De Blasio Administration, NYPD Announce Increased Security Measures for Upcoming J’Ouvert Celebration

Participants, Spectators Screened Prior to Entry – Additional Officers, Lighting and Cameras Provided

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration, New York Police Department, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, J’Ouvert City International and elected officials today announced enhanced parade security measures for the 2017 J’Ouvert Celebration, which will step off on Monday, September 4th at 6 A.M. in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

“J’Ouvert is one of the most vibrant and passionate celebrations of culture in our great city, and it is incumbent upon all of us to make this year’s festivities peaceful and enjoyable for everyone,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I commend the parade organizers, New York Police Department and my colleagues in government for coalescing to come up with a sound plan to make this year’s J’Ouvert the safest ever.”

“J’Ouvert is a celebration of Caribbean culture, and the NYPD is committed to making it safe for everyone,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “That’s why, in addition to providing these enhanced security measures and additional public safety resources, we’ve been strengthening our partnerships with the community, elected officials, other City agencies and other stakeholders. Each of us has the ability to make J’Ouvert safer and more enjoyable, and together we’re so much stronger.”

In past years, the J’Ouvert parade has started at 4:00 A.M. The decision to step off this year’s parade two hours later at 6:00 A.M. was a joint, strategic judgment made by the parade’s organizers and permit holders – J’Ouvert City International – and the NYPD in an effort to reduce the potential for violence. This year, the formation area and parade route will close to the general public the night before the parade. Hundreds of additional uniformed officers – an increase of more than 10 percent over last year – will provide security at 12 secure entry points and along the two-mile parade route. Both parade participants and spectators will be screened for weapons and alcoholic beverages. In addition, backpacks and other large bags will be prohibited.

Each entry point will be outfitted with light towers to increase safety and facilitate the ease of entry. Additional light towers – representing a total increase of about 30 percent over last year – will be placed along the parade route. The NYPD will also deploy additional high-resolution security cameras this year.

J’Ouvert City International is partnering with the NYPD, clergy, community members and elected officials as part of a unified approach to enhance public safety at this year’s J’Ouvert celebration. The parade formation area will be located on Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza to Empire Boulevard. Upon step off, the parade will proceed south on Flatbush Avenue, east on Empire Boulevard and south on Nostrand Avenue to Midwood Street.

“The robust partnership of police and community, which this plan reflects, is making it possible for tens of thousands of peaceful New Yorkers to enjoy the upcoming J’Ouvert celebration in our city. Our efforts speak to a shared belief that public safety and violence prevention are best achieved when we are ‘all in,’ ” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“I and others have always welcomed efforts made to increase safety around J’Ouvert and to reduce gun violence and loss of life. I thank the Mayor and Commissioner O’Neill for engaging while respecting the culture and history of the Caribbean community and further understanding that J’Ouvert is not simply a parade, but a celebratory morning with people celebrating well beyond the parade boundaries similar to how many celebrate Memorial Day and July 4th. Lastly, I am thankful that the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence, the Crisis Management System and other community partners are playing such a key role, as we all push to combat gun violence on this weekend and year-round. We owe all victims and their families our truest efforts and all New Yorkers a real plan of action,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “I am hopeful that the enhanced security measures announced today by the Mayor and the Police Commissioner go a long way to ensuring that all who attend J’Ouvert to celebrate their cultural heritage remain safe from the violence that has marred this celebration in years past. While I look forward to celebrating with all involved, I remain committed to prosecuting anyone who undermines public safety at this event by committing acts of violence.”

“The purpose of J’Ouvert is to create a welcoming environment to celebrate Caribbean culture. If moving the start time of the festival to 6A.M. is needed to increase the safety of the community, than that is the correct action to take,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.

“Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, elected officials and the NYPD for joining with us under one collective voice to ensure that we have a smooth and enjoyable 2017 J’Ouvert celebration. Our J’Ouvert is art, culture and self-expression through an artistic format showcasing the history of our ancestors which has been taking place on streets of Brooklyn since 1984,” said Yvette Rennie, President J’Ouvert City International, Inc.

“J’Ouvert is a major part of West Indian culture. Finding a compromise which allows it to continue helps preserve the culture while increasing public safety during the festivities here in Brooklyn,” said  Musa Moore, Chairman, Community Board 9.

In addition to robust policing efforts, the City is embarking on an unprecedented initiative to join community groups and law enforcement to co-produce public safety in advance of the J’Ouvert festivities. This includes a series of grants to community-based organizations to work on violence prevention as well as work with the City’s Crisis Management System, a citywide initiative to reduce gun violence in the 17 precincts that account for 51 percent of shootings citywide.

The Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence, embedded in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, has awarded eight Safe in the City grants to community leaders and organizations in Central Brooklyn to implement public safety programs during Labor Day weekend. The awardees will receive grants of $1,000 for public education campaigns, events and dissemination of anti-violence messages. Since its launch, these grants have also helped youth obtain employment, connect victims and their families to appropriate trauma services after violent incidents occur and facilitate anti-gun violence discussion series with youth.

The Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence will also work with City Crisis Management System partners to deploy violence prevention services during J’Ouvert and West Indian Day Parade activities.

NYC Crisis Management System partners will provide the following services leading up to and during J’Ouvert celebrations:

  • Public Education:Efforts will include the deployment of “Violence Interrupters” – typically former gang members who have turned their lives around – to preempt and resolve street disputes. The Violence Interrupters will distribute public education materials at neighborhood events and other local activities. Targeted messages will be directed to members of the community, those most likely to be involved in a shooting and the public at large.
  • Conduct (Team) Community Canvassing: The Violence Interrupters, who understand current and past conflicts, will also walk the parade route and be present at J’Ouvert activities to create opportunities for informal contact with those at risk of involvement in shootings and other serious violence.
  • Occupying Blocks/Corners: The Violence Interrupters will stand on corners and circulate blocks in identified “hot spot” areas along the parade route to watch for any signs of violence, talk to residents and parade goers, and create public visibility on the streets.
  • De-Escalation/Mediation:The Violence Interrupters will identify potentially violent conflicts through their familiarity with high risk individuals and other community members. They will also work to preempt violence and de-escalate conflict through mediation.