Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers daily Coronavirus briefing.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo denounces the protests that have erupted across the state, saying that “violence never works.” Candy Chan reports on the governor’s response to the nationwide protests. 

In his daily press briefing on Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared some good news about the impact of COVID-19 in New York and denounced the violence erupting across the state in response to George Floyd’s death.

The number of lives lost to COVID-19 dropped to 58 and the number of hospitalizations to 191. As compared to the statistics mid-April where the number of deaths was in the hundreds and hospitalizations in the thousands, the numbers on Sunday are “very, very good news” in the “absurd reality we live in,” said Cuomo.

Yet the more pressing message of the briefing remains the protests that have dominated the streets of New York City over the weekend. Several videos emerged online of the protests and the violence inflicted by the police in New York City, which will be reviewed by Letitia James, New York Attorney General, according to Cuomo. Cuomo also announced additional state police presence in preparation for more protests in Upstate New York. 

What happened?

Across the nation, people take to the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. On May 25, a video of Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, handcuffed and on the ground with the officer’s knee on his neck emerged, leading to days of protests and mayhem as people voice their anger at the policing of Black people in the U.S. 

In New York protests broke out upstate and across the boroughs, with 345 arrests made by early Sunday and 47 police cars destroyed. Protestors convened in and out of Harlem, Times Square, Columbus Circle, Jackson Heights in Queens, and the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, blocking traffic and the police’s attempts at exerting control of the crowd. 

One video that quickly went viral and sparked outrage showed a police S.U.V. surging into the crowd in Park Slope, Brooklyn. As protestors blocked and pelted one S.U.V., another vehicle charged into the crowd, knocking people back. It is unclear if anyone was injured. 

Cuomo: ‘It dishonours Mr Floyd’s death’

Though Cuomo said he sympathizes with the protestors and is also “outraged” at the death of Floyd, he condemned the violent approach some protestors use when expressing their frustration. 

“Now, at the same time, it is equally true that violence never works. How many protests have we had? How many nights are we gone through like last night? How many times have we burned down our own businesses, our own neighbourhoods and our own communities? Burning down your own house never works and never makes sense. … It dishonours Mr Floyd’s death,” said Cuomo. 

Cuomo labelled the violence a “scapegoat,” saying that it shifts the blame and attention from Floyd’s death to the rioting and looting. The violence only works to further the “politics of division,” said Cuomo.

Instead, he urged people to work together to achieve the common goal of justice. Using the pandemic as an example of positive collective action, Cuomo highlighted how people came together to deal with the effects of the virus. Pointing to the decreasing numbers of deaths and hospitalizations, Cuomo said, “who did that? Who made that remarkable change, that radical change? … It wasn’t the government. It was we the people. We the people forced that change and did it in weeks, literally. So, of course, we can change.”

Cuomo called for standardized police misconduct policies across the nation. He encouraged people to demand that allegations of police abuse be investigated externally to avoid self-policing, that excessive force be defined by one standard for all Americans, and those police officers accused of wrong-doing are investigated and have their disciplinary records made public. 

Cuomo said, “Mr Floyd’s killing must be a moment in which this nation actually learned and grew and progressed to make this place a better place. And we can do it. If we are smart together.”

Candy Chan

Candy Chan is studying History with a focus on War and Revolution at Barnard College. She is currently a staff writer at the Columbia Daily Spectator, covering issues pertaining to Columbia's...