Leaders of the Caribbean-American community and elected officials came together Tuesday to begin the countdown for the annual celebration known as J'Ouvert.
"J’Ouvert is about love. It’s about appreciation. It’s about culture. It’s about heritage. It’s about history and that’s what we want to highlight in J’Ouvert. So we just don’t want to talk about the violence. We want to talk about everything that’s positive about J’Ouvert," said State Assemblyman Walter Mosley.
Tuesday’s gathering was dubbed Love Yourself Brooklyn, and held in honor of late Brooklyn City Councilman James E Davis who was assassinated in City Hall 15 years ago.
"We’ve created a foundation in his memory initially it was called Love Yourself Stop The Violence and then we went to to honor him and say his name. So now it’s the James E Davis Stop The Violence Foundation," said Geoffrey Davis, founder of James E Davis Stop The Violence Foundation.
The group hopes the event helps to lay the groundwork for another non-violent J'Ouvert, which serves as a kind of pregame party before the West Indian Day Parade on Eastern Parkway later in the day.
"To create a peaceful environment in which our revelry is not used for cover for those again who want to settle scores or who don’t understand and appreciate the history and the tradition that is J’Ouvert," said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
J'Ouvert underwent big changes in 2017 to make it safer after two years of deadly violence. NYPD officials say they were happy with the results.
"We had a great year last year and we’re looking to continue that again this year," said NYPD Commanding Officer of Brooklyn South Brian Conroy.
Once again, instead of an early morning start the celebration will not begin until 6 a.m. And it will again be limited to a contained area, accessible only through checkpoints.
"Where people could come in and make sure nobody is bringing anything that they shouldn’t bring him into the celebration that day and it’s all an in an effort with our community partners to ensure the safety of everybody," Conroy said.
"We are committed to coming together as a community with the police department and members of the clergy to ensure that we have a safe J’Ouvert," said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
J’Ouvert takes place on September 3.