May 30, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Responds to Nationwide Protests Following Death of George Floyd: 'We Have an Injustice in the Criminal Justice System That Is Abhorrent' — but Violence 'Obscures the Righteousness of the Message and the Mission'

TOP Governor Cuomo Responds to Nationwide Protests...

Governor Cuomo: "We have an injustice in the criminal justice system that is abhorrent... And it is not just George Floyd - you look back even in modern history in my life time. This started with Rodney King. Rodney King was 30 years ago. We suffered in this city through Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and Eric Garner. How many times have we seen the same situation? Yes, the names change, but the color doesn't. And that is the painful reality of this situation."

 

Cuomo: "It is this nation's history of discrimination and racism dating back hundreds of years. That is the honest truth and that's what is behind this anger and frustration and I share the outrage at this fundamental injustice. I do. And that's why I say I figuratively stand with the protestors, but violence is not the answer. It never is the answer. As a matter of fact, it is counterproductive because the violence then obscures the righteousness of the message and the mission. And you lose the point by the violence in response... Yes, outrage. Yes, anger. Yes, frustration. But not violence."

 

Cuomo: "I'm asking Attorney General James to review the actions and the procedures that were used last night because the public deserves answers and they deserve accountability... And we are going to ask her to take a short period of time, review last night and to do a report to the public and let's see what we can learn, what was done right and what was done wrong because people do deserve answers."

WYSIWYG

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here

  

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here

    

PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

   

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

 

And there is a larger context for this conversation today, right? For 90 days we were just dealing with the COVID crisis. On the 91st day, we had the COVID crisis and we have the situation in Minneapolis with the racial unrest around the George Floyd death. Those are not disconnected situations. One looks like a public health system issue — COVID — but it is getting at the inequality in healthcare also on a deeper level. And then the George Floyd situation, which gets at the inequality and discrimination in the criminal justice system. They are connected.

 

The George Floyd death was not just about George Floyd, and we wish his family peace and they are in our thoughts and prayers. But we tend to look at these situations as individual incidents. They are not individual incidents. When you have one episode, two episodes, maybe you can look at them as individual episodes. But when you have ten episodes, 15 episodes, you are blind or in denial if you are still treating each one like a unique situation. We have an injustice in the criminal justice system that is abhorrent. That is the truth. It doesn't make me feel good to say that. I'm a former prosecutor. We have injustice in the criminal justice system, which is the basic purveyor of justice in this society. And it is not just George Floyd - you look back even in modern history in my lifetime. This started with Rodney King. Rodney King was 30 years ago. We suffered in this city through Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and Eric Garner. How many times have we seen the same situation? Yes, the names change, but the color doesn't. And that is the painful reality of this situation.

 

And it is not just 30 years. It is this nation's history of discrimination and racism dating back hundreds of years. That is the honest truth and that's what is behind this anger and frustration and I share the outrage at this fundamental injustice. I do. And that's why I say I figuratively stand with the protestors, but violence is not the answer. It never is the answer. As a matter of fact, it is counterproductive because the violence then obscures the righteousness of the message and the mission. And you lose the point by the violence in response. And it allows people who would choose to scapegoat to point violence rather than the action that created the reaction. The violence allows people to talk about the violence, as opposed to honestly addressing the situation that incited the violence. The violence doesn't work. Martin Luther King, Dr. King, God rest his soul. He taught us this. He taught us this. He knew better than anyone who is speaking to us today on this issue. "Returning hate for hate, multiplies hate. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." Yes, outrage. Yes, anger. Yes, frustration. But not violence. Last night we saw disturbing violent clashes amidst protests right here in New York City in Brooklyn.

 

And we all saw the video last night, I'm asking Attorney General James to review the actions and the procedures that were used last night because the public deserves answers and they deserve accountability. I spoke with the Mayor, he wants an independent review of what happened yesterday. I agree and we agree that the Attorney General is an independently elected official in the state of New York. In many other states the attorney general is appointed by the governor - not here. She is an independently elected official. She has proven herself competent and capable in being independent. And we are going to ask her to take a short period of time, review last night and to do a report to the public and let's see what we can learn, what was done right and what was done wrong because people do deserve answers. We had legislators who were at the protest, state legislators, last night. And there is a significant amount of concern about what actions were taken.

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