Gov. Andrew Cuomo took New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and city police officers to task Tuesday for rejecting state National Guard assistance to control vandalism and citywide looting following last week’s death of an unarmed black man at the hands of Minneapolis police.
About 700 people were arrested after attacking police officers and looting overnight Monday into Tuesday that ruined dozens of Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan businesses. The incidents mostly occurred from 23rd Street to the 50s, along with parts of the Bronx, with reports of looting in the Union Square area.
The violence convulsed the state, reaching beyond New York City to major cities worldwide and to Albany. Even two Catskill women were accused of hurling homemade firebombs at occupied police vehicles and numerous other offenses in Brooklyn.
The looters, Cuomo said Tuesday, are mainly members of political extremist groups. Accurate or not, the violent protesters are using this moment for their own purposes and exploiting this movement and moment, and Cuomo added the majority of peaceful protests are “two very different things.”
One such “different thing” occurred in Hudson where hundreds of protesters were joined by police to condemn the violence, without resorting to violence themselves, and called for peace in the streets.
The right to protest is ingrained in the American psyche. That’s what this nation is all about. But this is not like the nonviolent civil disobedience of the 1960s. Nonviolence put the focus on the issues, not on the rioting and the destruction.
It was just days ago when a 46-year-old African-American man named George Floyd died face down on a Minneapolis street when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Cuomo in essence told de Blasio and the NYPD to “do your job.” Judging from the subsequent tragedy and violence, he could very well be sending all of us the same message.