Fireworks; Gracie Mansion; Protests; Mayor Bill de Blasio; Illegal Fireworks
The new NYC fireworks Taskforce will go after big fish fireworks suppliers through investigations and undercover stings. Photo Credit: FLICKR

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio formed a multi-agency task force to tackle illegal fireworks with a simple goal: “Finding where the supply is and cutting it off at the knees,” Patch reports.

The announcement comes after days of nonstop fireworks across the city. Frustrated New Yorkers have lost sleep as fireworks boom in the city skies, setting off car alarms and leaving many scared to shut their eyes.

Complaints over illegal fireworks set off 311 lines, with a record-breaking number of calls in June, up over 4,000 percent on last year. Residents in Flatbush and Ditmas Park have called 311 more than 300 times since March to complain about the explosives, and many claim they have been told there is nothing that can be done.

In response to the city’s lack of effort, scores of New Yorkers honked their car horns in protest near Gracie Mansion on Monday night to disrupt the mayor’s slumber. While the protest was disruptive in its nature, its goal was simple: If New Yorkers cannot sleep in peace, our city officials will not be able to sleep either.

“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, who attended the protest.

Only one night of protest was needed for the Illegal Fireworks Task Force to be created. It will consist of 10 officers from NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY fire marshals and 20 Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation members, according to the mayor’s office.

De Blasio stopped short of pushing for NYPD officers to conduct on-the-street crackdowns. He said it was more important for officers to deal with our city’s recent increase in violent crime. However, NYPD officers are able to respond to complaints if they judge a situation to be dangerous.

De Blasio also announced the city will have its own 4th of July fireworks show in 5-minute instalments across the city from June 29, through Independence Day.

Those, “very professional, beautiful” fireworks will be much different than those now plaguing the city, he said.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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