Jun 3, 2020
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo June 3 Press Conference Transcript
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on Wednesday, June 3. Cuomo addressed the backlash over his criticism of the NYPD earlier in the week.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Also, gracing the cover of City and State magazine this month [inaudible 00:00:04] has that big warm smile that he’s famous for. Today is day 95 of the situation dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, and it is day 10 of the situation dealing with the civil unrest after the murder of Mr. Floyd that we all saw on TV. The president held up the Bible the other day in Washington, DC. Here in New York, we actually read the Bible, and there were some passages that I think are especially appropriate for today, and this time of where we are, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5. “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” That was Mark 3. Actually, before Abraham Lincoln.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:18)
“Turn away from evil and do good, search for peace and work to maintain it.” Psalms 34. “The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” I think those words are all appropriate for where we are today. It’s another quote that I think is applicable to where we are today. “You can’t use the military as a political weapon.” You remember who said that? I said that. There’s another quote, “The option to use forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent, and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (02:24)
Do you know who said that? Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, appointed by president Trump. “You can’t set fire to the house, and then, claim you are the one trying to put out the flames.” Do you know who said that? You guys are not well-read, that I can tell you. A.J Parkinson said that. Last night we had a continued protest across the state, but there are two very different situations that are going on, and we have to keep them separate, and we have to address them as separate situations, because they are night and day. One is protesting, and the other is looting. They are two very different situations. Some people choose to morph those two together, “All the protesters are actually looters, and we should treat them as looters.” That is not a fact, that is not the truth, that is not the reality of what is going on.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (03:35)
There are people who are protesting, and there are people who are looting. Very, very different situations. The protesting is righteous indignation over Mr. Floyd’s murder, and systemic racism, and injustice, and you listen to their point. I think they’re right. You look at that, Mr. Floyd’s murder on television, and it is reprehensible. There is no police officer in this nation that would defend that, and people are appalled, and again, it’s not the first time. You can’t say, well, this is an isolated incident. Mr. Floyd was one in an ongoing series, Ahmed Aubrey, Brionna Taylor. You can go back to Rodney King. You can go back to Martin Luther King. There are dozens, and dozens of the same case, righteous indignation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (04:43)
It’s more systemic racism. Righteous indignation, it’s systemic injustice, righteous indignation. Yes, but don’t be violent, because when you are violent you lose the righteous indignation. When you are violent, you play to the critics who want to say, “Oh, they’re all violent looters. They’re all like criminal element.” And, that actually defeats the righteousness of the message. Mr. Floyd was nonviolent. He was nonviolent against the police. The crime that they were possibly investigating was a nonviolent crime. Violence actually demeans the situation, and loses the righteous indignation, and I would urge the protesters to respect the curfew, because the curfew was necessary, because the police have a real job of policing dealing with the looters.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (05:53)
The looting is criminal behavior pure and simple. There’s no righteousness. There’s no message. There’s no indignation. These are opportunists who see the police are busy dealing with the protestors, and they say, “Well, here’s an opportunity to loot, and to steal, and to cause mayhem.” That’s all they are. This is criminal behavior period, designed to create chaos. Well, they’re anarchists [inaudible 00:06:23] fine. It’s all illegal behavior, and we will not allow our cities in this state to be in chaos, period. Public safety is rule one, maintaining order is rule one. It’s not going to happen in the state of New York. We’re not going to allow the looting that we’ve seen on videotapes, the chaos that we’ve seen, period.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (06:57)
The police must be empowered to keep order, stop the looting, and stop the criminal activity, distinguish between the protestors and the looting. Yes, you have police action, which is necessary to work with the protestors, but the police have to be there, and be empowered to stop the looting, and the chaos, and the criminal behavior that people are trying to explore this moment for their own selfish criminal purposes, and the police have to be able to do their job, and the police have to be supported in being able to do their job. I’ve sent New York state police to cities to deal with these protests. They have to have the right numbers, they have to be empowered to do their job, and we’ve had protests again last night all across the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (07:57)
I want to applaud the local police who have done a great job. I want to applaud the state police who have done a great job. The protests were mainly peaceful all across the state, and I want to thank all involved for keeping it that way, protestors included. New York city last night was much better. The protesters were mainly peaceful. The police officer had the resources, and the capacity to do their jobs, and the results last night were much, much different than the night before, and that’s what it’s all about. I think the people in New York city should feel much better today than they did after the night of looting. These are perilous times. There’s a lot going on, and we have to understand what’s going on, and the difference among the issues that we’re dealing with.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (08:58)
