Steve Levy: To stop NYC rioting, Cuomo and de Blasio must end feud and accept help from Trump

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are among President Trump’s harshest critics. But their long-running feud with each other erupted with volcanic force Tuesday over the rioting that is tearing apart the city.

Elected officials need to work together to quell the violence and looting that have broken out around the nation in response to the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25. But Cuomo and de Blasio seem unable to stop quarreling with each other long enough to concentrate on protecting the residents of America’s most populous city.

Cuomo – with justification – on Tuesday blasted de Blasio‘s ineffective response to securing Gotham. Yet at the same time, Cuomo declined an earnest offer by President Trump to provide federal assistance to deal with rioting sparked by the killing of Floyd, a black man who died as white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on top of him for over eight minutes, ignoring Floyd’s desperate cries that he couldn’t breathe.


Chauvin has been arrested and charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder.

Peaceful demonstrations against police

killings of unarmed black Americans have been held in many cities around the nation since Floyd’s death, but many have devolved into rioting after dark, including in New York City.

"The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night," Cuomo said Tuesday.

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"You have 38,000 NYPD people, it is the largest police department in the United States of America," Cuomo said. "Use 38,000 people and protect property. Use the police, protect property and people. Look at the videos, it was a disgrace."

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea – a member of the de Blasio administration – attacked Cuomo’s comments later in the day in an interview with Neil Cavuto of Fox News.

"Any comments placing the blame for where we are, on the situation, on the backs of the men and women of this police department that are putting their lives on the line, Neil, I think is disgraceful and [they] should be ashamed of themselves," Shea told "Your World.” "There is politics and there is what is right and that is a disgraceful comment."

Then Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi responded with a statement that said: "The Governor has always said he has respect and confidence in the NYPD and he knows they can handle this situation because he has seen them do it in the past. It's not the men and women of the NYPD – he questions the management and deployment of the NYPD and believes the Mayor should put more NYPD officers on the streets to do their job.”

At this point, no one cares whether de Blasio or Cuomo comes out looking better and having a better shot a running for president in four or eight years

In his comments earlier in the day, Cuomo discussed his “option is to displace the mayor ... bring in the National Guard" and essentially "take over." However, he said, "I don't think we're at that point."

The governor also said: “You know how you stopped looting and rioting in the past? Do that again.”

Actually, it was only Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, who knew how to control riots. He made it clear that he would not tolerate lawbreaking and violence. Other mayors have failed to do what Giuliani did. I know through personal experience.

My father was a hardworking owner of a small appliance store in Brooklyn. His store – his life’s work – was torched to the ground in the blackout of 1977. It was the first and only time I ever saw my father cry. His life was never the same and he died a few years later from what I believe was the stress of the traumatic destruction of his livelihood.

The 1977 rioting wasn’t a reaction to police brutality or any other ideological motivation. It was greed, pure and simple. The lights went out in a massive blackout and it was an opportunity for the criminal element to start looting to get free stuff.  The looters pounced. The cops watched.

The same thing has happened in numerous cities throughout the nation since Floyd was killed.  In one disgraceful situation in Minneapolis, the police – under orders of the mayor – actually abandoned their precinct to the mob, thereby sending a message that law enforcement simply could not provide an adequate level of safety to the public.

The chaos in New York state is not confined to New York City. It was exemplified by a woman in Rochester trying to prevent looters from ransacking the store located below her apartment. She was severely beaten with two-by-fours and metal clubs by eight looters. Her husband was beaten when he tried to come to her aid, armed with only a golf club.

If Cuomo can’t stop violent attacks in Rochester, and if de Blasio can’t stop police getting hit in the head with bricks in New York City, then why not seek the help of the federal government? There is no justification for refusing President Trump’s offer of federal assistance.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if these two feuding Democrats teamed together to reach out to a Republican president and in unison to helped put down the anarchy taking over New York City?

Tensions between Cuomo and de Blasio have been simmering since de Blasio took office in 2014. They’ve fought over issues dealing with schools, the minimum wage, repairing the city’s subway system, and most recently responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Democrats are eager to promote themselves. De Blasio made a short-lived run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination that never got any traction, and Cuomo is seen by many as a possible presidential contender in the future.

Some Republicans might want to just sit back and eat popcorn as these two Democratic behemoths destroy each other. But as we’ve seen over the last few months as they’ve quarreled over the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, their battle with each other can have enormous consequences.

Now the riots in New York City are making it more important than ever for Cuomo and de Blasio to stop fighting with each and work together to protect the safety of the people they were elected to serve.

No one is amused by this feud any longer. One day the mayor is rhetorically backing the police and the next day he is disciplining them for understandably using their tasers or pulling out their guns as they get attacked with bricks that could prove fatal.


The governor criticizes the mayor for allowing things to get out of hand without providing any leadership on his end.

But would Cuomo really support Giuliani‘s style of overwhelming force to subdue anarchists? Hard to believe when he just criticized the cops’ defensive actions as “exacerbating the anger” of the protesters.

Cuomo’s only answer was to shoo away an offer by President Trump to provide additional security. This wasn’t “New York tough” – a phrase Cuomo loves to use. It ought to be called “New York dumb.”


At this point, no one cares whether de Blasio or Cuomo comes out looking better and having a better shot a running for president in four or eight years. We’re just tired of them playing politics.

New Yorkers simply want Cuomo and de Blasio to do their jobs and work together to stop the destruction of our city and the violence that’s been perpetrated against police and business owners throughout the state.