Out of the darkness: J’Ouvert parade pushed to daylight hours to mitigate violence • Brooklyn Paper

Out of the darkness: J’Ouvert parade pushed to daylight hours to mitigate violence

Here comes the sun: Organizers of J’Ouvert, the early morning procession that preceedes the annual West Indian Day Parade, are pushing the typically pre-dawn event’s start time to 6 am this year in the hope that sunlight will stop deadly violence that has plagued past celebrations, including last year’s, seen here, where two people were fatally shot.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Call it seeing the light.

Organizers of the early morning Labor Day parade J’Ouvert are moving the pre-dawn festival to daylight hours this year in the hope that the sun will stop the deadly violence that has plagued the event in the past.

“We are extremely concerned that darkness is when everything happens,” J’ouvert International president Yvette Rennie told the New York Daily News on July 27. “We felt that it was very important that we bring it more into light.”

The Sept. 4 procession from Grand Army Plaza to Prospect-Lefferts Gardens will kick-off at 6 am, four hours after its previous 2 am start time. It will be the first time that J’Ouvert, which means “daybreak” and precedes the annual West Indian Day parade, is not cloaked in darkness.

An aide to Gov. Cuomo was killed at the parade in 2015 and two people were fatally shot at last year’s celebration despite an increased police presence that included 250 floodlights and an official parade permit, sparking a contentious public debate over whether this year’s event should be canceled entirely.

A group of local pols held a public safety meeting in June to discuss implementing even stricter security measures, at which the mother of one victim said more lighting may have prevented her daughter’s death.

“We need better lighting, because where my daughter was killed there was no lighting,” said Vertina Brown.

Other precautions raised at the session included checkpoints similar to those around Times Square on New Year’s Eve and bag checks.

The decision to push the parade’s start time was a result of community forums like the safety meeting and other talks between event organizers and city officials, Rennie told the Daily News, which reported that the city and J’Ouvert International also will host educational anti-violence events leading up to this year’s procession.

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