June 2, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Everybody, I’m going to ask you to please listen very carefully. I’m going to talk about the truth of what is going on in our city and it is not a lot of what you will see in blaring headlines or on Twitter. It's not what you'll see in the statements of many politicians. I want to talk to you about the bigger picture that we have experienced, because if we don't put this in perspective, we're not going to be able to do what we have to do in this city. I was born in this city in 1961. A family, a New York family that I came from that had had the great privilege of living the American dream in this city and experienced all that was good about this place. And in the 1960s, in the 1970s, people fled the City of New York by the millions. And they said New York was dying and its days were over. And the 1980s, the 1990s, we dealt with horrific challenges. Some of the worst crime we've ever seen, 2,000 murders a year, the AIDS epidemic, the crack epidemic. We saw horrible things. And then later in this city, the horrific tragedy of 9/11, the anguish caused by Hurricane Sandy. This city has been through so much. This city has been put through so much. And I will tell you, to everyone in this moment who is saying doomed, everyone in this moment who is saying New York City has lost its way. I'm going to remind you that the people said the exact same thing through all those crises and said New York City was done. It was over for New York City. And every single one of those critics misunderstood New York City and misunderstood the people of New York City.
People in New York City are strong and resilient. The people in New York City are good and decent people. People in New York City stand up, no matter what's thrown at them. I spent time in the South Bronx in the 1980’s – a place that was devastated at that time. And what I saw was a lot of New Yorkers who said, we're not going to give into this. We're not going to be overwhelmed. We're going to stand up for our neighborhoods. Stand up for our city. And they did. A lot of them still live in the South Bronx in a very, very different reality. A lot of them worked very hard to bring back the South Bronx and make it something so much stronger and better today. And that's true in neighborhoods all over this city.
So, we're going to have a conversation today. A lot of people are going to say things that are really unhelpful, that are not about the interests of New Yorkers. A lot of people are going to try and divide us. Turn one type of New Yorker against another type of New Yorker. I won't stand for that. I don't care if a New Yorker is a civilian walking down the street or an officer in uniform, we are all New Yorkers. I don't care which borough you live in. What your walk of life is. I don't care about the efforts to tell us we can't be one thing. I know we can be one thing.
You know, yesterday, we had a lot of trouble in some parts of the city. We're going to speak frankly about that today. We don't accept that. We're going to fight that. We're going to fix that. There were a lot of other parts of the city where every day New Yorkers, hardworking, decent people in the middle of a pandemic were going about their lives, trying together to overcome. And that is the history of our city. So, you'll see one thing a lot of the time, but that's not the whole story. The whole story is much greater. We saw stuff last night that we will not accept. And we can fight back and we will fight back. I have confidence in the people of New York City. I have confidence in the leaders in communities. I have confidence in the NYPD. There's a lot of people who will try and express fear. A lot of people will try and tear down. A lot of people will say they don't believe in the people of this city. They don't believe in people in our communities. They don't believe in our police officers. To hell with all of them. I don't care if they're left or right or center. I am sick of people attacking the City of New York.
So, let's be clear. We are going to move forward. Why do I know it? Because I've seen it so many times before with my own eyes. Don't tell me what we can't do. We will show you what we can do. Don't disrespect the people of New York City.
I was in the Bronx last night. I said, I've seen the Bronx in its toughest moments. And I know the extraordinary strength and goodness of the people of the Bronx. What we saw took place over hours, does not represent the people of the Bronx. And the people of the Bronx will not accept it. When a criminal few try to tear down the progress that people fought for, for years and decades – we saw vicious attacks on police officers. That is wholly unacceptable. It does not represent the people of this city. Anyone who attacks a police officer, attacks all of us. I want to be abundantly clear about that. And again, to all of you who are now going to try and create falsehoods – I know the people of this city a lot better than you. I assure you. I was sent here by the people of this city to bring us forward, to create unity, to not let you divide us. And I know the people of this city want our police to succeed and they want to work with our police. By the way, more and more of our police force is made up of residents of this city. A police force that now is majority people of color. A police force has been working incessantly to have a better and different relationship with our communities.
And the vast majority of New Yorkers know it. And they want peace and they want a positive, productive relationship between community and the NYPD. I've seen it with my own eyes. I've been in our neighborhoods for decades. A lot of you haven't, but I have. I know people want peace. And I know they want to construct a relationship with the police.
