CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — The NYPD announced new safety measures Tuesday for an annual event celebrating Caribbean culture following the fatal shooting of a top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo by suspected gang members during the predawn festivities last year.
Carey Gabay was killed last year while walking by J'Ouvert, a Labor Day festival leading into the West Indian American Day parade known for the violence that seems to surround it. This year event organizers and the NYPD are teaming up and announcing new measures to make J'Ouvert safe.
"We will be doing a lot of upfront investigating work to ensure gang members in particular understand they're not going to engage in the activity that marred last years event in that tragedy," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday at Medgar Evans College.
"Something as large as this in a city like New York needs to be permitted needs to be regulated."
The festivities will have an official permit for the first time to hold organizers accountable. There will also be additional police patrolling and 200 lights along the parade route.
Police are also asking residents and business owners to keep their lights on overnight to minimize any violence. Bill Tourloukis, a manager at Tom's Restaurant a stone's throw from the parade route, isn't sure how much that will help.
"I don't think the parade itself is any danger bad people are everywhere they're gonna show up where there's a big occasion they'll show up," Tourloukis said.
Gabay wasn't the only one killed at last year's J'Ouvert celebration running from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. A 24-year-old man was stabbed to death. Three people were shot at the parade in 2014.
The celebrations had reached a point where they were defined not by bands, but instead by bullets, Bronx Borough President Eric Adams said.
J'Ouvert organizer Yvette Rennie has a message for gang members.
"I'm asking the gang members among us in the community to put their guns down that night and celebrate J'Ouvert with us."