Turf installed at Harriet Tubman – 8 Men Detained by MPD for Trying to Play Soccer

DSCN1649, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I’ve been getting a number of emails that the turf has been installed at the Tubman school located off 11th Street between Irving and Kenyon. Here’s what it looked like a month ago. So how do you think it looks? The photo doesn’t show it that well but there is a big DC flag in the middle with Fenty’s name up top.

But I have some more questions.

I received the following on twitter at 6:30ish Tues. evening:

“police detaining 8 latino men trying to use the unfinished Tubman field”

So was anyone at Wonderland at that time and also saw what happened? Were they actually insisting on playing even after MPD showed up? I’m wondering if they were just told that the field wasn’t finished yet. Were they arrested? When the field is properly finished will people be able to play soccer there like before? Is a turf field like this hard to maintain? Will pick up soccer games destroy it?


80 Comment

  • I saw tractors distributing sand yesterday on my way home from work. They may not have installed the granulated rubber “dirt” that finishes the installation. If the rubber dirt is not installed the more plastic like “grass” can tear easily. Could they be aiming to make this limited access like some of the tracks at other local schools?

    PS the mural on the south side of the field is looking fantastic, if only 40% done

  • I actually believe that it’s getting more and more important to lock down these facilities for students only. Really, why would adult men want to hang around a school? Would you? No… so then why would these guys who hang around playgrounds want to do that?

  • I think it’s awesome the football lovin’ latin community is so interested in using our underutilized school playgrounds for sports events. But the dust clouds that are being created by the incredible wear and tear on our even old turf, let alone brand spanking new, is obvious. The photo ops with the dust rising from the field amidst the match during late afternoon sun sets are plentiful, try the Clark Elementary Proving Grounds any given weekend. It reminds me too of the wear and tear our playgrounds endure from the numerous dog owners in this city (not to directly relate soccer to dogs mind you, but where are little kids to go these days?) The city should seriously consider how it approaches the need for proper soccer grounds. I see the 3rd base bench in upshur park has become a local hangout, and outfielders have been replaced by trash cans used as goal posts (bully for them, use all the space, right). The football demands should be better integrated with the communities other values, as clearly an important segment of the community places high value on such endeavours….

  • Yeah, when I walked by on my way home from work I saw that 3 or 4 cops had about 8 guys lined up with their hands on the back wall of the school. The tractor was out putting down the “dirt” mentioned above at the time, although if the guys’ only offense was trying to play soccer before the field was ready that seems like a bit of an overreaction by the police.

  • @neener: to play soccer.

  • Uh, I think the much bigger transgression here is Fenty’s outsized ego and willingness to spend our tax dollars on anything of personal interest or aggrandizement. He seems to think he is the emperor of DC.

  • How could any sane person stand to see their name that big on something they didn’t even pay for? This is nuts.

  • Arresting a group of latinos for trying to play soccer seems like an exaggeration. It seems that giving them a warning and asking them to leave the property would have been more appropriate. And then the police asks why Latinos have no trust in them…

  • LeeinDC – I was wondering the same thing… WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY is his name on that and furthermore must it be that d*mn big? ugh..

  • I saw the men outside with the machine running as well. Maybe their offense was they were on a construction site – the men were still working and running machinery. I’m not defending the police because an arrest seems extreme, but that could be an explanation. Also, it would be a shame to have a new, nice facility with chains on it to limit use. Cardozo HS has open hours for their track, why not the field?

  • They better let the local community play pick up games on that field. It was always in use before and those kinds of turf fields are very durable and take little to maintain. I certainly hope that I can play on it in the near future.

  • Neener – words escape me to reply for your comment. Actually don’t, but they are not appropriate for this venue. People play soccer or football or baseball or softball utlimate frisbee on elementry school fields all across the country. Some of them happen to be men. Shocking, I know. And how about this, they usually play when school isn’t in session and children are not present. For peets sake, I thought you were giving up on this blog.

