Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday the formation of a new illegal-fireworks task force after growing complaints around New York City in recent weeks.
“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 in surrounding states, de Blasio said in a press conference Tuesday.
The task force will consist of 42 members, including 10 from the NYPD, 12 from the FDNY, and the 20 from the the Sheriff’s Bureau.
Illegal fireworks have presented a big problem in the city in the past few weeks, with 311 receiving 8,967 companies since June 1. During the same period last year, there were 28 such calls. According to the New York Post, the three neighborhoods with the most complaints over the weekend were Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens — all in central Brooklyn.
De Blasio’s announcement comes the morning after protesters gathered in their cars outside of Gracie Mansion to disturb the mayor’s sleep by honking their horns. “We need to send a message that we need to end these chaotic fireworks that have been happening across the city,” City Councilman Chaim Deutsch said in a video posted Monday night. “We can’t sleep. Mr. Mayor, you won’t sleep.”
Last week the Times spoke to one 24-year-old in Brooklyn who sought to explain the uptick in fireworks use this June.
“You know when you have a storm and finally the rain is letting up?” he said. “I guess it’s comparable to letting out of some aggression. People have been inside.”
He also said the fireworks were a sign of defiance toward the police, “because this is illegal but we’re still doing it.”
There have been several reports of fireworks-related injuries and at least one attack on a homeless man in Harlem. The 66-year-old suffered minor burns but is expected to be fine.
De Blasio’s announcement of the fireworks task force drew criticism from some who said it was evidence that he hadn’t been listening to protesters who’ve taken to New York City streets in recent weeks to demand an end to over-policing.