J’ouvert celebrations will be a lot safer this year.
Finally equipped with a city permit for the first time since it has been active, the pre-dawn parade leading up to the West Indian Day parade on Labor Day, will see major changes this year.
Borough President Adams and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton, unveiled new changes for the J’ouvert parade, at a press conference at Medgar Evers College on July 26, launching #WeAreJouvert.
“The NYPD is committed to ensuring public safety at this very well-attended cultural celebration, which will be reflected in the Departmental resources — personnel and equipment — that will be deployed,” said Bratton.
The NYPD plans to double the number of uniformed and plainclothes officers, add more police cars along the route of the parade, and increase light towers up to 200, from 40 last year.
City officials are also encouraging the community to join the police in decreasing crime.
“We’re asking businesses, homeowners, and building owners, to keep their lights on,” said Mario Carrión, community affairs unit commissioner. “More light is better.”
The launch of the #WeAreJouvert campaign aims to promote peace and community outreach during J’ouvert celebrations, said, Mario Carrión. The campaign comes almost a year after the shooting death of Carey Gabay — shot a block away from Medgar Evers College, as well as previous incidents of gun-violence from previous years.
“We are going to be rolling out over the next couple of days a number of initiatives,” said Carrión. “We’re asking folks to share their stories of J’ouvert using the hashtag #WeAreJouvert.
Adams also urged the importance of parents being involved in their children’s whereabouts.
“We really need parents to be engaged on that day,” said Adams. “Parent engagement can stop a lot of this from taking place. We want parents to be engaged that entire weekend.”
Bratton addressed residents concerns and assured that the increased police presence will not limit parade goers from partaking in festivities.
“Cops are there to help people enjoy,” said Bratton. “They’re not going to be oppressive in their activity.”
Leaders from J’ouvert City International, Inc., which organizes and plans the early morning Labor Day festivities, asked for gun reform and called on gang-members to stop the violence.
“It is important that we all enjoy a safe haven — a safe arena. I’m asking elected officials to create and to pass a sensible gun bill that will take guns out of the hands of those who are committing crime,” said Yvette Rennie, president of J’Ouvert City International, Inc. “Also I’m asking all my neighbors to contact those representatives — send them letters and tell them to think about what is happening to our community with these guns. I’m asking all gang leaders to put guns down and celebrate J’ouvert — because my J’ouvert is a safe J’ouvert.”