NY Caribbean Fest Revels Amid Security; Some Violence Nearby

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Honorary Grand Marshall New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rev. Al Sharpton lead the West Indian Day Parade. (AP Photo/ Kevin Hagen)

NEW YORK (AP) — Revelry, cultural pride and newly tightened security mixed Monday at one of the largest U.S. celebrations of Caribbean communities, as the city tried to ensure safety at an event that has been marred by nearby violence. But some still happened.

One man was shot and another stabbed near the Caribbean Carnival parade route Monday evening, police said. Still, officials noted, an early morning pre-parade celebration unfolded safely after its start time was moved to try to avoid trouble.

In all, thousands of revelers, musicians, dancers and costumed troupes turned out to bounce to the steel-drum beat of Brooklyn’s melting-pot Labor Day tradition: a daylong West Indian party, featuring a morning festival called J’ouvert, which combines the French words “jour” and “ouvert” and refers to daybreak, and an afternoon Caribbean Carnival parade.

“I’m Guyanese, Trini, Panamanian, Puerto Rican and Jamaican,” reveler Imani Woods told WCBS, expressing enthusiasm for a day of dancing and good food.

But it also has become a day of concern for city officials.

In 2015, an aide to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was killed by a stray bullet. Last year, 17-year-old Tyreke Borel was shot and killed and a 72-year-old woman was grazed in the arm. Soon after, a 22-year-old woman, Tiarah Poyau, was shot in the head just a block away and died.

This year, a 22-year-old man was shot in the torso Monday evening, and a 20-year-old man was stabbed in the abdomen about an hour and a half later, police said.

Both men were wounded in the same area of Eastern Parkway, which is along the parade route. It’s not immediately clear whether those involved were participating in the festivities.

The men were taken to area hospitals. The shooting victim was in stable condition, firefighters said; the other man’s condition wasn’t immediately available.

Later, a man scuffled with, bruised and bit two police officers who instructed him to move from a spot where he was standing along the parade route, police said. Officers used a stun gun to subdue the 36-year-old man and arrested him on charges including obstructing government administration.

There had been talk of canceling this year’s J’Ouvert party because of past violence. Instead, officials tightened security and moved the starting time for the pre-parade J’ouvert celebration from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., and police officers patted down revelers, vendors and residents hours before that. Spectators had to go through metal detectors, and thousands of additional officers were on patrol and were policing party areas outside the barriers.

Some people complained of long delays getting past checkpoints and of the change in tone that came with the bigger police presence.

“The police disrupted the festive mood,” Christina Jackson, a 17-year-old wearing shorts and a bandanna emblazoned with the Jamaican flag, told The New York Times. She said she didn’t feel the need for the extra security.

But J’Ouvert City International co-founder Hazel John did.

“It shows they’re concerned about our protection,” John, 70, told the Times. “The people who come to enjoy the event feel more protected.”

Some revelers refused to let the hassles get in the way of a good time: Online video showed one woman dancing with her arms outstretched as an officer ran a hand-held metal detector over her.

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