Friday, June 10, 2011


Concerning the Tompkins Square Park Chess Tables

A few days ago we noticed that 4 of the chess tables in Tompkins Square Park had people sitting at them playing chess . Each table had a few people standing around the table watching the players play chess .Anyone who  is actually familiar with T.S.P. though knows that much more than just chess games happens at the chess tables  .

A bit more than a year ago 2 signs were clamped high up on two lamp posts near the tables .What they have to say is seen above . Another park rule that has been only  rarely referred to let alone responsible for actual arrests resulting in even short term incarcerations .

A few days ago at 10 in the morning Lisa (pictured above) was sitting at a chess table . Lisa claims she had been sitting at the table  for approximately 10 minutes when police approached her , referred to the sign above and then arrested her .Two others were taken away with her . At the time of the arrest several of the chess tables had people sitting at them not playing chess .Witnesses that we spoke to mostly corroborate her account of the event . Lisa claims that she spent 32 hours in the system , at the 9th precinct and then downtown at central booking . This all occurred  because, according to Lisa , of a claimed violation of the park rule displayed on the sign above .

Lisa claims that after the arrest ,while in custody at the 9th precinct , police found that she had a warrant for not having provided to authorities at the proper time and place a paper certifying that she had  completed a previous  period of community service .Later, while downtown in central booking , the violation of the park rule for which she was originally arrested was dismissed by a judge.

Lisa's story is not one of an isolated event .We cannot verify all that Lisa claims but we have in fact seen and heard situations at the chess tables similar to her account of her arrest at the chess tables .

 We appreciate that there are many difficult problems , some involving considerable violence, created by ongoing illegal activities at the  chess tables . We appreciate that the task of policing such activities is difficult and often maddeningly frustrating .We have to remember though that there are certain constitutional protections  afforded to all of us .Law is to apply equally to all and is not to be arbitrarily enforced solely when convenient for those charged with the task of maintaining a reasonably safe and orderly society.

P.S. 18:45 hrs Monday June 13:

Lisa claims that on Thureday June 9, 2011 at some time around 10AM , a lieutenant directed officers to check her I.D. at the chess  table at which she and 2 others were sitting .Lisa displayed her I.D. as requested .Two or more males at the table next to her's also had their I.D.s checked . No warrants were checked at the chess tables  .The lieutenant instructed officers to take her and the 2 others sitting at her table in violation of the park rule  posted high up on the lamp post (see picture) into custody and remove them to the 9th precinct .Others , including a male sleeping at a table that Lisa claims she knows had no I.D. , remained  at the tables.The males at the next table that had their I.D.s checked were told to leave the area , which they did .

Lisa claims that she was held at the 9th precinct for 10 hours .She does not know when police personnel got around to checking her record for warrants .She was then transported downtown to central booking .After several hours in a holding area  the park rule violation was vacated and she was told to be sure to be present with the proper paper work in hand  at her next appearance date to settle the outstanding warrant problem.

this would be a good action for the slacktivist
Well said in the final paragraph. Thanks for posting this.
That's a scary story, nice reporting and thanks for posting this, Bob.
That sign is posted next to the fence on the opposite side of the walkway where the chess tables are, and, unless you're about 20' tall, you're not likely to read it, let alone even notice the damn thing.

The placement of this sign is clearly designed for facilitating selective enforcement of park rules.

Speaking of which, WHY is the NYPD arresting folks for allegedly violating a PARK rule pertaining to sitting on a park bench and NOT playing chess???
For chrissake.

Our tax dollars at work - seriously? Against high-rollin' chess players?

I'm probably completely naive as to what other nefarious business is conducted over chess tables but I doubt it is a threat worth this attention.

Enlighten me, please, if I am mistaken.
Just another intrusion by the police state.
Please, don't expect it to get any better,just mark it up as loseing one more of your rights,as small as it may seem(at the chess tables)it is a bigger picture about conditioning that is going on here.
other than you posting this there is no outrage about such actions so they will progress and chip away.
Thanks for posting this and trying to get attention.
The best approuch would be remove the chess tables all together and replace them with a water fountain and bronze Civil War hero on a horse...see that works..
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDIN ME. That poor woman. My heart goes out to her.
I dunno...I get the impression we don't have the whole story. I don't know why anyone who isn't playing chess would sit in that area of the park. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that end of the park belongs to the street people.
whats next? a dress code for the park
the police state is tightning it's noose everywhere. i almost got issue a 500.00 ticket for charging my phone in a city park.stealing public services was the crime.this happen in san antonio.
according to google it costs less then a penny to charge a mobile phone.
if the city wants to save money, they should lay off cops.
I dont even walk my dogs in that area of the park due to all the "chess playing" . There is more drugs at those tables then there is at CVS. Kudos to the 9th pct, Arrest those junkies!!
Im glad the police are doing their job. If they arrest the poor junkies, then maybe the thugs and drug dealers stop coming by to make money off of them. Those chess tables are sketchy at best anyway, lots of shady people. Yo , check it, she got arrested becuz she had a warrant, WARRANT. She was WANTED. That is my tax dollars at work and Im happy for it. I got kids that play in the park and the less junkies the better. Look at this girl in the picture. Disaster!
Oh please, lets ignore the fact that this has been a rat infested drunk / heroin junkie corner of the park for the last 20 years, and that Johnny law has obviously been given a directive by whitey to clean up TSP. I don't even enter the park from that corner with my kids because I don't want them to run the drunk gauntlet on their way to the less skeevy parts of the park. This is just classic Giulliani tactics to scare the street folks further east.
I'm sorry, but are the junkies actually causing some kind of problem for anyone but themselves? Is the issue that they're unsightly? Or are substance abuse problems an airborne contagion that my kid can pick up as I troop him by the junk sick section in the morning? Do they shoot dirty needles out of their eyes or something?

