New Yorkâs political leadership and a healthy slice of Brooklynâs populace are about to face a moment of truth on a life-or-death matter: Can they carry out a popular street festival without someone being fatally shot or stabbed? The mayor and other officials say yes, and any sensible person hopes theyâre right. Lamentably, recent history is not on their side.
The event is Jâouvert, which will be held Monday. It is an annual celebration of Caribbean culture, a kaleidoscope of costumes and rhythm bands that draws a quarter-million people or more. It is a prelude to the West Indian American Day Parade, an enormous gathering along major Brooklyn thoroughfares that attracts up to two million celebrators.
Jâouvert, with a French-derived name meaning daybreak and traditionally beginning pre-dawn, is fun. It has also been deadly in New York, more widely known for bullets than for ballyhoo in the last few years. Two young people, one in his teens, were shot to death at last yearâs festival. Two were wounded. The year before, a man was fatally stabbed and another â a lawyer in the Cuomo administration â lost his life when caught in a shootout between rival gangs. This tattoo of death defied the cityâs safety measures. It led to cries of enough is enough, including a year ago from this page, which demanded an end to the carnage.
Now Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police force will try a new tactic: no more pre-dawn Jâouvert with the cover of darkness for gun toters and knife wielders. Instead of 4 a.m., as before, the start time will be 6 a.m., at dawnâs early light.
Tighter security procedures will take their cue from those governing Times Square on New Yearâs Eve….