New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo openly hypothesized on Tuesday about overthrowing NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio after rampant looting and destruction swept across Manhattan on Monday night, overwhelming the NYPD and leaving the city looking like a war zone.
“I’m disappointed and outraged by what happened in New York City last night. That criminal activity hurt everyone,” he said.
De Blasio had doubled NYPD officers out on the streets to 8,000 on Monday night and imposed an 11 p.m. curfew after three nights of protests against police brutality were overshadowed by violence.
But it was not enough to stop rampant looters from taking over midtown Manhattan. The Daily Beast witnessed hundreds of rioters roaming freely for hours through the city, looting countless stores, setting fires, loading stolen goods into SUVs, and damaging cars and storefronts. For hours, police were nowhere to be seen.
“We’re spread a little thin,” one officer told The Daily Beast at about 10 p.m. after they arrested six men near Times Square, but were unable to chase down hundreds more who fled on foot.
On Tuesday, the NYPD said it arrested 700 people the previous night for looting in Manhattan.
An exasperated Cuomo said the police and the mayor failed to protect New York City—a city already on its knees from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The police in New York [City] were not effective at doing their job last night, period. They have to do a better job,” he said. “You have 38,000 NYPD. They have protected the city before in these situations... They did not do it last night. But I believe in the inherent capacity of the NYPD.”
Cuomo said he had offered all New York mayors the assistance of the National Guard and the state police to help stop looting on Monday, however de Blasio did not take up the offer. The mayor said the National Guard would not be helpful, and that the NYPD was sufficient.
“Look at the videos, it was a disgrace,” Cuomo said. “I believe the mayor underestimates the scope of the problem. I think he underestimates the duration of the problem, and I don’t think they’ve used enough police to address the situation because it’s inarguable that it was not addressed last night. Facts.”
Cuomo said his option was to “displace” the mayor and bring in the National Guard during a state of emergency, “and basically take over... the mayor’s job.”
However, he said “we’re not at that point” and that it would be too chaotic right now. He said the National Guard would not be needed if the entire NYPD—the largest police department in the nation—were properly deployed.
Thousands of people peacefully protested across New York City on Monday night following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. However, as night fell, large groups broke away and started smashing storefronts and looting hundreds of shops along Broadway, Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, and more.
In Manhattan, Cuomo said looters had “blurred” the line with peaceful protests and distracted from much-needed conversations about racism, inequality, and police brutality. He said Tuesday he would sign legislation, if it was brought before him, to make police officers’ complaint records public.