Saturday, June 20, 2020

Mystery booms: Should we blame Boogaloo?

I've come back to propose a conspiracy theory. Because that's what we need right now: More paranoia.

Actually, this theory posits a plot to spread paranoia -- a plot which germinated within those eldritch corners of the internet which the Boogaloo crowd calls home.

We're talking about a plot to besmirch the left. Admittedly, such a plot seems unnecessary, since the left is doing a superb job of besmirching itself. The self-defeating antics of "progressives" -- and I could list quite a few of them -- give me reason to predict a Trump victory in the electoral college, despite the current polls favoring Biden. A backlash is a-comin'.

But the neo-Nazis among us have a vision which goes far beyond any election: They want a race war. They want rid of democracy. They want an end to the American experiment. Obviously, most of them would prefer a Trump victory, but his fate is far from their sole concern. In fact, my readings indicate that some far-rightists consider Trump an impediment to their larger plans.

In a preceding Cannonfire post, these words appeared:
Just yesterday, while in the local dollar store, I heard a couple of Trumpers braying loud inanities about the supposed threat posed by leftist radicals.

(Trumpers habitually discuss politics in public places while keeping their voices at a jackhammer volume that could deafen a banshee, even though everyone else just wants to buy pretzels in silence.)
That incident was weird -- almost "John Keel" weird. I've never encountered a similar situation throughout the decade I've lived in this Baltimore suburb.

Those two guys spoke in VERY LOUD voices which could be heard throughout the store, yet they seemed to be reading from a script. They spoke in whole sentences and did not interrupt each other, using "print" language, not "everyday conversation" language. For example, they warned of "THE THREAT TO OUR COMMUNITY POSED BY LEFT-WING EXTREMISTS!" (That's as exact a quote as memory permits.)

People just don't talk that way. Not in Dundalk. Not anywhere.

I suspect that this bit of theater connects with another mystery which has beset this community and many other locales. For days -- weeks -- Baltimore experienced a barrage of fireworks and explosions. The mystery booms rattled nerves each and every night, and the attacks lasted throughout the night. Dundalk was hit particularly hard: I heard the blasts until the wee small hours of the morning, as late as 4 AM.

To be fair, we should note that Baltimore is a town where the laws against fireworks are considered hilarious. Nobody ever gets prosecuted for setting off skyrockets. On New Year's Eve, this neighborhood always sounds like a battlefield -- and on cue, I tell my usual joke: "Sounds like General Ross came back for revenge." (If you don't get it, read up on the War of 1812.)

Yes, fireworks are also heard on non-holiday nights. We expect to hear those sounds roughly once a week during the summer months, though the clandestine KABOOMS usually don't last more than a few minutes. Hell, even on New Year's Eve, the "battlefield" noises go on for only about twenty or thirty minutes.

What happened during the fortnight of George Floyd protests was different.

During those two weeks, the salvos lasted throughout the night. Moreover, the emphasis was on sound rather than visual spectacle. Skyrockets were rarely seen. The "boomers" showed a marked preference for very loud explosions which sound unnervingly close to actual artillery.

Locals tell themselves that kids have gone "fireworks crazy" this year due to the announcement that the usual July 4 public displays would be canceled, thanks to Covid 19. But this explanation makes no sense. The cancellation of public fireworks displays should have no impact on the use of illegal fireworks by private parties.

As a general rule, kids save most of their fireworks for Independence Day. This year, we were treated to a nightly barrage before July 4, during the first two weeks of June. Each night's barrage was far louder, far more long-lasting than anything I had previously heard.

The attacks occurred only during the protest period, when nerves were on edge. There were no mystery booms last night, and none the night before. (I did hear a few desultory pops while walking my dog just now.)

Question: Where did it all come from? Fireworks cost money, and many people are financially strapped right now. Rumor has it that someone was handing out free fireworks from a truck near Patterson Park.

The "mystery boom" phenomenon occurred in many states. This podcast refers to attacks in Pennsylvania.

The attacks in New York were, it seems, particularly relentless and disturbing.
Illicit bursts of fireworks from street corners and rooftops aren't uncommon in the city's neighborhoods in the days before the Fourth of July, but the past few weeks has seen an extraordinary surge in such displays.

There have already been more than 1,300 fireworks-related complaints to the city’s noise complaint hotline through the first half of the month, including 455 on Sunday. Usually, there are just a few dozen such complaints during that time period.
In NYC, as in Bawlmer, the booms and crackles lasted throughout the night.
Where they are coming from is also a mystery.

While the short sparklers that parents let kids twirl until they quickly flame out can be purchased, the kind of fireworks that create the booming blasts in Brooklyn can’t be sold legally in New York.

But people are getting them — a lot of them, from the sound of things.
Also see here:
"You would think that we're at war," said Brownsville resident Harvell Livingston.

While illegal fireworks have always been a part of the soundtrack around the Fourth of July, lately they have been lighting up social media all around the city -- with examples of living rooms lit up like daylight to petrified pets.

"You got these boom, boom, booms at 12 at night," said a Washington Heights resident. "I know that from everyone that I have talked to that it just has to stop."
The following excerpt from the NYT buttresses my contention that these fireworks differ from the ones we've seen and heard before.
“These are not your normal kids playing with fireworks,” said Michael Ford, a piano teacher in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood. “These are real explosives, like Macy’s-style fireworks.”
The country was a tinderbox, and these fools were playing with matches. Literally.
In Brooklyn’s gentrifying Flatbush section — which has recorded hundreds of complaints, among the most of any neighborhood in the city — the daily fireworks are exposing divisions over race and class, and provoking debates about what should be reported to the police.
An out-of-nowhere group came forward to assert an absurd link between illegal fireworks and Black Lives Matter.
When police officers showed up last weekend to crack down on the explosives in a part of the area with many black and Hispanic residents, some people assumed it was a response to a petition created by residents of Ditmas Park, a historic district in the neighborhood, that urged the city to put a “a peaceful stop to the illegally launched fireworks that have been disrupting our sleep and our lives for weeks.”

Equality for Flatbush, which calls itself a “people of color-led, multinational grass-roots organization that does anti-police repression, affordable housing and anti-gentrification/anti-displacement organizing,” lashed out at a now-deleted Facebook group, Peaceful Ditmas Park, and a law professor who helped write the petition.

Equality for Flatbush said Peaceful Ditmas Park was “a majority-white Facebook group where pro-gentrification and white supremacist sentiment is highly prevalent” and called the law professor, Irina Manta, a “Ditmas Park Karen,” using what has become shorthand for an entitled white woman.
This is incendiary language, intentionally designed to create a white backlash. White or black, we're all "entitled" to peace and quiet. Fireworks have no logical connection to the protests.

Police were put in an impossible situation. Many residents (of all backgrounds) complained about this nightly bombardment, which was both unsafe and illegal. But any attempt to arrest the perpetrators would probably have led to further violence and further protests.

And who would profit from that?

The Nazis who want a race war. That's who.

I'm now at least semi-convinced that those loudmouths I heard in the Dollar store were actors attempting to create an atmosphere of tension. Amateurish as they were, I believe that they were part of a much larger psychological operation. Even an inept and unsuccessful psyop deserves attention.

If you study the history of psyops, one name stands out: Edward Lansdale of the CIA. He helped to quell a rebellion in the Philippines by convincing villagers that they were under attack from an Aswang, a vampire-like creature from that country's folklore. Lansdale used many methods to spread this rumor -- and one of those methods involved actors in public places, reading from scripts.

Just like those guys in that store.

A word about the Berman "firing." The more I mull over this business, the stranger it seems.
A law-enforcement source with knowledge of the situation inside the Southern District of New York described a chaotic situation there following Attorney General William Barr’s Friday night announcement that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman was resigning, followed an hour later by Berman replying that he had not resigned and would not leave—followed by Barr’s claim that President Trump was firing Berman, followed by Trump’s claim that it’s all up to Barr to handle.
Granted, it is characteristic for Trump to lay all blame at the feet of others. But there is a theory going around that Barr instigated this imbroglio without Trump's knowledge -- because Barr himself is at risk.

The same source offered this tweet in October of last year.
Denver, CO has had large scale mysterious fireworks set off, that last through the night:

The window-shaking fireworks explosions also happened out here in Santa Rosa CA during the May 31-June 1 protests. There was a running tear gas-rubber bullet confrontation with cops both nights and many (including moi) thought it was police combating a "burn the city down" riot. It turned out to be white guys in a pickup with a professional fireworks mortar in the back, and yes, presumably the aim was to frighten everyone into thinking we were in a war zone situation. (Fun tip: At a distance, a roman candle sounds exactly like small arms fire.)
We’ve had a lot of very loud late night booms here on the west coast.

There always seems to be an early 4th faction that wants to get the fun going early, but it’s never been this early.

My thoughts have run in the same direction as yours.

The boom is very loud with a bright flash. So loud that they are clearly illegal firecrackers, like the “Silver Salute” “M-80” or larger. Stuff is hard to get. It would be interesting to know the exact distinction between these pyrotechnic salutes and the flash-bang so beloved of law enforcement.

In discussions I’ve seen on Next-Door, the noise is being dismissed as happy celebrations of Juneteenth, with no apparent irony.
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