'1619 Project' Creator Floats Insane Conspiracy Theory: Kids with Fireworks Are a Gov't 'Attack' on Minorities


Nikole Hannah-Jones is having her moment.

It’s really been leading up to this for a while. The creator of The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which argues the real year of America’s founding should be the year slaves were first brought to America, Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer for the essay that kicked the whole project off.

When the New York Post ran an opinion piece about the violence, statue-toppling and property destruction associated with the recent protests titled “Call them the 1619 Riots,” Hannah-Jones retweeted it along with the quote, “It would be an honor. Thank you.” (She would later tell The Post Millennial this was a “tongue-in-cheek Twitter response.”)

Recently, the Pulitzer winner appeared to have uncovered another potential scandal: The government’s use of illegal fireworks displays to destabilize the Black Lives Matter movement.

What, you hadn’t heard? Well, Hannah-Jones retweeted a thread of writer Robert Jones Jr’s, simply saying “Read this.”

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The viral thread — which she’s now apologized for seeming to lend her imprimatur to — discusses the multitude of backyard fireworks this year and the theory that those who set it off or sell the fireworks potentially have, as their goals, “[s]leep deprivation as a means to create confusion and stoke tensions between Black and Brown peoples” and “[d]esensitization as a means to get us so used to the sounds of firecrackers and other fireworks that when they start using their real artillery on us we won’t know the difference. It’s meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it’s about to become.”

The fireworks are “psychological warfare, the first wave before whatever the next stage of the attack is,” Jones postulated.

“My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the [Black Lives Matter] movement.”

The publication that Hannah-Jones created the “1619 Project” for, The New York Times, has writers that have put forth, um, different explanations.

“For some people, the fireworks serve as a release after months of boredom and seclusion in cramped apartments. For others, they are a celebration of hard-fought strides made during the demonstrations, and a show of defiance toward the police,” Corey Kilgannon and Juliana Kim wrote in a June 19 piece.

“But not everyone is enamored by the pyrotechnics. In the first half of June, 1,737 complaints about fireworks came into the city’s 311 system, 80 times as many as the 21 in the same period last year.”

Jones Jr. wasn’t so convinced: “We think this because there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD that young Black and Brown people would otherwise have access to these PROFESSIONAL fireworks. These are Macy’s July 4th/New Year’s-level displays and sonic booms reserved generally for the wealthiest people and institutions,” he tweeted.

“And these kids are being supplied these things by the TRUCKLOAD. Hours and hours and days and days and weeks and weeks worth of explosives, y’all. No young Black and Brown people would be able to afford even a FRACTION of this supply.”

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“We think the government is providing these to neighborhood young people. These young people are unaware of how they’re being used against their own communities and think they’re simply being allowed to have the kind of fun that is generally considered illegal.”

Actually, they seem to be the ones who’re buying it, and they have the money. Time talked to Anthony LoBianco, who runs Intergalactic Fireworks in Pennsylvania — usually one of the go-to places if you want illegal fireworks in New York City.

“Usually there’s one week before July 4th where it’s like a mad rush,” he said. “But that level of activity is happening now. Everyone is buying radically: They’re bored, and they have nothing to do at night. Fireworks fill in that little void instead of sitting at home and watching TV.”

Generally speaking, when the government is trying to disseminate fireworks into certain neighborhoods to destabilize the Black Lives Matter movement, they don’t buy retail. Or is that just what Anthony LoBianco wants you to think?

Jones Jr. also tweeted a photo of someone selling fireworks and a bottle of Hennessey that was posted on Facebook and compared the strap in the photo to the strap on the New York Fire Department’s gear:

I’m convinced.

Anyhow, Hannah-Jones didn’t really follow up on this hot story, because she deleted her tweet and told National Review in an email that she’d made a mistake.

“I should not have retweeted that tweet thread. I was curious about what other people thought of it as I have seen lots of comments on the unusual nature of fireworks this year, but I did not make that clear,” she said. “That was an irresponsible use of my platform and beneath my own standards, which is why I deleted my Tweet.”

Was Nikole Hannah-Jones' apology enough?

I know the “1619 Project” is factually challenged at best, but yes, this is very much beneath Hannah-Jones’ standards. In fact, both Hannah-Jones and Jones Jr. sounded a bit like another Jones — namely, Alex.

The idea that there was even a level of curiosity about this theory is a telling thing. Reading through the thread, you get the idea this is a man on whom the coronavirus has taken a psychic toll. Conspiracy theories about government fireworks destabilizing Black Lives Matter, the NYFD selling fireworks and alcohol for reduced prices and this all it being “psychological warfare, the first wave before whatever the next stage of the attack is,” this is all tinfoil haberdashery stuff.

However, it was suitably divisive. At least in that way, it was on-brand for Hannah-Jones.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture