NYC Dem says if coronavirus cases spike, 'blame racism,' not protesters

A New York City ouncilman is blaming racism for a possible uptick in coronavirus cases after a week of massive demonstrations across the country over the death of George Floyd that have attracted thousands to gather in close proximity.

Mark Levine, chair of the council's Health Committee, tweeted his remarks Wednesday.

"Let's be clear about something: if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks, don't blame the protesters," he wrote. "Blame racism."

Levine, a Democrat, further blamed the police for increasing the risk of COVID-19 through the use of tear gas, putting people in crowded jails and herding protesters into tight spaces.

Tens of thousands of protesters in multiple cities across the U.S. have gathered over the past week to condemn the actions of four Minneapolis police officers in connection with Floyd's death. One officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen on video putting his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes during a May 25 arrest.

Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder, which will now be upgraded to second-degree murder. The other officers -- Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – will be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

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Some have raised concerns over the mass gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic. Participants have largely ignored social distancing and quarantine measures put in place over the past few months to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.