CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Monday, September 7th
Good day folks. It’s another hump day, the middle of another week, and one that holds so much promise, for so many.
It might be the unofficial end of the summer season as we know it but ‘back to school’ says and means a lot to many, not to mention those parents who must take and drop off their precious little ones at the day care center of their choosing, for the very first time!
We are reading of ‘back to school’ jitters here, there and everywhere. Inclement weather in Antigua, violence in Jamaica. It is what it is, as some would have you believe.
Elsewhere, others are jumping up and clipping their heels at the fact that it’s ‘back to football’. And yes, that might be so, which now begs the question, who is going to take us ‘back to where all lives matter’, here in these United States?
Let us not lose sight of that matter as well as what appears to be the most coordinated effort yet, at securing a presidential pardon for one of the founding fathers of the Caribbean Diaspora, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, national hero of Jamaica!
While you ponder that, ponder this as well. There is a certain coach who has been ruled out of order, his team is badly out of sync, symptomatic of his bad temper tantrums, resulting in a proud nation, now out of contention for world cup of soccer glory!
This, on the heels of a growing shame and scandal in the family of politicians and a political party that was once the envy of the region.
I am tempted to revisit that now famous campaign stop in historic Sam Share Square in MBJ, when the pronouncement was made that ‘50K strong, can’t be wrong’. For the sake of today’s conversation, I will just say that ‘transformation’ is not always from the bottom, up!
Whatever influenced the outcome of the February 25, general elections in Jamaica, is now the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Contractor General. There seems to be enough evidence that someone stole the cookie from the cookie jar. Now, it’s up to the OCG to find out who ‘ran off with it’. Pun Intended!
Folks, but necessity, part of the conversation must touch on what transpired ‘on de parkway’ in Brooklyn, on Monday!
Here’s a report from one Caribbean medium.
At least two people were killed and four others injured as gun violence marred the traditional Caribbean J’Ouvert celebration here early Monday morning, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has said.
It said that at least five people were shot and one person stabbed during the annual West Indian Day heritage festivities.
Police say a man, age 18-20, died after being shot while a 73-year-old woman was also shot as she sat on a bench. Police said another person was shot in the area.
The NYDP said that half an hour later at Washington Avenue and Empire Boulevard, a 22-year-old woman shot in the head was later pronounced dead at the hospital. A fifth person is in stable condition after being shot in the wrist in the area.
Police said that the condition of a woman who was stabbed is not known. Last year, Carey Gabay, an aide to Governor Cuomo aide was fatally shot by a stray bullet.(CMC).
Now compare and contrast this bit from the carnival celebrations in the UK, a week ago!
The Metropolitan police federation has called for a full review of the Notting Hill carnival after saying 43 officers were injured and eight taken to hospital, and a record number of people were arrested.
Ken Marsh, the chair of the MPF, which represents rank and file officers, said police “dread” having to work at the carnival, the world’s second-biggest street party, where an “unacceptable” number of officers were being attacked.
“This is not a peaceful and fun-loving event that our members look forward to policing. They dread it,” he said.
“A seemingly growing number of people appear intent on hijacking this carnival and turning it into a bank holiday battleground, and an excuse for using our members as professional punch bags.
“Last year, we had an officer stabbed. This year, colleagues were assaulted, abused and spat at. Forty-three were injured, with eight needing hospital treatment. It’s completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Police made more than 450 arrests at the carnival, held in west London over the bank holiday weekend. However on Tuesday afternoon Dave Musker, the commander in charge of policing carnival, said that the number of arrests had been inflated by the new Psychoactive Substances Act, and that a revised method of recording injuries to police had resulted in closer attention being paid to officer welfare.
The policing operation also came in for criticism from witnesses who reported seeing stop and search powers being disproportionately used against young black men. Ash Sarkar, 24, a senior editor with Novara Media, said she witnessed searches on both days of carnival, including one on Sunday when the suspect was kept handcuffed long after police had determined he was not carrying anything illegal. (Guardian).
Do you see a co-relation. Do you see where I’m going with this? Why can’t our folks behave when they are out in the public space? Is it that we feel so disenfranchised that we have to turn every celebration into a demonstration and as a consequence turn the system against us?
We don’t behave as a rule, so there are always barriers, real, imagined and metal!
Personally, I do not have a fear, any phobia whatsoever, for large crowds. I grew up on a diet of sports. But I must tell you that for as long as I lived in New York City, I did not go to the parkway festivities five times on my own invite. Whenever I was there, was for reason of marketing and promotion with one of the many media houses that I worked for.
Law enforcement and security forces try but that crowd is a hard one to manage and you can see the danger waiting to happen from a year out. When it’s not revelers getting crushed under those big trucks, it’s boys from the hood taking their beef to the festival, hitting, injuring and killing innocent bystanders in the crossfire!
And let me be clear. Carnival in Brooklyn is Carnival in Brooklyn. Not many folks know that J’Ouvert, the early morning portion of the all day celebration, is separate and apart from the more adult, masquerade party along the parkway route!
Yes, indeed. It is! Separate but equal. It will be hard to separate for reason of this conversation!
Not to mention that carnival planners are under constant scrutiny and heavy fire of their own from a community that behave as if they are entitled to that bit of Brooklyn real estate space and would be happy for an opportunity, any opportunity to sing ‘good riddance’ in their native tongue!
Read my lips, silly!
So here I am now, joining the ranks of the conspiracy theorists. Is there some plot to cause violence and mayhem upon the annual West Indian American Day Carnival, along Caribbean Parkway (Eastern Parkway), in Crown Heights, Brooklyn?
Herman Hall, a senior colleague and lifetime New Yorker, had issues with the way the event was being promoted this year, by City Hall, of all the places. It is well document that Crown Heights is not a playground for the faint of heart!
That being said and that being the case, what is the remedy, what is the way forward for these and other events of mass gatherings that is an attempt to showcase, celebrate and preserve a cultural identity of a people, in the Diaspora. We know what is said of, about and for a people without any knowledge of their past…?
The borough of Brooklyn unlike no place else in these United States, is an extension of the Caribbean. The West Indian American Day Carnival is synonymous with and belongs in Brooklyn. There is strength in those numbers!
The violence part bothers me because I can only hope that such situations do not repeat themselves here in the deep South next month (October), when carnival comes to Miami. I will be watching!
Folks, ladies and gentlemen, that’s today’s conversation. As always, you have the last word. Share your thoughts.