This past week, it was reported that police had ticketed seven chess players in Inwood for playing on chess boards in a children’s play area. The tickets caused much controversy amongst parents in the area whose children had learned to play from the men. Yesterday, a group of 20 children, parents and residents held a small rally for them at the park where the ticketing took place. And best of all, the Parks Department has installed new chess tables outside the restricted park area for the players!
According to DNAInfo, parents showed up at the Inwood Hill Park yesterday afternoon to support the ticketed chess players, as well as protest the signage at the park. Event organizer Jackie Rodriguez-Jones, 36, brought one of the players a card and chess pieces as a gift from her and her eight-year-old son Jayson Jones. The note read, “Thank you for teaching my son and I good chess tactics. You guys are a positive element in the community.”
The NYPD defended the ticketing this week, citing that two of the men arrested had priors as proof they were right to give them summonses. But the Parks Dept. admitted that the tables were in the wrong area, and installed picnic tables in another area of the park where they said chess play would be allowed. “We support chess in the park and are working to provide facilities and amenities for people to do so, whether they have children or not,” wrote Phillip Abramson, a Parks spokesman. But some are still not happy over the seemingly arbitrary nature of the NYPD coming after the well-liked chess players: “It’s against the law to enforce laws arbitrarily and that’s what seems to be happening here,” said Geoff Croft, from the watchdog group NYC Parks Advocates.