An conspiracy theory has been circulating social media about a government coordinated effort to set-off fireworks in New York City as a means to keep black and brown communities sleep deprived and get them adjusted to the sound of heavy artillery, that they could then use against them has been debunked by The New York Times. The conspiracy theory was pushed by one of their most prominent journalists via her social media.
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a writer for The New York Times and founder of the 1619 Project. She recently shared a Twitter thread and showed he support for it, telling her followers to read the thread.
The thread states that the fireworks being lit off in some neighbourhoods in New York City are "part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement."
The thread goes on to explain how this tactic would be effective in destabilizing the movement, "1. Sleep deprivation as a means to create confusion and stoke tensions between Black and Brown peoples 2. Desensitization as a means to get us so used to the sounds of firecrackers and other fireworks that when they start using their real artillery on us we won't know the difference. It's meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it's about to become."
The thread continues to rule out any other potential possibilities for why the fireworks may be happening.
However Hannah-Jones' employer The New York Times just published a lengthy article that provided a number of more realistic possibilities for the recent spike fireworks being set off in the city such as the fact that people in New York City are finally being allowed out of their homes as lockdown measures have been lifted, which could perhaps be cause for celebration.
The article also pointed out the fact that fireworks are readily available to buy at low cost in the surrounding states such as Pennsylvania. In fact fireworks are even allowed to be legally purchased in New York City between June 1 and July 5 in the name of celebrating America's Independence Day on the fourth of July. This timeline perfectly matches up with the recent spike in fireworks being lit off. New York City also sells fireworks again each year between December 26 and January 1 for New Year's Eve celebrations:
"As is often the case with conspiracy theories, they said the truth is not an elaborate government plot, but very simple: After months of quarantine and social distancing, people are bored, and setting off fireworks for fun—and seeing fireworks just makes fireworks enthusiasts want to set off more fireworks," the article read.
Outside of those designated times to sell fireworks, there is also a lucrative underground market for people to buy fireworks illegally in Pennsylvania where the laws are more loose and then selling them in New York at a high markup.
“The past few weeks it’s been like the day before the 4th of July every day,” said Kenneth Crissinger, assistant manager at Phantom Fireworks in Matamoras, Pennsylvania who was interviewed by the Times for the story. Matamoras os a town only about 75 miles northwest of New York City. “We can’t keep our shelves stocked.” he added.
Hannah-Jones has since deleted the post the thread sharing the fireworks conspiracy theory. She claims that the now-debunked theory was "beneath her standards."
Hannah-Jones had recently been at the centre of another controversy for saying she would be honoured if the current riots were named after the "1619 Project" and that America wasn't burning.