After one person was killed and several people injured, including an aide to Gov. Cuomo, before and during the early morning J'ouvert festivities in Brooklyn, police have promised to get tougher on the event next year.
"Going forward, we are going to make a point of working with the local politicians and local organizers in the area to make sure...that the event is appropriately policed and that the organizers take the proper measures in running this event," department spokesman Stephen Davis said in a statement to the Post. "We’re going to re-evaluate how we police the event in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved."
Earlier this week, Commissioner Bratton defended the NYPD's restrained approach to J'Ouvert, while noting that it "has been and continues to be probably the most problematic event in the city. It has been a festival that has had more than its share of violence for many, many years...That’s the reality."
Bratton expanded on that a bit Wednesday to NY1, saying, "We need to get political support to get them under control so they can get the event under control...Next year, I will be policing it very differently from the get-go."
Bursts of gunfire and a fatal stabbing left one man dead and ">six others injured in the hours around the 4 a.m. start of J'Ouvert on Monday. That included Cuomo's first deputy counsel, Carey Gabay, who was apparently caught in warring gangs' crossfire. He remains in critical condition. Police released a sketch of one person of interest earlier today.
The NYPD assigned 1,500 officers to the Crown Heights area in anticipation of festivities. Despite that, it seems cops were given directives to mostly lay off partygoers. As an unnamed NYPD sergeant explained to City Paper:
“We are told,” she said: “‘Take glass bottles from people if they are drinking alcohol in public, and break the bottles so they can’t be thrown at us later. But if they are drinking from plastic, let it go. If they are smoking weed in public, let it go.’ J’ouvert [in particular] is where we are told not to do anything to cause a riot. There is very little enforcement going on, especially compared to the strict enforcement of public drinking at the St. Patrick’s Day and Columbus Day parades.”
While no one is demanding the festival be cancelled outright, many locals have called for stricter enforcement: “I don’t leave my home that weekend," 62-year-old Yolanda Cox, who lives near where Gabay was shot in the head, told the News. “I stay inside. Back in the day it was better. It was safer. The people, they drink, they get high, things escalate. I always say, ‘Bullets have no eyes.’ And that’s how innocent people get hurt."
Even longtime J'Ouvert photographer Ruddy Roye, who called the event "sacred," told us, "I've been showing up later and later every year because the police have taken up presence. I see them more, and I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, because over the years there has been violence [in the vicinity]... somebody has been stabbed, somebody has been beaten."