New York City residents have been subject to a bizarre month-long psychological terror campaign in the form of professional-grade fireworks going off all night, every night, sometimes beginning before sunset and often lasting through 4am. The frequency and intensity of these explosions is unlike anything the city has seen in decades – if ever – yet the media has largely refused to discuss the issue, except to downplay and normalize the endless pyrotechnics. But the nightly fireworks shows are only the precursor to what we believe will be a rash of devastating arson attacks, targeting urban and suburban neighborhoods alike – and not just in New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is clearly not taking the problem seriously. While he recently empaneled a “fireworks task force” to belatedly address the problem, he said just days later that cracking down on rogue pyrotechnics is “not a good use of police’s time and energy” – as if the issue began and ended with a few kids playing with M-80s on a rooftop. This is not what we’re dealing with here.
The explosions began around Memorial Day – more than a month before the 4th of July – and haven’t stopped since, dwarfing the usual amateur neighborhood fireworks displays in size, frequency, and volume. Fireworks are illegal in New York, yet these are often loud enough to be mistaken for bombs, and complaints to the city’s 311 and 911 hotlines quickly outstripped those of previous years: 11,000 as of this past Saturday, compared to just 54 for the same period in 2019.
Accompanying this mysterious bombardment has been a coordinated media gaslighting campaign, with the likes of the New York Times and Buzzfeed News framing the aural assault as “just locals letting off steam” or the result of a big sale at fireworks outlets. These narrative-managers told chronically sleep-deprived New Yorkers that a solid month of nightly 12-hour fireworks shows migrating across the borough and often starting before sundown was completely normal. Beneath the surface was a sneering derision: only a midwestern transplant, or a gentrifying “Karen,” would complain, reporters invariably based outside the five boroughs – their Manhattan offices shuttered because of the coronavirus – snickered.