J'Ouvert organizers have announced that the annual predawn tradition will take place during the daytime this year, in what they say is an effort to cut down on violence and gang activity that's marred the celebration in recent years.
"We are extremely concerned that darkness is when everything (bad) happens,” J’ouvert City International President Yvette Rennie told the Daily News. “Based on what happened in those consecutive years, we felt that it was very important that we bring it more into light.”
The decision to move the celebration to the daytime was made following a series of town halls and conversations between local officials and grassroots organizations, Rennie told the News.
The Crown Heights precarnival procession will now start at 6 a.m., rather than 2 a.m. The West Indian-American Day Parade, which is not officially affiliated with J'Ouvert, will begin at 11 a.m., as it has in previous years.
In 2015, Carey Gabay, a 42-year-old aide to Governor Cuomo, was shot and killed by a stray bullet during J'Ouvert. Last summer, two people—17-year-old Tyreke Borel and 22-year-old Vertina Brown—were fatally shot during the festivities, and at least four others were injured.
In the wake of both tragic incidents, several politicians called for an end to the event. Crown Heights Assemblyman Walter Mosley said he can “no longer support” the event, which had "become synonymous with gun violence," DNAInfo reports.
"The only way that I can imagine that you cancel it, if that's what we're seriously talking about, would be to impose a curfew, and maybe bringing in the National Guard, or martial law," claimed Crown Heights Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo.
Other activists and politicians, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, have fought for the tradition to remain. Following 2015's shootings, Adams convened a task force to propose "modifications" to J'Ouvert, and other large-scale parades and holidays celebrated throughout Brooklyn.
"I think the media has made no distinction between the actual J'Ouvert celebration, and the violence that occurs before, during, and after it," Adams said. "The actual parade itself is always secure, with a strong police presence. The stuff that happens on the peripheries is what they talk about. The media is making no move to describe violence as a perennial problem."