Seriously, I worry about addicts leaving their works around the park but I've only ever seen one needle and I don't see fights or anything else during daylight hours, when I pass through there. So what's the issue? Why harass these people who have plenty of problems without bullshit arrests for vagrancy?
So, no follow up after the village voice reveals shes a scumbag thief?
Yes there will be a follow up on what has been reported in the village voice . We have been talking to witnesses for the last 3 days trying to determine what actually happened .

2 important questions here are when were all these warrants discovered and if so many and so serious why is Lisa still on the street .Lisa is not hard to find . She is well known to police personnel and is in TSP everyday .

Every witness that we have spoken with claims that there was no warrant search at the site of arrest and that in fact it appeared that all were going to be let go untill a ruckus was created by ,some claim , Jewels .There was no mention made of warrants according to witnesses that witnessed the arrest of Lisa and the 2 males with her .

It remains to be the claim of all witnesses that the Lt incharge at the scene pointed to the sign and said that that is why you are being arrested .

If the warrants were in fact the reason for the arrest then why is Lisa , commonly known by police personnel not to be a model citizen , back on the street . A Larceny warrant and six other un specified warrants seem a bit much to have a judge send a less than model citizen with a record back to the street .
If the warrants were the reason for the arrest of Lisa then why , according to witnesses , did the lt. not go immediately to the table at which Lisa was sitting .Lisa is in the park everyday and well known to police . the lt. first went to other tables to check IDs.then later to Lisa's table .

Fact is if there were all these warrants that were outstanding for such a long time , Lisa should have been gone long ago .She is not a difficult person to find .Lisa is in TSP everyday and well know to police personnel

What we have seen and heard from witnesses still supports the conclusi0on that Lisa and those with her at the table were arrested for being in violation of a park rule .

Finally if it is a summonsable violation for sitting at the tables without playing chess as commisioner Brown claims then why not just a summons and not a trip to the 9th .Perhaps the purpose of the arrest was to get the three into custody inorder to look for warrants .
Also the word today in the park is that everyone that wants to sit at the tables is buying cheap chess sets to have with them at all times at the chesstables .
Bob, .. Bob.. Bob.. You should know this.... The cops cant write a summons to a person who has a warrant. The summons becomes an arrest because she is wanted, probably for bieng a theif and not showing up to court. If the cops dont arrest after doing a check of the persons ID, the cops are then not doing their job. Thats the law! I read alot of people who are complaining about the law and claiming this is becoming a police state... Well, then its time for action. Sitting on the computer and whining on a blog isnt going to change it people. Get your ass down to the council, your congress etc. and start making your voice heard. VOTE!! Write letters to politicians. Grassroots!! Thats the problem with this generation. Complain when you dont like something to someone who cant fix it. Go Complain to the real people, the politicians. Dont blame the cops for doing their job locking up some dirty street girl(yes, I met her before, she is nice, but she is street dirty girl). It did her good anyway, no drugs for 36 hours, and food and cleaned up. Free medical care too she got because they gotta take you to the hospital or they have a doctor down there in the tombs. Imsure she wasnt sitting at those chess tables to play chess, its dirty over there. DIrty Dirty Dirty with drugs, crusty trust fund junkies who's parents are rich, but they come to TSP to ruin our neighborhood. Get rid of those chess tables, then get rid of Campos Plaza, Get rid of Jewels(even Amy couldnt "save" him) and the East Village would be a nice place. We do have nice things here, and personality, Eden and Johns band, Rays, Mosiac Man, Mars Bar(RIP), Manitobas, are all great. Jewles and Lisa and Chris aka Choice should move to the West Village haha. Ok thats my 2 pennies, I know most of you dont agree with me, so if you dont like it, go do something about it instead of crying on the computer, God Bless and Goodnight
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