The Crown Heights section of Brooklyn plays host to an annual West Indian day parade every Labor day. In 2003 and 2005, gun violence resulted in deaths in direct connection with the parade. And this year, three people were killed, in conjunction with two police officers being wounded. Also of note, City Councilman Jumaane Williams was detained with another city worker, Kirsten John Foy of Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio’s office. Foy is the director of community affairs director. Williams and Foy claim that they were detained because of their race. Police say they were detained because they were walking along a closed-off sidewalk near the site of a police investigation.
I’ve seen the parade firsthand a few times. It’s a rowdy event, with tens of thousands of participants, along with a police presence that’s best described as massive. And that’s even by New York standards, a city that’s become used to a heavy police presence on the streets in the years following 9/11. So what to do? I say end the parade. If fatalities are a recurring aspect of a parade, that parade, no matter how valuable in terms of community or cultural expression, ought to come to an end. It’s not fair to all of the other participants of the parade, but then again, that murders are a routine occurrence at this parade isn’t fair to those who lost their lives. End the parade.