Haitian American New York City Democratic Councilmember Farah N. Louis on Tuesday strongly denounced the shootings in the Caribbean Community in Brooklyn over the Labor Day weekend.
Although this year’s J’Ouvert and West Indian American Day Carnival Parade were cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Louis, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said “there was an unauthorized gathering that resulted in a shooting.”
Five people, including a six-year-old boy and his mother, who were not affiliated with the illegal festivities, sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
“It is outrageous that innocent bystanders, even children, are shouldering the burden and the scars for the reckless behavior of others,” she told Caribbean Life. “I am extending my prayers for a speedy recovery to the victims of this weekend’s shootings, including a six-year-old boy and his mother.
“The collective message for this Labor Day weekend could not have been more clear – stay home, avoid parties, and celebrate the richness of the Caribbean Diaspora at home with your families,” she added. “The shooting in Crown Heights will not undermine our commitment to create safer communities for all.
“My colleagues and I will continue to advocate for additional resources to expand the footprint and local impact of Cure Violence organizations,” Louis continued.
In the days preceding the holiday weekend, Louis said she had urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to empower the Cure Violence organizations to take the lead in gun violence prevention in Central Brooklyn.
Amid growing concern for public health and safety during the Labor Day weekend, Louis joined Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, Cure Violence organizations, clergy and elected officials for extensive street engagement to stop the spread of COVID-19 and possible incidents of gun violence.
Recognizing the high probability of unauthorized parties and celebrations, Louis said the anti-violence coalition concentrated their efforts along the traditional routes for both events.
J’Ouvert City International and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association hosted virtual celebrations this year.
“We were able to combat gun violence in Council District 45, thanks to the collaboration of Man Up, Nation of Islam, Elite Learners, The GodSquad, East Flatbush Village, as well as Byways and Hedges Youth for Christ Ministry who canvassed the area to disperse large crowds, share vital information while distributing masks,” Louis said.
“Through community engagement and education, local residents were encouraged to avoid large gatherings, stay home, where they can safely celebrate the Caribbean culture and traditions,” she added.
“Although their coordinated response helped significantly reduce the number of incidents that have occurred in previous years, a six-year-old was among five people who were shot during an early dawn celebration in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn,” she continued. “As a result, this singular incident will overshadow the extraordinary work of the coalition members to defuse tensions that could have led to a far worse outcome – more victims and fatalities.”
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said: “All weekend, I and others joined community groups in the streets, working to prevent large gatherings and helping to limit gun violence.
“Today, we thank the Brooklyn community for heeding these calls and pray for victims of the shootings we did see– including the mass shooting that injured five people, heartbreakingly with a young child among them,” he said.
“We continue our commitment to fighting the plague of violence and saving lives through a partnership in public safety where everyone has a role to play,” Williams added.
Camara L. Jackson, founder and executive director of Elite Learners, Inc., said the Crisis Management System (CMS) “worked as a collective this weekend to ensure community safety during the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“Elite Learners is saddened by the shooting that took place, and it is especially impactful when it is one of our youngest community members that is harmed,” he said. “The CMS community will continue canvassing to promote safety for all community members.”
Pastor Gil Monrose, president, 67th Precinct Clergy Council, otherwise known as “The GodSquad,” said that despite being a very peaceful weekend in Brooklyn, “it only took an illegal gathering of one defiant group to place a stain on the entire Labor Day weekend.
“Throughout the weekend our clergy, elected officials, community leaders and NYPD worked together to keep our streets safe,” said the US Virgin Islands native. “The community had one job – stay home, stay safe, and be wise.
“Unfortunately, a few did not heed this message and now our community is suffering loss due to another mass shooting on our streets,” he added. “We will continue to do our part to end gun violence as we call on our community to be more responsible with your behaviors and help save lives.”
Louis said, “None of us knew what to expect this Labor Day weekend, but we shared one goal: to keep our community safe. We did what we do best, combine our resources then mobilize,” she said. “I want to thank the City’s Crisis Management System network who came together and worked long hours to save lives. Our extensive outreach and overwhelming support from community residents made this weekend in Council District 45 one of the safest in recent months.”