It was one against three during Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Albany news conference today as the governor used his daily briefing on developments in the COVID-19 outbreak as a platform to blast New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city’s police department and President Trump in the wake of continued violence and looting in America’s cities.
New York City again last night was among the locations where arsonists and looters used protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis as cover for their criminal activities.
“The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night. I believe that. You have 38,000 NYPD people. It is the largest police department in the United Stares of America. Use 38,000 people and protect property. Use the police and protect property and people,” Cuomo said.
He said that he believes de Blasio underestimated the scope of the problem, the duration of the problem and did not use enough police to address the situation. He said the NYPD has handled similar situations in the past, but last night was not properly deployed and managed.
“It’s inarguable that it was not addressed last night,” Cuomo said. “What happened in New York City was inexcusable.”
Cuomo said that he offered de Blasio the use of the National Guard and was turned down. Cuomo said that the only way he as governor could override de Blasio and send in the National Guard would be to remove de Blasio from office, which Cuomo said would be inappropriate.
State police also were available to the city if wanted, according to Cuomo. Cuomo and de Blasio on Monday jointly announced an 11 p.m. curfew for New York City. The curfew was ignored by many people. An 8 p.m. curfew has now been put into effect for the rest of the week.
The NYPD reported that at least 700 people were arrested last night for looting in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. The iconic Macy’s store at 34th Street in Manhattan was among the stores attacked by looters.
Shorty before Cuomo began his news conference, President Trump Tweeted, “NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD. The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast! Don’t make the same horrible and deadly mistake you made with Nursing Homes!!!”
That followed an earlier Tweet from Trump in which he said, in part, “Yesterday was a bad day for the Cuomo Brothers” and went on to claim that the ratings of Cuomo’s brother Chris on CNN are down 50%. According to Nielsen ratings publlshed by the Daily Mail, all cable news ratings in the 25-54 age group for the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m time slot went down recently, with Chris Cuomo down 49%, Sean Hannity on Fox News down 38% and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC down 18%.
Cuomo referred to Trump leaving the White House yesterday to walk over to the historic St. John’s Church to have his photo taken standing outside holding a Bible. Peaceful protesters were tear gassed to chase them away from Lafayette Park and surrounding areas so that Trump and those accompanying him would have a clear route between the White House and the church. Members of the clergy said they were among those tear gassed.
“I saw the theater yesterday. I understand his political point. He is mister law and order and he would bring in the military to put down these protests. The president doesn’t want to distinguish between the looters and the protesters,” Cuomo said.
“You see the president doesn’t want to speak about the killing of Mr. 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 Mr. Floyd. And, he doesn’t want to talk about the killing of Mr. Floyd. And he doesn’t want to talk about reforming the justice system. He doesn’t want to talk about that. He wants to say, ‘They’re all looters.’ They’re not all looters. That’s his political spin on all this. The president’s scenario is a political prop. It’s political spin.”
Cuomo said this is not a racial issue in that it’s not just African-Americans who are upset at what happened to Floyd and others in the past. He had a message for the protesters.
“Keep in mind when you’re going out to protest we’re still in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Yes, protest. Yes, express your outrage. But be responsible because the last thing we want to do is see a spike in the number of COVID cases.”
He also had a message for President Trump.
“Let’s deal with facts, okay. Not hyperbole, not rhetoric, not showmanship, not photo opportunities. Facts. Give me that facts. Let’s be united. Don’t use this moment with all these problems to play your politics. Don’t use this moment when people are scared and people are angry and be divisive. Don’t play to the fear; don’t do that. Not when the nation is on this precarious edge.”
Cuomo decried Trump’s threat to send in the U.S. military to take over police functions in the nation’s cities, which he characterized as using the American military against the American people.
Cuomo again expressed his support for the protesters who want to see reforms and said Congress should act now to end child poverty, provide equality in education and bring about justice reforms. He said that the people who engage in criminal activity need to be viewed separately from the legitimate protesters and that they were opportunists seizing and exploiting the legitimate protest movement.
Cuomo said that despite the present turmoil, New York City remains on track to enter the phase one reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown on June 8. He announced that summer day camps can reopen June 29 but there is no decision yet on sleep-away camps.
He said that yesterday the number of deaths from the virus in New York state remained comparatively low at 58, with 11 occurring in nursing homes and 47 in hospitals.
Statewide there have been a total of 24,023 COVID-19 deaths, according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health.
Deaths that took place in Westchester now total 1,506, with 1,378 Westchester residents falling victim to the virus. There have been 500 Rockland residents killed by the disease. There were no new deaths in Putnam again yesterday, with the total remaining at 60. Orange County deaths rose by two to 378. Dutchess County’s death count remained unchanged at 150.
New York has had 373,040 people test positive for the virus. There were 33,633 cases identified in Westchester, 13,223 in Rockland, 1,262 in Putnam, 10,449 in Orange and 3,936 in Dutchess.