Fireworks Crackdown Is Same Policing That Got Us Here in the First Place

Source: The Intercept

Photo by OFC Pictures/Shutterstock.com


A few nights ago, while walking home in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, I had to jump away from the flares of a small firework, crackling in the intersection by my apartment. The young guys who’d set if off were skipping back from the sparks too. I laughed, they laughed, and I went home. I did not ask where or how they’d procured the pyrotechnic, because I’m not in the habit of asking people where they get access to contraband.

I understand that many New Yorkers are less sanguine about the dramatic spike in amateur fireworks booming throughout the city nightscape. According to city data, there were 1,680 complaints about illegal fireworks in New York between June 8 and June 15, compared to just 12 for the equivalent period last year. Yet, from the sounds of the sky, such complaints are equaled by the desire for the displays after months of pandemic lockdowns, in the wake of nightly explosions of righteous antiracist rage against the police.

I would never ask anyone disturbed or bothered by the fireworks to simply embrace them, nor do I expect people to be incurious about the provenance of a once-rare phenomenon that has now become the soundtrack of a New York night. I insist, however, that those who demand a cessation of — and an explanation for — the vast fireworks uptick understand that the law enforcement crackdown against the activity will be far more dangerous and devastating than any sleepless night or misused Roman candle.

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