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Cuomo Is ‘Disappointed, Outraged’ Over Continued Looting In NYC

Darren McGee
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing amid coronavirus and civil unrest in cities across the state after the death of George Floyd while being apprehended by Minneapolis Police early last week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s outraged and disappointed over the continued looting of several stores that took place overnight in New York City, and he says New York City’s mayor and the NYPD did not do their job. But he stopped short of saying that he would deploy the state’s National Guard to any city without a request by its political leaders.  

Cuomo says the people who are breaking into stores and stealing are different from the largely peaceful protesters, which he supports. He says the two groups need to be treated differently.

On Monday night, shops in Manhattan, including Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square and shops in Rockefeller Center, were broken into after the newly imposed 11 p.m. curfew went into effect. Cuomo says the New York Police Department failed to stop them. 

“I am disappointed and outraged,” Cuomo said. “They are supposed to protect the community and protect the property, they did not do that in New York City last night.”

The governor says the state’s National Guard is on standby, and he has offered to send them. But he says no mayor in any city in New York, including New York City’s Bill de Blasio, has requested their help. And he says he won’t deploy them unless asked by local leaders, saying it would cause chaos, and he’d have to “kick out” the mayor from office in order to do it.

“You’d have to displace a mayor in the middle of this situation, and file charges and have a hearing,” Cuomo said. “Governmentally, it is absurd.”

Cuomo, who has had differences with the New York City mayor in the past, says he has no plans to try to remove him.

The governor says the National Guard is not a trained police force, and he believes that the NYPD, with its largest-in-the-nation 38,0000-member force, can stop the looting if deployed properly and given the right direction and support to carry out the mission.

The governor’s remarks drew an angry response from de Blasio’s press secretary Freddi Goldstein, who said in a statement that the governor’s comments “are offensive to the men and women of the NYPD who are out there every night trying to keep New Yorkers safe.” Goldstein wrote “it would be nice if our officers knew they had the respect of their governor.”

President Trump said Monday that if states did not send in their national guard to put down protests, he would send U.S. military troops to states to help quell the demonstrations. Trump also used the military to use tear gas to clear away peaceful protesters outside the White House grounds so that the president could visit a nearby church, where he had a photo op. Cuomo and other Democratic governors condemned the actions. And Cuomo says it’s very different than a governor offering a state’s national guard to aid local police.

“(It’s the) first time in probably over a century, where you’ve used the American military against the American people,” Cuomo said.

There has also been looting in upstate cities, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, where store windows have been broken and cash and merchandise stolen, but the governor says the situations in those cities are largely under control now. 

The protests and looting incidents, as well as new accusations of police misconduct, are all going on during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the gradual reopening of the state.

Cuomo announced that Western New York will begin Phase Two of reopening Tuesday, and the Capital Region is on track to begin Phase Two on Wednesday. New York City is scheduled to begin Phase One on June 8. The number of people newly hospitalized for the virus is at its lowest point since the crisis began. Fifty-eight New Yorkers died from coronavirus on Monday.  

The governor says summer day camps can open statewide June 29, but no decision has been made yet on sleepaway camps.    

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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