Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday pledged “extraordinary efforts” to safeguard revelers who will attend this weekend’s J’Ouvert festivities, the annual celebration of Caribbean culture.
The mayor and police officials have in recent days held several news conferences to announce their specific measures to control and police the parade.
Their main measures were to require J’Ouvert for the first time to file for a permit detailing the path of the parade, and to double the number of officers policing the event.
“A few bad apples over the years have caused trouble,” de Blasio said at a news conference announcing the security measures. “We are not going to let a few bad apples destroy something that’s so important to hundreds of thousands of good New Yorkers. We’re going to make sure that J’Ouvert and the parade are safer than ever.”
J’Ouvert, which literally means “daybreak,” is the pre-dusk Caribbean Pride party that precedes Brooklyn’s annual West Indian Day Parade and festival on Labor Day. It is a high-energy celebration of Caribbean culture that will draw close to a million people to the neighborhood at 2 a.m. on Sept. 5.
Last year’s multiple shootings in the area, which included the death of Carey Gabay, an attorney working for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, brought J’Ouvert under intense scrutiny and unapologetic warnings from the NYPD about violence.
A flier demanding an end to shootings and stabbings at J’Ouvert has been posted in the neighborhoods and attacked as racist by many who attend the annual celebration.
The flier distributed in Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens reads boldly “This community will no longer tolerate violence. Do not shoot anyone. Do not stab anyone.” It cites the deaths of two people who were killed during the time-frame of J’Ouvert last year.
The flier was published and promulgated by the NYPD, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and the organizers of the parade,
Some members of the community were quick to point out that Gabay’s death was gang-related, and not J’Ouvert-related, and that the association of violence to the festival is discriminatory.
“I think this flyer is misleading,” Seth Kaplan said in the heated Facebook discussion on the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens community page. “The murder of Carey Gabay was gang-related and unrelated to J'Ouvert. The language and choice of words is insulting.”