And I know they want change. And here's what's so painful about yesterday. Day and night. In the day, there were peaceful protests. There were moments of tension. There were some individuals who did the wrong thing, but overwhelmingly peaceful protest. Protestors respecting the ground rules set by police. Police doing exactly what they were so good at in this city, protecting peaceful protest. In fact, very poignant moment in Washington Square Park yesterday. Tense moment between some of the police and some of the protestors. Who diffused it. Our Chief of Department, Terry Monahan, our highest-ranking uniform officer in dialogue with protest leaders. And they said, will you take a knee to show you understand what we're saying? And you respect what we're saying? And he did. And that image will get some attention. I know other images will get so much more. But that's the image we should focus on. Because when the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the greatest police force in America can take a knee with protesters to say, we can work this through together. That is the actual story. That is the lasting story. Not when a small group of criminals attacks their own neighborhood in the Bronx, tears down their own people, which their own people will not accept. Or people come to a swath of Midtown, Manhattan to attack luxury stores, that does not represent the values of New York City. We won't accept that. It doesn't speak for us and therefore we will stop it.
So, look, I know we will overcome this. I want to be abundantly clear. I know it. I know my history. I know my people. We will overcome this. We're going to have a tough few days. We're going to beat it back. How are we going to be a back? We're going to be it back by asking authentic leaders of communities to step forward, take charge. Community leaders, civic leaders, clergy, elected officials, Cure Violence. All the people who actually represent communities, step forward, create peace, own your community. Do not let outsiders attack your community. Do not let a violent few attack your community. Do not let criminals attack your community. Stand up. I'll be standing by you. I'll be supporting you. The NYPD will be supporting you. And we hear the concerns of the peaceful, legitimate protestors who want to see change in the relationship between police and community, who want to see reform, and we will make that change. I am certain, I guarantee it. We will not tolerate violence of any kind. We will not tolerate attacks on police officers. We will not tolerate hatred being created.
A police officer was hit by a car yesterday, it appears to be quite purposeful. That's unacceptable. Police officers shot at, unacceptable. That does not move us forward. Anyone who does that is a criminal, not a protester. We cannot move forward unless we stand up together when there is an affront to all of us. An attack on a police officer is an attack on all of us, pure and simple. So, I know we can overcome this. I know we can. We're going to take some actions to make sure we get through these days. And then we have crucial work to do in this city. It's hard to remember in some ways that just a few days ago, literally all we were talking about was the pandemic. We have a lot to do on criminal justice reform. We have a lot to do on healing wounds. We have a lot to do on ensuring there will be peace and order in this city, but guess what, the pandemic is still there. And we must address that and we need to reopen this city. And we are moving forward on Monday, June 8th, and we've got a lot to do to get ready. And we got to get back to that discussion too.
So, we will take steps immediately to ensure that there will be peace and order today and tonight, and all week in New York City, I am extending the curfew, which I announced would be beginning again at 8:00 p.m. tonight going until 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. We're going to continue that curfew for the remainder of this week, 8:00 p.m. each evening until 5:00 a.m. the next morning. We're going to ensure there are additional NYPD resources where they are needed. We're going to work actively and strategically to stop any disorder. But, again, community leaders need to be a part of this effort. I saw powerful statements yesterday from the Borough President of the Bronx, Ruben Diaz, Jr. I thank him. I had a long conversation late last night with Council Member Fernando Cabrera, in his district. And the pain he felt that people in his own community, a few negative people were undermining the progress his community had made for decades, was palpable and emotional, how angry he was. And I say, thank you, Councilman, and you, and every other New Yorker who will not tolerate this violence and disorder, step forward, reclaim your own streets and communities.
I want to hear that cacophony. I want to hear everyone speak up. If you believe in the cause of the peaceful protesters, I say, amen and we will work together to achieve those changes, but if you will not tolerate violence and disorder, speak up. And our officers are showing, and I showed you the images yesterday, officers all over New York City, senior leadership of this police force working with protestors peacefully to find common ground, taking a knee to show respect, NYPD leadership and NYPD officers every single day are trying to make things better. Is everyone perfect? No. There are some people who should not be in the police force. I've said that before, and we will do that work, but the overwhelming majority of our officers are standing up for us every single day, protecting us every single day. They need our respect and support right now. They are in so many ways holding this city together right now, which is exactly what we want in a democracy.
We ask people to be our guardians. We want to make sure it's fair. We want to make sure it's just, we want our guardians to represent our community, to look like our community, to respond to our community. We want our guardians always to protect us, but also to show restraint. That's what they’ve been doing. And if you say, well, this one did something wrong, then we will deal with this one. But how about the other 36,000 who did something right? Could we talk about that too? Could we show respect for them? Could we reach out to each other? I want our officers – this is what neighborhood policing is all about. I want our officers to say, good morning when they go down the street in the neighborhood, I want them to get to know the members of their community. I want them to respect the community, learn about it, learn the names of people, connect. And I want community residents to do the same for officers. And if you say there's been years and decades and generations of injustice, you are right, but it's not solved by hatred. It's solved by everyone actually reaching out a hand to each other and starting to figure out a way forward. And when you see the top leadership of the NYPD taking a knee to saying we are ready to find common ground, well, even in this tragic dynamic we're in, that is progress.
