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Cuomo Applauds NYPD Response To Tuesday Night Protests

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley

There were fewer incidences of looting around New York state on Tuesday night, after three nights that left many stores damaged and empty of merchandise.  Governor Andrew Cuomo credited better efforts by the police and walked back some critical comments he made Tuesday about the NYPD.

Cuomo criticized the New York Police Department and New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, after the looting of numerous stores in the Bronx and in some of Manhattan’s prime shopping districts on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, saying they did not do their jobs.

The comments set off angry responses from the mayor’s spokesman and NYPD leaders and the police union, saying the criticisms dishonored the force. The governor later called the police commissioner, Dermot Shea, to apologize.

“My issue was with the management and deployment,” Cuomo said. “[It was] never about the police officers.”

The governor says some of his childhood friends from Queens became police officers and he has always respected the police. 

But the governor also appeared to justify some of his previous comments, saying the discussion led to better deployment of police to limit looting.

“We got results. Last night was a much, much better night than the night before,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo also credits the imposition of the 8 p.m. curfew for a reduction in crime overnight. Tens of thousands continue to protest peacefully following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African American man from Minneapolis, after an officer placed him in a chokehold for several minutes.  The officer has now been charged with second degree murder. Three other officers at the scene were charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting second degree murder.

The governor also delivered a response to President Donald Trump’s controversial photo opportunity Monday, where military police cleared a peaceful demonstration in a park outside the White House grounds so that the President could walk to a nearby church where posed for pictures holding up an unopened bible.

Cuomo brought his own bible to the briefing and read passages that he believes are relevant to the combined crisis of the coronavirus, the death of African Americans during police encounters, and the massive, largely peaceful protests taking place across the country.

“Here in New York, we actually read the bible,” said Cuomo, who quoted from Mathew 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Cuomo also quoted from Mark 3:25, a phrase used by President Abraham Lincoln, “If a house be divided against itself that house cannot stand,” and from Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Cuomo confirmed that he refused to send New York’s National Guard troops to the White House when the President requested them earlier in the week to help quell protests. The governor says he does not believe governments should use “active military for political purposes.”

He says he also disagrees with the president’s action to call up federal troops from Fort Drum, near Watertown, to deploy them to the nation’s capital.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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