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Cuomo: No need for state or federal authorities to get involved in New York City protests, for now

New York Police Department officers stand in formation after arresting multiple protesters marching after curfew on Fifth Avenue, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in New York. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.

(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told President Donald Trump on Tuesday that the state stands ready to protect federal buildings in New York City and that the president does not need to deploy Homeland Security or other national forces there.

Cuomo told reporters during his Wednesday briefing that the conversation between the two leaders, who haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, went well and that they would talk again if the president felt differently about the increased criminal activity taking place in the city.

The move comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke out Tuesday against federal officials coming into the city, like what happened in Portland, Ore., last week. Reports have also circulated that federal authorities are also being deployed to Chicago.

The federal agents, who have not worn any identification, have been criticized for detaining protesters in Portland and taking them away in unmarked vehicles.

The governor added he and other New Yorkers share Trump’s concerns about the uptick in violence and crime. So far, though, the state has not yet gotten involved in the issue, and Cuomo said it would take a public safety emergency for State Police and others to intervene.

“Since the state hasn’t made a declaration, I don’t see why there’s any reason why the federal government should,” Cuomo said.

Some have raised concerns about the prevalence of graffiti on public buildings, and Cuomo said it gives the impression that the city is less safe and a return to “bad old days” of the 1970s and ’80s. He criticized city officials for failing to get the situation under control.

Cuomo also noted that Trump took a positive step Tuesday during his briefing when he recommended that people wear masks, a divergence from where the President has been policywise. But Cuomo would like to see Trump take another step in that direction.

“I can’t think of [another] time when the experts said, ‘if you take this action, you can save 40,000 lives,’” he said. “That’s the president’s opportunity on the mask mandate.”

Cuomo talking down Trump from sending in cops comes as de Blasio said Wednesday he sent a letter U.S. Attorney William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf saying the federal agents weren’t necessary.

The New York City Police Department can protect the community, including the federal buildings, the mayor said. While the NYPD has productive relationships with the FBI and U.S. Marshals, de Blasio said agents dressed in tactical gear and using military maneuvers would disrupt those relationships.

“We are also concerned that the president’s statements on fighting crime and protecting federal properties are not the true motivation behind the surge of federal agents in our cities,” de Blasio wrote in the letter. “Rather, it is a clear that these are political steps to quell dissent.”

While Cuomo was diplomatic with Trump, he was more pointed with Senate Republicans, especially those from southern states, regarding discussions over providing funding to local and state government hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without naming names, Cuomo called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had previously discussed allowing governments to declare bankruptcy instead of receiving bailouts.

“If a senator from Kentucky was concerned about the federal budget, the first place to start is in your own home,” Cuomo said. “The first place to start is in your own activity. If you are taking more than you are giving, if you are taking $37 billion more every year, and that is your bona fide concern, federal government is spending too much money. Obviously, the starting place is to say, ‘I’ll go first.’”

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