Winona tests the freedom to play Pokemon

People of Winona: Return to your lawns before someone gets hurt.

The City Council in Winona, Minn., is voting tonight to ban Pokemon playing in the city’s Veterans Memorial Park, which was built by selling pavers honoring veterans.

That’s no place to play Pokemon, veteran Bruce Reed told the gamers — albeit someone less delicately (language alert) — in a YouTube video.

People, let’s step back a moment.

“I deal with PTSD, and I guess kind of the light went off in my head, I kind of snapped, I think. Let my emotions carry me. And this is what’s happened,” Reed tells KARE 11.

The Winona Daily News, in an editorial, urges the the City Council not to pass the ordinance.

It urges a bipartisan show of respect. “What could be more disrespectful than a display of vigilantism among monuments to men and women who died to preserve the rule of law?” it said.

What kind of respect is shown to the memory of men and women who died defending the Constitution, and the rights and freedoms it guarantees in proposing an ordinance that violates those rights and restricts those freedoms?

We may think it’s a dumb game, and we think there are more appropriate places to play it.

But our public parks belong to the public — Pokémon Go players included. No group, and certainly no self-appointed individuals, can legitimately lay special claim to what belongs to all of us equally.

The best solution isn’t having the Winona City Council write some new letters of the law, and it certainly isn’t asking the police department to intervene. If anything, we’d like to see the players and upset veterans come together on this one. The veterans would hear stories about an engaging new game, and be able to share stories with the players about the importance and reverence of a place like Veterans Memorial Park.

Pokémon Go fans have started a online petition to lobby against the ban, the Telegraph reports.