As fireworks lit up the sky on the Fourth of July, so too rang out shouts of injustice in the night amidst a resurgence of controversy surrounding the holiday.
A social media call for opinions about the Fourth brought down a wave of vastly different answers, all strongly opinionated for one side or the other.
“I don’t celebrate the founding of an ongoing genocidal, violently oppressive, white supremacist empire,” Nicholas Jacobsen said on Instagram.
The necessity for equality was a large factor for many in their decisions not to celebrate this year.
“Considering everything going on, pandemic and civil unrest, I feel like maybe this year should be spent differently,” UNM student Rachel Baca said on Instagram. “I think we as a country and individuals need to reevaluate holidays such as this. It’s important, but can it be that important if we have people who are discriminated against and we aren’t treated equally?”
Other reasons were also mentioned, such as PTSD brought out by fireworks or pets that get scared.
Shane Roeseberg tweeted that many other countries also celebrate controversial holidays and the Fourth should not be a problem.
“Every country deserves a time to be proud, even while it works to improve,” Inez Russell Gomez, the editorial page editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican, said on Twitter.
Matthew Zank, a former ASUNM senator, talked about the violent history of the United States on Twitter but also said that there are many great things about living in the country.
“We should love America enough to fight to fix what’s broken rather than burning it down,” Zank messaged on Twitter.
Not only were the reasons for celebration controversial, but so were the firework displays.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released an executive order on June 16 that declared a drought and severe fire conditions throughout New Mexico. She urged local cities to tighten the sale of fireworks until these conditions improve. However, many locals complained about an abundance of illegal fireworks.
The ongoing pandemic also created circumstances unlike any other for the holiday, as the community was reminded to wear masks and stay at home in a New Mexico Emergency Alert on July 3.
CNM professor Brad Joseph said on Twitter there “is no way of safely celebrating in large groups, so hopefully that was minimal in ABQ.”
The CDC states on its website that “the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading.”
Hoping to quell the number of large gatherings and illegal fireworks, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced in a press release on the weekend before the holiday that the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County would be partnering to put on four different firework displays in each quadrant of the metro area.
“We want to commemorate the Fourth of July in a meaningful way while keeping everyone safe and healthy,” Parks and Recreation director Dave Simon said in a press release on June 29.
This display was also broadcast on KKOB’s AM and FM channels, with a pre-show from Cumulus Media.
Nonetheless, local fireworks could be seen lighting up the sky all over Albuquerque to celebrate the holiday.
Adeo Breaux said on Twitter it wasn’t safe to celebrate the Fourth but “people celebrated BECAUSE it wasn’t a good time,” recalling the large amount of illegal fireworks shot off.
With this in mind, the Public Service Company of New Mexico warned New Mexicans against lighting fireworks near power lines and advised locals to report any outages immediately.
Megan Gleason is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716