Cuomo says he stands with Minneapolis protesters, links higher rates of coronavirus to racial inequality

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday used social media and his daily coronavirus briefing to lash out against "injustice in the criminal justice system" and called for an end to the violent protests that have taken place in dozens of cities across the United States following the brutal death of George Floyd.

Initially, the Democratic governor seemed to link the coronavirus outbreak to inequality and Floyd.

"Why are black people dying from #COVID at higher rates than white people? Why are health outcomes worse in communities of color? Why did George Floyd die? Why does this happen again and again? It's all related," he waxed over Twitter.

About an hour later he tweeted a list of the names of 18 minorities affected by police brutality.

"Yes, the names change, but the color doesn't," Cuomo tweeted.

About 20 minutes later he tweeted again, "You are in denial if you think the death of George Floyd was an isolated incident."

Floyd, 46, died Monday night in Minneapolis while he was in police custody. A cell phone video showed Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, had kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes as Floyd gasped for air and begged for his life.

Floyd's death triggered peaceful protests in Minneapolis over police brutality and racial inequality on Tuesday. As the week went on, the demonstrations took an ominous turn and by Friday had turned deadly.

Similar protests have taken place in several U.S. cities including Brooklyn, N.Y.

At his Friday briefing, Cuomo said he stood with the Minneapolis protesters.

"Nobody is sanctioning the arson, and the thuggery and the burglaries, but the protesters and the anger and the fear and the frustration? Yes. Yes. And the demand is for justice," he said.

That evening, New York police officers purportedly shoved protesters as unruly crowds gathered near the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn.

Two sisters from the Catskills who had been in the area were arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD van Friday night.

In this photo provided by Khadijah, firefighters work to contain the flames from a New York City Police Department van ablaze, Friday, May 29, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, amid a protest of the death of George Floyd in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (Khadijah via AP)

In this photo provided by Khadijah, firefighters work to contain the flames from a New York City Police Department van ablaze, Friday, May 29, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, amid a protest of the death of George Floyd in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (Khadijah via AP)

"It is by the grace of God ... that we don't have dead officers today," New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news briefing.

At his coronavirus briefing on Saturday, Cuomo said New Yorkers had the right to demonstrate but warned they should wear masks while doing so.

"You have a right to demonstrate, you have a right to protest — God bless America," he said. "You don't have a right to infect other people. You don't have a right to act in a way that's going to jeopardize public health."

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Cuomo also expressed confusion at why people disregard "the effectiveness of the mask."

"Demonstrate with a mask on," he said. "What's the difference?"