  • I asked councilmember Graham and school emperor Rhee if the field would still be open for public use including pick up soccer games and got no response. I think it’s ridiculous to prohibit pick up soccer when the field isn’t being used by the school or organized leagues. Why spend all that $ on a field that would sit idle? It’s a public school, the players are members of the public, they’re clearly not there to do anything improper, since the field is astroturf it won’t be destroyed, there is absolutely no victim.

    I’d like some more facts on the detaining of the guys allegedly trying to play ball. If they just tried to play by mistake thinking the field was done, the facts as reported are police misconduct and completely unacceptable.

  • @Anon 8:51
    I live across the street. There was a tractor racing up and down the field dropping rubber ‘dirt’… I’m not sure I would believe they thought the field was finished. It did look like after a while there were only four guys up against the wall, and the other four were standing around unrestrained. Maybe it was something more than just trying to play ball. Or maybe I was seeing things.

    And Fenty’s name? Seriously? Seems like the logical thing to write on the field would be “Harriet Tubman Elementary. District of Columbia Public Schools” not “Mayor Big Ego Fenty District of Columbia Public Schools”

  • This blog has been over the matter of soccer field destruction endlessly and I doubt another review of the debate is going to resolve anything.

    Aside from that, the twitter comment and subsequent postings here assume that the men in question were detained because they were using the field, and that they had the right to use the field. It is entirely possible that they were detained for other reasons and just so happened to have been caught while at the field.

    It also is inaccurate to assume that government property is public property. Just because the government owns it doesn’t mean every citizen has the right to use it whenever and however they want. Does anyone assume they can walk into city hall or other building and appropriate its space for individual use whenever it suits them? Of course not. The only reason such an argument is put forth in the case of the schoolyard is that the yard is more appealing than other government property. But that does not change its ownership or the rights of others to use it.

  • Is anyone claiming these guys playing soccer were arrested? I don’t see that claim in any posts. They were probably just frisked for drugs/weapons then asked to leave.

  • It beatsplaying soccer on the basketball or tennis courts. I hate when they take down the tennis netting to play soccer. It looks scary enough to watch them almost crack their heads on the concrete.

  • neener — you can’t be serious. [/McEnroe]

    I really hope the city allows public use of this field because I wouldn’t mind a game of pickup footie on a decent (if artificial) surface.

    By the by, don’t forget: US-Mexico today at 4pm! Going to Lucky Bar to watch this one…

  • lippy, what’s the point of having an astroturf field that just sits idle most of the time? why not let the community use it during daylight hours when school is closed?

  • it’s just like governors’ names being put on the “welcome to…” signs when you enter a state. it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars to inflate someone’s ego. of course, all politicians have big egos

  • Dusty Cloud, that is sort of the point of the turf (fake grass) field. The turf will hold up to strenuous use a lot more than a grass field would.

  • Though I can see the community’s point of view in wanting to play on fields over the weekend or in the evening when school is not in session, I have something to add to this as a public school teacher. Whenever I have recess duty, often outside near the fields and playgrounds of my school, we find all sorts of things. Used condoms, trash of course, drug paraphenalia, broken bottles, etc frequently litter the playgrounds and fields of my school. The custodians clean inside the school and will clean outside as well, as needed. But I assume the fields are locked down to keep them safe for the kids the next day.

  • One of the reasons I would expect that the fields would be open for public use outside of school hours is because there just aren’t that many public fields in DC.

    Heck, I remember when I was growing up, the school “playground” doubled as a public park during non-school hours.

    What’s with Neener? The longer he spends in DC, the crazier he gets.

  • Um, school property =/= public park. Whether it’s allowed to function as one is up to the discretion of the school’s administration.

  • First, we don’t know exactly what the police did, or what these guys did, so given how cloudy it is, it is pointless to make judgments about what happened.

    Second, I can understand the field being locked off during the school year — it should be for kids first, adults second, and unfortunately, since D.C. residents aren’t ever going to be responsible for cleaning up after themselves, keeping the space kid-friendly, etc., I can understand restricted use during the school year. Maybe a few organized leagues could reserve time on weekend if they pledge responsibility for maintaining the space / make a financial contribution to the school.

