Shootings, Confrontation Mar Celebrations At West Indian Day Parade
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Spectators danced and sang behind police barricades as the pavement trembled with the pounding rhythms of music coming from massive loudspeakers aboard floats as the West Indian Day Parade rumbled through Brooklyn on Monday.
Amid the celebration, two men were shot at the parade -- one in the stomach and the other in the leg. It happened around 2:30 p.m. Both men were taken to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. Violence has marred the parade in some years, with fatal shootings along the route in 2003 and 2005.
Photos: West Indian Day Parade 2011
In an earlier incident, police said a parade-goer pulled out a gun and fired into the air. He fled in a livery cab but the police stopped the car and arrested him.
A spokesman for New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams said he was arrested as he walked along a blocked-off sidewalk around 1:30 p.m. Monday. Stefan Ringel says Williams had been given permission to walk along the street by a police official, but was then stopped by other officers. A confrontation ensued, leading to the arrest.
However, according to the NYPD, Williams and Director of Community Affairs Kirsten John Foy were "stopped from entering a frozen zone."
"A crowd formed and an unknown individual punched a police captain on the scene. In order to separate them from the crowd, Mr. Williams and Mr. Foy, who were handcuffed, were brought across the street and detained there until their identities were established and then released," a police statement read.
The councilman said the incident was "easily avoidable" and acknowledged that no charges were filed against him or Foy.
"I will speak in greater detail and answer more questions about this event tomorrow," a statement from Williams read.
The annual Labor Day parade celebrating the culture of the Caribbean islands is one of the city's largest and most colorful, featuring dancers wearing enormous feathered costumes.
Spectators waved the bright flags of their native islands and enjoyed a lineup of Caribbean delicacies sold by vendors whose barbecues released delicious-smelling smoke into the late summer air.
Revelers began the celebration way before the annual Labor Day parade kicked off at 11 a.m. on Eastern Parkway.
Putting good food aside, Ray Grandrson said the day is all about celebrating Caribbean pride and for him it's a way to pay tribute to his home country of Jamaica.
"It reminds us of where we're from, where we're coming from," Grandrson said.
"We're celebrating our culture," Sabrina Addison, of Hempstead, said. "As a family we all get together to celebrate it."
Erron Adams showed up bright and early to make sure his traditional Jamaican dishes, including swordfish, were ready for the crowds.
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"This parade is fabulous!" said Arnold Caballero, 52, who was manning a huge barbecue. "There are people of all countries, and you meet friends you haven't seen for years."
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The Trinidad native estimated that by day's end he would sell about 500 pounds of jerk and curry chicken, beef and pork from the stand he's run for a decade with two friends.
Caballero's friend Agnes Cherryl Phillips, 55, a native of Grenada, added: "This is the most excellent parade you can ever have, with music and loved ones who come from all over America, from Miami to Canada."
The city took some extra safety precautions at the parade following a spate of holiday weekend violence and the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Police helicopters hovered over the parade Monday and motorcycle officers patrolled the surrounding blocks.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped by a pre-parade breakfast before heading to upstate New York communities where residents are still cleaning up from Tropical Storm Irene.
"Thank you for sharing your culture, your language, your music, your food, your diversity,'' he said.
Cuomo said he would bring buckets of jerk chicken to Irene victims.
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