392475 08: Chess pieces sit next to the board during a round of chess July 26, 2001 at Washington Square Park in New York City. Chess legend Bobby Fischer played in this park which was later made famous in the film "Searching for Bobby Fischer.", (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Police demonstrated their staunch commitment to enforcing the law when they arrested seven men in an Inwood Hill playground in October. Yacachuda Harrison ,49, and Christopher Peralta, 29, spoke with the New York Post as they were walking out of Manhattan Criminal Court this afternoon cleared of their charge.
Harrison told the Post “It was outrageous that they issued us a summons. I have a passion for chess but the police were bullying us. I was targeted for my appearance and for being homeless.”
According to the Post, prosecutors originally claimed to have issued the summons because the men were unaccompanied by a minor, while the judge revealed that the summonses issued on Oct. 20 said the men were slapped with the tickets because the playground was closed at the time.
However, the park was not yet closed when the men were playing. The men potentially faced up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Yes, it's a crime to be in a park unaccompanied by minors, even if there are no kids in the playground at the time, which was the case with the men who got busted.
"Under my direction, uniformed officers routinely enter the parks to enforce closing times and other regulations; all designed to protect the community," Navarro wrote in an e-mail to the website. "The NYPD allows for officers to issue summonses in lieu of effecting an arrest for appropriate offenses."
“It shouldn’t have come to this,” the defense lawyer Norman Siegel, told the New York Post. “People have a right to play chess in the park.”