    Now, during the summer (when the field gets the most use in any event), I see no reason at all why the field should not be open for anyone to use. One big clean up at the end of the summer is not a big deal, but daily clean-ups necessitated by casual use would be a bigger ordeal.

    Oh, and that new mural looks beyond amazing. Kudos, kudos, kudos to all the folks working hard and sharing their creative energies. Public art is an enormous asset to the community, and I would love to see more in CH. I hope the 11th Street side of the wall gets some attention (obviously not going to be that gorgoues, but any improvement would be welcome). I am assuming new iron fencing is likewise forthcoming, which will make a huge aesthetic improvement over the current rusty wire monstrosity.

  • I think the field needs to be available for public use. As a home-owner in the area, it has always been a joy to walk buy and see the soccer games going on. One of the reasons that put in the turf was to handle heavy soccer use. If they were just going to lock up the field and not let anyone use it, then they should have just used grass.

    There are so few constructive activities for the young men in our community. Do we really want to create a situation in which we force our young men to be idle?

  • By the way, isn’t a soccer field also going in behind DCUSA (connected to Bell Multicultural, but potentially also open to public use?). Anyone have an update ont that?

  • Public school funded by your tax dollars, and local community can’t even use it to play ball when it is not being used?

    Crazy retarded.

  • They were arrested because they were latino in a gentrifying neighborhood.

  • I walk by Tubman all the time and I’ve rarely if ever seen the trash/safety problems mentioned above. It appears to me that the CH pickup soccer players actually do clean up after themselves, generally speaking. Now, the kids that sneak over the fence at night to hang out, make out, and be normal teenagers may be a different story.

  • Mike, that may take the prize as the dumbest, most needlessly incendiary comment of the month on this blog (no easy feat). Where you there? Do you know what they were doing? Whether they were in fact even arrested? Have you talked to the police officers involved? Do you have any information whatsoever that would lead to that assesment, or are you just talking out your ass based on your own prejudices about the police?

  • Mike, that may take the prize as the dumbest, most needlessly incendiary comment of the month on this blog (no easy feat). Were you there? Do you know what they were doing? Whether they were in fact even arrested? Have you talked to the police officers involved? Do you have any information whatsoever that would lead to that assesment, or are you just talking out your ass based on your own prejudices about the police?

  • I don’t trust police officers enough to talk to them, New2CH. I don’t talk to cops, that’s a violation of the streets. In that past two weeks, I’ve been profiled twice in your neighborhood by police officers. I don’t go near them.

    You must be white.

  • I guess just as they profile you, you profile all of them. As with any profession, some cops engage in problematic behavior. The majority do not. To suggest that any particular arrest is a product of profiling, rather than based on probable cause, without any particularized knowledge of that arrest is simply idiotic. I am guessing you would object if the police arrested a latino or black guy who was dealing drugs or stabbed someone, right, because that would HAVE to be racial profiling?

  • How long have you lived in your neighborhood to not know this goes down on a daily basis? They profile very hard out in Columbia heights. Actually, I don’t mind people who deal drugs because it’s a victimless crime (especially marijuana). Stabbing is never cool, whoever it is.

    Equating a stabbing or even drug sales to this is just not valid.

  • IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE incendiary comments like Mike’s. People come to this blog to say things like that because they want to see a reaction. Don’t give them what they want.

  • dealing drugs is a victimless crime? tell that to the dirty, unfed kids whose parents are too high to remember they even have kids, or to the elderly people who are sitting in pain because their asshole of a grandson stole their medication to sell to his friends…and please dont come back with some ignorant racist shit about how i must be white.

  • Fenty is obviously compensating.

  • I thought Mike was (and perhaps is) attempting to be ironic (since the Latino community is large and expanding in CH). I

  • Divine, you mad? I’m not looking for anything, just calling a spade a spade. Truth be told, I read this blog every day simply to find out what new businesses are coming into the neighborhood. I also watch this blog to see house pricing and how much gentrification is raising my property tax.

