J’Ouvert might be going away.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hinted at the possibility of canceling J'Ouvert at a news briefing following Monday’s deadly violence at the raucous 4 a.m. celebration that precedes the West Indian Day Parade.
“All options are on the table,” de Blasio said in addressing questions about the future of J'Ouvert and if it might be canceled, reported the New York Post. “I’m not going to go into detail until we do a full review.”
“Just making a broad, strategic statement, all options are on the table,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to look at the whole situation with the NYPD and community.”
The steel drums and puffs of flour could not obscure the gunshots that rang out before sunrise this Labor Day. People ran for their lives — except those wounded or killed in the mayhem: 17-year-old Tyreke Borel and 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau were fatally shot. Two elderly women survived gunshot wounds, and another woman said she had been stabbed.
A 73-year-old woman, identified by the New York Post as Margaret Peters, was sitting on a bench waiting for the festival to begin at 4 a.m. when she was shot Monday.
“There is a hole in my hand — the bullet went right through,” she told the Post. “I wouldn’t be going back next year,” said Peters, who has attended the festivities since she emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago in 1972.
In the days leading up to the festival, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton vowed that this year's J’Ouvert would be the safest ever. The police presence at the event was doubled. Additional lights were brought into the neighborhood and the event organizers were required to file for a permit.
The intensified police presence and improved lighting failed to deter the trouble that has plagued the event for the past few years.
Monday’s events have stirred passionate responses from the community, some saying that J’Ouvert should be stopped, while others point to the aggressive police action as stirring resentment.
“So sad. And so ridiculous given all the police state theatrics leading up to it,” wrote Barbara Ann Rogers in a Facebook post in the Prospect Park Lefferts-Garden group. “Proof that their nonsense doesn't help, only makes matters worse. Bad people are going to do bad things, regardless, and making the rest of us feel like we're under occupation by a hostile force is just making more people resentful & depressed.”
“I really wish people would stop acting like police are the problem, especially as bullets fly and bodies drop around them for no reason in particular,” posted Javier E. David in the same Facebook group.
From the general public, many suggested putting an end to J’Ouvert all together.
“I hope they cancel J'Ouvert after this year for real …” tweeted Alyssa (@ChillOutAlyssa).