New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ruled out cancelling J’Ouvert activities in the Caribbean community in Brooklyn, saying that it is an event that’s “important to the community.”
The mayor, however, said on Tuesday, a day after the grand West Indian American Day Carnival on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, that the city would consider changing the hours of the pre-dawn event.
“I think it was very clear yesterday that we were not including the option of ending something which has gone on for decades and decades,” de Blasio told reporters at a news conference with police officials. “We have to find out a way to make it safer.”
Police said four people were shot, two of them fatally, during J’ouvert.
The two killed were Trinidadian Tyreke Borel, 17, who was shot in the chest, and Tiarah Poyau, 22, who was shot in the face.
Police also said a 72-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man were also shot in the J’Ouvert gunfire, with both expected to survive.
Assistant Chief Patrick Conry, the Brooklyn chief of detectives, said they may have been unintended targets, according to the New York Times.
In order to avert violence and bolster security at J’ouvert, the city issued a permit, for the first time in the event’s history, to organizers, who had worked with community activists to stave off violence, the Times said.
“All the right things were done in advance, including targeting gangs and getting additional guns off the street, but we have more to do,” de Blasio said.
“Even with the right steps being taken, there’s more we have to do,” he added. “We have to find new ways and additional ways to address this situation.”
De Blasio noted that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan and the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade in Brooklyn have all managed to clamp down on violence at their respective events.
“And each one of them was brought under control,” he said. “We’ll do the same here with J’Ouvert.”
Last year, a Carey W. Gabay, the Jamaican-born legal aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was fatally shot when the police said he was caught in crossfire between rival gangs during J’ouvert.
On Tuesday, Walter T. Mosley, a New York State Assemblyman in Brooklyn, called for suspension of J’Ouvert in the Caribbean community in Brooklyn.
“This celebration of cultural heritage, on a day fought so hard for by our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, has unfortunately become synonymous with gun violence,” he wrote on his Facebook page, “and until we as a community can collectively come together to address the root cause of these violent acts I cannot lend my support to it going forward.”
But Grenadian American New York City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, dismissed calls for the end to J’Ouvert.
“I don’t want people to have the false impression that you got rid of J’Ouvert, and now there’s no more gun violence in the city of New York,” he said.
At the pre-Labor Day Carnival Breakfast on Monday, Williams had blamed “chronic violence, the chronic problem in our community” for Monday’s J’Ouvert shootings.
“I’m sure people are not paying attention on days when there’s no J’Ouvert,” he said. “The problem is not the celebration. Let’s deal with that and let Black people have a right to celebrate.”
Meantime, police said they have arrested Reginald Moise, 20, in the killing of Poyau during J’Ouvert.
A fifth man charged in Gabay’s murder has been extradited to Brooklyn, according to the New York Daily News.
Police said Kenny Bazile was arrested last week outside a strip mall in Palm Desert, California.
Bazile, 31, was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Saturday and held without bail on murder and attempted murder charges, the Daily News said.