Oakland residents observe safer, cleaner July 4th

(KGO)
July 5, 2012 10:46:39 PM PDT
Oakland's tradition of using illegal fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday continued Wednesday night, but Oakland police and residents of East Oakland say there were fewer of these displays than what they've seen in recent years.

To be clear, there were enough explosions and flares to light up the skies across all of Oakland but residents say things were very different than in years past. "It was so loud outside, it was going on until 2:00 in the morning," Alfonso Boulware said. Loud and colorful, the longstanding tradition of setting off fireworks in the neighborhood held true. "It was loud. My dog was scared. He stayed in the house. He jumped in the tub. He was shaking," Boulware continued.

Bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers, and roman candles littered Boulware's doorstep. Some promised to be as "loud as dynamite," others to "crash and burn." Flaming Balls of Fire sat next to a case of Exploding Missiles. However, this year, he noticed something different. "It was way better, a lot of colors, a lot of people. It wasn't no gunshots or anything like that. It was just straight fireworks," he said.

According to Oakland police, no one was hurt and there were no reports of injury from stray or falling bullets associated with practice of celebratory gunfire. Sky7 HD caught displays of fireworks across Oakland from above, bursts of light and cascades of colors to be sure. Still, Oakland police believe their messaging to the public was effective.

"Fourth of July, it was cool. It was nice. Didn't nobody get hurt. Everybody was good," Boulware said. And, that may be because this year, authorities used Shot Spotter technology to distinguish between gunfire and fireworks, giving them the ability to pinpoint the location, inform officers of the situation, and send a patrol unit in only minutes.

"And that's really important, especially officer safety. What is the officer going into," Ofc. Johnna Watson said. Police and residents weren't the only ones to notice that things were different the morning after. "Clean-up efforts were actually minimal," Frank Foster told ABC7 News. Foster has been with the Public Works Department for 21 years and that means 21 day-afters when things are usually very different. "It's been chaotic on years past but it seems as though this year, the citizens heeded the requests of OPD," he said.

Foster says that there is a financial benefit to the no-damage, low-trash turnout as well. He was able to deploy his resources to other neighborhoods and reduce the amount of employee overtime.


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