  • I agree with Divine- please do not feed the bomb-throwing trolls.

  • Christopher – you’re racist and you must be white.

  • ..and Christopher, their medication is probably more harmful than most drugs. Want to know what works for pain and isn’t nearly as harmful. Marijuana. You know where people get that? You guessed it, from drug dealers. Pharmacists prescribe medicine that’s way worse. Should we arrest and demonize them too?

  • Jeez, Mike, tell us how you really feel, don’t hold anything back or try to be diplomatic, ha ha ha.

  • mike, as most people like you see it, arent they one and the same?

  • actually mike, im all of legalization of marijuana… take it out of the hands of these pos corner boys, let american farmers go at it, then tax the hell out of it like other vices (unless its medicinal, obviously). as for demonizing pharmacists like theyre dealers? come on..youre either high as hell or dumb as shit. either way, thats a stupid question.

    you didnt address the point though. dealing drugs is not a victimless crime? keep in mind that i have already stated that i support legalization, and i think that marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol… right now though, as it is illegal, all functions of it are performed illegally, which is where the problem comes in. instead of bragging about not trusting the cops because of the way they treat you and your friends, why dont you write thoughtful letters to your elected officials with valid points on why you support legalization?

  • I agree with Mike that rampant profiling goes on in CH and pretty much everywhere in the USA. However, I don’t agree with the drug stance. I think all drugs should be legalized, so it’s not the drugs or drug use I have a problem with, but the war on drugs and the criminalization of it has created the narco wars in Mexico, Colombia and elsewhere, for starters. Smoking a J is NOT a victimless crime, there are way too many victims to count.

    But all of that is wayyyyyy off topic. How do we make sure that the pick up soccer games can continue?

  • “Racism” and “racist” have now officially lost all meaning. Talking to the police = racist. Improving your property = racist. Concerned about drug dealing = racist. Patronizing a wine bar = racist. Supporting local development efforts = racist. Wanting clean streets = racist. Shopping at Target = racist. Taking presription drugs = racist. Not shopping at Target = racist. Activities that are not racist are limited to “mentoring,” I think. Although it is possible that mentoring is also racist.

  • My husband used to play in a league that supposedly had authorization to use that field. It was an organized league with paid refs and assigned fields. At nearly every match they had to climb the fence to use the field because it was locked and the refs didn’t have the key. Sometimes the police would come by and kick them off. I think public fields should be available for use by the public – we pay for the fields and their upkeep through our taxes.

    On another note, Neener your comments are totally out of line. It is a field and they are playing a sport – not leering at kids on a playground. Interesting article in the Economist last week about how idiotic the US sex crimes laws are and how it has made us all crazy – perhaps you should read it. http://tinyurl.com/lbq7bh

  • Whoa weird thread going here… I was just going to say that pick-up games won’t destroy the field unless players are wearing cleats. Cleats dig up the rubber tire “dirt” that protects the “grass” and are a big no-no on turf fields… especially publically funded turf fields that we would not like to have to pay to replace…

  • anon @12:17 posts like that are definitely racist

  • I’m so, so, so excited to play on this turf field. I literally will want to play there every single day.

  • First, Eric, I think you just proved anon’s point by calling his post racist. There is a rush to assign a racist label to far too broad a group of conduct / opinions. Not that racism doesn’t exist, of course there is a ton of racism in society, but when we call anything and everything racist, it tends to dilute the REAL claims of racism, which are then taken less seriously than they should be.

    Now we are getting WAY off topic, but DC Mom, don’t get me started on sex crime laws in the U.S., but needless to say, that article is ridiculous (remember, The Economist is a product of culture where you can rape a small child and be out of jail very quickly, or rape and murder a small child and be out of jail in 12 years). If any crimes are deserving of harsh sentences, it is those that victimize the most vulnerable members of society, often in brutal fashion, often haunting them for life. The movement of sympathy towards sex offenders is astounding to me … the VAST majority of time, we aren’t talking about a 16 year old girl and a 24 year old guy. Usually we are talking about people trading and reveling in the graphic explotiation of small children, as young as toddlers, and usually pre-pubescent. I unfortunately through my work have had to see first hand the type of conduct that is being punished and deterred (when all else fails, by keeping these people off the streets), and it is soul-crushing to observe. I’d much rather see sentencing for drug-based offense be reduced far before sentencing for crimes that target the most helpless, innocent members of our society, an inherently evil act.

