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Celebrants participated in an event free West Indian Day Parade on September 5, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)


News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Tues. Sept. 6, 2016: Labor Day Monday September 5, 2016 marked the conclusion of the 49th year of existence of the West Indian American Day Carnival, now renamed the New York Caribbean Carnival. But despite the fact that there were no reported shootings, killings or injuries at the five-day event, you won’t know that from reading the news from New York that was picked up around the world.

ABC News and the New York Times last night ran with a headline that stated: “Despite More Police, West Indian Day Events Marred by Deaths.” NBC NY went with:  “2 Dead, 5 Injured in Shootings, Stabbings During J’Ouvert Festivities Along West Indian Day Parade Route.”

Fox News and CBS News, picking up the Associated Press story, went with the headline: “2 Shot To Death At Carnival Before NY West Indian Day Parade.”  Even the Barbados Nation, St. Lucia News online and The Hindu jumped on the AP story with the Nation running with the erroneous headline: “Two killed in West Indies Labour Day Parade” while The Hindu’s headline read: “Two killed in gunfire at Caribbean Carnival in New York.” The St. Lucia News opted for: “2 shot dead at Caribbean carnival in New York.”

Of course all of these headlines are dead wrong but you won’t be able to tell that from a Google News search.

The shootings that occurred were again at the J’Ouvert pre-dawn celebration in Brooklyn, NY – which has absolutely nothing to do with the West Indian American Day Carnival, now the New York Caribbean Carnival.

A man and a woman were killed and five other people were injured in two shootings and two stabbings during the J’Ouvert celebrations early Monday morning, NY police said. The man and woman were shot at Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue shortly before 4 a.m. Two more people were injured when a motorcycle they were on was hit by a car. All this occurred before the West Indian carnival even kicked off and as it concluded its Dimanche Gras event behind the Brooklyn Museum – incident free.

So let’s set the facts straight for the AP and the media seemingly bent on destroying this Caribbean American Diaspora institution.  

J’ouvert, (pronounced Jou-vay), is a large ole’ mas street party held at dawn before the annual West Indian Labor Day carnival each year.

The event is not run by organizers of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association but by J’Ouvert City International headed by President Yvette Rennie.

The 49th annual Brooklyn West Indian carnival is hosted annually by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, (WIADCA) and was founded by the late Carlos Lezama.  It kicks off on the Thursday before Labor Day with concerts on the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum and concludes with the grand parade featuring politicians, floats and Caribbean music down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY.

The early Monday morning shooting that occurred on Sept. 5th was not part of this event – it happened hours before the West Indian Labor Day carnival parade, which kicked off at 11 a.m.

That parade ran along Crown Heights, beginning at Schenectady Avenue and made its way down Eastern Parkway, ending at Grand Army Plaza at 6 p.m.

The killings on Monday did happen despite an increased police presence – but at J’Ouvert – not at the WIADCA event, aka West Indian Carnival event, aka Caribbean Carnival event.

The reality is, if the WIADCA group continues to ignore this continued defamation of its brand and does not act proactively, the product they have spent so many decades building through sacrifice and hard work, will be destroyed by this obvious ignorance from the media that is feeding an undercurrent of racism and hate against West Indian immigrants and their culture as evidenced by NAN’s recent story on the New York Cops voicing hate on a private message board.

It is time for the WIADCA Board to step up and make their voices heard as their brand continues to be defamed or this 49th celebration may be their last. It is also time for them to publicly take a stance and name the real culprits of the violence plaguing Brooklyn and J’Ouvert – not West Indians playing mas once a year, but gangs bent on destruction of other black lives all year round.

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