Governor Cuomo: "The majority of people are making a very valid point, and it is a point in this nation's history where we should finally end this discrimination and abuse by police. I'm old enough to remember. I was in Los Angeles for the Rodney King aftermath. And I lived through Amadou Diallo in New York City, and Abner Louima, and Eric Garner. How many people have to die? And the names change, but the color stays the same. And it's right that enough is enough. And let's take this moment and actually change."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called into CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront to discuss the ongoing nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
AUDIO is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Erin Burnett: Joining me now on the phone as we keep these images up and I apologize in advance Governor Cuomo if I need to interrupt you as something happens with this standoff in Philadelphia, but the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is with me right now. Governor, what do you say to the president? He'll deploy the U.S. military, he will solve the problem for you if you don't do it.
Governor Cuomo: I say thank you but no thank you. How are you tonight, Erin? Look, the president wants to re-create reality here, right? Even the pictures from Washington, D.C., you had a number of protesters. They were peaceful protesters, they were young people, largely white crowd in Washington, D.C., who are offended at what they saw with the Floyd murder, which they should be. It's actually a beautiful thing that you have people all across this nation saying enough is enough after what happened to Mr. Floyd. So that's actually a positive. Now, do you have any in these situations people who exploit the moment and people who have criminal activity and looting and extremist groups that pose anarchy? Yes. But, the protesters themselves have been making a very valid point, wake up America, we're killing people based on the color of their skin. And it is a real issue. The president wants to make it a reality TV show of God and country. Call out the military and then I go to church and hold up a bible. Yeah, we understand who he's trying to appeal to, and the base he's trying to rally with the military and believe in God and I hold a bible, but that's not what's happening in this country today.
Erin Burnett: So, governor, the scenes we see in Washington and Philadelphia right now, of course, there's decisions to be made in terms of enforcing these curfews and what police are going to do. You have a curfew of 11:00 tonight in New York, in New York City. How strictly will you enforce it?
Governor Cuomo: Look, the curfew is to help us separate the peaceful protesters, which are the overwhelming majority, from people who are looking to exploit the moment by looting, et cetera. New York City, they looted high end stores with high end merchandise. That wasn't a coincidence. There were people who knew what they were doing. If you wanted to commit a crime, Erin, that was the time and night to do it, right? And you do have these extremist groups that just want to propose anarchy. But, the majority of people are making a very valid point, and it is a point in this nation's history where we should finally end this discrimination and abuse by police. I'm old enough to remember. I was in Los Angeles for the Rodney King aftermath. And I lived through Amadou Diallo in New York City, and Abner Louima, and Eric Garner. How many people have to die? And the names change, but the color stays the same. And it's right that enough is enough. And let's take this moment and actually change.
Erin Burnett: So governor, the president tonight, you've mentioned these extremist parts which we all know are part of this. The president specifically in the Rose Garden said that professional anarchists, rioters, antifa, he mentioned specifically. Would you agree with how he characterized it, and how big are these elements in what you're seeing in New York?
Governor Cuomo: Look, you have extremist groups on the left and on the right in this country, and everyone knows that. They are the small minority in what's going on, but they are destructive. Deluding the criminal activity is intolerable, and from a law enforcement point of view you need to weed them out, but they are intermingled with the protesters. But what the president today did was he called out the American military against American citizens. That's what they did. They used the American military to push back a peaceful protest, which everyone watched on TV, just so he could have a photo-op of walking to a church. When was the last time you saw the American military called out against Americans?
Erin Burnett: 1807.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, is that Americana? Is that making America great? I don't think so.
Erin Burnett: So when you saw the moment tonight, governor, with the president, obviously because he wanted to have that picture in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, with the bible, they forcibly cleared the protesters who were there. As you point out, those protesters were peaceful. They were by and large young, they were by and large white. They were cleared out with rubber bullets, tear gas, flash bangs, and he went and held up the bible. What was your reaction when you saw him do that? You saw him stop and pause and hold up that bible.
Governor Cuomo: I've seen a lot of things, but I was shocked at what they did. I was shocked at the force they used to move the protesters, who could not have been more peaceful, and from their signs they were all there to make the legitimate point about the killing of Mr. Floyd. And it was just for a photo opportunity. I mean, it is amazing. Calling out the American military for a photo opportunity. That's what it was. I mean, it was shameful. It was really, truly shameful.
Erin Burnett: Governor, before we go, were you on that call today with the president where he spoke to the governors, and if so, what can you tell us about it?
Governor Cuomo: I was on for part of it. It is as you reported. The president takes every situation and puts it through his public relations lens. He wants to make this about looting because he doesn't want to talk about the killing of Mr. Floyd. He doesn't want to talk about that. And he doesn't want to really talk about racism and discrimination, so he wants to make it about looting. And his answer is always the same. Dominate, dominate, use the military to dominate. That's not what this nation needs. This is actually, these protesters are making a legitimate, inarguable point. How do you kill Mr. Floyd with the video cameras running? How do you do that? And this is who we are? And how do we get better? This a historic problem of racism and discrimination and inequality and injustice and they want this country to be better, and the country should be better. But rather than deal with the truth, Mr. Trump wants to create his own truth, that these are bad people, and looters, and thugs, and they have to be put down. But the American people saw the video. Those were not thugs and looters. These are young people who still have idealism and want to make this nation better. And that's a good instinct, and it should be encouraged.
Erin Burnett: Alright, well Governor Cuomo, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.