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Fireworks Calls Up 2300 Percent in Boston

June 10, 2020

Police in Boston got more than 2,300 percent more calls complaining about fireworks in May 2020 than they got in May 2019.

The police department fielded 656 calls last month, as opposed to 27 in May 2019 – an increase of 2,330 percent.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh described the situation during a press conference Wednesday, June 10.

“This has been tough. I mean, one went off the other night, and I thought — I thought somebody blew up the park, next to me,” Walsh said.

He noted that fireworks are common in early July because of their historic connection with Independence Day, but not so much in May and June.

“There’s always been illegal fireworks leading up to the Fourth of July. But this year it’s worse than usual. It started early and it never seemed to stop,” Walsh said. “The data is eye-opening. Fireworks calls to the Boston Police Department this year were up by 2,300 percent. When I saw that number, I thought it was a misprint. Twenty-three hundred percent. This May compared to last May.”

Much of the activity goes on late at night, according to reports.

Many city councilors have called the mayor asking him to address it, he said.

“I just want to remind everyone this is a serious issue. People are frightened. People are losing sleep. Babies and kids are woken up. Pets are terrified. Our veterans and others with PTSD are experiencing real harm. And it’s a real fire hazard in our city,” Walsh said.

Boston police last week responded to a report of a gunshot in Mattapan, only to fire out it was fireworks, the mayor said.

“The police have been able to confiscate some illegal fireworks. But there’s only so much that they can do,” Walsh said. “So I’m asking you, if you’re involved in this behavior, I want you to think about the people around you, I want [you] to think about the seniors in your neighborhood, I want [you] to think about the kids in your neighborhood, the families in your neighborhood. Think about your community, and stop it.”

A reporter asked Walsh if he has a theory for why so many people are setting off fireworks so often.

“No — Maybe Covid,” Walsh said. “I think people are home.”

Fireworks have been illegal in Massachusetts since 1943.

But Walsh, 53, noted that when he was a kid fireworks were readily available at Haymarket, back when the elevated Central Artery divided the North End from the southwestern section of Hanover Street, before the Big Dig removed the elevated highway.

“I don’t know if anyone remembers — when I was a kid, and you wanted fireworks, you’d go to Haymarket, and you’d buy the fireworks. Walsh said. “And that just disappeared. Just like [makes disappearing sound with lips] — you couldn’t buy them on the market anymore. I don’t know where you got them anymore.”



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