Last Hope For Peace At Brooklyn's Big Party.
New York Times NEW YORK'S political leadership and a healthy slice of Brooklyn's populace are about to face a moment of truth on a life-or-death matter: Can they carry out a popular street festival without someone being fatally shot or stabbed? The mayor and other officials say yes, and any sensible person hopes they're right. Lamentably, recent history is not on their side. The event is J'ouvert, which will be held on Monday. It is an annual celebration of Caribbean culture, a kaleidoscope of costumes and rhythm bands that draws a quarter-million people or more. It is a prelude to the West Indian American Day Parade, an enormous gathering along major Brooklyn thoroughfares that attracts up to 2 million celebrators. J'ouvert, with a French-derived name meaning daybreak and traditionally beginning predawn, is fun. It has also been deadly in New York, more widely known for bullets than for ballyhoo in the last few years. Two young people, one in his teens, were shot to death at last year's festival. Two were wounded. The year before, a man was fatally stabbed and another a lawyer in the Cuomo administration lost his life when caught in a shootout between rival gangs. This tattoo of death defied the city's safety measures. Now Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police force will try a new tactic: no more predawn J'ouvert with the cover of darkness for gun toters and knife wielders. Instead of 4 am, as before, the start time will be 6 am, at dawn's early light. Tighter security procedures will take their cue from those governing Times Square on New Year's Eve. The 2-mile parade route will be closed to the public starting late Sunday night. To enter this restricted zone, people will have to pass through metal detectors at a dozen checkpoints along the route. The participants will be inspected for contraband, weapons most of all. At least 3,000 police officers are expected to patrol the area, which will be ablaze, even before sunrise at 6:26, with some 350 lighting towers. Will all this deter gang members who have settled scores with rivals and then faded into the crowds? Last year, de Blasio said that"all the right things were done in advance," including keeping an eye on gangs and confiscating guns. Plainly, that wasn't enough. Some violence-weary residents along or near the parade route have expressed scepticism that gunplay will be averted or that participants can be stopped from gathering in the dark. We hope the latest changes will end the bloodshed. But should bullets fly again, the mayor and other officials will need to summon the courage to announce however dolefully, given the festival's popularity that J'ouvert costs too many lives and must be shut down. The killings, de Blasio said last week, are the work of"some bad apples." At some point, though, bad apples can define the entire barrel.
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