You have the COVID crisis, you have the murder of Mr. Floyd, two very different situations, but both critical in and of themselves, and both happening at the same time. It’s then wrapped in an environment and a dynamic that is racially charged, and politically charged. It makes it a very, very perilous time in this country, and we have to be careful. We have to be very careful, because the consequences are steep on both sides of this equation, so leadership, good government, responsibility is more important than ever before, especially, in these divided times. COVID-19 is still a real threat. We’re still battling that. I know it’s not on the front pages today, but it is still in people, and in society. We’re still battling that. That is going better than it has ever gone.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (09:59)
In New York, we have the lowest number of hospitalizations ever, and we have the lowest death toll ever, and God bless the people of New York for what they did. God bless the nurses, and the doctors, and the essential workers, and the frontline workers, because they saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the state of New York. We have to remember what made us successful during COVID, that we’re New York tough, but New York tough is multifaceted. It means New York smart. If you’re going to protest, protest intelligently. Remember the COVID virus is still out there, so protest intelligently. We’re United. We’re not black and white, we’re not upstate, downstate, we’re not red and blue. We are one state, one community, and we came together that way.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (10:57)
With discipline in fighting this COVID, with discipline in having our right to protest, but doing it peacefully, and in a way that respects law and order, and we are loving at the end of the day. Yes, we have issues. Yes, we have challenges, but we’ve shown how good we can be as a community, and how much we respect one another, and the sacrifice we’re willing to make for one another. Let’s keep that spirit that we developed over the past 95 days. Let’s keep that going, because that is pure magic. If we stay united, and we stay loving, and we stay smart, we’re going to handle all of these issues, and we’re going to be the better for it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (11:47)
We’ve overcome the greatest challenge that this state has faced in my lifetime with COVID virus. This was the beast that we didn’t know if we could beat, but so far we’ve beaten it. We have to stay smart to make sure we control the beast, but we did it. We overcame. We, the people overcame together. Last words for today, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12, that my friends is New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, and loving. Questions.
Speaker 1: (12:33)
[crosstalk 00:12:33] Governor, how do we tackle the power of police unions, and the need to change culture within local police agencies in the wider criminal justice system? Your policy ideas don’t really hit at the issue. Why aren’t bad apples being called out by colleagues, and will you allow the release of state troopers disciplinary records under 58?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (12:50)
Well, you have a lot in there. There are necessary reforms that need to be made. There’s no doubt about that. I hope the positive legacy of the injustice that was done to Mr. Floyd. Many of those policies, or any law in the state of New York. 58, the disciplinary records, I hope will become law shortly, and we have to respect everyone’s interests there, and I look forward to doing that, and I think the legislature is prepared to do it, and I think they’re going to be coming back in the next couple of weeks to have those conversations.
Speaker 2: (13:35)
[crosstalk 00:13:35] change in the power of police unions specifically, it’s something the mayor has talked about, sort of trying to change the culture. As governor, what’s your role in sort of trying to get local agencies to start thinking about this idea?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (13:48)
Yeah. I don’t know what the mayor was referring to, so let me find out what he said, and then, I’ll comment appropriate.
Speaker 3: (13:55)
Governor you brought a Bible to the dais today, that’s an obvious reference to what the president did on Monday. What do you make-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:01)
I said it was.
Speaker 3: (14:02)
Yeah, no, absolutely.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:02)
That’s why it was obvious, because I said that.
Speaker 3: (14:05)
I got it. What do you make-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:07)
You’re saying even if I didn’t say it, you would have figured it out?
Speaker 3: (14:10)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:10)
No, of course.
Speaker 3: (14:12)
What do you make of the president’s recent attacks on New York? What do you think he’s trying to do there? Is he trying to rile his base? Is he trying to make legitimate criticisms about your stewardship of the state as well as the city?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (14:24)
Well, far be it from me the psychoanalyze the president of the United States. I have a law degree. I have no medical degrees. I’ve told you, and I have no degree in psychoanalysis. It’s nothing new for the president. He’s not just attacked New York in tweets, his policies have been vicious to New York. He changed the tax code in a way that increased the taxes in New York and other democratic states. He has failed to do anything positive for New York. He’s gone out of his way to be negative to New York. Now, why? Is it politics? Who knows? That’s for someone else to answer, but the negativity, forget the tweets, who cares about the tweets? It’s what he’s done to the people of the state that bothers me, what he did with SALT, refusing to fund urgent transportation projects that hurt the entire Northeast, like the Hudson tunnels, stopping the Second Avenue subway.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (15:34)
I mean, all these egregious acts kicking us out of the trusted Traveler Program with the DHS Department of Homeland Security, just as punitive policy, because they don’t like that we won’t give them the driver’s licenses for undocumented people, so they punish us with the Trusted Traveler Program. I mean, there’s a hole from day one in his administration. You have seen negative hostile government acts, and then, by the way, the most recent refusal to fund state governments, which is negative to New York, but it’s also negative all across the board.
Speaker 4: (16:26)
But, you did praise some of his Corona action?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (16:26)
Yes. There have been good things helping us with Javits, and with the Army Corps of Engineers, and the additional beds. That was very helpful, and like I said from day one, I’m not playing politics with the president. When he does the right thing by New York I say he did the right thing by New York. Well, democrats don’t like me to say that. It’s the truth. When he does a bad thing for New York, I say he did a bad thing, and it’s good, and sped. I think I was in the White House last week. We had a meeting.
