Updated, 1:15 p.m. | The men who were hit with criminal summonses for playing chess at a playground in Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan are in line to have their charges, which carried penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, dismissed.
At a hearing in Manhattan on Tuesday, a judicial hearing officer offered the five men who showed up â€œadjournments in contemplation of dismissal,â€ meaning that if they stay out of trouble for six months, the summonses will be vacated, said Norman H. Siegel, the lawyer for the men.
Three of the men accepted the deal, Mr. Siegel said. The other two opted to go to trial, and the hearing officer, Richard Ross, granted their request, setting a trial date of next Tuesday, Mr. Siegel said.
â€œWe will be satisfied when all the charges for all the men are dismissed,â€ Mr. Siegel said.
One of the two who chose trial is Yacahudah Harrison, a homeless man who has been a fixture at chess tables for years, teaching the game to children at their parents’ request. Mr. Harrison says that a park ranger had explicitly given him permission to play at the tables, Mr. Siegel said.
On the afternoon of Oct. 20, three police cruisers drove into the park and rushed the men who were playing chess at the stone chess tables in a gated-off area inside Emerson Playground at Inwood Hill Park, in technical defiance of a sign saying that adults are banned from the playground unless accompanied by children.
They were charged with a misdemeanor violation of a parks regulation that states â€œNo person shall enter or remain in any park without the permission of the Commissioner when such park is closed to the public.â€
The crackdown touched off protests and letter-writing campaigns by supporters of the men.