Mayor's J'Ouvert festival comments come under fire

Mayor Bill de Blasio is coming under fire for comments made this week about the violence at Monday's J'Ouvert festivities, with which many Irish and Puerto Rican residents in the borough say they disagree.

The mayor suggested that violence at the J'Ouvert festival is typical at other large city parades such as the St. Patrick's Day and Puerto Rican Day parades.

"I'm really upset over this," said resident Eamon McDwyer in response to de Blasio. "We never really have violence (at the) St. Patrick's Day Parade."

The difference between J'Ouvert and the other large parades, McDwyer said, is that the Brooklyn festival has seen deadly spurts of violence two years in a row, and it's something not usually seen at the other events, despite what the mayor insisted.

De Blasio made the comments at a news conference Tuesday, but has since made a clarification.

"I was speaking in the context of an event that has obviously been around for decades and we have to fix," he later said.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-The Bronx), father of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., has taken offense to the mayor's comments.

"It is insulting, disrespectful and shameful for Mayor de Blasio, in an attempt to protect his political base, to compare the past and present state of affairs with the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Saint Patrick's Day parades," Diaz Sr. said.

Diaz Sr. has also asked the mayor for an apology.

De Blasio said that while the city did everything it could to make the festival safer, more must be done to alleviate concerns.

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