should come here and offer these people some relief," said Joseph Lentol, D-NY State Assembly.

The city's parks have remained largely open, but playgrounds have been locked up for months. The mayor says the risks are still too great.

"I understand people's frustrations," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "But if folks act prematurely, and that causes the disease to start spreading again, then that's the kind of thing that will undermine our ability to get to Phase Two and stay in Phase Two."

But several community leaders say opening the playgrounds is an act of civil disobedience-in neighborhoods where most families have at least half a dozen children and live in tiny apartments, with two or three bedrooms.

"They can't keep them locked up, on the fifth floor, for three months," said Rabbi David Niederman. "It's impossible."

The governor has been strict on social distancing-and announced that the U.S. Open would take place without spectators, but refused to take a stand on the playgrounds in Brooklyn.

"If you have a dispute among local officials in New York City, they should sit down and figure it out, but it's up to the local government," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The NYC Parks Department says just like all the playgrounds in the city, Middleton is currently closed.

They say the playground has been broken into at least 25 times in recent weeks.

Due to the repeated breaches, the Parks Department says they welded one of the four entrances shut on Monday morning as a short term fix.

They later unwelded the entrance and replaced it with locks and chains.

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Frustration over closed parks led protesters in Brooklyn to cut the locks from a local playground on Monday.

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