NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One of the most vibrant events in the city celebrating Caribbean culture saw amped up security and closed roads as police tried to curb the violence that has been seen in recent years.
J’Ouvert meaning “day break” is a celebration to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in Trinidad and it also marks the beginning of the West Indian celebration of culture that happens every year in Brooklyn.
But it has been marred by violence in years past.
This year, the mayor and the NYPD have made a pact to increase security, taking the same approach as in Time Square New Year’s Eve celebrations, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
“We want to set it up similar to Times Square. That there will be a screening process, approximately 12 different entry points coming into the route,” NYPD Chief of Patrol Terance Monahan said.
All participants and spectators were screened by officers for weapons and alcoholic beverages; backpacks and other large bags were not be allowed. About 3,500 officers are patrolling the event and a traditional steel band procession was also moved from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Once inside, partiers waved flags, doused themselves in paint, powder and motor oil.
The reviews on the new security measures are mixed.
“It’s too boring. Last year at this time, there would be people you would be able to jump and play music, now with the check points it’s a waste of time,” one woman said.
“It doesn’t feel like a Caribbean parade anymore, it feels like a police parade,” another woman said.
“There’s no freedom,” one man said.
“There’s too much checks at every point, it’s slowing down the parade right now,” another man said.
“The main priority is that we have a good time, but that we also remain safe, so thank you NYPD for the job you’re doing,” reveler Debbie Pierre said.
“I feel it’s better to help the community, keep it safe, there’s kids out here, nobody wants to catch strays,” a reveler said.
The increased security appears to have been a success. The NYPD says no there were no reports of serious violence during the festivities.
By 9 a.m. the avenues were cleared before the party continued at the West Indian Day Parade parade which kicked off at 11 a.m. in Crown Height on Eastern Parkway. The parade ends in Prospect Heights.
There was violence in Brooklyn overnight. A 44-year-old man was shot in the chest two blocks away from the start of the West Indian Day parade at Schenectady Avenue and Saint Johns Place. Police have not determined if the shooting victim was taking part of overnight J’Ouvert celebrations, or if this is unrelated. He is listed in critical condition at Kings County Hospital.
There was another man who was shot in the abdomen near the parade route area police have not been able to confirm if that was part of a separate J’Ouvert celebration.