Operations Fireworks: The Conspiracy That’s Not a Theory, COINTELPRO and Retaliatory Politics


Reading Time: 8 minutes

You’re in your room, getting ready for bed, catching up on the latest articles on your favorite Black-owned publication when, all of a sudden — BOOM! — you hear a ripple of gunshots outside your window.

Round one.



The vibrations of the sound echo through your apartment, shaking the walls, and you approach your window and draw back the curtain to see other concerned tenants peering out of theirs. Suddenly, a crackling crescendo turns into a high-pitched whistle and a flower of fiery lights illuminate the air.


But… it’s not the Fourth of July, and the booms were loud.

As the night continues, so do the fireworks. Not just five, ten, or twenty minutes, but hours. It’s a nuisance, but you grab your earplugs and tough out the night.

Exhausted working from home the next day, your productivity is low, and you gratefully welcome the sunset, signalling the approach of night. Except… the fireworks start again — and at almost the same time they did yesterday. You sigh, exasperated, and chalk it up to the kids on the block, except… how did they get fireworks this big, and this loud? This doesn’t seem right. It sounds like a war zone.

This continues for weeks.

If this describes your experience, you’re not alone. Tenants all over major cities and suburban towns across the US have been experiencing this very phenomenon: fireworks, like clockwork, all through the night. Several people described the booms like bombs. Others checked in with neighbors and corroborated reports that youth have been receiving fireworks from “random men in SUVs,” with reports confirming adults engaging also. Now that the holiday is over, with red, white and blue exchanged for stony black, let’s reflect on what really happened.

I believe we experienced a coordinated attack by police departments across the nation, perhaps the CIA, a popular and well-documented desensitization tactic readily identified by veterans.[3] We have reason to believe that there would be punishment for major outlets to speak out in this way, thus suggesting that these structures are deeply enmeshed. And given the state of police forces across the country, there is even more reason to believe this.[4] I wanted to tell you this first.

In 1971, Fred Hampton was killed by COINTELPRO. Even though this is still not widely circulated, the papers have been published and are available online.[1] Killed after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Fred Hampton was slated to lead a movement. But the FBI stepped in after establishing that he might be “the one,” a Black messiah that could arguably destabilize the structures of white power and bring an end to the dynasty, as quoted from the released documents by The Root’s senior writer Michael Harriot’s (@michaelharriot) extremely educational Twitter thread.[2]

Given everything that’s going on, we can consider that the two are deeply connected. Not only is the current season of unrest coming at the semicentennial anniversary of the Black Panther and movement leader’s death, but the fireworks debacle and Hampton’s assassination are positionally related in terms of the phase at which they were executed. Hampton was approaching the height of his impact, having sensationalized a ready Chicago still reeling from the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others just this past year led to sustained social protests calling for widespread governmental change. Fred Hampton had specifically indicted police forces, and was killed by none other than a squad organized and directed by the CIA. The most recent and radicalizing calls by youth across the country: defund the police. Something happens when we indict the protective forces of our nation when they fail daily to meet basic standards: the very scaffolding of our country threatens to come apart, and the military might which defines America’s global reputation exposes itself to be nothing more than molded, moth-eaten drywall. Therefore, we must suspect that in order to preserve its military and economic interests both at home and abroad, and if nothing else, to preserve well-integrated mob politics that maintain egregious wealth at the expense of literally everyone else, the incumbent will do what they can to maintain pretenses until further notice.

In regards to the firework disturbances, there are a number of theories that have arisen, the strongest suggesting government collusion; we will introduce you to all of them:

  1. There is a camp that believes this is largely structured by the police force, which is of course indelibly tied to  municipal governments, and this belief is gaining proof and momentum. There have been two extrapolations made, with credit to Son of Baldwin and many other people of Twitter independently corroborating evidence, that arise here: one, the police are trying to make a passive-aggressive statement about the need for “law & order” thus abandoning communities during this time, as a fraternally-agreed-upon retaliation over recent cries to defund and/or abolish the police.[5] While believable, this is incomplete, and now with de Blasio setting a precedent by sending out raids, a largely aggressive police response to what can be diffused nonviolently, we believe the second estimation, which we are about to introduce, is more accurate: that the purpose of the fireworks is to sanction mass arrests to occur prior to voting season, but most fundamentally, justify mass killings that will largely go untraced and undocumented in the system. This is more accurate because it accords with past happenings between the CIA and the Black community, and because intuitively —  with the increase in prosecutions of police officers for misconduct, the documented overlap of the KKK and police departments across the country, and the increasingly oppressive, retaliatory regime we’ve seen orchestrated by Trump and his administration —  we know this is true. While the Fourth itself was relatively quiet, there have been more shootings, mass arrests, evictions and other impingements on civil liberties than we’ve had in months, many going unreported by major publications.

Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist? I might, but in considering that the coordinated lighting of professional grade, expensive fireworks happened in metropolitan areas and suburbs across the country, many of them at the same time at night, we are seeing a level of organization that is not to be ignored — not to mention that the benign reasonings behind fireworks being available en masse just aren’t adding up.

