Festival

Earlier this year, we warned about the inherent danger of parades, and advocated practicing parade safety. We talked briefly about the importance of remaining vigilant, of practicing restraint, and about the importance in being mindful of fellow parade-goers. We preached the virtues of celebrating in a safe, yet still enjoyable manner, and suggested that one limit their intake of alcohol to an amount within the realm of reasonability. Unfortunately, this advice went unheeded by some, because tragedy struck at the West Indian Day Parade this labor day. The West Indian Day Parade, alternatively known as the West Indian Carnival, or as the Labor Day Parade, named so after the date on which it is held annually, is a jubilant, kaleidoscopic celebration of Caribbean culture, which rips and rolls colorfully down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn at the tail end of every summer.

 

History of the West Indian Carnival

The West Indian Carnival began as an elaborate costume-party enjoyed between clusters of friends during the cold winters of 1920s Harlem. In the 1940s, these previously indoor festivities took to the streets, and the West Indian Parade was informally born. Somewhere down the line, issues over permits precipitated a forced relocation to Crown Heights, and since then Brooklynites have been joined by outside merrymakers from the other boroughs and beyond to indulge in rich, flavorful foods and luxuriate in the tropical sounds of Calypso music. The ancestral Caribbean culture, cherished and remembered fondly by so many transplanted New Yorkers, is put on display and celebrated with rousing aplomb.

 

Countries Involved in the Parade

The West Indian Carnival represents Caribbean culture in general, and draws millions of participants each year. Generally somewhere between 1-3 million attendees are reported per annum. Some of the countries known to contribute to and participate in this parade are:

  • Belize
  • Haiti
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Dominica
  • Jamaica
  • Lucia
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Barbados
  • Grenada

 

A History of Tragedy

The pre-dawn march, a ritual of the West Indian Carnival, was marred by tragedy this year. Shootings, unfortunately, becoming something of a ritual themselves for this particular parade. 43-year-old Carey Gabay, first deputy general counsel at the Empire State Development Corporation and staffer in the Cuomo administration, and his brother were both struck by stray bullets as they made their rounds during the early morning pre-festivities this Labor Day. The brother was killed instantly. Carey survived, though was listed as in critical condition.

Governor Andrew Cuomo lamented the near-mortal wounding of a trusted friend and employee. Stating that despite being mayor there was, “nothing he could do.”

Early speculation is that the Gabay siblings were the victims of gang violence, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time- collateral damage of the internecine gang warfare that has plagued Crown Heights and this parade for many years.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time tragedy has underlined the otherwise joyous parade. Somewhat horrifyingly, both the 2003 and 2006 parades saw one man shot and another stabbed. In 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2013 there were also reports of various shootings. Some of the incidents were targeted attacks while others were indiscriminant firearm discharges into large crowds. In 2007, a man named Nathaniel Smith died from his gunshot wound. During the parade in 2012, many stabbings were also reported.

2015 also witnessed a stabbing- a young man was stabbed near Grand Army Plaza.

Despite these flare-ups of unspeakable violence, the New York City Police Department announced that there were no plans to delay or abort the festivities. They did vow, however, to redouble their efforts in keeping the event as safe as humanly possible. Cadres of armed police forces, as well as patrolling vehicular units, and vigilant helicopters surveying from overhead, aimed to keep future violence to a minimum.

Police also cited a cooperation between their forces, community leaders and the citizens themselves, who, working in tandem, strive to make each year safer than the last. Unfortunately, because of the intrinsic gang tensions in the area, it isn’t always possible, and misfortunate accidents like those mentioned earlier occur.

 

Kaplan Lawyers PC

At Kaplan Lawyers PC we have stressed, in the past, the importance of public safety. All city-sponsored events should be staffed with adequate numbers of properly trained safety officials. Even private businesses have an obligation to their patrons to try and maintain safe premises. If these obligations aren’t met, it is possible that negligence on the part of some higher-up can be put to blame. In these cases, those who suffer due to negligence, or malfeasance of any kind, could be entitled to sue for compensation. Those injured in a public setting are advised to seek professional and compassionate counsel. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we offer precisely that: a skilled team of attorneys adept at winning our clients compensation for their expensive medical bills, their physical agony, and their mental anguish. If you have more questions, schedule a free and easy consultation with us today.