New York

J'Ouvert Festival in Brooklyn to Have Security Comparable to Times Square on New Year's Eve, Officials Say

The pre-dawn festival has become a notorious hotbed of violence over the years

What to Know

  • The pre-dawn festival has been a hotbed of violence over the years
  • City officials say this year's festival on Monday, Sept. 4 will have security more akin to Times Square on New Year's Eve
  • Large bags and alcohol are banned; NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill says there will be more lighting and more cops than in prior years

No alcohol or large bags. More cops and light towers. Those are some of the enhanced security measures for this year's J'Ouvert Parade in Brooklyn that the mayor, police chief and community leaders announced Monday. 

The pre-dawn Labor Day festival that precedes the West Indian American Day Carnival that draws up to 2 million to Eastern Parkway each year has been notorious for shootings, stabbings and other crime. 

Last year, gun violence killed a 17-year-old boy and a young woman. Five other people were injured. The year before, Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Cuomo, was caught in gang crossfire. He died after spending a week in a coma. Three people have been charged with murder in his death. 

The Sept. 4 festival, which typically starts between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. will start at 6 a.m. closer to sunrise, officials said. Parts of Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue will be shut down and 10 percent more officers will be assigned to the J'Ouvert event this year compared with last year. Officers will use security wands to screen for weapons and alcohol. Thirty percent more light towers will also be set up. 

Some critics wanted the parade canceled completely, but city leaders didn't want to stop the celebration. They just want to stop the violence. 

And this year, top city officials and community advocates say the security will be more akin to Times Square on New Year's Eve than in years past. 

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said the police department starting working "with every stakeholder" the day after last year's event. He pledged "very, very increased police presence and increased lighting." 

Mayor de Blasio echoed that sentiment, adding, "We believe this plan, developed with community leaders, strikes the right balance." 

This year year’s parade is permitted by NYPD and has an approved route (starts at Grand Army Plaza, goes south on Flatbush Avenue, east on Empire Boulevard, south on Nostrand Avenue, ending at Midwood Street).

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