City hopes changes will lead to safer J’ouvert
by Patrick Kearns
Aug 23, 2017 | 2964 views | 0 0 comments | 152 152 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city is taking proactive steps to combat the yearly violence that plagues the J’ouvert event in Crown Heights.

J’ouvert is a yearly a celebration of Caribbean independence that precedes the West Indian Day parade on Eastern Parkway on Labor Day.

This year the start will be pushed back two hours to 6 a.m. to provide more light, a decision that was made in coordination with the NYPD and parade organizer J’Ouvert City International.

The parade route will be closed to the general public the night before the event, and uniformed officers will provide security at 12 secure entry points along the route. All participants will be screened for alcohol and weapons, and backpacks and large bags will be prohibited.

Light towers – 30 percent more than last year – will be placed along the route, and the NYPD will also deploy high-resolution cameras.

“In addition to providing these enhanced security measures and additional public safety resources, we’ve been strengthening our partnerships with the community, elected officials, other city agencies and other stakeholders,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

The Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence has awarded eight $1,000 grants to community organizations in central Brooklyn to implement public safety programs over the Labor Day weekend, such as public education campaigns discouraging violence.

The city made an effort to improve safety during the event after an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo was struck and killed by a stray bullet two years ago. Despite changes last year, four people were still shot and two of the died.

There was preliminary talk about cancelling the event, but stakeholders worked together on solutions to better secure the parade route and area around it.

Councilman Jumaane Williams praised the city for acknowledging how important the celebration is for the Caribbean community, and noted the challenges that making the celebration safer pose.

“I thank the mayor and Commissioner O’Neill for engaging while respecting the culture and history of the Caribbean community,” he said. “And further understanding that J’Ouvert is not simply a parade, but a morning with people celebrating well beyond the parade boundaries, similar to how many celebrate Memorial Day and July 4th.”

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