Good Knight: Cops Bust Seven Men Playing Chess in Upper Manhattan Park

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chessDrop that bishop and come out with your hands up!  A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the “crime” of playing chess in an area off-limits toadults unaccompanied by kids — even though no youngsters were there.

“Is chess really something that should be considered a threat to the neighborhood?” Inwood resident and mom Joanne Johnson wrote Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly after the raid.

“This incident is an embarrassment to the officers from the 34th Precinct who felt that it was necessary to use their badge and authority to issue such a random summons.”

The knights in Kevlar armor gave all seven suspects desk-appearance tickets.

The chess tables where they were ticketed for “failure to comply with signs” are in a fenced-in area where posted notices read: “Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12.”

Yacahuda “Y.A.” Harrison, 49, one of those chess aficionados, said he saw those signs months ago and “asked the [Parks] ranger if we had permission to be there.”

Since then, he said, parents have welcomed him and the other players — and even had their kids take chess lessons from them.

“The day we got picked up, there were no kids” in the playground, he said. “They treated us like drug dealers. All we were doing was playing chess.”

Harrison, like the others, must appear in Manhattan Criminal Court on Dec. 28 for the Oct. 20 incident.

Another man ticketed that day, Inwood resident and artist Junior “Chiqui” Mendoza, 46, said that the police “should have given us a warning, and not a ticket.”

Margaret Blachly, a teacher who took her students to the park yesterday, said, “There are often a lot of rules in this park that get broken, and no summonses are issued.

“If the tables are there to play chess, that’s what they should be allowed to do.”

But Parks Department First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh said the rule is “designed to protect children using our playgrounds and to deter inappropriate adult use of space designated specifically for children.”



  1. When was the last time you saw kids under 12 playing chess in the park? If the adults shouldn’t be there, then move the table to an adult location!

  2. They have nothing better to do with their time than to start up with innocent people who are harmless. They should encourage responsible adults to stay in the park because it probably adds to the safety of the park, even if children are not there. It’s not as if they were playing on the playground equipment.

  3. Sorry, but when adults ahng out in parks, I don’t feel comfertable allowing my children to run around. I have to watch them EVERY second.

    They should have been asked to leave and warned. If they returned, well, then they deserve the tickets.

    Kids need to be able to play as safely as posssible in NY. How often do we hear of crazy stories in parks?!

  4. Now we see how crime is down under the bloomberg rule. B”H for our NYPD and crime fighting. Look, we got 7 criminals off the streets!

  5. Hey, moms. Want some free babysitting, and even make some money on it? Just rent out junior for a couple of hours to a senior who wants to play chess in the park! Why don’t those cops go after the real criminals who put all of us in danger, or the smokers who litter our streets and parks with their ‘droppings’ and put all of our lives at risk with their second-hand smoke? The cops seem to have a lot of free time on their hands if they are going after seniors playing chess in the park. Maybe it’s time for a downsizing of the police force.


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