Oakland police issue zero illegal fireworks citations for 2nd year in a row

That number was also zero in 2022 due to resources shifted to sideshow activity, the department said

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Thursday, July 6, 2023
Oakland police issue zero illegal fireworks citations for 2nd year
According to Oakland PD, they issued zero citations for illegal fireworks city-wide on the 4th of July, but did make other arrests for serious crimes.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Like clockwork, as soon it was dark enough, the skies above Oakland lit up in bursts of red, white and blue on the Fourth of July.

"I will say, this is the worst that I've seen it," Noel Gallo, an Oakland City Councilmember said.

Leaving behind a trail of trash from illegal fireworks all over the city.

MORE: More than 60 fires in Contra Costa Co. likely started by July 4th fireworks, officials say

In some parts, even spread out over major roadways like 35th and Foothill.

"Oh, it looked messy this morning, cars were just trying to avoid not going over the dirt that was left from yesterday," Harold Zuniga, an assistant to Councilmember Gallo said. "I have never seen that much trash like I have seen this morning."

Stacked up with a thousand emails complaining about the illegal fireworks, Gallo sent out members of his own staff Wednesday morning to help pick up the pieces in the Fruitvale district, filling up at least ten truckloads worth of debris.

"This year we did make it very known to the public that we would be enforcing the law but I live down the street, I didn't see any response, whether it was the fire department or the police department," he said.

And it's a story familiar, because you've heard it before.

VIDEO: Illegal 4th of July fireworks light up Bay Area skies

Illegal fireworks are once again lighting up the Bay Area skies on this Fourth of July.

Last year, Oakland police didn't issue a single citation for illegal fireworks. They say, their resources had been shifted to address heavy sideshow activity that night.

And this year, they say things were the same, with arrests for serious crimes, but no citations for fireworks.

"The response I get was, they have other priorities that they have to address from the crime issues, the shootings that are going on and don't have enough time to deal with the fireworks," Gallo said. "We need to do better in the city."

Despite that, Oakland Interim Fire Chief Damon Covington says for them, it was actually a lighter night than expected.

VIDEO: Chaotic 4th of July sideshow in Antioch with illegal fireworks

Chaos broke out in Antioch Tuesday night as crowds gathered for a sideshow while lighting illegal fireworks at the same time.

They had 300 calls for service, up just 20 percent compared to their typical volume of calls, although they did have two small grass fires caused by fireworks that were quickly put out.

"We know that this is going to be quite a wildland season, and it makes it even more dangerous when people are using illegal fireworks to celebrate and we do as much as we can to discourage them from doing that," Covington said.

As for the police response, Covington says it's a daunting task to enforce all laws in a city made up of more than 400,000 people.

"There's not enough police to get to every fireworks situation because we have other calls pending," he said. "So we just try to support them as much as we can but they've been a great partner in trying to get everything under control."

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