Gov. Cuomo on protests: ‘Being violent creates a scapegoat to shift the blame’

State News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his daily update regarding the coronavirus pandemic at noon on Sunday, all while multiple cities across the state are dealing with the aftermath of violent protests.

The governor announced that 56 New Yorkers died Saturday from COVID-19.

“In this absurd new reality, that is good news,” Gov. Cuomo said.

The governor then turned his attention to the number of violent protests around New York state Saturday, including here in Rochester.

MORE | Residents pitching in to help after looting and violence rocks Rochester

“We’ve gone through hell and back. Last night was an ugly night all across this nation, all across this state,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Rochester asked for additional police, so we’ll have 200 additional state police there. We have the National Guard on standby. We expect more protests tonight.”

The governor acknowledged the difficult situation that many communities are facing in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“The real issue is the chronic racism in this country,” Gov. Cuomo said. “That is the simple, painful truth, but this is a moment of truth. At the same time, it’s equally true that violence never works.”

The governor said instead to be specific about changes, and make those changes the focus.

“Mr. Floyd was not violent. That’s what makes the killing more outrageous,” Gov. Cuomo said. “When you are violent, it creates a scapegoat to shift the blame. It allows someone to tweet about looting instead of murder by a police officer. It furthers the politics of division.”

The governor says, like the pandemic, there is an opportunity to progress as society faces a crisis.

“People can change and we have seen that lesson over the past 90 days, as we have seen with this coronavirus,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Fifty days ago on April 12 we lost 800 people from COVID, yesterday we lost 56 — 800 to 56. Sixty days ago we had 3,400 people come to our hospitals. Yesterday we had 191 — who did that? Who made that remarkable change? That radical change who made all that progress?

“It was ‘we the people,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “We the people forced that change and did it in weeks. Literally. So of course we can change, and our challenge today is to use this moment, use this energy constructively, and demand real positive change and articulate what the change is that we want. Be specific.

Most Americans are good, fair-minded, decent, kind individuals. We need to mobilize the best in our people rather than allowing the worst. But don’t loose the passion, don’t loose the outrage. Be frustrated, but be smart.”

The governor said connections could be made to the pandemic and what transpired Saturday.

“It’s not a coincidence that the unrest happens in the middle of the pandemic, those are not separate situations,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There’s tremendous stress on everyone. This isolation of people, the lack of social interaction, has created a lot of mental health stress.”

On Saturday, Cuomo signed a bill that gives death benefits to the families of frontline workers during the COVID-19 crisis. No information has been released yet on who exactly is eligible for the benefits or how much the benefits are worth.

MORE | COVID-19 county by county: Keeping track of local cases throughout the region

However, despite the numbers trending in the right direction, 67 more New Yorkers lost their lives to COVID-19 on Friday. This is the same number of deaths that were reported on Thursday, and Governor Cuomo said it is an all-time low number for the state.

Locally, there were no new COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County Saturday, keeping the toll at 218, from last official count Friday. To date, officials report 2,852 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County, including 44 new cases since 24 hours prior.

GALLERY | Visuals from wild Saturday that saw a peaceful protest turn violent and a community torn by looting

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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