New York police officers were struck with Molotov cocktails and liquid chemicals during what started as a routine traffic stop, police say.
After police officers stopped a driver for running a red light in Brooklyn Saturday morning, the motorist threw a chemical at an officer before speeding off, the New York Police Department tweeted. The driver was stopped again, and he threw a lit Molotov cocktail at officers, fled the scene, and crashed, after which he was arrested and more Molotov cocktails were recovered, authorities said.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea noted that anti-police graffiti appeared in New York City prior to the attack.
"Words matter. Earlier this week we said that again after graffiti that proclaimed 'kill cops.' This morning..a Molotov cocktail thrown at an occupied marked police car," he tweeted. "Now more than ever is the time to come together, to move forward together."
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, which represents over 50,000 active and retired New York City police officers, released a statement condemning the incident.
"Make no mistake: this is the environment that our elected officials have created. This is the violent behavior that their anti-police rhetoric has inspired. Until politicians stop encouraging hatred and violence towards police officers, we must be prepared to face such attacks AT ALL TIMES, both on and off duty," Patrick Lynch, the president of the NYC PBA, said. "Remain alert and back each other up."
In recent weeks, many on the Left have called on local government to implement police reforms due to allegations of racism. Protests and riots have broken out in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center and across the United States in response to the police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man who was shot by former officer Kim Potter while attempting to flee in his car after officers tried to apprehend him for an outstanding warrant. Wright's death, along with the deaths of others, such as George Floyd, has prompted nationwide demonstrations and conversations about the use of force by police during arrests, particularly of black people.
Some demonstrators have hurled Molotov cocktails during demonstrations. Kelly Thomas Jackson, 21, was handed a 40-month prison sentence and three years of supervised release after he was convicted of tossing the incendiary devices and burning two law enforcement vehicles on May 30 of last year in a downtown Seattle protest that devolved into a riot.
Several localities throughout the U.S. are considering police reform measures amid the heightened tensions between law enforcement and minority communities. Last Saturday, the state of Maryland became the first state to repeal its Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, and the Oregon Legislature is considering 10 police reform bills.