  • One postulation offers that Macy’s and other major entities that have clearance to use cake fireworks — the large, extremely loud processional fireworks we all drive in to see — are flooding the market due to the COVID-19 restrictions on Fourth of July celebrations by trying to have them put to use while making a little money. This is false for four reasons. One, seeing that governments are already trying to prematurely move into phase four of reopening, the holiday should not be affected. Furthermore, this argument doesn’t hold weight because fireworks take a long time to expire. The companies could, hypothetically, just keep the fireworks until next season without offloading them into Black and brown communities, and in some cases white suburban communities. Third, they’re illegal. Offloading illegal explosives to the general public would ultimately be a huge liability for them. And finally, the companies themselves denied this. Again, something does not seem right here.

The other reasons why this does not seem right are wrapped into the proof below. In several trending Twitter hashtag threads regarding the situation, people are corroborating evidence with each other, through independent, highly consistent experiences, suggesting that this is an organized, coordinated effort. Not to mention that there have been shootings that have occurred at the same time and the fireworks can serve as a distraction, not only to unlawful police activity, but to political developments during voting season.[6]

Actress and TV host Keke Palmer remarking on the strange coincidence of fireworks happening across the country[7]: https://twitter.com/kekepalmer/status/1275519908718075904?s=21

A video of the fire department lighting fireworks, as you may have seen[8]: https://nypost.com/2020/06/17/fdny-firefighters-light-off-illegal-fireworks-in-brooklyn/amp/

Yet another of fireworks directly behind the NYPD precinct[9]: https://twitter.com/AnneMarcelleN/status/1274540444253388800

NYPD driving around Harlem at 3AM at night to disrupt sleep patterns[10]:

NYPD and fire department standing by as people light fireworks[11]:

This instagram post that cites a video that is increasingly hard to find of an NYPD officer setting off fireworks[12]: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBwoOkQlupe/

What’s to learn here is that this is not the first time the government has done something like this.

And given the history of COINTELPRO, the assassination of Dr. King, the trial in which the FBI admitted to conspiring to kill King while only awarding Coretta a measly $200 settlement, and everything else the government has done to suppress social movements… makes the whole thing a lot more believable.[13]

Here, I will let this thread on Twitter, compiled by a New York resident keeping watch on the issue in her community, speak for itself:

Accounts of youth being given explosives by random “White men” in their community[14]: https://twitter.com/AYOArielleGrace/status/1274555085088063489

In America, we have a problem: we tend to look through rose-colored glasses at a burning world. I do not know how this naivetë has taken such a strong hold on the American people, but it has. After years of a concerted effort to generate a language around equality and freedom, America convinced not only its White majority but some parts of marginalized communities seeking their way up, too, that it is truly the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” despite the fact that the very song I reference contains a stanza celebrating the death of slaves. I digress.

This willingness to engage in neglectful ignorance of the mass atrocities that have become a stalwart component of American capitalist expansion has made it hard for conversations like this exceptionally difficult, but I beg you to open your heart, just for a moment.

Having learned from the movements of the past, and understanding the necessity of continued pressure and support of protests, the US local and federal governments are working to destabilize the movement with social media distractions, mass carceral and voter suppression policies meant to keep the wealthy in power, and demoralization through continued lack of political action against the unjust killings of Black and brown people.

Here’s a few things you can do:

  1. Keep your children, siblings, students, or any other youth you know directly engaged, informed and participatory in local politics, and inside at all costs, especially if they are going to soon be or have just turned old enough to vote. The youth who are seen blowing up fireworks by local law enforcement may be incarcerated for way longer than necessary, or charged with a felony,  so that their right to vote can be taken away. This is a well-known and cheap trick that governments around the world have used.
  2. Instead of calling the police, begin to talk to one another with patience and understanding. Now is the time to engage in local politics in a way we never have before, meaning we just listen to each other. In a time where police feel attacked and exposed, they are going to retaliate in immature ways to get back at the communities who dare say they don’t need them. This means, instead of calling police, knock on your neighbors door, come outside and begin conversations with local residents, attend the scene and spread the word as widely as you possibly can.
  3. If you see fireworks lying around, dispose of them.
  4. Post signs around your neighborhood if you’re lucky enough to have a printer to let people know what’s up. Now is the time to act strategically, quickly, and intentionally, sending a message to the bullies that we will not be intimidated by their tactics.
  5. Disengage. Protest peacefully. Divest from the normal avenues you would necessarily use, and seek out local Black and brown vendors. Now is the time to disengage from all commerce and come together as a people, because we are able, we have a mind, and we care for one another.
  6. Begin a sharing table in your neighborhood and drop off things you don’t need, pick up things you do, and be mindful of others who might need.[15]
  7. Share this information with your friends, and then urge them to share with theirs.
  8. Stay encouraged, prayed up, and grounded. The only way forward is to remember that God is in control and that ultimately, there is nothing to fear, even when the world is falling apart around us. We have something to anchor us in times of chaos: faith.

If there’s anything else you can think of doing, please share with us on social media at @aurnonline or on Twitter @AURNInspiration.

The longer you spend researching,  clearer the image that emerges. As we do our research here to bring you the most accurate and truly uncensored information, we invite you to do the same by giving all of our sources at the end of this article some attention so you can come to your own conclusion. That being said, consider history, consider contemporaneity, consider your life, and consider mine: what do they have to gain from these tactics? If you can come up with even one answer, you owe it to yourself and others to be aware and vigilant during these times.

advanced divider
advanced divider