BY: USMAN CHOHAN
The annual West Indian Day Parade stepped off on a sweltering hot Labor Day This Monday. The Parade which has been held every Labor Day on Eastern Parkway since the 1960s is an eclectic display of various cultures of the Carribean nations.
Despite the fanfare on Eastern Parkway the Parade in the past has not been without controversy as acts of deadly violence have occurred such as shootings and slashings. This year was no different as three shootings erupted after the parade concluded. The City and the New York City Police Department did announce last week it would use drones and various security technologies to prevent such acts. At the press conference held at One Police Plaza a day after the parade Mayor Eric Adams declared the public safety polices undertaken to be a success story.
“This is one of the safest J’ouvert celebrations and Labor Day weekends we have seen in recent memories, and probably the safest J’ouvert celebration in history,” said Adams. “Coming off of last year’s J’ouvert celebration, you’re seeing the continuation of how we are crafting… and introducing new principles and tools to make it even safer.”
There were no reports of violence at the Parade route or at the similar J’ouvert celebrations held earlier that morning, however post parade violence did occur in the evening with the first incident happening at around 4:20 pm on Eastern Parkway and Franklin Ave when a fight broke out in which a man discharged his firearm shooting himself in the leg. One witness, a vendor named Eli, who has been vending at the parade for several years, described hearing one “shot” and he said that it wasn’t safe to be at the parade at all. The victim who was transported to a local area hospital is expected to recover from his gunshot wounds.
Almost an hour later at around 5:30 pm one person was shot, and two people were slashed on Eastern Parkway and Rochester Ave. At the incident as well one of the bullets struck a FDNY fire truck window, however , no firefighter was injured. All the victims struck by this instance of gunfire were treated and have recovered from their injuries
As the sun set and the celebrations continued into the night another instance of gun violence afflicting the post parade celebrations occurred. At around 8:50 pm police say 51-year-old Muhammad Malik, who was near the intersection of Sterling Place and Schenectady Ave, was shot multiple times by a suspect who fled from the scene. Malik was transported to Kings County Hospital and would be pronounced deceased there. The suspect 39-year-old, Sergio Codrington, was apprehended by police a day later. He is now being charged with murder, criminal possession of a firearm and criminal possession of a controlled substance according to the NYPD.
Even with the violence affecting the parade festivities many of the million or so spectators see this event as an expression of their cultural roots like Julliane Williams of Queens who has been attending the parade for almost 20 years. She sees the public safety policies taken by the NYPD and the City as having a positive effect on the celebrations.
“In the past there are people who come to our parade and there has been violence, honestly I am with the NYPD because from where I stand it’s safe and they are here to protect us.” She added, ‘It’s an annual thing for me. I would not miss it for nothing. She said, “Carribean Culture is fun, it tells the story of where we are from, what we do.”