ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday accuse others of conflating the people protesting the police death of George Floyd across the country with others who are looting in the wake of those protests, and spoke out against the use of the military to control city streets.
At his daily press briefing in Albany, Cuomo re-iterated comments from Tuesday about the protestors and looters being different phenomena involving different people, and added on Twitter: “There are those who are trying to lump together the peaceful protesters & the looters. Attempting to blur the two. But we know these are two separate groups entirely. With two separate agendas. We see through this cynical attempt to discredit a legitimate protest.”
President Donald Trump has reportedly considered invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act, which would allow the use of active military personnel to control the protests and looting occurring in cities across the country as people express outrage over the death of Floyd, who was black and died on May 25 while being restrained by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Looting has been most intense in large cities across the country, but it has occurred as close as Albany, where looting and property damaged occurred across the South End Saturday night, in the wake of demonstrations outside the Albany Police Department’s South End station.
On Monday, Trump said he would mobilize “all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”
Cuomo quoted Trump’s defense secretary, Mark Esper, who said on Wednesday morning that invoking the Insurrection Act should only be a “last resort.”
“I don’t think you should use active military for political purposes. It is not constitutional,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo drew a distinction between sending active-duty military into cities and calling up units of the National Guard, which is state-controlled. The National Guard is called up during natural disasters and other emergencies, he said, and could be called up in the current situation to assist with policing.
Cuomo has offered to send the National Guard into New York City, where there was widespread looting over several nights, but Mayor Bill de Blasio refused the offer. On Tuesday, Cuomo accused the mayor and police command staff of not properly deploying officers.
Tuesday night was much quieter than previous nights in the city, with Cuomo acknowledging on Wednesday that police were better-deployed than on previous nights.
“I was prepared to send the National Guard if the city needed them, but I don’t believe they needed the National Guard,” Cuomo said.