Violence, looting in New York City ‘inexcusable’, ‘disgrace’: Cuomo


Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that the looting that happened in the New York City amid protests over the custodial killing of George Floyd is a “disgrace” and “inexcusable” and accused the police department and its Mayor Bill de Blasio of not doing their jobs.

The authorities in the upscale New York City on Monday imposed a week-long night curfew and ramped up police presence after violence and looting incidents were reported across the city.

Videos and photos posted on social media showed that while demonstrators protested peacefully around most areas in the city, there were several instances of looting as well.

People were seen breaking into high end stores around Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, home to almost all luxury and high-end brands from around the world, and running way with merchandise from the shops. Groups of people also looted pharmacies, electronic stores and other businesses across the city.

“The NYPD (New York Police Department) and the Mayor did not do their job last night. I believe that…. What happened in New York City was inexcusable,” New York State Governor Cuomo said at his daily briefing Tuesday, referring to widespread looting and violence across the city on Monday night.

“Use the police, protect property, and people. Look in the videos. It was a disgrace,” he said, referring to several videos posted on social media that showed looters break into stores in Manhattan, including Macy’s flagship retail and stealing merchandise.

Cuomo said that while protestors are outraged over the killing of Floyd, there is “criminal activity, looting, extremist groups, who are using this moment for their own purposes and exploiting this movement and moment. Two very different things.” “New York City was looted. It was looted yesterday. In Manhattan, middle of Manhattan, also in communities of colour, in the Bronx and in Brooklyn, where we’ve spent years doing economic development in distressed communities and these looters destroyed businesses that were essential to the community and the very people we’re trying to help,” the governor said.

He said the looters are breaking store windows, going in and stealing and are demeaning Floyd’s murder by using the protests as an opportunity for criminal activity. “They have no right to wrap themselves in the flag of righteous indignation of Floyd’s murder. And that’s what they’re doing. They’re opportunists who are seizing and exploiting the moment.” Cuomo said with a 38,000 strong force, the NYPD is the largest police department in the US and those personnel should be brought in to protect the city’s property. “The police must stop the looting and the criminal activity. That is the essence of the police force. They are supported to protect the community, protect the property. They did not do that in New York City last night,” he said.

Expressing disappointment and outrage at the incidents in the New York City on Monday night, Cuomo said the looters and their vandalism hurt everyone. “And the police in New York City were not effective at doing their job last night, period. They have to do a better job. But, separate the protestors from the looting.” Mayor de Blasio had on Monday extended the citywide curfew from 8 pm to 500 am for the whole week.

US President Donald Trump, a Republican, tweeted that the curfew in the New York City should begin at 7pm daily and that the National Guard should be brought in to control the protests and looting. “NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD. The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!” he tweeted.

On the looting inside the Macy’s store, over 2.5 million square feet of retail space and one of the largest retail stores in the world, Trump said the largest single department store in the world and a “point of pride in NYC, was devastated yesterday when hoodlums and thieves vandalized it, breaking almost all of its large panels of storefront glass. What a shame. Bring in National Guard!” Cuomo said 13,000 National Guard are on standby and he has offered de Blasio and all other mayors of the cities in the state to deploy the special forces. The mayor has said that New York City does not need the National Guard and the police force will be sufficient to manage the situation.

“The mayor said he can handle it with the NYPD. My option is to displace the mayor of New York City and bring in the National Guard as the governor in a state of emergency and basically take over the mayor’s job,” Cuomo said, adding that such an option does not make any sense since the city is already in a chaotic situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests. On Trump’s call for deploying the National Guard in the New York City, Cuomo, a Democrat, said Trump “doesn’t want to distinguish between the looters and the protestors. See the president doesn’t want to speak about the killing of Floyd, the President wants to talk about just looting because if he’s talking about looting, he doesn’t have to talk about the killing of Floyd, and he doesn’t want to talk about… reforming the justice system, he doesn’t want to talk about that so he wants to say they’re all looters. They’re not all looters. That’s his political spin on all of this.” Mayor de Blasio also stressed that “we do not need nor do we think it’s wise for the National Guard to be in New York City nor any armed forces… A National Guard – a member of the guard called up from any part of this state doesn’t have that particular training, doesn’t know our environment, but is carrying a loaded weapon.”

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