Fireworks In Cities Around The Country Inspire Conspiracy Theories

About

Summer 2020 Fireworks Conspiracy Theories refers to a series of unsubstantiated explanations for a series on unexplained fireworks displays in major cities throughout the United States. The surge in usage led some to believe that the use of fireworks was government-sanctioned psychological operations, also known as “psyops,” designed to deprive the sleep of demonstrators during the George Floyd Protests. Others contend that the increased use of fireworks is due to the cancelations Fourth of July fireworks displays, causing the price of fireworks to drop significantly.

Origin

Complaints about unseasonal fireworks display date back to April 2020. On April 25th, 2020, Facebook user Laura Saucedo shared a video in the Upstate Manhattan: Inwood and Washington Heights group.

Over the next few weeks, others continued to share videos of late-night fireworks throughout New York City. On May 7th, Twitter user @navahmadi tweeted a video with the caption “Fireworks from a condo building in downtown Brooklyn… at 12:45am…”

On May 21st, Gothamist published a report on the reports of fireworks throughout New York City. They wrote:

In the weeks preceding and following the 4th of July, New Yorkers generally grow accustomed to the bangs and booms erupting from illegal rooftop fireworks. But well before the end of May 2020, some parts of the city are being subjected to large scale fireworks displays late into the evening, and residents are increasingly fed up.

Spread

Over the next few weeks, residents of New York City continued to complain about the fireworks. On June 9th, for example, Twitter user @neriwun tweeted, “if ur in LA popping fireworks shut the fuck up bro.” The tweet received more than 24,000 likes and 8,600 retweets in less than one month (shown below, left).

Social media posts like this continued over the week, reporting fireworks in multiple cities throughout the U.S. Twitter user @SOULJAKRY tweeted, “who df is givin u niggas fireworks EVERY NIGHT.” The tweet received more than 157,000 likes and 39,000 retweets in less than one month (shown below, right).


Johnny @neriwun if ur in LA popping fireworks shut the fuck up bro 9:22 PM · Jun 9, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone Text Font White Product Line Logo Beauty Brand Document t @SOULJAKRY who df is givin u niggas fireworks EVERY NIGHT 11:25 PM · Jun 11, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone Text Font White Product Line Logo Brand Diagram Document
Around this time, some began posting conspiracy theories that allege that the police are responsible for the fireworks. For example, on June 14th, Twitter user @audriemking tweeted, “Conspiracy theory: What if cops are the ones setting off these massive firework displays every night? Seeing how long it will take for the community to ask for their help & then they’ll swoop in and save the day” (shown below, left). On June 20th, Twitter @BeezySaysBLM answered a question about the fireworks, “Due to the riots looting and thanks to the government and antifa they left truck loads of fireworks behind that’s why so many people have their hands on them. And elites are dropping them off on every corner to keep the mayhem going. Be safe y’all martial law coming” (shown below, right).


Audrie (she/her) @audriemking Conspiracy theory: What if cops are the ones setting off these massive firework displays every night? Seeing how long it will take for the community to ask for their help & then they'll swoop in and save the day. #fireworks #brooklyn 7:47 PM · Jun 14, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone > Text Font Line” class=” kym-image image-auto-link” id=”photo_1865203″ title=”Conspiracy theory: What if cops are the ones setting off these massive firework displays every night? Seeing how long it will”></a> <a href=Wale @Wale · Jun 20 Too many ppl from major cities sayin this . Something is afoot EL Profesor 100X10 @ReekDude · Jun 20 I'm sick of the fireworks in DC...it's gettin outta hand 85 27 316 1K BLM BEEZY @BeezySaysBLM Replying to @Wale Due to the riots looting and thanks to the government and antifa they left truck loads of fireworks behind that's why so many people have their hands on them. And elites are dropping them off on every corner to keep the mayhem going. Be safe y'all martial law coming!! 6:20 PM · Jun 21, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone Text Font Line Screenshot

On June 15th, Gothamist reported that firework complaints increased by 230 times in June (shown below).

Fireworks Complaints In NYC, June 1-19 From 2015-2020 2015 11 2016 16 2017 20 2018 27 2019 | 27 2020 6,385 Chart: Gothamist • Source: NYC 311 Data · Get the data • Created with Datawrapper Fireworks Complaints In NYC June 1-19, 2020 1,500 1,000 500 June June June June June June June June June June June June June June June June June June June 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Chart: Gothamist · Source: NYC 311 Data • Get the data • Created with Datawrapper Text Line Font
On June 18th, Twitter user @davehill77 tweeted a thread about the fireworks in which he states that the price drop in fireworks led to increased usage (shown below, left and center). On June 20th, Twitter user @SonofBaldwin tweeted, “My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement.” One of the initial tweets in the thread received more than 16,000 likes and 14,000 retweets in less than two days (shown below, right).


