‘They don’t do that’: Governor Cuomo denies NYPD brutalized peaceful protesters despite video evidence
During a press briefing on Thursday, Cuomo called the allegations “incendiary rhetoric,” asking the reporter who brought them up: “Do you think there’s any sensible police officer who believes their job is bludgeoning a peaceful person with a baton?”
“It’s not a fact! It’s not even an opinion! That is a hyper-partisan rhetorical attack!” he continued, adding that NYPD officers “don’t do that.”
While the governor doubled down on the denials of police brutality, several videos circulating on social media, some going viral, suggest otherwise. For example, a video captured by filmmaker Josh Fox on Wednesday of motorists “witnessing NYPD beat up folks” received millions of views.
People stuck in traffic are witnessing NYPD beat up folks on their way home. pic.twitter.com/AkUGPQQOIf— Josh Fox BlackLivesMatter (@joshfoxfilm) June 4, 2020
After the governor’s comments became public, the internet was eager to help him discern “facts” from “opinions” and “rhetorical attack” by pointing out even more widely-shared videos.
“Pepper spray, batons, and several arrests,” is how journalist John Campbell reported what he saw in Brooklyn at the beginning of the protests.
A lot just popped off at the protest for George Floyd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Pepper spray, batons, and several arrests. pic.twitter.com/ZuciQA82fe— Jon Campbell (@j0ncampbell) May 29, 2020
Noah Goldberg of New York Daily News also captured a protest where “people started getting hit — really hit — and arrested.”
Here’s a disturbing video of the moment people started getting hit — really hit — and arrested. Unclear what set it all off. I ran over to video. This is when I was hit after trying to identify myself. Really nuts moments at Barclays earlier this evening. pic.twitter.com/4y1FZZY6TM— Noah Goldberg (@Noah__Goldberg) June 1, 2020
Jake Offenhartz, a reporter for the local outlet Gothamist, filmed NYPD charging at what he described as the “definition of a peaceful protest.”
Was in the process of tweeting about the Tupac dance party in front of 100 cops when they decided to charge. At least one reporter was tackled. Several others arrested for standing in streets. This was the definition of a peaceful protest. Now we’ll see pic.twitter.com/7W06MZAqav— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) June 3, 2020
Cuomo’s comments have prompted backlash not just from journalists, but also from activists. Football player for the NFL’s LA Chargers Justin Jackson was quick to accuse the governor of “lying with a straight face.”
It’s crazy how they can just lie with a straight face. Guy is a psychopath— Justin Jackson (@J_ManPrime21) June 4, 2020
Progressive talk show host John Iadarola shared a video taken by his colleague Jordan Uhl, calling on Cuomo to “respond.”
Vice photographer Nate ‘Igor’ Smith said that he was attacked by the police.
Hey @NYGovCuomo I got hit with a baton in the ribs for trying to take a photo. I watched an EMT who was standing there with his hands up end up in the same ER he volunteered in at the hands of 7 police. pic.twitter.com/SYdC9afVa1— Nate Igor Smith (@drivenbyboredom) June 4, 2020
George Floyd, an African-American man, died after a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes while arresting him last week. Protests over the incident quickly spread from Minnesota across the US, including to New York City.
While daytime gatherings have been mostly peaceful, nights have been marked by looting, rioting, and arson, which the NYPD has not been able to contain. US President Donald Trump has urged governors to use the National Guard and even regular army troops, but Cuomo has so far refused to do so.
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