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Is Brooklyn's West Indian Day Parade Growing A Tradition of Violence?

As the parade grows, so does the violence. What should be done?

Labor Day, the annual federal holiday to honor America's workers, also marks an exciting time for New York City's West Indian community.

On the first Monday in September, Brooklyn holds a massive parade and fete -- the city's largest -- down Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights celebrating the culture and pride of the more than 700,000 New Yorkers of Caribbean descent.

The parade, which started in Harlem in 1947 and was moved to Brooklyn in 1964, today attracts between one to three million people each year.

In its 65 years of existence, this lively carnival has become a highly anticipated annual event-- a time to experience the music, cuisine, vibrant culture and contributions of the city's West Indian community.

However, increasingly, in the last ten years it also has become a time when Brooklynites brace themselves for an uptick in the number of incidents of violence. Beginning in 2003, every year, there has been at least one shooting incident to take place along the parade's route.

This year was no exception: The Brooklyn parade began early -- 3:00 a.m. for J'ouvert -- with a large melee and a shooting. The official parade kicked off later that day, at 11:00 a.m. and was met with more reports of shootings and stabbings. It ended later that evening with a shooting death.

According to an account by 71st Pct. Officer Vincent Martinos of Community Affairs, a delayed float created an oversized and frustrated crowd and was at the center of at least two separate shooting and stabbing incidents.

"The last Labor Day float, T-Vice Ompa Haitian, was delayed due to the fact they had failed to hire a driver that was properly licensed for this event," wrote Martinos in an email. "After a lengthy delay, the organizers were able to find someone with the proper NYS license and paperwork needed to drive their float.

"By the time they started, a large gap between floats several blocks [long] had grown. This float moved extremely slow and their music was the loudest of any float on the parade route. The crowd grew to unreasonable size due to the late start and slow moving pace.

"At approximately 5:15 p.m., in front of 650 Eastern Parkway, several shots were fired from inside the overly large crowd around this float. A
female was struck in her left lower back and a male in his left hip. Both victims are expected to make full recoveries.

"A short time later at approximately 6:00 p.m. at the corner of Bedford Ave and Eastern Parkway, a male became the victim of a homicide. The victim was stabbed one time in the neck while inside this large group around this float."

In total, police in the 71st and 77th precincts patroling the parade route reported .

What is meant to serve as a celebratory and lively tradition for Caribbean culture in New York City slowly has devolved into a hotbed of violence.

So what do you think is the best way to address the escalating violence at the West Indian-American Day Parade?

Should the city shorten the parade or place a limit on the numbers of revelers allowed on the parade route? Should the parade be moved to a different location?

Should the parade committee be held accountable for violent incidents and fined? Or perhaps the parade should be ended altogether?

Take our poll, and tell us what you think in the comments.

pat September 19, 2012 at 03:44 AM
My friend visited me from Washington State, he is from Guam originally. He lives in an area with a good size Black population. After returning to Washington, he asked me in an awkward manner, why are Blacks in New York City so poorly behaved and vulgar. I had no answer for him. He also asked why do Blacks tolerate their own people making them look so bad in the eyes of visitors and locals. This was his own observation and unfortunately an observation many people make when visiting here. I wish it was not that way, because there are many great Blacks, Hispanics and Asians that are my dear friends. Something has to give in this country.
BRADY September 19, 2012 at 04:11 AM
its a lot eaiser to blame the white man ,if blacks actually policed their own something might get done ,but then their local politicans have actually have to work instead of crying about THE COPS DO TO MUCH and when something bad happens THE COPS DON'T DO ENOUGH. rember like the AFRICAN AMERICAN man said,SNITCHES GET STICHES.so no Barry Keys your not a racist, blacks are just lazy "DAT AINT MY JOB " is the mantra
Ken September 20, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Having done some extensive traveling in both the Caribbean and Europe and the Middle East, I have noticed that in just about all countries people just don't use their car horns. If you're walking across the street, or the light changes and you're driving, people don't immediately start blowing their horns. However, as soon as the same people arrive here, it seems to be a necessary evil to lean on the horn. I guess this is where bad manners begins. "I'm in America now and I'm in a rush...so just get out of my way!!"
Ronald December 15, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Okay now everybody is just being ridiculous and ever parade kept in New York City have violent the only reason why people is more focus on the West Indian parade Because it draws the largest crowd in New York City beside the New Year's celebration in Manhattan
Ronald December 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM
The bottom line is if they want the killing to stop and homicide to stop they have to end the parade completely But it would be sad too and only the West Indian day parade Because the West Indian day parade is not the only Parade that brings violence the Puerto Rican day parade and the Dominican the parade also Brings Violence but everybody's more focused on the West Indian day parade because it draws the largest crowd The West Indian day parade draws almost 3 Million people to Brooklyn each year And with that being said the Puerto Rican Day Parade only Draws 500,000 and Dominican only draws 100,000 The parade brings in millions of dollars to New York City each year. The bottom line is they know the parade is being kept every year on the parkway why not beef up security more cameras

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