Violence Erupts Again At West Indian Day Parade In Brooklyn

The West Indian Day Parade is beginning to be known as much for violence as it is for its celebration of culture.

Violence Erupts Again At West Indian Day Parade In Brooklyn
cisc1970 / CC BY NC 2.0

Brooklyn's annual West Indian Day Parade is supposed to be a colorful celebration of Caribbean culture, but year after year the event is marked with violence. This year was no exception. 

An all-night celebration leads up to the parade, which travels through the center of Brooklyn. Early Monday morning, hours before the parade began, one person was killed and two were injured when someone opened fire into a crowd of people.

The identity of the shooter and a motive are still unknown, but Newsday quotes an NYPD spokesman who calls the shooter a "career criminal." Two people were also injured in unrelated shootings at the parade later in the day.

Sadly, incidents like these are becoming almost commonplace at the event. In 2012, two men were fatally stabbed while attending the parade.

In 2011, two police officers and three civilians were injured in a police shootout. Incidents of violence, some fatal, date back more than 10 years. 

Many are growing frustrated by a few violent people consistently ruining the parade for its thousands of peaceful attendees.

Including this writer for the Brooklyn Reader, who said, "The festive freedom that used to embody this massive carnival in Crown Heights has been hijacked by an uncomfortable anxiety– a guilty expectation of pandemonium… and violence."

Some NYPD officers even made a Facebook page in 2012 titled "No More West Indian Detail." Those officers were later disciplined for racist comments on the page — comments called the event "the unemployment parade" and referred to its attendants as "animals."

The New York Times wrote in 2012 that police presence at the parade had increased steadily over the years. It quoted one attendee saying: "There's more of them than there are us. It's too much, it takes away from it all. But I understand it."

Another resident told the Times the increased police presence coupled with young people fueled by alcohol on crowded streets might be spurring these incidents along. 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed a 2011 shooting on illegal handguns and said it was a "senseless murder" and part of a much larger problem.

Four thousand officers were assigned to police the roughly 1 million partygoers at this year's fest.

This video includes images from cisc1970 / CC BY NC 2.0 and Ross Day / CC BY NC SA 2.0.