So, we will find a way through. We will find a way through. Anyone who is upset about the status quo, you know, I join you. I hope you know, I join you. This is why I came here to change a broken status quo. We have a lot more to do. If you choose to protest today, do it in the daytime hours and then please go home, because we have work to do this evening to keep a peaceful city. And I would remind everyone, we had a lot of protests. The message has been heard loud and clear, action will be taken. But I'm very worried also that protest is leading to the potential of the spread of the coronavirus. That is not a minor matter at this point. One day, two days – that's one thing. As it's continued, that danger is increasing. I'm asking everyone to think about that personally, about yourself, your family, the people in your life, your elders in your family, continuing to be out interacting. Particularly if people are not keeping distance, particularly if they're not wearing face coverings, you're endangering yourself and your family. Please think about that now. If everyone thinks about that, if everyone stays home to the maximum, if everyone honors this curfew, we are going to get through this. And some won’t, I know, and we'll deal with that. But I have faith in this city. I have faith in our ability to move forward.
I finally want to say, we do need to get on with the work of moving forward. This anger and frustration is – the legitimate anger, frustration, not the criminal activities, not those who aim to do violence for violence sake, the overwhelming majority of people who are expressing their frustration with a broken status quo, that is being exacerbated by the unfairness and the inequities we saw throughout the coronavirus crisis. And the fact that people have been cooped up. And I talked to a lot of folks in Central Brooklyn on Sunday, about their lives on the street, on the ground in neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn, and what people said was they're running out of money, they don't have a job because of this crisis, they're not getting support from the federal government. They're frustrated. They're worried. They're worried about their health. They're worried about their children's health. People talked about their lives and there's such pain and frustration, and people have been cooped up for months. This is a horrible, perfect storm we're living through, but we are better than some of what you see, we are better than this crisis. We will overcome this crisis. We are stronger than the coronavirus. We are stronger than the horrible legacy of division and racism we've been handed by previous generations. We have to overcome. We have to be the greatest generation now. We have to do something harder in many ways than those we look up to in the past, but that's what we are called to do in our time.
So, we will go to phase one on Monday, June 8th, and begin to reopen this city. We will work together to make that happen, to make that work. We're going to work with the state to make that work. We're going to work with MTA to make that work. We're going to continue to expand the testing, we’re going to continue to expand the test-and-trace effort. We're going to fight back the disease. And you know what? Before last week we were all fighting shoulder to shoulder across all neighborhoods, 8.6 million people together. If we're going to move forward, and I know we will, we got to get back to being 8.6 million people fighting shoulder to shoulder in common cause to protect each other. That's what we must do.
So, that's what I wanted to say. Commissioner, I don't know if you would like to say something or you'd like to go straight to questions. You tell me.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: I'll just say a few brief words. Two primary messages this morning, first and foremost, to the men and women of the New York City Police Department, that are mustering up right now, that are processing arrests from last night. The last count I got was nearly 700 for looting and other offenses and attacks on officers – to the officers that are getting home and trying to catch a couple hours sleep, I am aware of every single attack of you. I am aware of what you've done, not just last night, not just the last five days during this incredibly difficult escalating time, but every day. And my message is one, first and foremost, thank you. Thank you for what you do each and every day.
The second message is to the people in New York City, whether you are a mom trying to raise a family, whether you're a store owner in Manhattan who was victimized by senseless looting, whether you're a member of the clergy from Brooklyn to Staten Island, from Inwood in Manhattan and everywhere in between, the New York City Police Department will be there to protect you and make sure that criminals do not run New York City. We will control this. We have this, and you can have faith in that.
To everyone else listening, we are aware that this is a larger story than just New York. When you talk about the protests and the steps the mayor has taken, and it's important to reemphasize that, we encourage people to come out today, peacefully protest. We hear you. We understand the concerns and we'll get through this together. But we also know that we cannot allow what has happened. So, just reminding everyone we would love to get through today. We've seen good and bad over the last couple of days without a single arrest being made. There will be the curfew in place at 8:00 p.m. tonight. Everyone should be off the street by 8:00 p.m. We understand again that this is not New York City based. It's a much larger story. It extends literally across the country to major cities. We saw disturbances throughout New York State yesterday from Buffalo to Albany, to the suburbs, and certainly here in New York City.
