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Playground "Jail" No Joke to Bedford-Stuy Residents




Residents at the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn have finally gotten the city to remove what they considered an offensive playground theme.

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Not many people want to go to jail, even in Monopoly, much less send their kids to "jail" on the playground.

A "jail" play structure built back in March 2004 at the Tompkins Houses in the largely black and Hispanic-populated community of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, only recently grabbed media attention around the city.

It began when blackandbrownnews.com (BBN) posted a complaint on its website over the jail motif of the play structure???the word "Jail" and "bars" stenciled into the structure???and the agency responsible for installing the playground and supplying the theme???the New York City Housing Authority.

That a jail theme was selected for this housing unit???s play structure rankled some residents of the Tompkins Houses. Local resident Lumumba Bandele, a lecturer on black history at CUNY, pointed out to a N.Y. Times reporter that Bedford-Stuyvesant and six other NYC neighborhoods jointly comprise the majority of the prison population in the state, and a "jail" on the playground was insulting.

A number of residents of the Tompkins Houses over the years have tried to mask the "Jail" word, but never succeeded in obliterating it. The BBN???s web posting and calls to the NYCHA and the mayor???s office, however, brought swift attention. NYCHA workers appeared on the site on March 24, 2010 to scour off the "bars" and remove the "Jail" word. It???s reported that despite buffing out the jail stencil and painting over it, the letters are still visible upon close inspection.

The NYCHA reports there is another identical "Jail" playground in the city, but didn???t say where.


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November 20, 2019, 1:43 pm PDT

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