I’ll just preface this by saying the fireworks don’t bother me at all. I don’t have a pet or kids and I don’t have a job to wake up for. Plus, one of my roommates is generally a loud person, so I wear earplugs and turn my noise machine up — there could be an actual war going on outside and I wouldn’t know about it.
But is there a war going on outside? These aren’t normal fireworks. I’ve lived in NYC for 12 years, and ten of those have been in predominantly Black & Brown neighborhoods — Bushwick, BedStuy, Harlem — where fireworks in the summer are normal. I’ve heard them every year I’ve been here. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, people randomly shoot off cheap little fireworks.
I started pointing it out online and to my friends as a joke a couple of weeks ago, because it was genuinely funny to me. Why are so many people around the country hearing fireworks but NOBODY actually KNOWS anyone who is shooting them off? Black people across the country are very connected. If our cousin, friend, neighborhood nuisance, unemployed cookout uncle, etc. was setting off fireworks EVERY night between 10pm and 3am, we’d be talking about it. Noise complaints in New York City are up 230x the normal for this time of year, but almost no one knows an actual culprit.
Firework complaints across New York City rose by 236 times this month compared to the same time period last year, as New Yorkers question where the explosives — some of them seemingly high-grade — are coming from and who’s behind the endless evenings of pyrotechnic displays.
From June 1st to June 19th, there have been 6,385 total 311 complaints about fireworks—up from just 27 during the same time period last year. The complaints have been rising throughout June, most notably in the past week. Juneteenth saw the highest number of complaints—a day of celebrations but also protests against police brutality, concluding with fireworks overnight.
Observers have noticed it’s not just more complaints this summer, but some incidents feature high-quality displays not typically operated by casual fireworks consumers.
After weeks of this every night across the country, it’s not funny anymore. A lot of people stumble across my page on a weekly basis, and only one has admitted to setting off fireworks with her kids. That’s not normal. And now we’re realizing more and more that none of this is normal.
Tell me how “effective” this response is to noise complaints. If people are calling in about loud sounds and flashing lights, you send cop cars to parade around with loud sounds and flashing lights?
— Jeo (@fromzerotojeo) June 22, 2020
Fireworks are loud and bright and they’ve been going off for hours each night. If the cops wanted to catch them, they could absolutely do that, but a tense community on edge is a good thing to them.
So now we’re arguing with each other over the fireworks. Some people say the cops are doing it and some people answer “no I saw kids in my neighborhood doing it” and nobody believes each other instead of recognizing that multiple things can be true.
Kids and families are setting off normal summer fireworks.
Officials are setting off fireworks.
Officials and instigators are supplying high quality fireworks for people to set off.
If you know people who are setting off fireworks, either unprompted or at the suggestion and with the aid of some organization, urge them to stop. It’s the people against the police, not the people against each other calling on the police to stop it. That’s what they want and we don’t need trigger happy bullies in riot gear responding to noise complaints on our streets.
Weaponizing Whiteness on Christmas
White people have the upper hand if the police are involved. Remember that always.
Nolis doesn’t want me to write this. I asked him to send me the screenshots of the text conversation between him and Bobby and he won’t because he doesn’t want anymore drama with his roommate. I respect that, but Bobby can’t blame Nolis if I want to get on the internet and tell everybody about how that asshole threatened to call the murderous New York City Police Department on me for sitting on his overpriced couch. I wrote an entire blog with the exchanges between Bobby and I from April through August to lay the foundation for just how irrational he is and how I was 0% at fault for this bullshit situation, because I hate seeing someone online standing in their truth and the first response is “well you must have done something to push him to that point.”
No. White victims know how to use their whiteness to get what they want and Bobby got exactly what he wanted. The shortest summary that still gives you the meat of our prior conflict:
In July, I became friends with a guy Bobby used to fuck in March/April and he was pissed that we weren’t including him when we hung out together. He blocked me in August when I said I wasn’t interested in trying to build a friendship with someone who only wants to hang out with me when I’m with his friend and treats his friends like possessions. That was the last time we ever spoke.
He never explained it to me. He blocked me instead.
