Liz Robbins, New York Times, September 3, 2012
The day had been mostly quiet, except for the thunder of police helicopters and the boom of reggae music coming from the colorful floats of the annual West Indian American Day Parade.
But not long after the official festivities ended, sirens started sounding and violence descended on pockets of Crown Heights, on and around the route off Eastern Parkway. By early evening, the police said, two men had been fatally stabbed and at least two people had been wounded in gun violence, breaking the tenuous calm in Brooklyn.
By the time the parade began around noon — a leisurely 60 minutes later than scheduled, bringing all of its feathery finery and island tunes — the New York City Police Department had long been visibly in place.
”There’s more of them than there are us,” said Vanada Miller, 58, who came from Queens and watched the parade from a bench on Eastern Parkway, wearing a shimmering silver top and waving a Jamaican flag. “It’s much too much, it takes away from it all. But I understand it.”
Bronwin Taylor, 32, who lives in Crown Heights and was born in Jamaica, said on Monday night that the parade was not what it used to be because of the violence.
“I don’t know why people decide to come out and ruin other people’s fun with violence,” she said. “I don’t understand it, but it happens every year.”
In recent years, most of the violence had taken place after the parade ended. The official end time for this year’s procession was 6 p.m., and by then the crowds had dispersed.
The police said on Monday evening that around 6:30 p.m., a dispute broke out between two men on St. Johns Place, two blocks from Eastern Parkway. One man, 26, died of stab wounds, and the other, 20, was arrested.
Another man, 27, was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital after being stabbed on Eastern Parkway, around 6 p.m., the police said. And a woman, 24, and a man, 32, were shot about 5:15 p.m. on Eastern Parkway, the authorities said.
Last year, a resident of Crown Heights, Denise Gay, was sitting on her stoop when she was killed in the cross-fire between police officers and a gunman. That came on a Labor Day weekend in the city when 67 people were shot, 13 of whom died.
The Police Department came under scrutiny after the revelation that officers had posted on the Facebook page “No More West Indian American Day Detail.” One poster called participants “savages” and “animals,” and another suggested, “Let them kill each other.” Seventeen officers were disciplined.