Bringing peace to the parade

As Brooklyn’s biggest Caribbean events are prepped to take off, one local organization wants to assure that parade goers will embark on it safely with social media.

Anti-violence community group, Parade to Peace, founded last September after the shooting death of Carey Gabay, wants to change the way residents parade in Brooklyn. The organization is hoping to put an end to violence in their community next month, using Twitter and Instagram, without diminishing the roots of J’ouvert and the West Indian Day parade, according to founders.

“Celebrating the culture is not the problem,” said Stacy Gray, a co-founder of Parade to Peace. “Our purpose is to form and to serve as an umbrella with like-minded people to end violence.”

Gabay’s death startled New Yorkers last year, and put a spotlight on the violence that has marred Caribbean festivities in recent years. Certain members of the Caribbean-American community took note of this and decided community action – hence creating Parade to Peace, also a social media campaign aiming to put an end to violence.

Parade to Peace is launching a social media campaign on Aug. 1 on Twitter and Instagram. The 30-day campaign will challenge and encourage users to post ideal ways to end violence at parade festivities, using the hashtag #paradetopeace. Gray says that shootings are also not the sole targets of their action plan, and that they will address all harmful forms of violence.

“We just don’t want to protect life, but the quality of life too,” said Gray. “Yes it’s a success if no one dies, but we have not accomplished everything if someone is stabbed or sexually assaulted.”

With the NYPD expected to enforce tighter laws at this year’s parade, given the climate of relations between cops and communities of color, Gray says she hopes that it does not deter people from attending, but rather feel safer and more inspired, and calls for every demographic, Caribbean or not, to engage in the campaign.

“I’m most excited to see people post their acts for peace, and see people who accept and take ownership for peace,” said Gray. “In the next 30 days, we want to change the minds in our community, and what it means to stand with peace.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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