The wife of Carey Gabay, a lawyer to Governor Cuomo who was fatally shot in the head by a stray bullet during J'Ouvert in 2015, has written an op-ed in the Daily News calling for a safe festival on Monday, and urging the city and country to address the national epidemic of gun violence.
"What used to be a celebration of culture for my husband and me, is now the anniversary of my husband's death," Trenelle Gabay wrote, referring to the annual Labor Day parade and street party set to kick off the Caribbean Carnival in Central Brooklyn early Monday morning.
"I'm well aware that J'Ouvert did not take him away from me," she continued. "Gun violence did. Sadly the tragedy of not having loved ones return from J'Ouvert has become all too common, and it's easy to be distracted and focused upon the violence instead of the celebration and culture."
Last summer, 17-year-old Tyreke Borel and 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau were fatally shot during the festivities, and at least four others were injured. In response, event organizers announced earlier this summer that they'd be moving the parade from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., and adding 12 security measures along the route. Those changes have elicited a mixed response from J'Ouvert participants, one of whom told Gothamist that it felt like the city was "trying to pick apart our culture."
Gabay, meanwhile, wrote that she sees the changes as "an opportunity for the pre-dawn festival J'Ouvert to transition into the communal spirit of carnival, which is a beautiful experience, allowing them to be unified as one entity, benefiting all involved in creating and contributing to the collective experience."
She added that her late husband loved the atmosphere of J'Ouvert and would not want to see the celebration abolished.
To mark two year anniversary of his death, Gabay is launching the Carey Gabay Foundation, "founded on the principles that Carey embodied such as kindness, compassion, and humanity." Later this month, the foundation will partner with Concert Across America to End Gun Violence on a live concert and fundraising auction featuring Cyrille Aimee, Fiama, Chelsea Johnson, Bex White and other surprise guests.
The event will take place on September 24th at Hill Country BBQ, "where all voices become one to help combat the scourge of gun violence that all too many have grown numb too."
"Only as a unified collective could we ever hope to eradicate or make a significant dent in what has become a pronounced national issue that claims lives daily," she added.