Shout Out for Safety at Caribbean Festival

By Kristina Skorbach, Epoch Times
September 3, 2013 10:31 am Last Updated: September 3, 2013 11:42 am

NEW YORK—Government officials and community members gathered on the last day of the West Indian American Day Carnival this Monday morning. This year the Caribbean-American community in Brooklyn celebrated “46 Years of Caribbean Pride and Culture.”

“We’re going to show off our culture, were going to share it with America, we’re going to do it in a nice, peaceful, and appropriate way,” said Assembly District 58 Assemblyman Nick Perry.

The closing of the five-day parade comes at the time of reports that a baby was shot in the head in Brownsville the day before. The shooting is said to be a gang-related activity.

State Sen. Eric Adams, 20th Senate District, said the news is tragic. “When we finish marching, we need to march over to Brownsville and send a loud message that our children need to be protected and allowed to grow up to be inspiring adults like many of us here,” he said.

After, Adams introduced Brooklyn’s President Marty Markowitz and the crowd of officials and guests broke into a cheer: “Marty! Marty!”

Markowitz gave an impassioned speech about how he has been a favorite in the Caribbean-American community and has always gotten their votes and support. He then announced his allocation of $1 million to the renovation of the Carlos Lezama netball courts at the Lincoln Terrence Park.

“Brooklyn’s best days are ahead,” he said while presenting Parks & Recreation Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, with the check.

Outside the white tents that were set up, participants and guests were forming groups and preparing for the parade. Women in colorful, sparkling, and feathered costumes filled the streets.

The parade, also known as the Caribbean festival, attracts many passers-by, but also attracts incidents of criminal activity. While on his way to the parade, CEO and founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, said that after all the officials leave at 2 p.m. the carnival turns into a completely different scene.

“From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. it’s cool, calm and collected,” he said. After 2 p.m., however, young men pull up their bandanas over their mouths and the rule about wearing no mask over your face at any time, “goes out the window,” according to Sliwa.

They then jump over the barricades and start a “frenzy of activity.”

“If it was at Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, there would be zero-tolerance,” he said, describing that the police would inspect people’s bags and make sure there is no drug use, whereas at the Caribbean festival, the air is filled with the smell of marijuana.

Guardian Angels are a group of New York volunteers that have been preventing crime and protecting citizens, weapon-free, at different events and gatherings for the past 34 years.

Sliwa said that officials tell police not to interfere at the West Indies festival, saying it’s a “cultural thing,” and has on occasion noticed police officers’ participation.

According to CBS, two people were shot before the parade Monday, and a police officer suffered minor injuries, however the police could not confirm any incidents before press time.