Unfortunately, more shootings, injuries, and death are virtually guaranteed at the annual J’Ouvert festival in Crown Heights on Sept. 2.
Some will accuse me of fear-mongering, but I pledge to publicly say in this column next month that I was wrong if all is peaceful. If I am right, Mayor de Blasio and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez should similarly pledge to admit their policies had a lot to do with the violence and finally reverse course on them.
J’Ouvert now begins at 6 a.m., prior to the beginning of the West Indian Parade along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. The parade is an outstanding celebration of Caribbean culture.
Let’s review the recent history of J’Ouvert — which translates daybreak in French. In 2015, Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was killed during a shootout between rival gangs.
The following year, Mayor de Blasio assured us that the festival would be “safer than ever.” However, two people were shot dead — 17 year-old Tyreke Borel was struck in the chest with a bullet as he innocently sat on a bench and soon died at Kings County Hospital, and Tiarah Poyau, a promising 22 year-old St. John’s student who was the daughter of a Trinidad cop, was also killed.
Despite the presence of 3,000 police officers, the violence still occurred because the Mayor has handcuffed the police with his policies for the sake of “police-community relations.” His continued anti-cop rhetoric has made it crystal clear that he does not, and will not have their backs in a crisis. Therefore, not surprisingly, police are hesitant to act.
Remember “the talk” he announced that he had to have with his son about being fearful of our police shortly after his first election. If you forgot, Mayor de Blasio just reminded the nation of it a few weeks ago on the Democratic Presidential debate stage to prove his progressive bona fides in his quixotic White House bid.
At the 2016 J’Ouvert, alcohol was openly consumed and gangs took over the streets when they realized cops were ordered to act as scarecrows. Stop, question, and frisk – fuggedaboutit!
Curtis Sliwa — founder of the Guardian Angels, who was there during the mayhem — said gangs of 40-50 were told by their generals to put their “Flags Up,” which covered their faces, a clear violation of the law.
Specifically, New York Penal law 240.35 prohibits groups from “being masked…in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised.”
Arguments and fighting to settle old disputes among gangs broke out while cops were told to stand down instead of enforcing laws that could have avoided tragedy. Soon, shots soon rang out and lives were lost.
Can you imagine police officers sitting on their hands like this under Bloomberg or Giuliani? Do you think cops would have sheepishly walked away when buckets of water were dumped on them? This is the sad reality of law enforcement under Bill de Blasio and this new progressive movement.
In 2017, one man was shot and suffered serious injuries; last year, three more were wounded by gunfire during the festivities.
In addition to no longer fearing searches by cops, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s “reforms” have also emboldened some to carry guns. His go-soft on crime policies, including agreeing to lenient plea agreements for those carrying, were called out by the NYPD this month.
During the July crime briefing, Chief Terence Monahan, the department’s highest ranking officer, put the blame squarely on Gonzalez for the increase in shootings in northern Brooklyn.
“Our police officers are out there takings guns off the streets… we are still seeing pleas that result in little or no jail time,” Monahan said.
Many DA’s have seemed to forget that their job is to enforce the law and protect law-abiding New Yorkers — not act as a second defense attorney for criminals.
The effect of the de Blasio and Gonzalez policies are being felt. Shootings in northern Brooklyn are on the rise. In the 77th Precinct — which covers Crown Heights where J’Ouvert is held — shootings are up a whopping 87.5 percent this year compared to the same period last year as of Aug. 3. This is not good news for this year’s J’Ouvert.
Gonzalez’s policy to put many gun toting criminals into “diversion programs” rather than prison should not surprise us. He told us in March when he unveiled his “Justice 2020” initiative that “non-jail resolutions would be sought at every juncture of a case,” except “most often” in murder and rape cases.
With the violent recent history of J’Ouvert, police being legitimately afraid to lift a finger, the trending increase of shootings in the area, and a DA’s reluctance to fully prosecute those carrying guns a recipe for bloodshed looms.
Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials.