The widespread protests across the country against racial injustice are separate from the looting that has occurred in many cities in their wake, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.
“People see this moment and they exploit it, and that is criminal activity,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing at the state Capitol, which for the first time focused more on the civil unrest and looting in New York City and elsewhere than on the COVID-19 pandemic and its toll in New York state.
The nation has been rocked for the last week by protests and night-time looting in the wake of the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. New York City has seen several nights of looting after protests, and there was property damage and looting in Albany Saturday night.
“They demean Mr. Floyd’s murder by using it as an excuse for criminal activity,” said Cuomo, who said the protesters have legitimate grievances and he supports them.
“Separate the protesters from the looting. They are two very different issues,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo has offered the use of 13,000 National Guard troops to cities that need help controlling looting — an offer no mayor, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, has so far accepted.
Cities including Albany have enacted night-time curfews. In Schenectady, Mayor Gary McCarthy announced a curfew on Sunday after what were tense but ultimately demonstrations in the afternoon, but rescinded it on Monday, after Sunday night proved quiet.
“The curfew is not to harass protesters,” Cuomo said. “The curfews are designed to help the police deal with the looters.”