Cuomo: George Floyd Protests Led to ‘Ugly Night’ in New York
Violent protests for George Floyd led to an "ugly night" across New York. Police conduct during the protests will be investigated.
On Sunday during his daily COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for standardized police misconduct policies across America. The governor said federal and state governments should pass laws requiring police misconduct investigations be conducted by independent, outside agencies, not by local prosecutors.
"The real issue is the continuing racism in this country and it is chronic and it is endemic and it is institutional and it speaks to a collective hypocrisy," Cuomo said. "We're very good in this country at telling other people how they should live their lives and how they should act, but we still discriminate on the basis of color of skin. That is the simple, painful truth - but this is a moment for truth. Our challenge today is to use this moment, use this energy constructively and demand real positive change. And articulate what the change is that we want. George Floyd must not have died in vain. 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."
Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest on Memorial day. Video of Floyd's arrest shows an officer with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd says he can't "breathe." Four officers involved in the fatal arrest have already been fired.
Cuomo said the violent protests have led to some ugly nights across New York and nationwide.
"Last night was an ugly all across this nation," Cuomo said on Sunday. "It was an ugly night all across this state. People are outraged," I understand that. I'm outraged. It is equally true that violence never works. How many times have we burned down our own businesses, our own neighborhoods, our own communities?"
He said the violence is dishonoring Floyd's death.
"We need to mobilize the best in our people rather than allowing the worst. Don't lose the passion, don't lose the outrage, but be smart," he said.
Cuomo called on the federal government to define excessive force by a police officer by one standard all across the nation. He also advocated for the release of disciplinary records of officers who are accused of misconduct.
He called the viral video of an NYPD van driving into a crowd of protesters as "disturbing" and "inexplicable" and said "there will be ramifications." Cuomo called on New York Attorney General Letitia James to include this weekend's protests and ongoing protests in her review of all actions and procedures used during recent protests.
“Peaceful protest is a basic civil right. That right should be protected and guarded. We take the designation to investigate last night's actions very seriously. We will act independently to seek answers, ensure that the truth is laid bare, and that there is accountability for any wrongdoing. We will be transparent in our findings as we seek accountability for those who did wrong," James said in a press release.