Caribbean Carnival Community Meeting Today, July 27th at 6pm

Thanks to all the readers who forwarded this email:

Caribbean Carnival, a cultural festival that has been happening annually for 19 years, was enjoyed by many thousands this year, but was also the subject of much debate. The shortened route, financial issues, and aggressive police tactics sent mixed messages to Carnival organizers and the community. Several fights that occurred raised safety concerns from the community. Councilmember Graham, Councilmember Bowser, the MPD and the Mayor’s office have publicly expressed their desire to see the Carnival continue and the full route restored but there are serious issues that must be overcome.

The Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force has invited Councilmember Jim Graham (on travel but sending a representative), Councilmember Bowser (unconfirmed), MPD Chief Lanier (confirmed), and DC Caribbean Carnival Director Loughton Sargeant (confirmed) to our next meeting on Wednesday July 27th at 6:00pm at the G II Restaurant and Lounge at 2632 Georgia Avenue (corner of Georgia and Fairmont) to discuss the issues that occurred at this event and ways the community can be more involved in its planning and execution.

For background on some of the issues regarding this year’s Carnival, you can listen to a Town Hall meeting on the Carnival conducted Saturday July 16th broadcast live on WPFW. The archived show can be heard by going here and scrolling down to “Caribbeana” broadcast on Saturday, July 16, 2011 7:00 pm. The Town Hall was hosted by WPFW’s Gloria Minott, with panelists Paul Quander, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice, Councilmember Bowser, Councilmember Graham, MPD Assistant Chief Lamar Green, Claude Barrington of the DC Caribbean Carnival and others.

Photo by PoPville Flickr user yostinator

44 Comment

  • “Aggressive police tactics?”

    By that, you mean arresting people who were starting brawls, stabbing each other, shooting each other and killing innocent bystanders?

    I’m sorry, but “the shortened route, financial issues, and aggressive police tactics” were not on my list of biggest concerns about the parade. How about you guys get your act together and take some accountability for the mayhem that occurs at your event, then we’ll see if you are welcome in my neighborhood again.

    • +1. We can get rid of the “aggressive police tactics” when large events like this no longer bring about such uncivilized behavior.

      If anything, there weren’t enough police around.

    • Yes yes yes. My thoughts exactly when I read this announcment. The problem was the brawling and gunfire; it was not “aggressive police tactics.” This is why we’ll never get anywhere in the District — public officials insist on entertaining fictions that make false issues seems huge and never squarely address the actual issues. But hey … as long as it gets out the vote in the next election, right?

    • Yeah, this is ridiculous.

      How can you complain about ‘aggressive police’ when there were HUGE mob fights, stabbings, and shootings?

  • Sad some olde residents (or just anti-gentrification people) need to make this an us against them thing. I know tons of older residents who HATE the parade for the same reason some of the more vocal newer residents tend to cite.

    I guess some people will use ever venue to pursue their political/cultural agenda (kinda like Repoublicans!)

  • Yeah I have to admit, and I hardly ever give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt, it seems that the police did not go far enough at the last carnival.

    I hadn’t heard that the police provoked any altercations. Is there a specific event being referenced? Seriously I’d just like to know.

    Otherwise you want to see aggressive police tactics go to a West Ham v Arsenal soccer game. And it is 100% warranted. The Brits would line Georgia Ave with cops on both sides if they let the event go on next year.

  • +1. No mention of any murders or stabbings in the email? Seems disingenuous, at best. (FWIW, I am the one who took this picture and saw the paramedics struggling to save the life of the shooting victim who eventually died. Whether it is fair or not, the murder will always be linked with the festival in my mind.)

  • Kinda like democrats as well?

  • While I’m on the side that there was not enough policing (it took the police and EMS waaay too long to get to scene of the shooting after it happened), if you listen to the WPFW discussion it sounds like the police were harassing folks in the parade, thats likely the “aggressive police tactics” being referred to above.
    From what I noticed the police should have been working on crowd control and policing the blocks around the end of the carnival where people loiter for hours after the parade instead of going home or to the for-pay event at the end of the parade .

    • Overpoliced!?!!? I’ll take a few of the “extras” on my block.

      Help take out those few bad apples selling drugs, etc. and leave the families to enjoy the day more safely.

    • I didn’t listen to PFW, but having worked the parade the only real ‘harassment’ was keeping the parade floats moving along. There’s no reason why the parade, which starts late to begin with, needs to last hours and hours. We’re running on city people time, not island people time.

      “From what I noticed the police should have been working on crowd control and policing the blocks around the end of the carnival where people loiter for hours after the parade instead of going home or to the for-pay event at the end of the parade .”

      There’d be more cops for the after-carnival if the goddamn parade set-up and the actual parade didn’t take so long. As for the crowd control, there aren’t enough cops to control the crowds unless physical barriers get set up, ‘super-soaker’ and other crowd control devices get distributed, etc.

    • Doesn’t surprise me. WPFW is a radical left organization and they hate police. They broadcast statements from a convicted cop killer on their station!

