Cuomo Says Protests Should Spark U.S. Ban on Excessive Force
Protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd should spark a national ban on excessive force by police officers, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The Democratic governor said he will be talking to Mayor Bill de Blasio about a potential curfew in New York City, where there were reports of looting and some “disturbing” videos of police encounters with the crowds.
Violent activity by protesters “obscures the righteousness of the message,” Cuomo said Monday at a press briefing. “It plays into the hands of people and forces who don’t want to make changes.”
At his own briefing earlier, de Blasio said a curfew is anoption, but is not planned for Monday night. Over the weekend, the mayor had said police who drove into a crowd of demonstrators were wrong, but that the protesters had created conditions for the incident. On Monday, he said it is “not acceptable ever” to drive a police vehicle into a crowd, and the matter is under investigation.
Cuomo’s daily press briefings on the coronavirus outbreak have made him a national presence. The governor used his platform Monday to urge lawmakers to take steps to stop the use of excessive force by police, and to ask protesters to act peacefully.
Cities across the U.S. were the scene of weekend protests over incidents between white police officers and black residents. The case of Floyd, a Minneapolis black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, is just one of dozens that have happened in the U.S., Cuomo said. He cited the 2014 case in New York of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after he was placed in a prohibited chokehold by a white police officer. The officer was fired in 2019.
“Use this moment to galvanize public support,” the governor said. “Use that outrage to actually make a change.”
The protests are happening as New York City prepares to reopen on June 8, after weeks of lockdown from the virus outbreak. Public officials have expressed concern that the protests could spark fresh Covid-19 outbreaks, but Cuomo said the state won’t know for weeks if they do.
“We have to be smart tonight in this city,” the governor said. “This is not helping end coronavirus.”
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