From the Times Newsweekly:
The issue of day laborers at Edward Hart Playground has taken a turn for the violent, an area property owner told the 108th Precinct Community Council at its Mar. 29 meeting at Sunnyside Community Services.
The owner of an apartment complex located adjacent to the playground, at 69th Street and 37th Avenue in Woodside, brought the 108th Precinct’s attention to ongoing problems with day laborers congregating at the park.
The workers’ plight as been an ongoing issue in the area, as they often stay in the park to receive aid from a mobile kitchen supplied by St. John’s Bread and Life and aid from other nonprofit groups. Residents have complained that they make the playground unsafe for children.
According to the landlord, however, the situation has begun to deteriorate; he claimed to have been attacked by one of the laborers with a hammer two months ago, and other tenants have allegedly being harassed and even mugged.
The situation has become so bad, he stated, that he is unable to rent out units and was successfully sued by a tenant for failing to provide a safe environment.
“They constantly harass me from 6 o’clock in the morning, my tenants’ children can’t play in the park. It’s become a disaster,” he told Capt. Donald Powers, the precinct’s commander. “Lately, it’s escalating a lot.”
[Powers] told the property owner that the NYPD is not allowed to question a person on their immigration status, and that they have “the right to assemble peacefully” inside the park.
Another resident came forward to pin the blame on city government for failing to address the situation.
“We do know, for a fact, that your hands are tied,” she told Powers. “It is absolutely the mayor’s office.”
Photo from New York Globe