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Ne’er A Drop To Drink

Video stills released by the NYPD of suspects in a rash of water dousings of police officers.
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Dear Guys Who Got Arrested For Throwing Water On NYPD Cops:

You hosed Harlem. You bedewed Brownsville. You wetted Woodhaven. News media report that you’ve sprayed or doused water — yes, vile, menacingly wet water — on police officers in incidents all over New York City. No one knows where you will strike next.

You: young, smirking, and — need we add — black. Shown on social media brazenly enjoying yourselves as you dampen the physical forms of noble NYPD cops — cops who were, at that time anyhow, not killing anyone. What if that water you threw had rusted their guns? I’m sorry if I sound intolerant, but as a white urban liberal, I feel you have shown really bad behavior.

You’ve had your fun. And now, finally, some of you have started to get arrested.

Even though one of you guys actually turned yourself in, I doubt if any of you realize the harm you’ve done to our urban liberal establishment. You may be miffed about what happened to Eric Garner, but this is no way to show your displeasure. I mean, when I think of all the time I spent voting for Mayor Bill de Blasio — I just want to scream.

Now, thanks to you, news outlets are running incendiary headlines like: “Dousing cops with water is assault and should be treated that way”; “‘You’re the cause’: NYPD unions blame ‘anti-cop’ politicians for water dousing incidents.” Moreover, they say, “attacked officers refused to confront their tormentors.”

The reason they didn’t confront you is that they were using restraint, as ordered by our liberal establishment, headed up by our mayor. So when officers got soaked in the line of duty, dealing with “disorderly” people who, during a major heat wave, turned on a fire hydrant; or when officers handcuffed some guy with an open arrest warrant, they (surprise!) didn’t rough anybody up. Cops just took their soaking, perilous though it was, and then went to find a nice, union-provided blow dryer.

But once you guys made the news, the president of the United States, the US vice President, and the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association were only a few of the Republican establishment who piled on to express outrage. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called current Mayor de Blasio a “Democrat-Progressive (Retrogressive)-Socialist Mayor.” This forced de Blasio to deny his communist roots by tweeting the exact same thing as President Trump — that what you did was “completely unacceptab­le.”

You also forced Mayor de Blasio to go on “Sean Hannity” and perform various humiliatingly reassuring riffs on, “We are arresting each and every one of the folks that did any assaults.”

I certainly hope your bad behavior will not cost de Blasio the presidency. You know, I actually think you’re dangerous.

It’s okay for me to call you dangerous because New York’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has also called you that.

So I hope you see the mess you made. Jumaane is a fine Democrat and politician; he was only trying to help. And 27 respected black professionals, including Brooklyn Borough Preesident Eric Adams, rushed to sign a letter, condemning — yes, condemning! — your moistening of New York’s Finest.

As a white urban liberal, I feel I can reach across racial divides here to say that these efforts at damage control are basically a form of survival. If people see cops using “restraint,” the NYPD will fear losing its standing in the hood as an occupying force. So progressive politicos, to protect their standing, create the new crime of Dousing While Black.

Unfortunately, damage is not controlled. All this has inspired two white Republican state assemblymembers, Mike LiPetri and Michael Reilly, to introduce a headline-grabbing bill that would make throwing water on cops a felony, carrying a possible prison sentence of up to four years. Yes, thanks to you, there is now bipartisan support for a new water-to-prison pipeline. Which, to New York City, makes sense. Because, even though New York City police may have beaten and shot and strangled unarmed black and brown people since the NYPD began in 1845, YOU threw WATER on them.

I’m sure you have your social grievances. But why didn’t you go to some reputable protest organization with your complaints? Some fight-the-power group that announces their demonstrations on Facebook? You might have gotten some catchy sound bites, poster-board signs with nifty fonts, palm cards — even a protest permit from the NYPD.

This is such a shame. Because, maybe, if we white, middle-class urban liberals stopped feeling the need to condemn you, we might stop shutting you out of the world.

Because you guys are a deep part of this world. It’s not like you haven’t tried. But even after decades of civil rights and militancy and cries for a Black Revolution and works of literary genius by Richard Wright and Jacqueline Woodson and Ta-Nehisi Coates and Toni Morrison — we still don’t see you. I, for instance, know who Bigger Thomas is. But who are you guys who throw water on cops? Nothing much beyond some upsetting headlines.

For watering armed police, guys like you might go to prison for years. Whereas the most drastic punishment for Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo would be if he were simply to lose his job. Speaking of jobs, maybe your big mistake was committing water offenses that were not work-related. Maybe Pantaleo’s saving grace was that he performed that chokehold during work hours, as a cop.

Or maybe if Pantaleo had dumped a bucket of water over Eric Garner, he’d be in prison today.

Updated 5:46 pm, August 15, 2019
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