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Department of Parks & Recreation

SPACE HOGS: NYPD Cops Seize Clinton Hill Playground — Again!

The scene on Sunday in Classon Playground as cops filled the play area with their cars — and secured it with a chain (inset bottom left) while leaving their designated parking area (top left) empty. Photos: Gersh Kuntzman

Kids in Clinton Hill were unable to take advantage of an unseasonably warm January weekend because officers from the NYPD's 88th Precinct had once again used the Classon Playground to park their personal vehicles.

It's not the first time cops at the Classon Street command had taken over two large park spaces and turned them into parking spaces for themselves. During the first year of the Covid pandemic, when the neighboring school was closed, cops frequently parked on what is Parks Department land, blocking access to basketball hoops in the densely populated neighborhood. They were evicted once, but returned again later that year.

But they were back without warning on Saturday and Sunday. Council Member Crystal Hudson tweeted that she believes the officers were seeking to protect their cars from protests they suspected would take place amid the growing outrage over the police killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. There were some protest marches in New York City, but not hear the 88th Precinct station house.

This reporter went over to the neighborhood on Sunday and found the playground filled with roughly 60 police officers' personal vehicles. Areas in front of the precinct house where cops usually park were empty.

The cars were being guarded by an on-duty officer in an idling squad car. She claimed officers would be vacating the playgrounds "soon," but declined to say why the cars were there in the first place. She directed the reporter to call 1 Police Plaza for a comment, but the NYPD did not respond to a request for more information about the space theft. (Nor did the Parks Department.)

Meanwhile, a father and son who passed by told Streetsblog they didn't like seeing the cars taking away much-needed recreation space in the neighborhood.

"I never would have thought that a public playground could be used as a parking lot for police," said the father, who gave the name McCoy.

[Update: After initial publication of this story, an unidentified NYPD spokesperson sent over the following comment: "Last week, out of an abundance of caution, the 88th Precinct temporarily relocated vehicles to Classon Playground in order to protect against any potential vandalism. The vehicles have since been removed."]

Here's the officer in her squad car:

On guard. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
On guard. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
On guard. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Here's where cops usually park:

Usually this area is filled with police officers' personal vehicles all combat-parked in front of the station house. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Usually this area is filled with police officers' personal vehicles all combat-parked in front of the station house. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Usually this area is filled with police officers' personal vehicles all combat-parked in front of the station house. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

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