Christmas is a little stressful for me because, not only are there constant reminders of Family Togetherness all around, but it’s also the time I feel most alone because my friends are with their families. If I miss my sister, I can walk down the hall and talk to Travis. I can’t do that at Christmas because he’s at home with his family. I haven’t had a Christmas with a family unit since my last one with my family the year before my sister died. I won’t go home with Travis for Christmas, even though I know I’m welcome, because I don’t know how I’ll react. I’m emotional, I’m depressed, I have social anxiety, and I miss my mom. If I have a breakdown from all the family togetherness, I don’t wanna be stuck five hours from NYC in a house with all these nice people who are just meeting me for the first time.
This year, I was going to test the Family Togetherness with Nolis’s family. They live in NYC. If I felt overwhelmed, I could just hop in a cab and come home. On the other hand, if it went great, I could take Travis up on his offer next year. Unfortunately, that plan got canceled at the last minute because one of his sisters just had a baby and the family decided it was too much of a risk in the age of COVID to have an unknown variable come into their home, so I was disinvited the day before dinner. I respect that. I know I have antibodies and a negative swab and I’ve been in my room since, but they couldn’t be sure of that.
The new plan was for me to teach Nolis how to make yams on Christmas Day instead of dinner with his family on Christmas Eve. Usually when we hang out, we do it here, but my roommate Aaron was having a Christmas party so the kitchen wouldn’t be available for cooking. Nolis said it would be fine for me to come down to his apartment and cook, so I asked him if Bobby would be there. He said yeah, because he and his current boyfriend are always there, but they could just go to Bobby’s room before I arrived.
Okay, that’s your living situation. If that’s how it works, that’s how it works.
I got there at 6 and unpacked my supplies. I heard the door open when Bobby and his boyfriend left, and I thought that was even better. I wouldn’t have to make small talk with Bobby after four months of silence stemming from a conflict that existed only in his mind.
And then the walls and walls of texts started pouring in. Nolis is conflict averse and he gets hot and flustered easily. I told him to let me see what Bobby was saying so I could help him respond because I didn’t understand what the problem was. Bobby went on and on about how he told Nolis he didn’t want me in his home, how could he bring me there, he had to take a Xanax and leave immediately, he was walking around with his boyfriend trying to figure out what to do, not only was Bobby now displaced on Christmas but his boyfriend was as well…
It was a LOT! Over some yams and a Christmas movie!
Nolis: Let’s talk this out. Can we have a calm discussion?
Bobby: No, let me know when he leaves.
Nolis: The yams are almost done. We can hang out in my room once they are so you won’t have to see each other.
Bobby: No, let me know when he leaves.
When I say Bobby can text, I mean that little boy can TEXT. I saw so many essays when I was with Adam because when Bobby has decided he is right, he will throw mountains of words at you if you don’t disengage. Nolis was getting upset and it was unfair to both of us. We couldn’t even hang out and enjoy Christmas because Bobby was texting every two minutes.
Nolis: I’m putting my phone down. I can’t enjoy time with my friend if I’m answering texts from you every two minutes. Call me when you’re on the way back and I’ll make sure we’re in my room, but I’m not answering anymore texts.
Bobby: That’s unfortunate. If he’s not gone in 30 minutes when I get back, I’m calling the police.
His exact words were “that’s unfortunate.”
So, back over the summer when I was trying to introduce Bobby to people and help him make friends in a new city, we talked about the marches and police brutality and Black Lives Matter. We were on the same page with what was happening with the protests around the country. He posted Instastories all summer in solidarity with the resistance and agreed that the police are a huge problem in this country.
But he decided he needed to call those same police on a Black man on Christmas because he doesn’t like me being friends with his former fuck buddy.
From there, the situation could’ve gone a number of ways, and I thought through all of them before I made my final decision, but a lot of people who were in my inbox about the conflict the next day weren’t thinking a few steps ahead like I was. Nolis said he probably wouldn’t call the police, Travis said he hoped Nolis punched him in the mouth, another friend said the police wouldn’t bother to respond to a call so petty, and a stranger told me Bobby should get knocked on his ass and that would straighten him out.
