Democratic lawmakers and officials in New York State reacted harshly when they saw threatening comments posted online last week directed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but which were originally made by Rep. Maxine Waters who directed them at Trump administration officials.
The altered quote was taken from something the California Democrat said in 2018, where she instructed supporters during a small rally to accost members of the former president’s Cabinet whenever they encountered them in public.
The viral altered tweet from a troll account came the same day that New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that, according to an investigation by her office, Cuomo’s administration had undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in state nursing homes by at least 50 percent.
“If you see anybody from the Cuomo Administration in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” said the troll account post.
Waters said those exact words in June 2018 but directed them towards the Trump administration over its border enforcement policies.
“If you think we’re rallying now you ain’t seen nothing yet,” she said. “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Democrats in New York, as well as one federal official who represents the state, reacted angrily to the post, though it isn’t certain that all who responded thought the quote was real.
“Way way way over the line. Especially in light of what happened at the Capitol on Jan 6,” Lis Smith, a former adviser to Pete Buttigieg, wrote.
Way way way over the line. Especially in light of what happened at the Capitol on Jan 6. https://t.co/bsYpq2tFYK
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) January 29, 2021
“This is encouraging violence against public officials – plain & simple. Absolutely disgusting. No tolerance for this. Haven’t we learned the lessons from Washington D.C. just weeks ago?” New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul added.
This is encouraging violence against public officials – plain & simple. Absolutely disgusting. No tolerance for this.
Haven't we learned the lessons from Washington D.C. just weeks ago? pic.twitter.com/3qOA5QcmnB
— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) January 29, 2021
New York State Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey responded: “This is more than tonedeaf, especially considering what’s happened in recent days. This is unacceptable and ridiculous. Read the room.”
This is more than tonedeaf, especially considering what’s happened in recent days. This is unacceptable and ridiculous. Read the room. https://t.co/tOZrhFDxnW
— Jamaal T. Bailey (@jamaaltbailey) January 29, 2021
“The terrifying events of the last month have shown us more clearly than ever that words have consequences. This sort of targeting and incitement is simply wrong, and totally unacceptable,” added New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
The terrifying events of the last month have shown us more clearly than ever that words have consequences. This sort of targeting and incitement is simply wrong, and totally unacceptable. https://t.co/9032s4RK9T
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) January 29, 2021
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie also clapped back, writing, “This is appalling and dangerous. Encouraging violence must never be tolerated. Shame on whoever is behind this kind of garbage.”
This is appalling and dangerous. Encouraging violence must never be tolerated. Shame on whoever is behind this kind of garbage. https://t.co/piPMVEOUWl
— Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) January 29, 2021
Cuomo’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, retweeted Heastie’s post on her official Twitter account.
“This kind of incitement to violence against government leaders must stop. Especially after the recent seige at the U.S. Capitol, we must condemn these types of threats. They endanger our democracy. This is not who we are and we can do better,” tweeted New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.
As for Waters, she doubled down in 2018 following her initial call for supporters to harass Trump administration officials.
“I have no sympathy for these people that are in this administration who know it’s wrong for what they’re doing on so many fronts. They tend to not want to confront this president or even leave, but they know what they’re doing is wrong,” she told MSNBC.
“I want to tell you, these members of his cabinet who remain and try to defend him, they won’t be able to go to a restaurant, they won’t be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store,” she added.
“The people are going to turn on them. They’re going to protest. They’re absolutely going to harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the president, ‘No, I can’t hang with you.’ This is wrong. This is unconscionable. We can’t keep doing this to children.’”
Republicans, who were still in the majority at the time, blasted Waters for her comments, demanded that she apologize even as they introduced a measure to have her censured.
“So we just introduced it, we have some cosponsors, but what she did was to basically incite people to come after and attack members of the president’s cabinet,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said at the time. “And also spread that out to more people.
“Everybody agrees that it was just highly objectionable what she did,” he added.
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