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Bill De Blasio Pledges To Crack Down On Fireworks Amid Post-Coronavirus Peak In Violent Crime
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 04: A view of the fireworks during the 43rd Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks on July 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is finally pledging to get tough on crime in the city — but only if that crime involves fireworks.

Amid a major increase in violent crime — and particularly gun violence —  that has police officials warning of a “storm on the horizon,” de Blasio announced Tuesday that he plans on creating an “illegal fireworks task force” which, Buzzfeed News reports, will “involve over 40 law enforcement officers conducting undercover buys and sting operations that target people selling fireworks in the city.”

The move comes after protesters, fed up with an increase in fireworks activity in the city, gathered outside De Blasio’s home, honking their horns and demanding De Blasio bring a swift end to illegal fireworks sale and use in Brooklyn and beyond, per the New York Post.

“Someone set off an elaborate late-night fireworks show on a Brooklyn street — just as scores of drivers fed up with the illegal pyrotechnics honked their horns outside Gracie Mansion to disrupt Mayor Bill de Blasio’s slumber, a dramatic video posted to Twitter shows,” the Post reported Tuesday.

A combination of post-pandemic boredom and a glut of available, professional fireworks — thanks to cities and municipalities largely canceling their 4th of July extravaganzas — has led to an increase in illegal firework activity in most major cities, including New York.

New York City has also seen a number of alleged “fireworks attacks,” many captured on video, according to Fox News, including an incident where teens tossed a firework on a sleeping homeless man, and another where a group of young men is shown tossing a firework into an open window in one of the city’s boroughs.

The homeless man suffered burns to his back, police told media Tuesday.

“The inhumanity of this crime is shocking to everyone who watches,” the NYPD tweeted. “The NYPD WILL apprehend those responsible for using fireworks to assault our fellow New Yorker in #Harlem yesterday.”

In response, De Blasio, who has done little to control the spread of crime within the city, announced a crackdown — a full-scale anti-fireworks police operation, at a time when police are increasingly under fire for aggressive behavior.

The mayor’s office announced that the task force will include “10 officers from NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY Fire Marshals and 20 members of the Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation,” according to a press release. De Blasio said in the press conference that the task force would operate both in and outside of the city and target “suppliers, distributors, and possessors.”

“This is not just a quality of life problem and a noise problem — and it’s certainly that, and in all five boroughs, we take that seriously— but it can also be dangerous,” de Blasio said in a press release, per Buzzfeed. “We’re going to start a huge sting operation to go and get these illegal fireworks at the base. Meaning, everywhere they’re being sold around New York City, and even where they’re being sold in surrounding states that we know of flowing into New York.”

The announcement left many of the city’s residents uneasy, particularly given the national movement against police brutality and marches designed to draw attention to racial disparities in law enforcement.

De Blasio’s office has, of course, not announced any similar plan to tackle the gun violence problem.

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