Let’s walk through the hypotheticals.
Calling His Bluff
A bluff is fine in poker, because you only lose some money if you get it wrong. A bluff is not fine when the potential consequence is thugs with guns. I didn’t want to see if Bobby would actually call the police. I personally thought he absolutely would because he’s an irrational toddler who only cares about himself and has zero ability to see reason. I found that out over the summer. Even if I didn’t think he would, was I willing to put my life at risk to test that?
Waiting on the Police
So Bobby calls the police and we wait calmly with our yams. The police show up, Bobby in tow, and we don’t know what he said to them to get them there, if he had to lie, exaggerate, cry, etc. The police see two Black men (Nolis is AfroLatino) sitting on the couch and this white man has just told them we’re tresspassing.
Talking to the Police
Assuming the police even let us talk, we have to convince them that I have a right to be there because I’m an invited guest. All Bobby has to say is “he threatened me!” and it’s my word against his. Who are they going to believe? The white man who is in tears or the Black man who is annoyed that Christmas is ruined because this emotional terrorist thinks I stole his friend over the summer?
Bobby knows that I am terrified of the police. When we were talking about my blog this summer, I told him about all the times I’d written about being stopped by the NYPD and how I start to shake whenever there are cops in the subway doing bag checks or cops walking by me on the sidewalk or cops on the train doing patrols. I have been face down on the sidewalk with a knee in my back because a cop said I looked suspicious when I saw his car and walked the other way. I’ve been pressed up against a brick wall being frisked because the police saw me in the dead of night and said I fit the description of a robbery suspect. I’ve been abused by cops for just walking from point A to point B. I’m too afraid to wait on the police who are coming specifically to see me on the word of an irrational white man.
Whether Bobby intended to call them or not — and I fully believe he would have — he is wholly aware that cops are domestic terrorists (because he was posting about them all summer), that cops are terrifying to me personally (because I told him face to face), and that cops are there to save white people. Cops are state-sanctioned bodyguards for white victims and Bobby decided to take full advantage of that privilege because of a dynamic he created four months ago.
And now that the police are on the table, I can never go back to Nolis’s, so Bobby got exactly what he wanted. White victims usually do.
Moundsville, WV has a ridiculous new military vehicle.
The Moundsville Police Department has added a vehicle to the fleet! I’ll tell you everything this MRAP offers- and explain how the department get it for free- tonight on @WTOV9 pic.twitter.com/qveCV7X1i9— Jaime Baker (@JBaker_WTOV) June 18, 2020
Moundsville has a population of around 9,000 people and less than 20 crimes a year.
Defund the police.
I bet their teachers have to buy crayons for the students but they got this monstrosity for what? To secure the local Huddle House?
Defund the police.
I know they didn’t pay for it (the government gives out crap like this to police departments for free!) but what kind of relationship do you think the police will have with the local community when they see cops out here living their warzone fantasy in a town that isn’t even big enough to have an Applebee’s? If the government wants to hand out free stuff, how bout some Healthcare?
Defund the police. That includes the federal government. Stop giving them military equipment.
Imagine a world where an armed officer isn’t the answer to everything.
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Imagine this with me for a moment. A guy falls asleep after drinking. He’s in line for Wendy’s because he’s needing some…
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
When you are dressed to literally kill, your reaction in any given situation is more likely to be violent.
We call 911 for a man sleeping in his car, for a domestic disturbance, for a hostage situation, for a mental health episode, for a lost child in the mall, etc. And the same person shows up, with a few weeks of training and dressed to literally kill. Why is a guy with a gun showing up if your child gets stuck in a tree and can’t climb down?
It makes no sense. And this is why we have to defund the police. They are not trained to do all of the jobs we ask of them and they DON’T WANT TO BE TRAINED. Cops don’t want to be social workers. Cops want to rough up some bad guys, so to them, every situation is a potential opportunity to rough up some bad guys.
I don’t want part of my paycheck going to a guy who hopes I respond the wrong way to his question so he can hurt me. I want part of my paycheck going to someone who sees a man sleeping in his car and helps him get back home.
We should be vaccinating the dumb and the selfish.
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