  • New2CH, please, I think it’s pretty much a given here that the pick-up soccer players are at Tubman to play soccer, not to be sexual predators. Let’s stay on point here, how do we keep the soccer field open to the public for pick up soccer games?

  • And just to be clear, a lot of the sympathetic voices about CP out there, and a lot of what The Economist claims are “minor” crimes for registry purposes, are undoubtedly possession and distribution of child porn. I am not talking about people who are peeing on the side of the road, and by cherry picking those sorts of ridiculous outliers, the article is engaging in intellectual dishonesty. The bulk fo the controversy over registration and sentencing is centered on people convicted of CP offenses, but not necessarily contact offenses — they thing is, anyone who is trading these images is furthering the exploitation industry, which absolutely devastating consequences for the victims involved. Sorry for that rant, I just could not in good conscious leave that throwaway comment unaddressed.

  • voiceofreason, don’t be a jackass. I never claimed they were sexual predators, nor would I. I was clearly and unamibiously addressing an off-point contention from a previous poster.

  • Voiceofreason, has it been established that school grounds SHOULD be open to pick up soccer games?

    I love watching the games in my park, but I can understand why school grounds – although they are paid for by my taxes – would not be open to the public. Should we be able to use the school’s libraries and computers as well?

    So far the only thing IMO that this thread has established is that Fenty’s name on the turf is embarrassing.

  • Jepz, fair enough. I’d argue that yes, we should be able to use the computers and libraries, and often, we are permitted to so as many public schools allow non-students/teachers to use those facilities. But the field is even more cut and dry, as long as the players are respecting the grounds and using it when the school is not, why shouldn’t it be used? It doesn’t cost anybody anything.

  • I can’t get over the “Adrian Fenty” in satellite-viewable letters. Really? Not, like, the name of the school?

    No one asked, but I’m for public use of fields when school is not in session. It sounds like this field isn’t actually complete yet, which is reason enough to run those eight guys off — arresting them seems to be an overreaction, but we don’t know if they were arrested or not.

  • I think Obama needs to sit down with the hispanics folks who were arrested, the arresting officer(s) and, hmmm, let me see here, perhaps have a beer at the WH?

  • eric in ledroit is a racist

  • I can’t believe how far off track this convo has gotten, but I just want to point out that there is a legal definition of “minor” sex offender crimes. The are Class A, B, and C offenses.

    Class A are the worst–rape, abduction, acts against a child. Class B includes “carnal knowledge”, “obscenity”, and “pandering” and “third degree sexual assault (statutory rape)”. Class C is basically intent to commit a Class B act.

  • I can see the point about litter and condoms etc on public school fields being a problem, but it really is a shame not to allow these areas to be used by the public. Why not set up a system of free, first-come-first-served permits to use the field. A group, team, individual, whatever, can get a permit to use the field but is also responsible for cleaning up the trash. If the police catch you using the field without a permit, you get fined and forced to do community service cleaning up the field or something.

  • anon @ 2:37 is not only a racist, but also a sexist.

  • With the risk of this discussion devolving, I would mention that a permit system won’t really work for the pickup soccer situation because a lot of the players won’t be willing to sign anything official or anything having to do with the police. It’s not worth the potential hassle or risk.

  • Wow. FENTY. This guy puts his name on everything. First adolescents, now turf.

    Why isn’t the school/logo in the center? That’s what is done 99.9999999999% of the time?

    Using the seal is just an excuse to put his name on it.

    I can understand Mike side-eyeing MPD. I try to give them the benefit, but I’ve had them ignore my call on an arsonist. Yet, it takes 4 cops (2 in Kevlar) to write a ticket for a mango/chicharron dealer.

