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Much like last year, the area surrounding the J'Ouvert celebration in Crown Heights on Monday morning will face heavy police security, Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of the NYPD explained on Thursday afternoon at the Brooklyn Public Library. The city is adding one new checkpoint, bringing the total number to 13, to control the flow of participants into the parade route. Last year, the newly installed checkpoints caused hours-long waits to enter the celebration, which kicks off the West Indian Day Carnival with costumes and steel drum performances.
The NYPD will begin restricting access to the two-mile J'Ouvert parade route at 10:30 p.m. this Sunday. At 2 a.m. on Monday, people can start lining up to be screened for weapons and alcohol, with the event officially beginning at 6 a.m. Hundreds of light towers will also be added the J'Ouvert route.
“In the safest big city in America, no one should have to choose between ensuring their safety and celebrating their heritage,” de Blasio told reporters.
In addition to screening for weapons and alcohol, no large backpacks will be allowed. Here's a look at what to expect, from last year:
The heavy security that began at last year's J'Ouvert left many participants feeling frustrated with the long wait times for screening. "This is f****** crazy," said Christine Lord, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident. "How're you gonna scan thousands of people? Everyone else has a parade just fine—you have all the parades in Manhattan, and they don't do this. You have police coming from out the city and have no clue about our culture."
The J'Ouvert parade route starts at Grand Army Plaza, goes south on Flatbush Avenue, east on Empire Boulevard, south on Nostrand Avenue, ending at Midwood Street. Details here. The West Indian Day parade starts at 11 a.m. and extends along Eastern Parkway between Utica Avenue and Schenectady Avenue.
We work year-round with the @NYPDNews, @NYCMayorsOffice, @WIADCA, #JOuvert City International, violence interrupters, and community leaders to promote a safe and joyous celebration of Caribbean pride on Labor Day Weekend. Public safety is paramount, as is uplifting our culture.
Two people were killed, and several others were injured, during J'Overt in 2016, and in 2015 two people were also killed during the celebrations, including Governor Cuomo's first Deputy Counsel, Carey Gabay.
"The community has a vital role to play to make this J’Ouvert the safest and most enjoyable event possible," said Eric Cumberbatch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence. "We know that local leaders will be intensely focused on ensuring that the festivities remain a positive experience for everyone.”