Johnson City leaders, neighborhood leaders work to prevent return of ‘fireworks wars’


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Johnson City police and community members are teaming up to prevent any more “fireworks wars” in the West Davis Park community during the July 4 holiday.

Chief of Police Carl Turner and Mayor Jenny Brock met with community leaders Tuesday night.

Fireworks are illegal in Johnson City, but that did not stop people from launching them at other people and even police cars in 2018.

A police crackdown on the “fireworks wars” kept the neighborhood relatively quiet last year.

But during Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Brock said she is concerned that recent events may lead to chaos returning to the streets.

“Everybody’s been pent up for a long time. And so, that in and of itself…you want to get out there. You want to celebrate…being with each other and we know that’s happening. Then, we have the protests going on…so we have a lot of people wanting to express themselves as well,” Brock said.

“My biggest worries are still the challenge between the young people and the police department and we don’t want that in our neighborhood or any other neighborhood,” said Deborah Grey, coordinator of the West Davis Park Neighborhood Association.

Some who attended the meeting gave their input on what could be done to prevent any more “fireworks wars.”

“We have to change the social norms to get this generation excited or moved about doing different activities other than something negative,” Grey said.

Other leaders in attendance included Science Hill High School Principal Todd Barnett, pastors and New Generation Freedom Fighters board member.

“Going with a military attitude right now… you’re probably going to get a fight,” said Mark Redd, Pastor of Grace Temple Eternal Life Center.

There were also conversations on how to approach the situation through social media and how to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“All we have to do is just let people know- they’re not a part of us,” said Taquan Harkins of New Generation Freedom Fighters. “We are peaceful. If you are up to that stuff then we’re going to report you.”

Some of the ideas ranged from hosting a block part in the West Davis Park Neighborhood to hosting a parade or having a virtual event on social media.

The neighborhood association and community leaders will meet again Tuesday, June 23 to confirm a plan despite the short time frame.

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