Increased security and more sunlight hope to protect this year’s J’Ouvert
In an effort to curb violence at Brooklyn’s J’Ouvert festival, organizers and city officials announced Monday they are increasing security and starting festivities two hours later this year.
Hundreds of thousands of people come out each year on Labor Day to celebrate the Caribbean celebration of J’Ouvert, which sprouted from the French term, “daybreak.”
This year, the festivities will begin at 6 a.m. rather than the traditional 4 a.m., allowing for about a half hour before sunrise, a move that police think will help deter violence, according to a statement.
The parade route on Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza to Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights will be closed to the public the night before the parade.
The night of the procession, hundreds more police officers will patrol the area compared to last year.
As guns and knives have littered past years’ festivities, participants will be checked for weapons and alcohol before entering and will be prohibited from wearing large bags.
“J’Ouvert is one of the most vibrant and passionate celebrations of culture in our great city, and it is incumbent upon all of us to make this year’s festivities peaceful and enjoyable for everyone,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the statement.
In addition to the extra hours of sunlight, 30 percent more light towers will be placed along the parade route this year and NYPD will install additional security cameras.
“The robust partnership of police and community, which this plan reflects, is making it possible for tens of thousands of peaceful New Yorkers to enjoy the upcoming J’Ouvert celebration in our city,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in the statement.
The safety concerns come from a tradition of violence surrounding the holiday.
At last year’s J’Ouvert, four people were shot and two died, according to a New York Times report.
The year before, Carey Gabay, a former lawyer in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration was caught in the crossfire reportedly between rival gangs and died from his injuries.
The same night, another man was stabbed to death.
“I and others have always welcomed efforts made to increase safety around J’Ouvert and to reduce gun violence and loss of life,” Councilmember Jumaane Williams said in the statement. “We owe all victims and their families our truest efforts and all New Yorkers a real plan of action.”
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