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July 25, 2019

You're the cause': NYPD unions blame 'anti-cop' politicians for water dousing incidents

By Leandra Bernstein

Viral videos showing New York City Police Department officers being doused with buckets of water have prompted an outcry from law enforcement warning that an anti-cop political climate is putting officer safety and public safety at risk.

Rank and file officers expressed a sense of betrayal by local political leaders, particularly the mayor of New York, who professed support for the NYPD after the videos came to light. The largest police officers union in New York City said the attacks are the result of officers' hands being tied by elected officials who refuse to let them enforce the law. The city's union of police sergeants accused political leaders of habitually turning their backs on the police.

This week, at least four separate incidents of individuals throwing water at on-duty police officers came to light. Video of the first incident surfaced on Monday and showed two police officers making an arrest in Harlem. They had several buckets of water thrown at them and one individual hurled an empty bucket at an officer's head. 

Another video surfaced shortly after showing two uniformed officers walking away from a scene in Brownsville, Brooklyn as several young men drenched them with buckets of water. Onlookers laughed and jeered at the officers.

On Wednesday, a video was posted showing about a dozen young men and women carrying buckets of water, water bottles and squirt guns gathering around two female police officers in the Bronx. The two officers were seen running a few paces away from two men who hurled buckets of water at them. 

Another video recorded in Harlem was posted showing several children throwing water at an officer and spraying him with squirt guns.

In each case, the officers did not engage the individuals.

Two men were arrested in association with the incident in Harlem were charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. Another suspect, a gang member with a history of 20 arrests, surrendered to police in Brooklyn. He was charged with obstructing governmental administration, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, harassment and criminal tampering for damaging an officer's equipment.

The viral videos caught the attention of the White House. President Donald Trump condemned New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. "We love our Law Enforcement Officers all around this great Country," Trump tweeted. "What took place was completely unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. Bill de Blasio should act immediately!"

In a Wednesday interview on "America This Week," the president's attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani laid the blame at the feet of the current mayor, Bill de Blasio calling him "a disgrace" for attacking police with his past statements and policies. He further warned that the phenomenon "looks like it might be going a little bit viral among the anti-police, Antifa-type progressives."

Former Republican New York Governor George Pataki also blamed political leaders, tweeting the incidents are "the inevitable result when too many politicians scapegoat police."

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently running for president, issued a statement almost immediately after the videos surfaced. He thanked the NYPD for their "speed and professionalism," tweeting, "We stand with them today and always."

The Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the largest police union in New York City, hit back at de Blasio saying, "You are the cause of attacks on the NYPD."

The mayor has had a tense relationship with the city's law enforcement since running on a platform that critics say stoked anti-police sentiment. During his first year in office, de Blasio was largely seen as siding with protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement over the NYPD in the case of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who was killed when an officer put him in a chokehold. Following the incident that triggered nationwide protests, de Blasio ordered the police force to undergo retraining, stating at the time, "The way we go about policing has to change."

When a gunman seeking revenge for Garner's death fatally shot two NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in December 2014, police dramatically turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio when he spoke at the officers' funeral.