  • Unripe mangos *are* a crime, tho.

  • Why wouldn’t the soccer players be willing to sign a permit to use the field?

  • First, all schools do tend to require authorization for use, probably to protect the site, to organize who uses it when, and to protect themselves from liability. I work at a school, and I certainly don’t want folks from the community (no matter the community) walking into the school to use the library; the computers are for the kids to use. How would I know who is allowed in and who isn’t? Who’s there for proper reasons and who isn’t?
    Second, I think Fenty grew up within sight of the field, and maybe he attended that school (I don’t know, I just know he went to Wilson), so maybe it was the school’s choice, not the city admin’s. But it is fun to heap on opprobrium without knowing all the facts.

  • I saw the “line-up” yesterday… I’m pretty sure it was a bunch of teenagers and that they were in street clothes, no soccer gear in-site, and that their backpacks were being searched. I was under the impression that it was a drug bust. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • If the city renovates the horrifically dilapidated 11th and Monroe “park,” Fenty can put a two story mural of his head next to the park for all I care … if that is the price of new facilities, I’ll take it :)!

  • Columbia Heights is clearly gentrified now, so I think it is outrageous that this field is not made available for our polo games!

  • You know, in the grand scheme of things, Mayor Fenty’s staff mis-appropriating thousands of dollars for a blatant name-recognition ad on public property is a *MUCH* bigger crime than a few guys playing soccer.

  • “Is a turf field like this hard to maintain? Will pick up soccer games destroy it?”

    On the contrary, it’s actually much more durable than a grass field and much easier and less costly to maintain.

    You have to use rubber or molded plastic cleats on it instead of metal ones.

  • Warning, this article is probably laughed at by serious racists, however I think it sums up the attitudes of two guys who used to live on my block. ONLY TWO GUYS and not the majority of my block’s residents, but it is just about verbatim how they view the world:


    Remember that I am not laughing at this, but using it to illustrate the predicament that many of us gentrifier residents feel in this community.

  • People play soccer or football or baseball or softball utlimate frisbee on elementry school fields all across the country. Some of them happen to be men.

    No you’re just being dumb. In Montgomery County the elementary school playgrounds are locked down to non-authorized uses on the weekends. I know this for a fact because the police patrol them and talked to us about it when we were visiting friends. They gave us the “wrap it up” speech. The fields themselves were locked behind gates because of the damage that the pickup games caused.

    The police told us the pickup soccer fields in Silver Spring include Meadowbrook Park but do NOT include elementary schools.

    Understand how wrong you are now or are you still in denial?

    Would YOU want to trespass on some childrens’ field and ruin it? You would, really commit trespass?

  • Heck, I remember when I was growing up, the school

  • think public fields should be available for use by the public – we pay for the fields and their upkeep through our taxes.

    On another note, Neener your comments are totally out of line. It is a field and they are playing a sport – not leering at kids on a playground.

    Nope. You are naive and don’t know your neighborhood. Sorry if you just moved here from Kansas.

    Talk to MPD if you don’t think this is an issue. I saw arrests on the playground two blocks from my house in August 2008.

    But suuuuuure, I become the one that’s out of line. Hope that makes your denial go down easier. sheesh.

    I know about two guys, hell the entire community knows about two guys, who in their 20s got girls under 18 who they met at the playground pregnant. I know their names, I know their grandmothers, I know the name of one of their daughters, I know their MySpace pages and the MySpace page of one of the girls involved.

    but you’re right, two girls growing up without fathers is nothing and I’m “out of line!”

    welcome to the big city kiddo.

    Call MPD, ok?

  • It smells like shoes. Not very sexy. Especially not with the Mayor’s logo all over it.

    Think they’d put a logo like that on a baseball field? In the middle of a basketball court? WTF?

  • look i think they should let other people play on the field because me and my friend and played on that field ever since i went to that school and for 18 year i have been playing on that field with all that dust and now they r going to take us away form the field plus it give people entertainment in the wonderland when they see people play soccer on they field,, so i think they should let people play on the field

Comments are closed.