Community members are upset after the city of Albany shut down a local basketball court this weekend.
It’s stirring a lot of emotion from those who want to curb the violence in their neighborhoods.
The Arbor Hill Park basketball court is at the center of the debate. A large dumpster is blocking play in the middle of the court, and the rims and nets have been taken down from the hoops. City officials say that this was all to protect the public’s safety.
“You put a trash empty can in front of the thing so the kids can’t play ball? Who does that?” asked Kyesha Brown.
Emotions are high for Kyesha Brown as she looked on at the Arbor Hill basketball court.
“It’s not fair to our community,” said Brown.
The court is a place where kids and teens in the neighborhood go to have fun and stay off the streets, so with it closed, Brown fears the worst. She knows what can happen without this kind of outlet. Her nephew, Kahlil Barnes, was one of four people killed last month.
“For them to shut this down, where they going now? Think about where they at now,” said Brown.
The annual Joyce E. King, or J.E.K., Basketball Tournament was supposed to be held there, but the promoter never applied for the proper permit or organized security with the police department.
City officials say that in past years it was the site of a number of shootings and stabbings, so to prevent any more violence they took action.
While community members understand, they say that they weren’t clearly notified and feel it could have been handled differently.
“It sends a message that I believe that the administration is not in solidarity with the community after all the events that have occurred in the city,” said Jahmel Robinson, a Common Council member for the 5th Ward.
“I thought it was a smack in the face to the youth in our community,” said Patrick Robinson, an Albany resident.
They want the city to realize what this place means to their community.
“This is a safe place for kids to be,” said Patrick Robinson.
And it’s one that can help bring them back together.
“I don’t want no more killing. I don’t want no more babies dying. I don’t want none of that,” said Brown.
City officials say that they heard the frustrations and that they plan to remove the dumpster and replace the rims and nets Sunday morning.
They also admit that they could have done a better job communicating why they closed it down.