Cranston dad outraged after his kids were kicked off playground

A Cranston dad is looking for answers after his two young children were kicked off a closed playground in North Kingstown while a group of people were playing basketball directly across the parking lot.

Jonathan Keith said he took his two kids to Wilson Park on Sunday to get them out of the city, and get them outdoors for the Memorial Day weekend.

“So we pulled in I saw people playing tennis people playing basketball and there was absolutely nobody on the playground,” Keith said. “I said you know what kids let’s just go hang out on the playground and have some fun.”

Despite the playground being closed, Keith said he just wanted his kids to be kids after being cooped up for so long because of the coronavirus.

“How am I going to tell my kids they cant swing on the swing set while these men are behind us playing basketball,” he said.

The fun did not last long as a police officer told the family that they unfortunately had to leave the playground.

Keith is outraged because he said the officer said nothing to the group of individuals playing basketball, as Keith said there was way more than five people together.

“Kind of more of a lesson for my children of how the government works where you have individuals playing tennis and playing basketball but kids suffer the consequences where the state is open for the few but not all,” he said.

North Kingstown Town Manager Ralph Mollis said that it’s a different story when talking about a playground and pick-up games such as basketball.

“Only thing we are mutually touching is the basketball and we’re part of the same group,” Mollis said. “However, if I take my children or grandchildren to the park and they’re playing on the swing and playing on the jungle gym, and we leave and someone goes there with their kids, that surface has never been wiped down.”

Mollis prided the town on never closing its parks during the pandemic, but he said some things are still at the directive of the state, such as playgrounds and golf courses.

“When we have the opportunity to open something up to the people like a tennis court or a basketball court, we do so,” Mollis said.

As for enforcing social distancing, Mollis believes the officers do their best, but as far as any citations none have been given.

“They enforce it the best they can but they’re not harassing them at all,” he said. “Whereas a playground we can actually close off the playground and make that as safe as possible.”

But for Keith he believes that enforcement should be universal.

“A five and an eight year-old was the cause for [the officer] to turn around, which I found ironic,” Keith said. “Nothing was said to [the basketball players].”

Mollis said once it’s safe, playgrounds will open back up.

“They’re saying these mutually touched upon surfaces are not safe,” he said. “So when we’re told by people who are much more knowledgeable on COVID than we are, that it is indeed safe, then we will be opening up.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island