The New York Police Department is facing backlash this week after hanging no-parking signs and towing dozens of cars in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood for a department flag football game.
Residents of Inwood, on the northern tip of Manhattan, were outraged to learn they couldn’t park along 218th Street on Sunday because of the NYPD’s 2019 Championship Flag Football Super Bowl taking place at a nearby stadium, reported NY1.
Tasha Darbes told NY1 she was forced to pay $34 to park in a garage early Sunday when she couldn’t find a space in the neighborhood.
“I was just flabbergasted,” she said, adding that the police force’s no-parking zone was “a real abuse of power.”
“The parking is really supposed to be for the residents. Residents. Why should I pay parking so police officers can have free parking on the street when they come to play a game at the stadium?” she said.
NYPD restricted parking Sunday because of “concerns of traffic congestion, pedestrian management and access for disabled persons,” Detective Sophia Mason said in a statement to HuffPost on Monday.
She said the signs for the NYPD event, which she noted was open to the public, were posted last Wednesday. The NYPD relocated 30 cars “within the vicinity,” and the owners will not have to pay a fine, she said.
Mason did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about whether enforcing a no-parking zone is something the department did for previous flag football games.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill defended the department’s actions during a press conference Tuesday.
“This was the flag football championship,” he said. “Special events go on throughout this city. So this is something that the commissioner’s football league has every year. There were signs put out five days in advance.”
Several cars parked along 218th Street on Sunday reportedly had NYPD parking placards. One car had a handwritten note behind its windshield that read, “On Police Commissioner’s Flag football team,” NY1 reported.
But O’Neill said Tuesday that the incident did not constitute “placard abuse.”
“It was clearly marked ‘no parking’ on Sunday,” he said. “It’s a special event.”
Days earlier, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to crack down on parking placard abuse by introducing a three-strike system and raising fines.
His office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment about parking placard use for the NYPD flag football game. But Twitter users had a field day tearing into the department.
This story has been updated to include comments from James O’Neill.