- Nov 19, 2010
- Reaction score
- Richmond VA
15 Arrested At Playland In Dispute Over Muslim Headwear
15 Arrested At Playland In Dispute Over Muslim Headwear - Harrison, NY PatchFifteen people were arrested and the entrance to Playland was closed Tuesday afternoon after a dispute at the park involving religious dress.
Police from multiple departments from throughout Westchester County were called in for assistance.
The dispute broke out at about 2:30 p.m. near the park's entrance between members of the Muslim American Society of New York, according to Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks. Fighting began when they were told they would be denied access to certain rides if they wore religious garb, Tartaglia said.
Two seasonal officers were injured while joining Westchester County Police who were trying to break up the scuffle, he said.
At least 60 police vehicles from eight surrounding departments quickly arrived at the park and park visitors say they thought that as many as 20 or more people were taken away from the park by police.
The park and its rides remained open Tuesday, but new visitors were not being allowed into the park. Tartaglia said no one inside was asked to leave the park.
Members of the Muslim American Society of New York said they were at the park today for a group visit, with members from Yonkers, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. There were 3,000 members of the tour group, comprising half of the 6,000 patrons that visited Playland on Tuesday. The group was at the park celebrating Eid ul-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast), which marks the end of Ramadan. The holiday lasts for three days and includes celebrations with prayers, sweets and presents for children, and community festivities.
Members of the group said that some of their fellow members sought refunds from that park and that led to a disturbance. Park officials dispute this, saying a refund was offered.
Tartaglia said the rules and regulations of the park were made clear before the group arrived, blaming group organizers for not conveying the message.
"Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you can not wear any sort of headgear," said Tartaglia. "It's a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile."
Members were are at the park gates shortly after the incident, noting that they had not been able to get information about the status of friends and relatives. Members of the group said they were discussing what to do next whether they should stay at the entrance to the park or leave.
"They just want to make our life a nightmare for no reason," said Akram Farghlay, while waiting outside.
Akram Ghadami, a member of the group, said they came to Playland to have fun and celebrate the holiday.
"We shouldn't be treated that way," Ghadami said. "We have a right to have a little fun like everyone else. Why are they making a big deal about this?"
He was standing at the entrance to Playland with several of his friends, waiting for others who were still inside the park.