NEW YORK — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani shared a bizarre video showing a dramatized clash between cops and protests on the anniversary of 9/11, drawing a swift online backlash.
The man who led the city during the infamous terrorist attacks tweeted out the video — which appears to be a commercial for a brash clothing company — early Wednesday morning as he reflected on the horror that unfolded at the World Trade Center 18 years ago.
“GOD BLESS AMERICA!” Giuliani wrote in his Twitter post with the roughly 30-second video, which he shared less than an hour after tweeting a photo of firefighters raising an American flag at Ground Zero.
Set to a spare rendition of “America the Beautiful,” the clip depicts a stoic riot cop staring down raucous crowd of protesters holding signs with slogans such as “Police = Fascism” and “Burn it down!”
In a series of flashbacks, the video shows the officer receiving his badge, wearing a military uniform, gazing at an American flag at a football game, and watching news clips from 9/11 as a child.
Then he lowers the visor on his riot helmet and whips out a baton as protesters rush toward him, apparently ready to beat some of them if necessary. The spot then cuts to a black screen with the words, “This we’ll defend.”
The video drew condemnation on Twitter, with critics saying it demonizes dissent using fascist overtones without actually honoring the victims or survivors of 9/11.
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“This video from Rudy honors the Republican tradition of using the memory of 9/11 to attack people who had absolutely nothing to do with it, and it’s incredibly fascist to boot,” Luppe B. Luppen, a lawyer who owns the popular @nycsouthpaw account, said on Twitter.
“I probably would have gone with an NYPD/FDNY first-responder 9/11 video today rather than this cops-vs-domestic-unrest-mob, but, you know, whatever,” wrote Matt Glassman, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Governmental Affairs Institute.
The video appears to be a commercial for Grunt Style, a Texas-based company that sells apparel catering to veterans and “patriots.” Its offerings include T-shirts that read “A bullet a day blows the terrorists away,” “American infidel” and “Commie killer.”
Giuliani did not return a phone call Wednesday afternoon, and an email sent to Grunt Style’s press contact bounced back. But the company explained the message of its ad — which was developed for the 2018 Super Bowl but did not air — on the spot’s YouTube page.
The ad shows the cop’s “journey of service” leading up to the moment in which he is “protecting” the rowdy protesters, and then his fellow cops when the situation turns violent, the video’s description says.