HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Harlem residents sounded off after community gym equipment in Marcus Garvey Park was removed by the parks department. 

PIX11 News obtained video of a tense standoff between the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and people who use the community gym. 

“There was a lot of energy and emotions here,” East Harlem resident Kevin said. “Seeing it being taken away is almost like a slap in the face.”

Jamel Ali started working out and collecting gym equipment for parkgoers to use years ago. The equipment was kept under a canopy in the park. 

Earlier this month, the parks department notified Ali that tents are not allowed to be erected in any city park without a permit and unattended personal belongings are prohibited. Ali was given seven days to remove the collected gym equipment. 

“It’s been bad weather and I didn’t think that was enough time,” Ali said. 

On Tuesday, the parks department arrived at the park with representatives from the police department and the New York City Department of Sanitation. Ali was able to keep some of the gym equipment, but he said some of the workout equipment was discarded. 

Kevin witnessed the tense moments as the gym equipment was removed. “There was a lot of energy and emotions here. People that have been working out here, seeing it being taken away is almost like a slap in the face,” he said.

In a statement, the parks department explained, “Our priority here is to ensure a clean and safe park for all its users. While we appreciate Mr. Ali’s sentiment to encourage exercise, his adhoc set up in the Marcus Garvey Park adult fitness area has historically been in conflict with Park rules—this week’s cleanup was done with advance notice and executed respectfully.”