The NYPD reportedly towed 30 cars from a surprise "No Parking" zone the department created Sunday for its flag football championship, and local car owners say they were not given any warning in advance about moving their vehicles. However, the police commissioner defended "Special events go on throughout the city," O'Neill said at a news conference Tuesday. "So this is something that the commissioner's football league has every year. There were signs put out five days in advance that said 'no parking' on Sunday."

The match took place on Columbia University's athletic fields, bordered on one side by 218th Street in Inwood. According to NY1, police restricted parking all along that stretch, posting "tow away zone" signs and expired parking prohibitions that did not say when the impromptu ban would lift. Confused residents were left to seek expensive parking options elsewhere, or risk the consequences.

Official response maintained that the department needed to mitigate "traffic congestion," manage pedestrian flow, and ensure access for attendees with disabilities on 218th Street, but according to NY1, Columbia never takes such drastic measures for its football games. As Division I sporting events, these understandably draw large crowds: A Lions game played at the Lawrence A. Wien Stadium in September, for example, clocked 5,327 spectators.

The NYPD had not returned Gothamist's request for comment at time of publication, so we don't know how many people attended Sunday's championship. It does appear that department members took the cleared spots, though: One resident noticed a hand-scrawled note stuck on the windshield of a parked car. "On police commissioner's flag football team," it read.

"I was just flabbergasted," Inwood resident Tasha Darbes, who paid $34 to move her car to a parking garage under the assumption that signs meant necessary construction or something similar, told NY1. Darbes called the maneuver "a real abuse of power."

The flag football fiasco came a little over a week after Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed another round of reforms intended to scale back parking placard violations by city employees. De Blasio outlined a "three strikes" policy that would revoke parking placards from people thrice caught abusing their privilege. He also lamented that dearth of parking spaces for NYPD members, which...seems like they found at least one solution to that problem!

Update: At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Police Commissioner James O'Neill explained, "Special events go on throughout the city. So this is something that the commissioner's football league has every year. There were signs put out five days in advance that said 'no parking' on Sunday."