Police failed to show restraint in Playland headwear melee
MUSLIM AMERICAN SOCIETY, NEW YORK ‘GREATLY CONCERNED’ OVER RYE PLAYLAND INCIDENT
(New York, NY, 8/31/11) On August 30, 2011, thousands of Muslims gathered to celebrate their high holy day of Eid Al Fitr, (which celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan). Fifteen Muslims, who were with their families, were arrested yesterday in Rye Playland after amusement park personnel called local police to address concerns when they told Muslim women they were not permitted on certain amusement park rides with their “hijab” (head covers), which is a religious requirement for observant Muslims. Some Muslims who felt the policy was discriminatory towards Muslim women argued with parks personnel and organizers over the prohibition.
A video taken by a bystander shows that tensions immediately ignited when local police who were called to calm the situation pulled a hijab wearing Muslim woman from the crowd of people arguing and several officers threw her to the ground and handcuffed her while other officers created a barrier between them and the rest of the crowd.
Family members and others trying to come to the aid of the woman were also arrested. Thirteen of the fifteen were charged with minor disorderly conduct charges, while two were charged with assault on seasonal parks personnel. It is not clear whether the assaults were intentional. They were all released, the same evening without bail and have court hearing dates in the near future. All of the witnesses we’ve spoken to believe that the police used excessive force; bringing in over 60 patrol cars, with 100 police arriving from 9 departments, and that many who were arrested were merely caught in the melee.
The Muslim American Society of New York (MAS NY) arranged with Rye Playland to sell tickets to Muslims to celebrate the holiday at the park. All people were welcome to attend, and many Muslims present were not members of the organization. Though, mostly all of the over 3,000 Muslims who were celebrating their holiday at Rye Playland were informed, understood and were respectful of the park policy, some say they hadn’t known about it and were offended that they were excluded from rides.
Better communications and addressing these issues with more religiously sensitive personnel in the park and with local police could have helped to avert these tensions, and prevented folks, hoping to enjoy a family outing, from having a miserable day out on their high holy day.
We sincerely hope that such misunderstandings do not occur in the future and that the local police use more restraint in quelling a situation that did not need to go aw air jordan ry.
RYE Tuesday’s melee at Playland Amusement Park could have been avoided had police shown more restraint in dealing with angry park goers, a leader of The Muslim American Society of New York said Thursday.
In an interview, Sharif Aly, the group’s vice president, said police overreacted when a melee broke out among 30 to 40 people upset about the enforcement of a longstanding restriction on headwear on some rides.
Aly deflected criticisms that the leaders of his group had dropped the ball by not notifying people about the park’s policy beforehand.
“We can’t be expected to notify everyone of every single policy,” Aly said. “There could have been better communication on all ends.”
Fifteen park goers were arrested after some of those on an outing organized by the group Tuesday grew angry over a park enforced ban on headgear that prevented women from wearing traditional head coverings, called hijabs, on many rides.
“All of the witnesses we’ve spoken to believe that the police used excessive force; bringing in over 60 patrol cars, with 100 police arriving from nine departments, and that many who were arrested were merely caught in the melee,” Aly said.
He cited a cellphone video posted online showing police throwing a hijab wearing Muslim woman to the ground.
“We believe police, 99 percent of the time, do the right thing,” Aly said. “Unfortunately, if they had shown a little more patience this time, tensions would have died down.”
Joseph Yasinski, Westchester County public safety deputy commissioner, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment on Aly’s statements.
However, email correspondence shows Playland officials not only were clear about the ban on hijabs and other headwear to leaders of the Muslim group, but that members of the group later expressed concern when a flier advertising a special “Eid Al Fitr Trip to Playland,” made no mention of the restriction.
Aly said Thursday he didn’t know why such a disclaimer was not included, but said the park also could have taken steps to notify people, such as posting signs at the entrance to the park. He said some Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan at Playland that day had bought their own tickets and were not there as part of the group organized outing.
“(Playland) is trying to make this abo air jordan ut the dissemination of policy information,” Aly said. “But the situation never would have occurred if it was handled appropriately.”
Ola Salem, 17, who was among the 3,000 Muslims participating in the promotional day at Playland, said Thursday the park should have been more explicit in its policy about head coverings. She said had she known she would be barred from so many rides, she would not have gone to the amusement park.
“I’m pretty sure nobody would have gone,” Salem said. “We would have gone somewhere else.”
Peter Tartaglia, the county’s deputy parks commissioner, said Thursday the park has no plans to revisit its policies on headwear, which have been in place for years and apply to visitors of all religions.
“These policies are all bas air jordan ed on safety,” he said. “It’s no different than our height line (restrictions) on rides.”
Tartaglia cited an April 2010 incident in Australia in which a 26 year old mother wearing a hijab was strangled after her head scarf became tangled in the air jordan wheel axle of a go kart. Playland has never had such an incident involving a head scarf, he said.
Aly said The Muslim American Society has not ruled out litigation, but its focus now is on easing tensions in its community.
“We are not litigious,” he said. “We are looking to make sure this matter is resolved in an amicable way and hopefully learn from the situation.”
Salem, whose father was among the 15 arrested, also said Thursday she was not interested in bringing a lawsuit.
“I’m not up for suing. I don’t do that,” she said. Later, she added, “Money? I didn’t even get my full refund.