      The only good thing about WPFW is their blues shows (well, some of them, the Gator is lame!) and support of the local blues scene.

  • the the biggest concern is not the parade but the after party, massive crowds of people linger drink get drunk and fight, this is a nightmare for property owners and residents who live in close proximity, the event needs to move to a place were greater enforcement and crowd control can take place.

  • Why restore the full route? The best part of this year’s parade was that it started relatively on time and proceeded at a pace where there weren’t huge gaps between bands. It was much more enjoyable than prior years where you sit out in the sun for twenty minutes waiting to hear music in 2 minute stretches.
    The only “aggression” I saw by the police was trying to keep people from crowding into the streets while the parade was going by. As some of the tapes that have popped up in the aftermath illustrate, the festival could have benefited from more police presence, particularly at the end of the route.
    Agreed that the big problem is the milling around afterwards. If you are going to turn it into a street festival, keep Ga Ave closed and have food trucks, stands, other activities at the end for people to enjoy. The milling around aimlessly is what leads to problems.

    • This is true. I ran some errands during this year’s parade (on foot, because it would have been pointless to drive), and by the time I came home a few hours later, the parade had moved south and out of my neighborhood. I much prefer it that way.

  • The Roman emperor has the right spin on this.

    Who is putting on this meeting? Why are the cops the bad guys? The event is fine. The problem is there’s inadequate crowd control afterwards. I try to be cool and not sweat people sitting on my front stairs. The cake was taken this year when some morons decided sitting wasn’t enough but then they proceeded to light fireworks from my wood retaining wall. I ousted them and hosed down the area. I put a big trash bag on my wall and most save a few were respectful and put their trash their. I think however that the event needs to be on 16th street by carter barron or on the Mall. It’s too much for the residents to bear after the parade. It needs to be in an area where people aren’t so negatively impacted trying to get to and fro their homes.

    I think the comments re the police are way out of line. The cops were overly accommodating, but did step up when violence erupted.
    For example, When the Sweet Mango cafe, which has no entertainment endorsement and got busted for running an illegal night club for 5 years, (a run which ended with a shooting and them so concerned about being busted that they didn’t even call 911 re the guy bleeding from gunshot wounds in their illegal basement club) was bumping music outside from 6 foot tall speakers(they only stopped when the guy got beat up in front of CVS and the cops descended), the cops that were requested to stop Sweet Mango’s music 3 hours after the parade said, “it’s carribean day there’s nothing we can do.” There were a ton of youngsters there and across the street and I see a link between such activity that encourages lingering and the lingering crowd, which exploded into violence in the intersection by CVS.

    If the event can’t be conducted such that the crowd is dispersed afterward, then it’s too much bs for people living w/in a block or two of GA avenue to have to deal with. I think it’s otherwise a fine event but needs some serious rethinking and a real security plan. The negative events could have been way worse, and given the crowds, there would have been little the police could do.

  • One question – did parade organizers pay the full bill to the city this year, last year or previous years?
    The city can respond to the parade organizers complaints/concerns and requests for a 2012 permit after all bills are paid in full. No money,no parade and no need to host a meeting.
    The District (like every state and city) is suffering from major budget shortfalls. If the MPD is cracking down on unpaid tickets then the District should also crack down on civic groups with massive outstanding debt.

  • If you ever needed proof that CM Bowser simply does not ‘get it’, her claim that the problems of the festival were largely caused by over-policing really give it away. She is clueless on a very basic level and has no business serving elected office if she really thinks decreasing police presence is the solution to an event that results in violence & death.

    • Are you paraphrasing her here? Or has she specifically stated that over-policing was the problem, and that the police presence should be reduced?

  • Isn’t this event put on by a company to make a profit? If so, why does the funding for security fall to the city? Shouldn’t the company pay for security and be held liable for any breaches?

  • The shooting was found to be unrelated to the Caribbean Fest. I think that by adding the “crime” tag to this story, it continues to link the two events. I find it to be a fantastic event and hope it continues, albeit a tad more organized.

    • I’ve heard that claim as well, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense. While the shooting could have happened on another day, it didn’t. It’s possible that the events which led up to the shooting were linked to the crowding and lack of police presence. I think it might be best to say that there is inconclusive evidence that the shooting should be linked to the festival. The other random fighting that occurred, however, certainly seems to be linked.

      • I heard that in 2010, $5000 of merchandise was shoplifted from the Yes! Market during the festival. I’m sure that was totally unrelated to the festival, however….

  • I for one would like to show up in support of more police and more aggressive police tactics. Anyone want to join me? One thing this parade did not lack was too few MPD; far from it in fact.

  • As a resident of Park View, I had a great time at this year’s parade…because I intentionally avoided it and went out of town for the weekend. I’ll be taking this option until the parade is shut down.

  • Some the notion that Muriel Bowser was suggesting that police presence somehow instigated the post parade violence is a little hard to believe.

