City needs to address troubled festival
Sep 06, 2016 | 8703 views | 0 0 comments | 289 289 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the J'Ouvert Festival body count over the past decade now reaching into the 20s with no signs of stopping after two more murders this year, it's time the city looks for radical solutions to a celebration that's putting peaceful participants and Crown Heights residents in danger.

Last year, after Carey Gabay was killed, we were promised a safer J'Ouvert Festival and what we ended up with was three separate shooting incidents. More police officers and lights are clearly not enough.

There's several approaches the city should look to take before ultimately canceling the festival, and the first is holding it in a contained area. In south Brooklyn, there are plenty of spaces that would befit the huge celebration, but perhaps none more than Aviator Field in the Gateway National Recreation Area.

City, state and federal agencies would be able to have some oversight of the celebration and therefore all three would be holding the organizers accountable.

By holding the celebration in a large, closed-off area, it would allow police to secure the perimeter and ensure all participants are safe. With multiple screening areas and perhaps a limit on bag size, it will make sneaking in a weapon difficult, like at a baseball game, and therefore allow J'Ouvert to still occur overnight in a peaceful fashion.

The city and state could also work together to provide additional buses down Flatbush Avenue, ensuring that everyone could get there without the usual headache of trying to get to Aviator.

The celebration should also be moved more towards dawn, so it's people first waking up to party and not staying up all night. If the celebration begins at 4 a.m., more of the revelers will have stayed up all night possibly getting intoxicated, increasing the likelihood of incident, but at 6 or 7 a.m. it's more likely people are just waking up.

Moving the time would not destroy the tradition and heritage of the event, which has already been altered and Americanized, The true Carnival celebration in the Caribbean is usually the beginning of Lent in the spring or late winter.

It's too soon to say we should cancel the event, but if Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD want to keep everyone safe, they need to make some big changes.
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