NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing a new controversy as members of the Irish and Puerto Ricans are livid after he equated the violence at J’Ouvert with behavior at the St. Patrick’s and Puerto Rican parades.
CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer said some want an apology.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a huge source of pride to New York City’s Irish community. The same goes for members of New York City’s Puerto Rican population.
Now representatives of both communities say they are insulted and outraged by de Blasio’s decision to compare the gun violence at J’Ouvert, which killed two and left four wounded, with behavior at their parades to justify allowing J’Ouvert to continue next year.
“I’m outraged… this is a libel against the Irish community in this town,” lawyer Brian O’Dwyer said.
“This is disrespectful — this is shameful for him to say that. The Puerto Rican Day Parade has never got a death, killing, bloodshed,” state Sen. Ruben Diaz said.
“There were some hooligans we took care of, but there was never year-after-year of people being killed, shot and stabbed,” O’Dwyer added.
Diaz said the mayor owes the Puerto Rican community an apology and the Irish community an apology.
“How dare he? How dare he compare the crimes — the murders?” he said.
However, that’s just what the mayor did.
“For decades, permits were given to the Puerto Rican Parade to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade… there was violence and people bluntly expected it,” De Blasio said.
Even Police Commissioner Bill Brattton said there’s no comparison.
When asked by Kramer if it’s fair to compare the violence experienced at J’Ouvert with violence experienced at the other two parades, Bratton said “the nature of the violence is different.”
“The J’Ouvert Festival– the problem we’ve been experiencing through its history is really gun-related violence,” he said.
When asked if he recalls any instance of gun murder at the other parades, Bratton said that there was “not one that immediately comes to mind.”
“J’Ouvert is singular in the significant violence associated with it,” he said.
Regarding the possibility of an apology from de Blasio, a spokesman insisted most parades have had issues.
“They’ve been effectively regulated and policed into safety. That’s the mayor’s focus for J’Ouvert,” de Blasio Spokesman Eric Phillips said.
A spokesman for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade refused to comment. A spokeswoman for the Puerto Rican Parade said planners have worked with the mayor’s office to ensure the parade is a safe, festive and culturally enriched event for families to enjoy.