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J’Ouvert festivities underway, police hope for decrease in violence

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn  —  The J’Ouvert festival is underway.

The spirits are high, but it has also been marred in the past by violence.

There have been four shootings in the surrounding areas of Brooklyn. Police have yet to determine if the shootings were associated with the festival.

The annual J’Ouvert celebration is one that is in equal measures colorful as it is violent.

The celebration is for New York’s Caribbean population, the largest off the islands. The name J'ouvert means daybreak, put together from the French words "jour" and "ouvert." It is the start of a carnival that includes the separate New York Caribbean Carnival Parade later Monday featuring "pretty mas," or masquerade, revelers in giant feathery costumes riding on bright floats.

Hours have been shortened to avoid the deadly violence, according to the police department. Last year, 17-year-old Tyreke Borel was shot and killed and a 72-year-old woman was grazed in the arm. Soon after, a 22-year-old woman, Tiarah Poyau, was shot in the head just a block away and also died.

The parade route is locking down the parade route as well as installing light towers, thousands of cameras, and an increase in police.

The main event is the West Indian Day parade at 11 a.m.

The parade, unfortunately, is not just a one-day celebration.

“It’s all about the safety, so it’s understandable. It’s just unfortunate,” said one parade-goer.

Associated Press contributed to this report.