A Year After Violence Rang Out, West Indian Parade To Make Some Changes
JEFFREY B. COHEN
August 07, 2009
HARTFORD — - It's been a year since the parade celebrating West Indian independence wound its way up Main Street to the Windsor town line, wrapping up a week of food and celebration.
It's also been a year since a relative of the city's police chief was killed and six juveniles were wounded by gunfire just as the parade ended. Four more were shot that weekend, part of last summer's violence that saw young, armed boys settling disputes with guns.
This year, there will be some changes at the parade.
Sean Antoine, vice president of the West Indian Independence Celebration Committee, says that Saturday's 11 a.m. parade will be shorter — starting near Main and Pavilion streets, a few blocks north of where it used to begin. Also, anyone playing music from a loudspeaker without a permit will be shut down by police, Antoine said, because music like that leads to loitering, and loitering can lead to problems.
Finally, there will be an effort to clear the streets by 8 p.m.
"By 8 p.m., the streets should be clear, people should have had a long day," Antoine said, and they will be ready "to go home and rest."
Looking back, Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts called last year's shootings an "aberration," one that had nothing to do with the West Indian festivities and everything to do with the prevalence of guns on the city's streets and young people who don't respect each other.
That said, he's making some changes this year as well. As usual, police will be out in uniform and undercover. But this time, there will be additional surveillance — helped, he said, by the city's new, $650,000 mobile command center.
"We have a great surveillance situation that I'm not at liberty to talk about," Roberts said. "We'll be better able to look at what we might consider problematic areas. ... We will see them, but they won't see us."
Last year's violence was an unfortunate end to a festive week, one that left many members of the West Indian community feeling they had been wrongly linked to the violence itself, Antoine said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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