Cemetery staff to ‘Pokemon Go’ players: ‘Stay away’

Correction: An earlier version of this story spelled Amanda Kiel’s name incorrectly. We apologize for the error.

If you are interested in catching Pokemon, stay out of cemeteries. That’s the message from Amanda Kiel, Executive Director of Garland Brook Cemetery in Columbus.

Kiel says that since the release of the game “Pokemon Go,” which tasks players with finding and “catching” virtual monsters in real-world locations, Garland Brook has been overrun by people who shouldn’t be there. In letters to Google, as well as the developer of the game, Niantic, Inc., KielĀ writes that the cemetery has been “flooded with thousands of cars per day.” She says that these intrusions are disrespectful to mourners and visitors to the cemetery, adding that their privacy is also being violated.

Kiel’s letters, which includes a plea to pull Garland Brook as a location where the game can be played, adds that players are engaging in dangerous behavior at the cemetery. She says that drivers are looking down at their phones, trying to locate virtual monsters, instead of paying attention to where they are driving. Over the past week, Kiel says that staff members have nearly being hit by vehicles and that monuments have been damaged. She cites one case where a player, oblivious to the fact that a mourner was trying to get to a grave site, caused the visitor’s vehicle to run off of the road and into a monument. Again, Kiel says this was the result of a player looking down at a phone instead of the narrow road.

Kiel says that this problem is not confined to Garland Brook. She says that the problem is nationwide, as other cemeteries have reported much of the same activity. Others say the problem is worldwide, as locations meant to be honored with quiet and solace have been overrun by players who seemingly have little respect for those around them.

Kiel says that players are not welcome on Garland Brook grounds and that signs have been erected around the property informing people to this fact. In addition, Kiel says that the cemetery has been working with the Columbus Police Department to watch the property a bit more intently. If a player is caught on the grounds, Kiel says that he or she will likely face a fine.

Kiel went on to say that, as of the time that this story was published, she has not yet received a response from Google, nor Niantic. Regardless, Kiel says that she won’t stop until mourners and legitimate visitors to Garland Brook can utilize the site in peace and privacy.