The annual West Indian Day Parade, which celebrates the cultures of the Caribbean islands, in Brooklyn was well on the way with thousands of spectators enjoying a colourful display of feathered costumes, soca and calypso music and delectable Caribbean food when gunshots rang out and City Councilman Jumaane Williams and public advocate aide Kirsten J. Foy, were handcuffed and detained by police for choosing to walk along a closed sidewalk.
In the midst of the revellery two men were shot while at the parade — one in the stomach and the other in the leg. It happened around 2:30 p.m. They were taken to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. Violence is not new to the parade. There were fatal shootings took place along the celebration route in 2003 and 2005.
Police reports stated that they attempted to exit the parade route to attend a luncheon at the nearby Brooklyn Museum. As they passed the police checkpoint, Williams and his group were blocked by three police officers from passing through the police barricade. Even when they produced identifications to verify their identities they were not allowed to proceed. Words were exchanged and Williams tried to telephone the precinct captain. By then the exchange had attracted the attention of other police officers who joined their colleagues to ensure the group did not pass through the barricade. A heated exchange ensued and then a scuffle began.
An NYPD statement, released later, noted that the scuffle began when “an unknown individual” punched a police captain on scene. The statement continued: “In order to separate them from the crowd, Mr. Williams and Mr. Foy, who were handcuffed, were brought across the street and detained their until their identities were established and then released.” They were held at the Union Temple of Brooklyn on Eastern Parkway, and released with no charges.
In a brief statement after the incident, Williams said he was going to “take some time to figure it out” and would release an official statement later. Williams is of West Indian heritage. His parents are from Grenada.
In spite of the arrests and two reported shootings, no one was killed, the masqueraders and spectators enjoyed a full serving of Caribbean culture.