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Department of Parks & Recreation

Brooklyn Residents To Reclaim Playground From NYPD

A corner of Classon Playground in Brooklyn, which the NYPD is using as a parking lot. Police will vacate by the end of the week, supposedly. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Parks Department is heeding Brooklyn residents' demand that the NYPD's 88th Police Precinct vacate Classon Playground, which police are using as a parking lot.

Cops have been parking both department and personal vehicles inside the playground since the beginning of the month — and have showed no signs of leaving — even though playgrounds have reopened across the city. But now the Parks Department says the NYPD will be moving the vehicles by the end of the week.

"In recent weeks, we have extended support to NYPD as they managed protest activity in Brooklyn and allowed them to park vehicles at some of our sites," a spokeswoman said. "This is only temporary and the vehicles will be moved by the end of this week."

Police said that they needed the playground in order to protect their vehicles because protesters have put spikes under tires, according to local residents who spoke with the precinct's community liaison. The precinct was the scene of heavy action in late May, when protesters rushed its doors, threw projectiles, and damaged vehicles. Since then, however, the area has not seen any violence, locals said — but the police haven't budged from their playground stronghold.

"The police station has been dodging my questions," said Clinton Hill resident Samantha Fikilini told Streetsblog this morning. "They have been parking there since June 1, after their altercation with protesters. There are around 50-plus cars, personal vehicles and police cars."

As Streetblog reported, the 88th is among dozens of NYPD precincts that have stolen roads and sidewalks in front of station houses for fortifications during the Black Lives Matters protests — and that show no signs that they will return the space to the public anytime soon. At least 18 precincts around the city have blocked their streets with metal barricades, vinyl construction barriers and other obstructions as a way of controlling public movement around the stations.

The Department of Transportation, which controls the public right of way, acknowledged last week that the NYPD simply commandeers the space willy nilly, without asking or even informing its sister agency. “NYPD does not come to DOT when they close up streets or sidewalks,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said, adding,“I think would be up to the Mayor to direct them otherwise.”

In this case, however, the NYPD seized the space from yet another department, Parks — which itself has been under heavy pressure. City playgrounds just reopened on June 22 after months of being closed because of the coronavirus — to the great relief of parents with antsy children.

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