Fireworks rattle cities, draw wild theories
Nightly pyrotechnics set off crazy ideas
THERE’S SO MUCH about life over the last few months that was impossible to predict, even after the pandemic began to reshape nearly every facet of our daily existence. For residents of cities across the country, one new development has become a loud reminder of what strange times we’re in.
“Did you have ‘mystery fireworks’ on your 2020 bingo card, after murder hornets and federal agents attacking peaceful protesters with tear gas so the president could pose in front of a church with a Bible?” asks Maura Judkis in the Washington Post.
If so, you’re a winner.
Nightly, incessant explosion of fireworks in Boston and communities across the country has added sleeplessness and, for some, trauma triggering onto whatever toll has been taken by unemployment, health worries, and the general upheaval and anxiety of life amidst a global pandemic.
Mayor Marty Walsh has tried to quiet the detonation-determined masses, decrying the fact that complaints to police last month about fireworks — which are illegal in Massachusetts — were up 23-fold over the same period last year. Not to rub it in, given our fragile inferiority complex about all things New York, but we don’t hold a Roman candle to Gotham, where police received 80 times the number of complaints about fireworks over the first half of June this year versus the same time last year.
Most theories chalk up the surge to a combination of boredom and aggressive marketing by fireworks companies, but that’s not satisfying everyone.
One Twitter theorist, Robert Jones Jr., whose idea has gained some following on social media, has posited that police and other government agencies are supplying minority neighborhoods with arsenals of fireworks to desensitize them so that “when they start using their real artillery on us we won’t know the difference.”
But for every crackpot idea that fireworks are an organized assault on black and brown communities there seems to be one suggesting that the war-zone noises of the night are actually the soundtrack of liberation.
Giving what seems almost parodic voice to that is a recent blog post by a white woman, Penelope Trunk, who says she moved to Boston a year ago and lives in a sliver of Roxbury “between two gang territories.”
Her discovery: “This is a form of protest. And the protest is so layered in meaning and gorgeous to view that I think it qualifies as performance art,” she writes. “It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful, playful way for the black community of Boston to shine a light on the inherently oblivious nature of white people exercising privilege. And the more people complain about the disruption of peace in their neighborhood, the more profound this fireworks performance art becomes.”
City Councilor Julia Mejia is not impressed. Neither is Ron Odom, a pillar of the overwhelming black Dorchester neighborhood where his 13-year-old son, Steven, was killed in a gang shooting 13 years ago when someone walking with him was mistaken for a gang rival.
While some late-night revelers may be enjoying the show, the only thing woke about the 2 a.m. displays are all the people trying to sleep.