Andrew Cuomo Says NYPD Protest Dialogue ‘Out of Control’

Protests in New York City erupted after the Eric Garner grand jury decision. (Photo: Daniel Cole)

Protests in New York City erupted after the Eric Garner grand jury decision. (Photo: Daniel Cole)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today reiterated his call for an end to protests in the city until two murdered police officers are buried—saying that even as the majority of demonstrators had been peaceful, a few bad apples amounted to a few too many.

“The dialogue got out of control, and to say, well, it was only one or two chants saying ‘We want dead cops,’ one or two is one or two too many,” Mr. Cuomo told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer this morning. “It was only one or two guys who threw a garbage can, right? You can kill someone that way.”

Mr. Cuomo’s comments come a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio had a markedly different response when asked about some of the more heated rhetoric heard at protests, including chants that compare the NYPD to the KKK. The mayor angrily defended the vast majority of protesters as peaceful, and accused the media of cherry-picking the worst of the demonstrators.

Despite his defense of them as mainly peaceful, the mayor has joined Mr. Cuomo in calling for an end to protests in the city until the burial of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, gunned down Saturday by a man who posted online he was out to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Shortly before the governor appeared on Mr. Lehrer’s show—for the second day in a row—a panel of protesters pushed back against that request for quiet, insisting their protests had nothing to do with the deaths of the officers. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch had previously blamed the rhetoric, and the mayor, for the deaths.

Mr. Cuomo said everyone involved—including protesters looking to blame a few bad actors—needed to stop assigning blame.

“This pointing fingers, blame, ‘it wasn’t me, it was the other guy, it was this one’— that’s how wars start. Who fired the first shot? I don’t think any of it is important. What’s inarguable is that the dialogue got hot and unproductive. Some of the activity was unproductive—there was assault of police. lt’s throwing of garbage cans, disgusting chants about police,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I don’t know who it was, who the organizer was, but it was bad and it was hurtful and it escalated and I want it to stop.”

Mr. Cuomo alluded to the riots in Crown Heights in the early 1990s, when racial tensions spilled over into violence.

“At one point you get right up to the boiling point, and that’s when you have to release the air and vent the emotion and calm everything down, and I think that’s where we are, and I think the mayor was right yesterday when he said, ‘Deep breath,'” Cuomo said.

The governor said he also believed there were changes to policy to be made—both out of the Garner death and the death of the officers—but that it could wait until the holidays and the funerals were over.

Asked directly whether he agreed with Mr. de Blasio’s assigning of blame to the city’s media, Mr. Cuomo laughed.

“Oh-ho that’s dangerous,” Mr. Cuomo said, before needling Mr. Lehrer for his opinion on the matter as a member of the press.

Mr. Cuomo added: “I think the mayor’s point, my point is the overall dialogue was unproductive and was overheated, and we don’t need to point fingers, because that only continues to increase the heat.”