Reconsidering the Boston Caribbean Parade

September 4, 2014 at 9:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest editorial by Kevin Peterson

The murder of 26-year-old Dawnn Jaffier on a Saturday morning in August should lead us to a sobering conclusion: it’s time to cancel the Boston Caribbean Parade. Forever.

The yearly carnival is supposed to be a celebration of West Indian culture. But over the years it has become an event associated with routine violence.

Jaffier — a youth mentor who spent the summer coaching kids at the West End Boys and Girls Club — died during J’ouvert, a pre-parade event. She was shot in the head on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, her blood staining the street.

But many others have been victims of shootings and bloodletting connected to the parade in years past.

Consider the following small sample of the carnage:

• In 1993 seven people were shot during the carnival. Police blamed feuding gangs.

• In 2007 four people were stabbed as they attended festival-related events.

• In 2008 a man police believed to be attending the carnival was found stabbed to death in a Dorchester park.

• In 2010 three parade watchers were shot, one died.

The problem with the Caribbean Carnival is that it gives outlaws opportunities to show their disrespect for law-abiding citizens. Gun-toting youth have turned the parade into a place of violence that many now fear.

If the slightest chance exists that someone may be shot or murdered next year, then shutting down the event is a responsible action.

Let’s not get this twisted. We shouldn’t confuse the yearly violence at the Caribbean festival with what happened at the Boston Marathon two years ago.

The bombings on Boylston Street were an aberration, one terrible event in an otherwise long history of peaceful celebrations.

But the ugly terror that happens along Blue Hill Avenue each festival approaches the level of self-inflicted, protracted terrorism. It numbs our souls.

It’s an insult to the black community in Boston to allow the parade to continue when the results of the event are too often murderous.

Jaffier’s life represented yet another bright promise in an increasingly vibrant and diverse city. We all need to ask ourselves: “Is her blood on our hands?”

Kevin PetersonKevin C. Peterson is a senior fellow at the Center for Collaborative Leadership at the University of Massachusetts Boston and founder of the New Democracy Coalition. (This editorial was originally published in The Boston Herald on September 1, 2014 and is posted here with permission. The views expressed are those of the author.)

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