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This Might Be the Last Group You'd Expect to Stage a Protest and Defy a Police Crackdown

A kind of staple in downtown San Francisco for many years.

(Credit: KPIX-TV)

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dozens of people got together Sunday to defy a recent crackdown by city police over an activity that the cops say attracts criminal elements.

But the protesters aren't moving illegal merchandise.

Try rooks and pawns.

They're the open-air chess players who've been on their game and a kind of staple in downtown San Francisco for many years.

(Credit: KPIX-TV)

So why the law-enforcement crackdown?

Police recently confiscated chess gear, tables, and chairs used by the mostly homeless players because they say the games had begun attracting illegal gambling and drug sales to an area adjacent to a cable car terminal, which is a popular tourist destination.

(Credit: KPIX-TV)

Nearby merchants also complained about an increase in illegal activity around the games.

But on Sunday, to the tunes of a brass band, homeless advocates and the chess players organized a "chess-in" and played for hours on the city's busy Market Street in balmy, sunny weather with no visible police presence.

Interestingly, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) got a bill passed on Friday which designates October 7-13 as “National Chess Week." Whatever the festivities involve, they commence Monday.

Here's a report from KPIX-TV on recent crackdown on street chess:

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