Should Pokemon Go players be banned from veterans memorials?


A Minnesota city is looking to ban Pokemon Go from a local park.

The Winona City Council is considering an ordinance that would restrict what people can do at Veterans Memorial Park (located at the city's Lake Park). It including activities related to the popular location-based smartphone game.

Council member Gerry Krage, a veteran who helped draft the proposal, told the Winona Daily News the city has gotten a lot of complaints about people playing Pokemon Go near the Veterans Memorial, calling it disrespectful.

The game has also led to some confrontations. A YouTube video shows a veteran telling Pokemon Go players – some of whom set up tents – to leave. (Watch the video below, but be aware it contains some strong language.)

KARE 11 says the man is Bruce Reed, the chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park Committee, and he told the TV station he was sick of people showing "a lack of respect."

The ordinance would ban electronic gaming, tents

The proposed ordinance, which officials will discuss Monday night, calls the Veterans Memorial a shrine and says people should "observe proper standards of decorum and decency."

The proposal lists out 14 things people should not do, including:

  • Use the grounds for recreational activities, including sports, athletics, picnics, games or electronic gaming;
  • Put up a tent or hammock, unless it's part of a military memorial service or ceremony;
  • Ride a bicycle or skateboard, or use rollerblades, except in the parking lot;
  • Allow any dog, cat or other pet to be in the park;
  • Throw litter on the park's grounds;
  • Be within the boundaries of the park between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., unless authorized by the Winona City Council.

It doesn't bother some people

A petition to not ban Pokemon Go from the park has 906 signatures as of 11 a.m. Monday. The petition says it is not players' intention to be disrespectful, while noting the game has created a community within Winona and has encouraged people to pay their respects at the Veterans Memorial.

An editorial from the Winona Daily News also urges the city council not to pass the ordinance, noting having Pokemon Go players at the park has been "relatively innocuous" and there haven't been any reports of "vandalism, littering or excessive boisterous behavior."

Eden Prairie is dealing with similar issues

Museums and memorials around the country have complained about players being disrespectful while trying to catch pokemon, which has prompted the game's creators to considering allowing locations to opt out of being a Pokestop (a place where players can go and replenish goods used in the game) in order to "respect the real world," The Associated Press reports.

Currently, people can request a location be removed from the game, but changes aren't instant, the publication says.

The City of Eden Prairie has put in such a request after players damaged plants and tracked mud onto the city's Veterans Memorial in Purgatory Creek Park, which is home to six Pokestops, according to Eden Prairie News.

The city wants players to be directed away from the Veterans Memorial area, the park's pavilion, and areas with planted flowers. And instead have players spread out throughout the recreation area, the paper said.

The city says it isn't against the game, and it's holding a "Lunch and Learn" event on Thursday to talk about how local businesses can capitalize on location-based gaming. Register for the event here.

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