Speaker 4: (17:00)
[inaudible 00:17:00] this week at all [inaudible 00:17:01].
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:02)
No [crosstalk 00:17:03]. I’m sorry.
Speaker 5: (17:05)
[inaudible 00:17:05] troops from Fort Drum were sent to D.C. to help out law enforcement there. Do you have a comment on that? And, how do you feel about that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (17:12)
Well, yeah, I don’t think you should use active military for political purposes. I don’t believe it’s constitutional, and now you have his secretary of defense saying that they shouldn’t be used. Now, how can the secretary of defense say that, and then, do it? That’s another question. If you don’t believe it’s right… Wendy, pull up Secretary Esper’s quote again there please. If you don’t believe it’s right, why did you do it? You can’t do it, and then, say, I think it’s wrong, so you just admitted that you did something that was wrong, but look at this quote [crosstalk 00:17:54]. “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent dire of situation. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.” Then how did you do it, Mr. Secretary? Question for him, not for me. Jimmy.
That’s clear about active duty military, but can you talk a little bit more about the National Guard? How close [crosstalk 00:18:20].
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:20)
Well, what were they, in the question was about active military in Watertown, right Fort Drum? [Crosstalk 00:18:28] That was the question.
How close did you come to [inaudible 00:18:32] the National Guard for New York city? Did you ever suggest to city officials that you thought the National Guard should be on standby? Could you shed a little bit more light on that, and when you think it would be appropriate to do that, especially given your statements now without using active duty military just now?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (18:48)
National Guard are different than active military personnel for political purposes. National Guard, we deploy for public purposes. We deploy them to help with the COVID virus, we deploy them for storm emergencies. If they were deployed for New York city, that’s not a political purpose, that’s to help the police function in New York city. Those are not political purposes, but we did not send the National Guard in New York city. I said yesterday that there was a terrible night of looting. I was prepared to send the National Guard to help to provide the resources if the city needed them, but I said, I don’t believe the NYPD needs the National Guard. They’re largest police force in the United States of America. They’re like 36, 38,000 people.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (19:52)
I don’t believe they needed the National Guard. I believe believed there was an issue of management, and deployment of the NYPD. You have to remember the NYPD, first, on a personal level, I grew up in Queens. I grew up with the NYPD. My neighborhood, a lot of my friends became police officers in New York city. It’s the best little New York [inaudible 00:20:18] but I believe it’s the best police department in the country, and we know the police officers can handle these situations, because they have. We’ve gone through the Sean Bell situation, we’ve gone through the aftermath of Amadou Diallo, aftermath of Abner Louima. We went to Crown Heights, the Gavin Cato death, and then, we went through the aftermath of Crown Heights. There was a whole report done on Crown Heights that studied what happened. It was like four or five days of riots.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (20:55)
We’ve done this. This is been there, done that for the police. The police officers know how to do it. These are the best. Now, a police officer needs support. They need the right deployment, they need to be empowered, they need the capacity to do their job. They have to know that they are backed up, they have to know that if they’re out there, they can do what they have to do. If they have to arrest somebody, they have to arrest somebody, they have to have the right gear. They have to get the support that they need, but it’s not about the NYPD, and by the way, one other point. Forget everything else. It’s about getting results. I’m here to get things done, and make life better for people. We got results. Last night was a much, much better night than the night before, so it worked, we got results. Let’s just remember what we did last night, and let’s keep that going.
Speaker 6: (22:06)
[crosstalk 00:22:06] county executive is urging businesses [inaudible 00:22:10] to record the phases, and just suggested to them that they open up right away if they so choose, and he’s also starting a GoFundMe page to help pay fines if there were any fines. Do you have any response to that?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (22:23)
Well, I don’t think telling people to violate the law is a good idea, and somebody tells you to violate the law, that’s not an excuse when you violate the law, so you still get the fine or whatever the penalty is for violating the law. You would still be liable, you would still get sued, you will still be closed down, and you’ll be penalized, and I can tell you, yeah, you should get up and assault, Jesse. I think you should do that. Yeah, but you go to jail. Let’s take one more
Speaker 7: (23:00)
[crosstalk 00:23:00] this morning on one of the radio shows or one of the shows downstate Chief Monaghan of the NYPD said that you called him to apologize for your remarks yesterday, in regards to the NYPD. Just wondering what that conversation was like when you spoke with the chief, and again, how did you come to that conclusion?
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (23:25)
Yeah, I’ll make it very simple. First. I never spoke to whatever that person’s name is. I spoke to the police commissioner, and said the same thing I just said to you, and the same thing I said yesterday, which is, it’s an issue of management and deployment. The actual police officers are the best. My issue was with the management and deployment. Never about the police officers. It’s about the management, it’s about the deployment, not about the officers. [crosstalk 00:24:03] Thank you very much. [crosstalk 00:24:04] I’m taking my Bible, and I’m going back to work [crosstalk 00:24:14]. Read the Bible, read the Bible. [crosstalk 00:24:16] read the Bible.