De Blasio To Crack Down On Illegal Fireworks Suppliers After Rising Complaints

NYC fireworks
Photo credit Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio has established a multi-agency task force to crackdown on illegal fireworks suppliers in New York City after a homeless man was injured in a disturbing incident that was caught on video in Harlem.

The video shows a man throwing a lit fire cracker at the man as he was sleeping on the sidewalk early Monday morning on West 113th Street.

The firework exploded when it hit the 66-year-old man, who was hospitalized with minor burns. He is expected to recover.

NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan tweeted out the video and said, "The inhumanity of this crime is shocking to everyone who watches. The NYPD WILL apprehend those responsible for using fireworks to assault our fellow New Yorker in Harlem yesterday."

Anyone with information is asked to call NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

It's just the latest in an increasing number of firework incidents around the city.

There have been more than 1,700 fireworks complaints to 311 since May 29. Fed up New Yorkers gathered to stage a loud protest Monday night outside Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence. Protesters honked their horns and chanted, "We don't sleep, you don't sleep" as they demanded the mayor take action to address the firework problem.

"We need to send a message that we need to end these chaotic fireworks that has been happening across the city. We can't sleep, Mr. Mayor you won't sleep," City Councilman Chaim Deutsch said.

The mayor told NY1, "I'm worried that someone's going to get hurt, besides the fact that it's a nuisance and quality of life problem, I'm really worried that some kid's going to get hurt."

On Tuesday, the mayor announced a task force consisting of 10 officers from the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY Fire Marshals and 20 members of the Sheriff’s Bureau will conduct investigations and sting operations within and outside of New York City to disrupt supply chains.

"We're going to start a huge sting operation to go and get these illegal fireworks at the base, meaning everywhere they're being sold around New York City and even where they're being sold in surrounding states that we know are flowing into New York City," de Blasio said.

The task force will target suppliers, distributors and possessors of large quantities of illegal fireworks.

“We’re cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep," the mayor stated.

The FDNY will also launch a public safety campaign about the dangers of illegal fireworks.

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