Daily News » One idiot with a gun can ruin any party, even day-long festivities for three million guests.
But organizers of next week’s West Indian American carnival parade along Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway say they are eternally frustrated by local news media who blame any Labor Day violence in the borough on their celebration.
“You have statements like the carnival was very colorful, with beautiful weather and a large crowd, but it was marred by three murders, then you look at the murders and there was one in the Bronx, one in Queens, one in Yonkers,” said West Indian American Day Carnival Association President Thomas Bailey.
“Now, while there is no carnival, you still have murders in these five boroughs. But we have to hear it (the carnival) was marred by (murders), when none of them are carnival-related. This is the abuse we have to sustain, and it is unfair.
“Surely three million people would not come out to an event if they thought it was unsafe. Everything that happens in Brooklyn on Labor Day we are held responsible for it,” said WIADCA Treasurer Angela Sealy. “How many murders are happening in the city right now, in Brooklyn, in the Bronx, all over, when there is no parade? But if it happens on Labor Day it’s because of the parade. That’s not right.”
Last year, after Denise Gay, 56, was killed by a shot in the head while she sat on her 633 Park Place stoop in Crown Heights, published reports quoted family members as detailing her fear of the West Indian Day Parade. Eastern Parkway is four blocks south of Park Place.
Police later determined that Gay may have been shot by police as they fired at a man, Leroy Webster, who was Gay’s neighbor, after Webster shot another man, Randy Johnson, to death on Gay’s block.
It was unclear if either man involved in the shooting had been celebrating on Eastern Parkway. In October, 2011 Gay’s family announced a $10 million suit against the city for her wrongful death.
“Last year, that lady was shot in front of her house, not on the Parkway,” Sealy said. “But the media associated that there was someone from the parade who went down there and did that.
“We can’t control that,” Sealy said. “We are responsible for the Parkway, and the police said anything criminal that happens on the Parkway is a police matter.”
Carnival is an economic boon to the city, organizers said, and a chance for Caribbean people to celebrate their heritage with their families, friends, countrymen and other Caribbean nationals.
Finding friends amongst the throng is no problem - over the years nationals from each country have created a system of meeting on particular Eastern Parkway corners each year. Trinidadians — carnival originated in Trinidad — meet at the gas station at the corner of Bedford Ave., as well as at Rogers, New York and Utica Aves. Bahamians find each other at Brooklyn Ave., Guyanese at Nostrand Ave. and Haitians at Franklin Ave.
“Culture is a very strong thing,” said WIADCA Secretary Jean Alexander. “Carnival is so important to us. I think sometimes if someone cuts me little costumes would run out with my blood.”
“At carnival, you can see how many young people are learning their Caribbean heritage,” said WIADCA First Vice President William Holland. “They get to see the culture of their parents’ homeland and keep it going.”
An Empire State Development Corporation-commissioned study of the 2003 West Indian American Day carnival found it added more than $154.8 million to the city’s economy.
“We have hotels that are already fully booked in Brooklyn and elsewhere,” Bailey said. “You look at what the organization does, directly and indirectly, for the community.
These are things people are not aware of.
“We do this for the love of it,” Bailey said. “We love it.”
For more information, or to make a donation, see the website, http://www.WIADCACARNIVAL.com.