As New York prepares for the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Labor Day, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams is asking for “neighborly courtesy” during the festivities.
Williams, representative for the 45th Council District, who considers himself “a proud Spice-Island Grenadian descendant,” said while residents celebrate and enjoy carnival events, they “should always remain courteous to our neighbors to ensure their quality of life is not unduly disturbed.”
“Everyone expects some measure of community understanding, especially the weekend of carnival,” he told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview. “Still, more and more, the weeks leading up to this event have been a cause of concern for many.”
Williams said that, for years now, his office has received “a high volume of noise complaints about late-night house parties consistently affecting the quality of life of constituents.”
Consequently, last year, after a mass shooting in which nine people were shot in an illegal “house club” with more than 200 people, he sponsored legislation to combat illegal “house clubs” that he said “regularly advertise across the city, charge for entrance and sell alcohol.”
The councilman said the measure was not intended for New York Police Department (NYPD) to crack down on mas camps, pan yards or backyard social gatherings but rather to “protect our communities from those who would continue to proliferate unsafe environments for profit, regardless of the impact in our neighborhoods.
“Nor did it allow for such a crackdown since the legislation is not law and has not moved beyond the discussion stage of bill drafting,” he said.
Additionally, Williams said the bill never required a “permit” of any type for a private gathering.
“My intent was and is to address safety issues and complaints based on constituent input,” he said, adding that the majority of these complainants have come from Caribbean descendants, “who also enjoy the festivities of Labor Day.”
Last Sunday, Williams said he attended a rally that constituents organized to persuade the owners of the club, Pulse 48, to follow a “more responsible approach in the conduct of their business.”
He noted that the club is an “outdoor venue,” situated across the streets from several one-and two-family homes, which “draws thousands of people from Thursday through Sunday and has distressed its neighbors because of noise complaints and out-of-hand party-goers.”
Williams said he and the community have had a series of meeting with the club owner over an extended period of time.
“But despite promises, no headway has been made to address these issues,” he said. “It is the responsibility of all club owners to put safety measures in place, especially when entire neighborhoods are impacted.
“When this type of negligent behavior is allowed to perpetuate in the community, all members become brushed with the same stroke, which results in a far greater impact on crackdowns extending to pan yards, mas camps or other responsible clubs in the area,” he added. “We must, however, recognize that NYPD by law must respond to complaints by residents.”
“This Labor Day, during the West Indian Carnival and associated festivities, it is my hope that we continue to have fun and celebrate our culture, free of some of the distractions which have recently put somewhat of a damper on our festival,” Williams continued. “Let us continue this dialogue to ensure all of our concerns are met and voices are heard.”