New York Governor Andrew Cuomo left a crowd appalled Monday when he mistakenly mourned the death of a prominent community leader during a speech at the West Indian Day Parade.
Cuomo said, while speaking at the annual festival held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn: ‘Una Clarke, God rest her soul.’
Clarke, 83, is a prominent Caribbean community leader who served as New York City’s first Caribbean councilwoman from 1992 to 2001.
Her daughter, Brooklyn Representative Yvette Clarke, was in the audience at the time Cuomo made the shocking remark. The governor had been honoring other late community leaders at the time.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (right Monday at the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn) mistakenly mourned the death of community leader Una Clarke, (left in January in New York) who is still alive
Cuomo made the remarks while speaking at the annual Carribbean festival held in Crown Heights
Participants are shown takong part in the West Indian American Day Parade in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, September 3, 2018
‘Every community that comes to this country has obstacles that they have to face. And every community has pathfinders and leaders who overcome those obstacles,’ Cuomo said.
‘West Indian community, Shirley Chisholm, God rest her soul. Una Clarke, God rest her soul,’
The audience was sent into an uproar and corrected Cuomo. He then added: ‘Una Clarke – who is with us here today. Sorry, sorry. Bill Howard, God rest his soul.’
Also during his speech, Governor Cuomo announced plans to build a community center honoring an official killed during a Caribbean culture celebration three years ago.
New York state has pledged up to $15 million to create a Brooklyn community center called the Carey Gabay Community Center.
Una Clarke and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke are seen on April 25, 2010 in New York City. Una Clarke’s daughter was in attendance to the festival, where Cuomo made the comments
In 2015, Gabay was fatally hit by stray gunfire during the pre-parade street party known as J’Ouvert (joo-VAY’).
He had been an aide to the Democratic governor and a lawyer for the Empire State Development Corporation, the state’s business-development arm. Gabay was 43.
The community center will offer 60,000 square feet of space for community groups, swimming, basketball and other sports.
It will be in the decommissioned Bedford-Union Armory, which is being redeveloped largely into apartments.
Participants dance in costumes during the West Indian-American Carnival Day Parade in the Brooklyn borough of New York on September 3, 2018
A woman dances in costume during the West Indian Day parade in the Brooklyn borough of New York on September 3, 2018
Powder flies in the air over revelers and participants at the the West Indian American Day Parade in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, September 3, 2018. New York’s Caribbean community has held annual Carnival celebrations since the 1920s
The festival on Monday saw colors of the Caribbean on display along the streets of Brooklyn.
Steel drum bands and paint-splashed, wildly costumed revelers took to the streets for one of the largest Caribbean Carnival celebrations in North America.
Onlookers at the annual West Indian American Day Parade had flags from their countries of origin wrapped around their waists or on their heads as they watch the bands and marchers go by.
The New York Caribbean community has held annual celebrations since the 1920s, first in Harlem and then in Brooklyn, where festivities happen on Labor Day.
In recent years, participants and spectators have been joined by a significant law enforcement presence looking to prevent any incidents of violence at the main parade and the earlier morning event, J’Ouvert.
Security measures included a 6am start time for J’Ouvert instead of a middle-of-the-night kick-off, as well as light towers and entry checkpoints.