In the passing weeks since George Floyd’s death, our nation has seen an immense cry for police and law enforcement agencies to be defunded and disbanded. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been all too willing to listen to those cries. But now, he seems to have changed his mind, if for no other reason than he can get some sleep.
As in many states, setting off fireworks is illegal in New York unless you hold a particular permit or on the days right around the Fourth of July. However, in all the chaos that has been going on in recent weeks, with the looting, rioting, and the defacing of national and state monuments, illegal fireworks have become all the rage. And New Yorkers are getting fed up.
As the New York Daily News has reported, the city’s 911 call centers have received a total of 13,315 calls regarding fireworks so far this year. And 12,578 of those have happened since the beginning of June. The metropolis’ 311 call centers have received an additional 11,535 calls for fireworks.
In comparison, there were only 1,007 calls made to 911 from January to June in 2019 regarding the illegal use of fireworks. And 311 only got 54 calls total.
Naturally, complaints were made, letters were written, and calls were received from the mayor’s office, asking for him to put a stop to the ongoing booms that have kept most of the city from sleeping. And like usual, those complaints have gone unanswered from Hizzoner.
At least, until a few thousand citizens decided to make sure de Blasio understood their sleepless nights and the constant noise.
On Monday night and well into Tuesday morning, an unbroken line of honking cars paraded itself around the mayor’s home, Gracie Mansion. All had the same message for the man who is supposed to be leading their city: If we can’t sleep, neither will you.
City Councilman Chaim Deutsch said in a Twitter video to the mayor, “We need to send a message to end these chaotic fireworks that’s been happening across the city. If we can’t sleep, Mr. Mayor, you won’t sleep.”
And what do you know, the first thing de Blasio did on Tuesday when he got to the office was to call a press conference announcing that he was going to take care of the fireworks problem. And he was going to do it by using his police force.
He told New Yorkers that a special task force was being created to deal with the problem. Hizzoner said, “We’re going to start a huge sting operation to go and get these illegal fireworks at the base.” And he added, “There’s a lot to do, and we have to do it quickly.”
Yeah, because New York has already made it clear that they won’t let de Blasio sleep until it’s done.
According to the New York Daily News, the task force will consist of FDNY fire marshals and NYPD intelligence officers who will be tasked with finding illegally owned fireworks and confiscating them. In addition, “sting operations” and “undercover buys” will be going on.
However, I’m a little confused as to how all this is going to happen when de Blasio has already announced that he is defunding the police departments of New York City.
In early June, de Blasio posted on his Twitter account that his office had already “committed to move resources from the NYPD to youth and social services as part of our City’s budget.” He stated that the city’s youth “need to be reached, not policed,” all the while insisting that he could still keep the city “safe” with fewer police officers on the ground.
But the frequent calls about fireworks seem to contradict that. As does his request for a “huge sting operation.” How exactly does one go about conducting such an operation with cuts in police budget and personnel anyway?
The fact of the matter is that politicians like de Blasio are really good at saying what they think we want to hear and then turning around and doing the exact opposite if their own cause demands it. de Blasio was okay with defunding the police until it became apparent that they were his only shot at getting some sleep. Now, he acts like he’s on good terms with them.
Chances are it will only last a short while, though.