NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Before sunrise Monday, tens of thousands of costumed, paint-slathered revelers were set to gather on the streets of Brooklyn for J’ouvert, a joyous Caribbean celebration rooted in emancipation.
This year, though, they will be doing it behind police barricades and metal detectors.
I has been held for decades in the pre-dawn darkness on Labor Day, but there was talk of canceling this year’s party because of violence accompanying the event.
The celebration will go on, but a traditional steel band procession has been moved from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Police say they’ll open checkpoints on Empire Boulevard and elsewhere at 2 a.m. to allow revellers who want to get a spot on the route ahead of time.
Police have also added strict security layers that don’t sit well with some longtime merrymakers.
All participants and spectators will be screened by officers for weapons and alcoholic beverages. Backpacks and other large bags will not be allowed.
But the musicians, dancers and costumed troupes at the heart of J’ouvert say they are committed to the event.
“The NYPD will be out in force with a zero tolerance attitude towards anything that might endanger other people,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this month.
Police said the precautions are similar to security during New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
“We respect people of all background, we respect all faiths, we respect all cultures. At the same time, we have a sacred responsibility to keep everyone safe,” de Blasio said. “We believe this plan developed with community leaders and community members strikes the right balance.”
Last year two people were shot dead, and four wounded during the festival that precedes the annual West Indian Day Parade. The year before Carey Gabay, a Harvard-educated aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was slain after being caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)