New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday for not deploying enough police officers to stem looting in the state’s most populous city after a night of widespread property destruction and hundreds of arrests.
“I believe the mayor underestimates the scope of the problem. I believe he underestimates the duration of the problem, and I don’t think they’ve used enough police to address the situation,” Cuomo said.
“You have 38,000 police officers. Deploy them. Give them support. On the video tape, to me, you see a lot of looting, and not enough police presence,” he added.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said that he had offered to send the National Guard to New York City and that de Blasio, who is also a Democrat, had not accepted the offer. In comments that at times appeared to be thinly veiled threats, Cuomo repeatedly noted that a way to override de Blasio on the matter would be to “displace the mayor.”
“Can you displace a mayor? Yes. A mayor can be removed. It has not happened. I can’t find a precedent. But theoretically it is legally possible,” Cuomo said at one point. “It is a bizarre thing to try to do in this situation. I think it would make a bad situation worse. Also, I don’t think it’s necessary, because I believe the NYPD can do this, because the NYPD has done this.”
New York City was put under its strictest curfew since the 1940s on Monday as protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody in Minneapolis last week continue to shake the city and the nation. Monday night into Tuesday morning saw the highest number of arrests in New York City since the protests began, according to NBC New York, with 700 arrested in all.
The curfew, which lasts from 8 p.m to 5 a.m., will continue through the rest of the week.
In a statement, Freddi Goldstein, a spokesperson for the mayor, said Cuomo’s comments “are offensive to the men and women of the NYPD, who are out there every night trying to keep New Yorkers safe. It would be nice if our officers knew they had the respect of their Governor.”
De Blasio has said that bringing in the National Guard could make things worse.
“When outside armed forces go into communities, no good comes from it,” de Blasio said Tuesday when asked about the prospect. “They are not trained for the circumstances here.”
De Blasio, whose 25-year-old daughter Chiara was among the protesters arrested over the weekend, has defended the New York Police Department while criticizing some whom he said “use violence when they shouldn’t.”
The mayor came under fire after initially defending the department after two NYPD vehicles were caught on tape driving into a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn over the weekend, but later called the incident “dangerous” and “unacceptable.” He has said the city is investigating.
In addition to his call for more policing, Cuomo also emphasized his support for those protesting Floyd’s killing. The four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been fired. One of the former officers, Derek Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he lay handcuffed and became nonresponsive, has been charged with murder.
“On the protesters, they are outraged. And, by the way, I agree with them,” Cuomo said. “What happened to Mr. Floyd was a disgrace, was repugnant to America, was repugnant to any good policing perspective, or strategy, or approach.”
Cuomo said that looters were “a totally different situation that has nothing to do with the protesters.”
“They have no right to wrap themselves in the flag of righteous indignation over Mr. Floyd’s murder,” Cuomo said.