New York City

‘You Don't Need to Protest': Cuomo Declares Victory After Passage of Police Reform Package

Tens of thousands of protesters could return to New York City streets in a third weekend of demonstrations following the death of George Floyd

NBC Universal, Inc.

Following his signing of the state legislature's police reform package on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on protesters to end their demonstrations.

"You don't need to protest, you won," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. "You accomplished your goal. Society says you're right, the police need systemic reform."

The governor says protesters have succeeded in changing public sentiment and have the attention of lawmakers. The second step, he says, is defining what kind of reform they want.

"Let's sit down at a table, with the local government with the police with the other stakeholders. How do we design the local police department?" Cuomo said. "What do you want the police to be in New York City? Let's design it."

The NYS Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative, signed by the governor, gives the 500 municipalities in New York nine months to propose and enact police reform or the state will withhold funding. The plans must address force by police officers, crowd management, community policing, implicit bias awareness training, de-escalation training and practices, restorative justice practices, and community-based outreach.

Protests following the death of George Floyd have continued in New York City for a third weekend as activists keep their focus on changing anti-racist attitudes and policy that disproportionately impact Black people.

"No justice, no peace" chants were replaced with a new message Saturday morning when demonstrators took to the streets of Manhattan just after sunrise.

Instead, dozens of demonstrators shouted "no justice, no sleep" and carried signs supporting Black Lives Matter while marching through downtown streets around 6 a.m.

"We thought we'd come to different neighborhoods, particularly White neighborhoods, because in our neighborhoods - Black neighborhoods - people know what's happening, they know what's going on," one of the early morning protesters told NBC New York. "To do something different you need to wake up, 'no justice, no sleep.'"

By the afternoon, countless protesters marched from Barclays Center on their way to the NYPD headquarters’ in Lower Manhattan. 

Nearly three dozen more forms of protest were scheduled for Saturday; the majority planned in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

The promise of police reforms has not slowed down the New York City crowds that draw hundreds, often thousands in support of increased police accountability. Late Friday, New York City Council leadership released a joint statement reflecting their support of NYPD budget cuts totaling $1 billion.

"We have identified savings that would cut over $1 billion dollars, including reducing uniform headcount through attrition, cutting overtime, shift responsibilities away from the NYPD, finding efficiencies and savings in OTPS spending, and lowering associated fringe expenses," the council members' statement read.

Weekend protests have drawn the largest crowds in the city since their start 16 days ago, with tens of thousands estimated to have joined demonstrations last weekend. No official numbers have been released by city officials or protest organizers.

Theres now a push to perserve all the Black Lives Matter posters to commemorate this moment in history, Erica Byfield reports.

Protests Friday picked up speed when a few hundred bicyclists rode in support of protests, a regular sign of solidarity seen in the past week. In Washington Square Park, a reoccurring site of the ongoing rallies, dozens gathered and some were seen in videos dancing late into Friday night. The message, "White Silence = Violence," was projected onto the arch.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a series of bills that repeal 50-a, ban chokeholds by law enforcement officers, prohibit false race-biased 911 reports and designate an independent prosecutor to investigate the civilian deaths in police custody.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us