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J'Ouvert is 'Singular' Event For 'Significant Violence,' Bratton Says

 The police commissioner spoke about the
The police commissioner spoke about the "singular" nature of violence at J'Ouvert on Wednesday. At right, young men watch the official J'Ouvert parade on Empire Boulevard early Monday morning.
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Composite: DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg; DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — J’Ouvert is “singular” among large events in the city when it comes to "significant violence," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Wednesday, emphasizing the deadly shootings that plague the annual Caribbean festival as calls mount to cancel or alter the event.

Speaking at a press conference at NYPD headquarters, Bratton was asked how J’Ouvert may be different next year following two deadly shootings at the predawn event on Labor Day.

Bratton said the department will “try to adjust” if the city’s political leadership wants to “go forward” with J’Ouvert next year — the mayor has already indicated he will not cancel the event — then described the “peculiarities” of policing the pre-West Indian Day Parade celebration.

“The J’Ouvert festival problem we’ve been experiencing throughout its history is really the gun-related violence. It also occurs within the neighborhood that, unfortunately, throughout the city’s history has been plagued with gangs and gun violence and still remains one of the most significant crime-prone areas,” he said.

“There are many peculiarities, if you will, many aspects of J’Ouvert that are very different than many other celebrations around the city, including when it’s held — in the early morning hours,” he added.

Even compared to events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Puerto Rican Day Parade —  each with their own histories of criminal activity, he said — the Labor Day event in Crown Heights is unusual.

“The concerns at those parades were of a different nature … what might be described as quality-of-life concerns,” he said. “J’Ouvert is singular in the significant violence associated with it.”

The commissioner’s comments come on the heels of a harsh New York Times editorial telling the mayor to “wake up” and shut down J’Ouvert while encouraging Brooklyn elected officials to “show courage in defense of innocent lives.”

Criticism of the event also came from New York Post columnist and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa called for a cancelation and blamed Monday’s deaths on the mayor’s “political correctness.”

And on Tuesday evening, "Inside City Hall" host and longtime Crown Heights resident Errol Louis grilled four Brooklyn elected officials on NY1 about what they would do to change the event, which he compared to Devil’s Night in Detroit.

“I am telling you it’s a magnet for violence,” he told Brooklyn Borough Eric Adams, state Sen. Kevin Parker and Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams in the heated exchange.

A day after Labor Day, Crown Heights Assemblyman Walter Mosley called for J’Ouvert to be suspended. But many of his fellow politicians in the area questioned whether doing so would stop the violence.

“When we’re talking about canceling J'Ouvert … you’re talking about canceling festivals, backyard parties, you’re talking about canceling bars, lounges, nightclubs, you’re talking about canceling people being out,” Cumbo said on NY1. “People are still going to go out.”

Williams echoed the sentiment when speaking with DNAinfo Tuesday.

"Should we have martial law?" he said. "Not having J’Ouvert doesn't mean we won’t have thousands of people on the streets."