CROWN HEIGHTS — Before this year’s celebration of J’Ouvert, police and community leaders are sending a message to residents: violence will not be tolerated.
In a flier posted in Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Thursday, the NYPD, Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, organizers of the official J’Ouvert parade and several anti-violence groups put their message bluntly: “Do not shoot anyone. Do not stab anyone,” the poster reads.
“J’Ouvert is a celebration of Caribbean pride, culture and heritage,” it said before a reminder that last year “two people were killed during J’Ouvert” — a 21-year-old man who was stabbed at Grand Army Plaza and 43-year-old Carey Gabay, an attorney for the Cuomo administration who was shot in front of the Ebbets Field apartments on Bedford Avenue, a crime for which at least three gang members have been indicted.
“This community will no longer tolerate this violence,” the poster reads in large block letters.
Residents reacted strongly to the poster, taking to a closed Facebook neighborhood group to discuss how the message reflected on J’Ouvert, a festive event that nevertheless has been marred by violence that occurs near the celebration.
“This notice which I witnessed NYPD posting all over is one of the most disgusting, racist, condescending and rude public announcements I have ever heard of,” wrote Anton Gold, a longtime area resident who has celebrated J’Ouvert for years.
“Why are they lumping hundreds of thousands of peaceful J’Ouvert celebrants with gang bangers from Ebbets Field? It’s completely outrageous and the opposite of what the NYPD says they are trying to do,” he added.
“I think this flyer is misleading,” said Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident Seth Kaplan. “The murder of Carey Gabay was gang-related and unrelated to J'Ouvert. The language and choice of words is insulting.”
In recent months, police have increased security measures leading up to the event, including permitting the official J’Ouvert parade and planning to double the amount of officers policing the pre-dawn celebration.
Not all of those who commented on the poster had a problem with it. In fact some cheered the attempt to reduce violence.
One commenter said he took the sign as a “polite message” that there will be zero tolerance for violence from the authorities during the event.
“What’s the issue?” he asked the group.
Another framed the police’s response to J’Ouvert this way: “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.”
J’Ouvert is set to take place on the morning of Sept. 5; the official J’Ouvert parade kicks off at Grand Army Plaza at 4 a.m.