David HillO @davehill77 · Jun 18 I'm going to ask my brother in law about the fireworks in NYC because if anyone knows its him David HillO @davehill77 Omg his wife says he just came back from PA with a carload of fireworks because he sells them for a markup since they are illegal in ny Show this thread 3 27 3 20 David HillO @davehill77 · 9m Oh my god I just got ALL the lowdown on this and this will be a thread 27 1 1 7 David Hill O @davehill77 · 8m According to my sister in law, her husband got a phone call from his connect in PA begging him to come out and buy some stuff. Promised him professional level stuff dirt cheap. Evidently the fact that big shows are all canceled has hurt the market... 3 27 1 David Hill Follow @davehill77 So the dealers are turning to their black market customers - the people they know resell stuff in NY. They are basically giving it away. And the weird thing is - there are a lot of fireworks plugs like my brother in law out there... 5:32 PM - 21 Jun 2020 1 Retweet 2 Likes 1 27 1 2 Text Font Line David Hill O @davehill77 · 7m He has like a whole sheet of customers he sells to. It's a very weird subculture I guess. But here's my favorite part of the story... 1 27 1 3 David Hill O @davehill77 · 6m He kept some of the serious shit for himself because he never gets to get his hands on pro stuff. And he shot one off the balcony of his apartment in Yonkers... 17 1 1 David Hill O @davehill77 · 5m It caught a tree on fire. And he freaked out. So he ran outside and went to try to put the fire out. The neighbors called the fire department. 1 27 1 David HillO @davehill77 · 4m When the FD arrived they put it out, but the neighbors came outside and said they had something important to tell the firefighters about him. He freaked out. 27 1 David HillO @davehill77 · 3m But they told the firefighters that they saw him rush outside to put out the fire by himself. They said he was a hero. The firefighters thanked him. He said it was what anyone would do and he has kids and all that shit. He ate it up. 27 1 2 7 David HillO @davehill77 · 2m Then they told him this was their fourth fireworks call that night and they all commiserated about the assholes shooting off fireworks around town. A perfect end to get another Yonkers brother in law story. Text Font Line Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.) @SonofBaldwin · Jun 20 Good morning Family: THE PROPHETS 208 27 5.3K 6.5K Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.) @SonofBaldwin · Jun 20 Reporting from Brooklyn, there was yet another night of extremely loud fireworks starting at 8 pm. and ending at about 2 a.m. This is the second week straight of this; every night during the same time period, like THE PROPHETS t clockwork. 659 27 14.6K 16.5K Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.) @SonofBaldwin · Jun 20 Last night was the loudest I have ever heard fireworks in my entire life. It THE PROPHETS sounded like war. 21 27 684 3.8K Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.) @SonofBaldwin · Jun 20 THE The media is reporting this as though it's just Black and Brown kids blowing off steam, but I don't believe that's the case. PROPHETS t 27 4.1K 669 17 Son of Baldwin (Robert Jones, Jr.) THE PROPHETS @SonofBaldwin My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 7:01 AM · Jun 20, 2020 · Twitter Web App > Text Font Line” class=” kym-image image-auto-link” id=”photo_1865223″ title=”My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an “></a> </center>Discussion of the fireworks also appeared on <a href=Reddit. For example on June 20th, Redditor theplantmain asked the /r/AskReddit subreddit about the fireworks. The post received more than 40,000 upvotes (89% upvoted) and 4,900 comments in less than one week. Conversation about the fireworks also appeared on /r/AskAnAmerican, /r/LosAngeles, /r/NYC, /r/AdviceAnimals and more. ‘

Several media outlets covered the fireworks, including Gothamist, Vox, NBC, The New York Times and more. Slate wrote:

Perhaps more importantly, retailers have also started selling fireworks online and allowing for pickup service. In an email, Heckman confirmed to me that this is a new marketing strategy for the industry; before the pandemic, online sales were rare. (One cannot, after all, drop a bomb in the mail.) Steve Pelkey is the owner and CEO of Atlas Fireworks, a family-owned company that produces large fireworks events, including for the New England Patriots, and also operates four retail locations in New Hampshire. Atlas began offering online sales during the pandemic, and retail sales are currently up 28 percent from 2019. Pelkey estimates that online sales now account for 24 percent of Atlas’ gross retail revenue. These online sales may be helping retailers to reach new customers–perhaps even ones who live in cities in Massachusetts, the lone state that still outlaws the sale of all types of fireworks.

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