Labor Day, the annual federal holiday to honor America's workers, also marks an exciting time for New York City's West Indian community.
On the first Monday in September, Brooklyn holds a massive parade and fete -- the city's largest -- down Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights celebrating the culture and pride of the more than 700,000 New Yorkers of Caribbean descent.
The parade, which started in Harlem in 1947 and was moved to Brooklyn in 1964, today attracts between one to three million people each year.
In its 65 years of existence, this lively carnival has become a highly anticipated annual event-- a time to experience the music, cuisine, vibrant culture and contributions of the city's West Indian community.
However, increasingly, in the last ten years it also has become a time when Brooklynites brace themselves for an uptick in the number of incidents of violence. Beginning in 2003, every year, there has been at least one shooting incident to take place along the parade's route.
This year was no exception: The Brooklyn parade began early -- 3:00 a.m. for J'ouvert -- with a large melee and a shooting. The official parade kicked off later that day, at 11:00 a.m. and was met with more reports of shootings and stabbings. It ended later that evening with a shooting death.
According to an account by 71st Pct. Officer Vincent Martinos of Community Affairs, a delayed float created an oversized and frustrated crowd and was at the center of at least two separate shooting and stabbing incidents.
"The last Labor Day float, T-Vice Ompa Haitian, was delayed due to the fact they had failed to hire a driver that was properly licensed for this event," wrote Martinos in an email. "After a lengthy delay, the organizers were able to find someone with the proper NYS license and paperwork needed to drive their float.
"By the time they started, a large gap between floats several blocks [long] had grown. This float moved extremely slow and their music was the loudest of any float on the parade route. The crowd grew to unreasonable size due to the late start and slow moving pace.
"At approximately 5:15 p.m., in front of 650 Eastern Parkway, several shots were fired from inside the overly large crowd around this float. A
female was struck in her left lower back and a male in his left hip. Both victims are expected to make full recoveries.
"A short time later at approximately 6:00 p.m. at the corner of Bedford Ave and Eastern Parkway, a male became the victim of a homicide. The victim was stabbed one time in the neck while inside this large group around this float."
In total, police in the 71st and 77th precincts patroling the parade route reported .
What is meant to serve as a celebratory and lively tradition for Caribbean culture in New York City slowly has devolved into a hotbed of violence.
So what do you think is the best way to address the escalating violence at the West Indian-American Day Parade?
Should the city shorten the parade or place a limit on the numbers of revelers allowed on the parade route? Should the parade be moved to a different location?
Should the parade committee be held accountable for violent incidents and fined? Or perhaps the parade should be ended altogether?
Take our poll, and tell us what you think in the comments.