Crown Heights

Parker: We don’t have a J’ouvert problem

State Senator says city should address everyday violence

September 23, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Police investigate the scene on Empire and Washington avenues where Tiarah Poyau, 22, was shot to death during J’ouvert. Eagle file photo by Andy Katz
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In the wake of two shooting deaths on the streets of Crown Heights during the West Indian celebration of J’ouvert early Labor Day morning, there had been talk among city officials to cancel next year’s event. But Mayor Bill de Blasio announced within days that J’ouvert would go on as scheduled in 2017.

State Sen. Kevin Parker is one elected official who did not want to see J’ouvert canceled.

“We don’t have a J’ouvert problem. We have a violence problem in our community. Every weekend we have shootings,” said Parker, who added that canceling J’ouvert won’t stop the violence.

“We need to continue to look and discuss things we can do to make that night safer,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle in a recent interview.

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J’ouvert, a celebration featuring block parties, music and dancing, takes place during the pre-dawn hours before the big West Indian Day Parade that is traditionally held on Labor Day in Crown Heights. J’ouvert is an abbreviation of the French word for daybreak.

Parker (D-East Flatbush-Flatbush-Midwood) pointed out that the NYPD took several steps to try to make this year’s celebration safer after the tragic shooting death of Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at last year’s J’ourvert celebration.

This year, the community was flooded with cops, and more than 200 high-powered lights were brought in to illuminate the streets.

Still, despite the police presence and the precautionary measures, there were shootings during J’ouvert. Two of the shooting victims, Tiarah Poyau, 22, and Tyreke Borel, 17, were killed in separate incidents.

“My condolences go out to the families of Tiarah Poyau and Tyreke Borel,” Parker said.

But anyone who thinks that canceling J’ouvert is going to solve the problem of violence on the streets is sadly mistaken, according to Parker. “We have a larger issue to deal with,” he told the Eagle.

City officials and law enforcement authorities must find ways to address the violence plaguing the streets of Crown Heights and other Brooklyn neighborhoods, he said. Much of the violence is gang related, he added.

Parker has come up with an idea that he said will help.

He is advocating for the establishment of more Beacon schools in New York City. Located in public schools, Beacon schools operate as community centers during non-school hours, offering everything from sports programs for kids to English classes for adult immigrants. The Beacons are usually sponsored by community-based organizations.

There are approximately 80 Beacon schools throughout the five boroughs. Parker said there should be a lot more.

“We need to do more for our young people,” he said.

Under his vision, the Beacon schools would offer things like job placement assistance and family therapy.

Another way to get kids away from gangs is to entice them to play sports, Parker said. “We need to expand our school-based athletics,” he said, adding that he played on his high school football team and has always believed it helped him enormously as a person.


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