NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police have a new weapon against the gun violence that has plagued the annual J’ouvert festival.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the predawn festival in Flatbush and Crown Heights, Brooklyn has been known more lately for the gun violence it seems to generate than the Caribbean culture it celebrates.
And since more police officers and better lighting did not stop the gunplay last year — two people were shot dead and four others were injured – officials have come up with a new solution – let the sunlight in.
Instead of starting at 2 a.m., the festival will start at 6 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.
“This is the best decision going forward to try and keep people as safe as possible,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
The move comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking reelection – desperate to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence. The year before, Harvard-educated Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was killed when he was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout.
“J’ouvert is a celebration of culture and those who celebrate it want to do so in peace,” said de Blasio spokesman Austin Finan. “This was a decision that community leaders, law enforcement and elected officials agreed would help keep the public safe from those looking to disrupt what is a joyous tradition.”
“This is a natural evolution for us,” added O’Neill.
The decision to change the hours got mixed reviews in Brooklyn where the celebration is held
“Oh hat’s perfect. That’s even better,” said Josie Francis of Flatbush, “because Church Avenue is the most dangerous place for them to do it from night to all the way in the morning — people shooting and all this other stuff. It’s too much. For 6 o’clock – it’s a perfect time.”
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Talia Alluine of Crown Heights. “I mean, like, people are still going to have their fun. You can’t stop.”
““I think it’s a good idea. There have been a lot of shootings,” said Abraham Taha of Prospect Park. “Change it up; test it out see how it works.”
“I’m torn. It’s a good and bad idea,” said Fatima Hospedales of Flatbush, “but I don’t want to see anyone else get hurt.”
Several people told Kramer they still intend to start celebrating in the predawn hours.
More information on the new J’ouvert plan is expected to be announced in the next few weeks. O’Neill said other changes could be coming.