Gov. Cuomo: ‘Violence in protests obscures the message, looting isn’t protesting, it’s criminality’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York state is handling the coronavirus pandemic “better than ever,” according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who delivered his daily briefing from New York City Monday.

In terms of handling the coronavirus, the governor said the state is doing better than ever before.

“Lowest number of deaths we’ve had yet, 54,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Yesterday we did about 55,000 tests, which is a tremendous number of tests, and less than 1,000 people tested positive. That is the lowest number we have had since this began, and when we began we were only doing 3,000 or 4,000 tests per day.”

The governor attributed the state’s progress against the pandemic to New Yorkers.

“What we did against this virus is an incredible achievement, if you take a step back,” Gov. Cuomo said. “19 million people did it. They did what’s never been done before.

“Yes it was a disruptive 93 days, I know, but look at what we did in 93 days,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We went from the worst situation on the globe to actually reopening. That’s where we are, we should be very proud of what we done.”

Still, the governor warned that mass gatherings protesting the death of George Floyd stands to set back the progress that we’ve made as as state.

“These mass gatherings the last few nights could exacerbate the COVID-19 situation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “After all the lockdowns, we have to ask ‘what are we doing? What are we trying to accomplish?’

“I share the outrage, I stand with the protesters,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The video of the killing of Mr. Floyd is horrendous, it’s frightening. It perverts everything you think is right about this country. What have we learned? Nothing? So yes we should be outraged and yes there is a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police, but it’s something worse; it is racism, it is discrimination it is fundamental inequality and injustice.”

The governor said the history of racism in this country persists into the present day.

“Look at our prisons and tell me there’s not inherent injustice in society,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Look at what happens with this COVID infection rate, right? More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead, proportionate to white Americans. Of course there’s chronic institutionalized discrimination, there is no doubt, and there’s no doubt that it’s been going on for a long time.”

The governor said it’s important for demonstrators to use their energy constructively, and be specific to demand real positive change, like:

“There should be a national ban on chokeholds, period,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local district attorney handling the investigation, I don’t care how good they are. There is a suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department everyday.

“There is no self-policing,” Gov. Cuomo said.”There’s an allegation? An independent investigation gives people the comfort that the investigation is real.”

The governor said the need for change is real, but violence dilutes the message.

“The violence in these protests obscures the importance of the message,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Looting is not protesting, it’s criminality, and it plays into the hands of the people and forces who don’t want to make the changes in the first place.

“Look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That’s the video we want people watching. I don’t even believe it’s the protesters, I believe there are people who are using this moment and using this protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy and want to disrupt.”

While acknowledging the need for change, the governor said the mass gatherings come at a precarious time while the state continues to battle pandemic.

“Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We don’t even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don’t even know. We won’t know possibly for weeks. That’s the nature of the virus.

“We turned the corner on the virus. 93 days, we were smart, we were respectful,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We were disciplined, but it was also about love. We did it because we love one another. And yes, you can be loving, even with the New York accent, New York toughness, and New York swagger.”

The governor said the progress against the virus prove that change is possible.

“You want to change society? You want to end the tale of two cities? You want to make it one America? You can do that just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end,” Gov. Cuomo said. “People united can do anything. We just showed that. We can end the injustice.”

During Sunday’s briefing in Albany, the governor addressed several protests which turned violent across the state this past weekend. He said demonstrators needed to call for specific action instead of resorting to violence and destruction.

MORE | Gov. Cuomo on protests: ‘Being violent creates a scapegoat to shift the blame’

“Mr. Floyd was not violent. That’s what makes the killing more outrageous,” Gov. Cuomo said. “When you are violent, it creates a scapegoat to shift the blame. It allows someone to tweet about looting instead of murder by a police officer. It furthers the politics of division.”

In that briefing, the governor announced that 56 additional New Yorkers died from COVID-19, the lowest daily death toll due to the virus in more than two months. He also announced that beginning Monday, dentists’ offices in the state can reopen.

Check back as we will continue to update this developing story.

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