J’Ouvert Parade 2016: Caribbean Festival Turns Deadly Again

The J’Ouvert parade 2016 was marred by gun violence Monday morning with two people reported killed and several others injured, the NY Daily News is reporting. The NYPD confirmed one stabbing and four people shot at the J’Ouvert parade 2016 celebration, which takes place in Brooklyn a few hours before Labor Day.

The first shooting occurred around 4 a.m. at Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue in Crown Heights. A police spokesman revealed that a man and woman were shot. The man, who police believe is aged between 18 and 22, was pronounced dead at the scene. The second shooting took place 30 minutes later at Washington Avenue and Empire Boulevard where a 22-year-old woman was shot in the head. Despite a thick police presence, the J’Ouvert parade 2016, known for celebrating the heritage of the Caribbean, has been ruined once again by violence.


New York City announced that they were taking unprecedented precautions for the J’Ouvert Parade 2016 festivities after Carey Gabay, a senior aide to Gov. Cuomo, was killed at last year’s celebration. According to a CNN report, Gabay, a 43-year-old lawyer, was fatally struck in the head by a stray bullet during a gunfight between rival gangs.

The city had gone ahead to illuminate this year’s celebration with 200 light towers and 42 new security cameras to keep an eye on the 250,000 people expected to attend. Flyers were also distributed by community groups warning people to desist from acts of violence at the J’Ouvert parade 2016 festival, “do not shoot anyone, and do not stab anyone.” Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff had tweeted the poster Thursday, revealing that two people were killed at the 2015 celebration and that four people had been charged with the murders.

The J’Ouvert parade 2016 marked the first time that organizers of the parade were mandated to get a permit. About a 1,000 NYPD police officers watched the carnival as it got underway, but things quickly spiraled out of control as the party got increasingly rowdy and people spilled into the streets.

There have been incessant complaints over the years over safety at the West Indian Day parade on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. In 2014, a 53-year-old man was shot and killed near Empire Boulevard and Rogers Avenue around 6 a.m. Two other people were wounded during the celebration.

According to The Guardian, in 2013, a one-year-old boy in a pushchair was killed by a bullet meant for his father. In 2012, two people were stabbed to death. In 2011, two NYPD officers were wounded when a gunfight broke out. According to the NY Times, several officers were also punished for posting provocative comments on social media, calling revelers “savages” and recommending to fellow officers that they be allowed “to kill each other.”

Raymond Biggs, a 34-year-old man who said he had been attending the festivities since he was a child, sympathized with the dire need for security at the J’Ouvert parade 2016.

“I can’t blame the police for being a little more aggressive now and trying to keep things a little more organized because people act different now…this younger generation, they’re a little more reckless. They’re not about the fun anymore.”

The West Indian carnival dates back to 1920s Harlem before it moved to the central Brooklyn area in the mid 60s, when plenty of immigrants started coming into the U.S. from Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago. Organizers introduced the early morning festivities and started calling it “J’Ouvert,” which means daybreak in French.

The celebration mainly comprises of a steel drum parade and people dressed in feathered costumes. The streets of Flatbush and Crown Heights subsequently hold parties where people eat, drink, carry flags of their respective countries and douse each other with paint. Despite the festival being an expression of Caribbean heritage and culture, the J’Ouvert parade 2016 is the latest and certainly not the last edition to be marred by violence.

[Photo by iStock]

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