    I agree that some police presence, ie the helicopter that hovered around the GA, NH intersection during the event was probably a waste of resources. But no question, less police is a bad idea. More police after the last float is probably a good idea. What’s needed is crowd dispersal afterwards. There was definitely no excessive police presence and if you had any doubt observe the video, which I watched on PoP, of the morons in a several minutes long street brawl on GA near Howard U. Even the narrator of said video found the lack of police presence during that incident alarming.

    I witnessed the police response to the GA/NH (CVS) beating and it was swift and well coordinated. MPD needs to be able to have the same access to get in a stop jerks at all points. Note that this is during the unstructured after party on the street, which is by definition hard to predict and control. I think the great challenge this situation poses for police is a great case in point for why DC’s long time “loitering is legal” policy needs to be given a rethinking.

    I heard that Carnival was on the MALL one year, since my arrival to DC in 2000. If that venue didn’t have these types of hiccups, maybe that’s a happy medium. People inclined to be idiots in their own or rival neighborhoods know that you don’t play with the Capitol Hill police, especially with MPD, US, and Park Service police on hand in force. Many of the negative factors of this years event and other years (least of which is the negative impact on neighbors) could be eliminated by a relocating the event to the Mall permanently.

    If there’s no adequate security plan and a problem paying for adequate security, there may be an all out riot or multiple homicides in the future. People that are criminal minded have a keen eye for opportunities to practice their evil. These types clearly saw that the post parade lack of order was ripe to be exploited. Besides the fact that that would be further embarrassment to the police, council members, and event planners, there is a connection between the disorderly crowds allowed to linger for hours and the Carnival. The best tact is to see that very real potential and really try to pre-empt it not have to have more life and bodily integrity lost before dealing with this inconvenient reality.

    • Good luck getting this event to return to the Mall. That would require much more financial commitment and organization than this group appears to have. And I doubt the powers that be have any interest in seeing half naked people gyrating against each other on Constitution Ave. Not going to happen.
      I don’t think the post-parade problems were just evil-minded people exploiting a lack of order. There is a segment of the community that has no filter. There used to be a time when you were on your best behavior when you were out in public. But now there are kids (and adults) who are completely comfortable being on their worst behavior in public. They’re not embarrassed by it; they don’t see it as a poor reflection on them or their families. In fact, their friends and families encourage it. That’s why we can’t have nice things.

  • Aggressive police tactics? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  • HolyCrap, they need to shorten the parade and preferably move that and the festival to the RFK parking lots. Perhaps fewer people will get shot and the police can at least try to contain this. And be serious, its not much of a parade. Yes, there are some cool costumes but from what I saw 90% was nothing more than people with t-ts hanging out, men humping women as they walked down the street, total mayhem on the “music” float (nothing more than crazy loud DJs and weed being passed around). Not to be a prude, but any event thats a mile long parade on a public street should be a tad less skanky. We need 10 times the police presence, and the festival needs to pay for all of it!!

  • With all of these opinions, I seriously hope people get involved and show up to this meeting

  • To you netziens/commentariat that rant on blogs–one of the organizers of the Caribbean festival presented to the GA Ave Task Force. A few questions were asked before the Task Force moved on to other business.

    Some highlights that I caught:
    –in 2011, they really pulled the event together in the last month. They got on the schedule in late January/Feb (post-Gray inaugural) to begin organizing discussions with the city. They received the permits from the city in the spring of this year and started fund-raising for around Easter. For next year, they are going to start planning earlier (Sept 2011).
    –businesses along GA Ave have not financially supported the Caribbean festival. This was surprising to me because I have been told that the parade is a big money-maker for GA Ave businesses.
    –Howard is doing an economic impact study of the Caribbean festival in four phases. They hope that the study is complete by Nov 2011.
    –a question as to who supports the organizers of the parade was not clearly answered. What was clear is that they have a political action committee, which endorsed Gray and other candidates in DC and PG county and it also supports the Caribbean parade. They had information on the PAC as well as membership levels. As of early June, the Caribbean PAC had about $34K
    –I’m not sure the issue of their unpaid police overtime bill was ever resolved. From what I gather, it is an issue that will have to be addressed at the city level
    –One of the leaders of the Caribbean PAC personally donated a nice sum of money to an upcoming GA Ave art project.

    In total, there was about 25-30 people there, despite the email going out to several list-serves and being posted on PoPville (btw, thank you Dan).

    Now… I find it maddening that we have Harry “Hooters” Thomas on the city council and Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown as chairman. But ranting about bad governance, poor city planning and policies is one thing. Showing up to meetings, asking questions, demanding answers of public officials and being involved in your community is quite another.

    We deserve the democracy we deserve.

    Good night.

    • “[A] question as to who supports the organizers of the parade was not clearly answered. What was clear is that they have a political action committee, which endorsed Gray and other candidates in DC and PG county and it also supports the Caribbean parade.”


  • 1. Festival pays ALL expenses (which from my understanding they will not)
    2. Aggressive police…please! They let too much go in my opinion. They were attempting to control the crowd which needed to be done
    3. Move it to a more controlled environment like RFK or a place like the Mall where this turf $h!t won’t be an issue or tolerated.
    4. PERIOD…Enough is enough!!

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