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The West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizers of the annual West Indian carnival parade in Brooklyn, says it’s unfair to blame a spate of shootings over the Labor Day weekend on the annual extravaganza on Eastern Parkway.
Many have sought to link the unusually large number of shootings and killings to the parade, but Jean P. Alexander, a WIADCA spokeswoman, said any attempt to blame the unjustified violence on the parade that attracts three million people annually is “unfair, so unfair.”
In condemning the violence over Labor Day weekend, WIADCA emphasized that “the majority of incidents of violence were unrelated to the parade.”
It also demanded that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Council members “genuinely address causations of increased incidence of crime in inner City New York.”
At the same time, Alexander said any violence in the community “is not something that we take lightly.”
She, however, disclosed that WIADCA has begun “putting ideas down” to help stem gun violence, stating that it would submit proposals to area churches and elected officials, including the mayor’s office and the police.
“If this is going to happen, it is going to happen to my child, to my neighbor’s child,” said Alexander, referring to the violence, adding: “The parade has to be safe.”
Meanwhile, top New York Police Department officials are expected to sit down at the drawing board with WIADCA and community civic, religious and labor leaders to flesh out a strategy to deal with the wanton acts of violence that thtreaten the viability of the annual extravaganza.
Despite widespread media attribution of the weekend of violence to the spectacular parade, Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said police analysis was not purely confined to the parade.
“We’re looking at anything that may have contributed to the shootings,” he told reporters.
“And we’re certainly concerned with the hours before the parade, when we confiscated 14 illegal guns.”
Browne said 52 shootings from Friday through Labor Day claimed 67 victims around the city, resulting in 13 deaths.
He, however, attributed three of the shootings and five victims to the parade, adding that the tally could have been higher had officers not seized 14 illegal guns and arrested 16 people during J’Ouvert, the pre-dawn celebration before the massive carnival.
Bloomberg blamed “lax gun-control laws” in Washington for the violent weekend in the Big Apple that left two cops wounded and a mother dead from a stray bullet.
“Neither end of Pennsylvania Avenue has had the courage to take basic steps that would save lives,” he said, wishing that lawmakers in Washington “would visit the family of Denise Gay and explain why they didn’t want to press for common-sense reforms, like closing the gun show loophole.”
Gay was killed by a stray bullet Monday night as she sat on her Crown Heights stoop after the West Indian Day Parade.
Bloomberg described her death as “a senseless murder” and the chilling violence as “just unconscionable.”
“We just cannot continue to have these guns in the hands of kids who don’t understand the value of human life,” he stressed.
At the pre-parade breakfast, at the Lincoln Terrace Park in Crown Heights, State Sen. Eric Adams called for an end to the senseless killings.
“We have to stop the gun violence,” he said. “Too many of our young people are getting killed.
His comments followed a call for enhanced city support for the carnival parade.
“We have to do a better job to support this carnival,” said Adams, representative for the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn. “This carnival needs more support.”
The violence dampened an otherwise remarkable extravaganza, as the sights, sounds, pageantry and everything else West Indian were on display.
The humid weather and an occasional thunder shower did little to suppress blaring soca, reggae, zouk and compas music, emanating from gigantic speakers mounted atop flatbed trucks.
They also could not stop masqueraders and onlookers from gyrating to the hypnotic vibes.
“Nothing stops the carnival,” shouted Trinidadian Carlton Comrie. “The show goes on.”
As masqueraders jammed to “love and unity,” a DJ on Borokeete’s, U.S.A float, yelled: “I want this Labor Day to be the Labor Day yo’ can remember.
“If you’re a proud West Indian, I want yo’ to put yo’ flag in the air,” he added, striking up Machel Montano’s “Footsteps.”
Hundreds of flags, large and miniature – from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, among other places – were instantly hoisted.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also tried to keep rhythm with the soca and calypso sounds as he rode a float with calypso legend, the Mighty Sparrow, singing his famous, “White Meat.”
With soca music blasting, 1199 SEIU exclaimed on a banner: “This is NYC. Ley we go!”
To which T&T Boys responded: “Put yo hands in the air!”
Along the 3-mile parade route, vendors, of every stripe, hawked jerk chicken, red beans and rice, oxtail, roast corn, and bandanas and flags of West Indian nations.
“This is great! I’m excited!” shouted Diana Christie, with the lone Guadeloupe band, swaying to the rhythm of the marching band from the French-speaking Caribbean island.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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