Community Upset About Cambridge Carnival’s Cancellation

Community members gathered Wednesday evening in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to voice their frustrations after a popular annnual event was abruptly cancelled.

Organizers of the Cambridge Carnival International and city officials said in a joint statement that the Sept. 8 event was called off due in part to the gun violence that erupted near Boston's Caribbean Carnival Parade last weekend.

People passionately shared their thoughts Wednesday during a community forum at Union Baptist Church. Many attendees said the cancellation of the event, in its 27th year, is a huge cultural and financial loss.

"That treatment, and that lack of fight, and that lack of looking for a way to make this happen was given up so quickly," said Shaba Wood.

"We're losing a lot of the culture, a lot of the people of color. The whole thing is changing," said Cambridge resident Gerald Bergman. "Fear went out this time."

Organizers said they had to nix the event after police told them gangs were planning to target their event.

"Police say reliable intelligence showed that a gang was planning to use our event as a venue to stage a retaliatory act of gun violence," head organizer Nicola Williams said after the cancellation. "We know people are disappointed, but I don't think we really had much of a choice."

"This was done over a serious concern that I had that gun violence would occur," Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville Bard Jr. said Wednesday.

The carnival has been held every year for the past 26 years as a way to celebrate Caribbean heritage. There have been incidents of gun violence at the event in the past.

Cambridge City Councilor Quinton Zondervan said he was blindsided by this year's decision, and wishes the city would step up to protect the tradition.

"We should invest in violence prevention and public safety to make sure we can have events like this without people getting hurt," Zondervan said.

As a result of its cancellation this year, the committee is looking into organizing other events for this fall.

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