A shirtless man flings an empty red bucket at a police officer trying to arrest someone on the hood of his cruiser. When it bounces off his head, a crowd of onlookers gasps. Other young men soon rain down waves of water on the officer and his partner in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan.
In Brooklyn, two other officers are mocked and sprayed with a water hose as they walk back to their car. One brazen young person runs up and dumps a full bucket of water on one officer’s head.
“They violated them!” one woman shouted as onlookers laugh.
Both incidents, which apparently happened during the recent heat wave in New York, were caught on videos that quickly went viral. The New York Police Department and officials with the city’s police unions reacted with fury on Monday, calling the incidents safety threats — and suggesting that politicians helped fuel the response with “anti-police rhetoric.”
Police Department Chief Terence Monahan described the water-tossers as “reprehensible.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democratic presidential contender, also condemned the actions.
“Completely unacceptable,” de Blasio tweeted on Monday about the Manhattan incident. “The NYPD kept New Yorkers safe through the heat wave and last night’s outages. We won’t tolerate this kind of disrespect.”
But some police union leaders seized on the videos as a reason to slam elected leaders, including de Blasio, whom they have frequently criticized for his stance on controversial police shootings and other policy matters. Another notable critic on the topic was Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer and former mayor of New York, who blamed de Blasio on Tuesday morning for the “knee-jerk disrespect for police.” At the same time, de Blasio has faced pushback from the left wing of the Democratic Party, which has accused him of not pushing hard enough for reforms in the police force.
Patrick Lynch, president of the NYC Police Benevolent Association, the largest labor union representing NYPD officers, suggested that elected leaders stoked the lack of respect.
“Our anti-cop lawmakers have gotten their wish: the NYPD is frozen,” Lynch said in a statement sent to The Washington Post. “It’s not the fault of these police officers. It’s the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been steaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now.” He added: “We are approaching the point of no return.”
The videos spread rapidly on Monday during a tense moment for a city dealing with flash flooding in multiple boroughs after a repressive heat wave that left thousands without power, stretching first responders in the process. Ed Mullins, president of the city’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, said the water-throwing incidents have added to the strained relationship between de Blasio and police.
“The perpetrators of these crimes are emboldened by the Mayor,” Mullins said in a statement, adding that the buckets could have easily contained “bleach, gasoline, or some other toxic substance.”
De Blasio’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a message about the union officials’ comments. In an interview with NY1, de Blasio said that the NYPD informed him that the viral videos represented “two very different incidents,” adding that the incident in Manhattan was “confrontational,” while the one in Brooklyn was not.
“People have to really understand, this is serious stuff,” the mayor said. “Don’t do it. Don’t aid and abet.”
De Blasio said the Manhattan incident is under investigation. In a statement to The Post on the Brooklyn incident, Assistant Police Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said that the people who dumped water on the police officers “are currently unidentified and an investigation is underway.”
The videos of the incidents were first shared to Instagram before being reposted to Twitter on Monday afternoon. The New York Daily News reported that the 19-second clip from the Harlem neighborhood took place on St. Nicholas Avenue at W. 115th Street, featuring several men hurling water at two officers attempting to arrest a man. The 33-second clip emanating blocks away from a police station in east Brooklyn shows the two cops sheepishly walking down the street, their backs and legs totally soaked after the barrage, according to the New York Post.
In both videos, the police don’t visibly react to the dousing. A third video was also shared Monday that showed a group of men throwing buckets of water on a young woman who was attempting to talk to police officers inside their SUV. The police officers appeared to stay inside their car as the men continued to throw water at the woman.
Monahan, the police chief, asked officers to use their discretion — “make arrests when necessary” — and urged them to stay safe.
“NYC’s cops & communities have made remarkable progress — together — but EVERY New Yorker MUST show respect for our cops,” Monahan said. “They deserve nothing less.”
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