New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s imposing a curfew on New York City starting Monday night and has the state’s National Guard on standby after a weekend of violent protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Cuomo said the curfew starts at 11 p.m. and will be lifted at 5 a.m. Tuesday, he said in an interview with WAMC public radio on Monday. The governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio will review whether to renew the curfew in the morning, he said.
The New York City Police Department will also double its presence to help prevent violence and property damage, Cuomo and de Blasio said in an emailed statement. The additional officers will be deployed to areas where violence and property damage occurred during Sunday night’s protests — specifically in lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.
“I’ve told mayors all across the state that I can call out the National Guard,” Cuomo said at a news conference earlier Monday.
Cuomo said he believe the New York Police Department should have enough personnel, but he will call in the National Guard if they need more backup. Some of the violent actions taken by the NYPD have exacerbated the problem, he said.
“There are videos of some NYPD actions that are very disturbing. There are videos of NYPD cars driving into a crowd that are very disturbing. Pulling a mask down off of a person to pepper spray them. Throwing a woman to the ground. It’s on video. It’s on video,” he said.
Cuomo said he asked New York Attorney General Letitia James on Saturday to conduct a report on those officers acting aggressively toward the protesters. He said that no immediate actions have been taken until James submits the report.
“I asked the attorney general for a report. I want that report done 30 days from when I asked her just two days ago. But I’m going to speak to the mayor about, in the meantime, what is the response for those police actions on video.”
Cuomo said that he has the legal authority to impose a curfew, which a handful of cities across the country have implemented, but he’s not at that point. However, he said he knows “something has to be done because last night was not acceptable and the night before was not acceptable on any level.”
Some state governors, like those in Minnesota, Georgia, Ohio, Washington and Kentucky, have also mobilized their National Guard forces.
Earlier Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the reports of police misconduct during the weekend’s violent protests, saying that they will be immediately investigated but defended a “vast majority” of NYPD officers.
De Blasio was criticized for initially defending the officers who rammed their cars into a group of people, saying the incident was caused by the protesters surrounding the vehicles.
Cuomo said he stands with the protesters over the killing of Floyd, adding “it perverts everything you believe about this country.” The mass gatherings, however, are “counterproductive” to the city’s goal of reopening the economy.
“We just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed,” he said. “People will have lost their jobs, people wiped out their savings, and now mass gatherings? With thousands of people in close proximity? One week before we’re going to reopen New York City?”
New York City is scheduled to begin its phase one reopening next week, although Cuomo warned that the mass gatherings over the weekend could threaten the city’s progress in controlling the coronavirus spread.
“We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see these mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people after everything that we have done,” he said.