And finally, I think I've said, to everyone else listening, to the police officers that are holding this city together, they need your support. They need tools to do their job, and I've said that over the course of months, and they need leaders to step up. And we need more of that. Whether it's a community leader, whether it's a member of the religious institution, I've gotten countless contacts over the last couple of days. And I thank you for all of it. Whether it's just people voicing concern, we need people to stand. We need them to stand together to stand with your police and condemn these senseless acts of violence. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you, Commissioner. Let's go to questions. Please let us know the name and outlet of each journalist.
Moderator: Shant from the Daily News is up first. Shant?
Question: Good morning, everyone. I wanted to ask about the events last night and, you know, other reporters that I saw firsthand just widespread looting, in some cases seeming to happen with impunity. I mean, I was outside of a store at Union Square and saw people coming and going, grabbing stuff, no one's stopping them. I knew that there were arrests that occurred later in the evening, but can you say how it came to pass that some looters apparently were able to steal with impunity and what were the instructions at the time? Secondly, are there any additional tools – law enforcement or other tools that you'll deploy if the looting continues the rest of the week? Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you, Shant. I'll start, the Commissioner will come in. Shant, no, of course not, there is no such thing as being able to loot with impunity. I am so sick of these efforts to mischaracterize reality. So, I'll go right back at you and everyone else who wants to mischaracterize reality. I was all over New York City last night. I saw police officers trying to deal with a very difficult situation. We have not seen a situation like this, and it's literally because of very particular dynamics that have come together. Remember even in the days after the protest began, we didn't see this. Some of this is very organized. Maybe some of it's more random, but it is never, ever, ever accepted. It won't be accepted. When our officers got where they needed to be, they acted. So, I'm just sorry, I'm never going to accept anyone even implying that something would be tolerated. How could that possibly be true from a police force that has brought down crime consistently over the last six years and for 25 years, in fact, has been assertive about bringing down crime while also every year becoming more and more restrained in its approach? Sorry, no – nothing is done without consequences. And we're going to use the curfew as a new tool. We're going to bring in every available police officer where they are needed, and the NYPD will address the situation. That's the bottom line. Commissioner.
Commissioner Shea: I would just point out that there was looting throughout New York City. It was concentrated in certain areas. There was a number of officers deployed. As I said, there was nearly 700 arrests and that number will go up as tallies are coming in. There was also additional people that were brought in and released on summonses throughout New York. So, there was – while there was looting taking place, there was multiple, multiple arrests for those offenses, many of which are still being prosecuted. As I've said yesterday, if you're looking at the New York City Police Department and talking about crime and criminal justice and not talking about other parts of the system from the legislators that need to arm the police with tools, from the prosecutors that need to stand up and say, it won't be tolerated, you're missing the picture. We cannot have people entering a system and being released before the police officers.
And that's some of what we are dealing with. The police officers are out there. They are affecting arrests. They are putting themselves in harm's way. They are being attacked. They are also putting their lives on the line to make sure that people have the right to protest against them. And I think it's a beautiful thing. And I thank them from the bottom of my heart. They are doing the best that they can under incredibly difficult circumstances. They will continue to and the message to all New Yorkers – we will not allow this city to regress, we will protect all citizens of this city, and we will protect all property owners of this city. Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you. And Commissioner, you know, you and I talked – we've talked many, many times yesterday and we always do. Two things I'd like to note from the Commissioner's remarks. And we have tremendous respect for each other. Sometimes I might say something a little differently. One is I'd always say the peaceful protestors, not the folks who want to do violence, not the folks who want to do criminal acts, peaceful protesters, I've talked to a lot of them. I believe in my heart it is not against police, it is calling for a different approach to policing. I want to say that, I think it's important. Second, I know the Commissioner and a few people that are working so hard and getting so little sleep and still managing to put together a whole sentences so well, but I want to disagree with the word throughout New York City, because I think – and I want you to, I need people to hear it from you exactly. What I saw, and I was all over and talking to the Commissioner and other key PD leadership all night, I saw a very bad situation in Midtown, Manhattan. We had thought before the problem would be Lower Manhattan. That turned out not to be the case, it was Midtown. I saw a very bad situation in a part of the Bronx. I did not see in my travels through other parts of the city, anything like that. And that is not belittling the negativity of what we experienced and how unacceptable it is and how much we're going to be guarding against it and fighting against it tonight, but I do think, Commissioner, it's important for people to hear directly from you where the problem was.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. And for the record, sleep is overrated. When you talk about what was seen – two nights ago, we saw, definitely, a concentration in SoHo. That was Sunday night as I get my days straight. Last night, it was a shift, I would categorize it as the middle of Manhattan, roughly from a little north, from 23rd Street up to the 50s. And then isolated in the Bronx, the Bronx as the night went on, some point during the night, we started to see some activity in the Bronx. We redeployed assets up there, but that's where the two primary spots were that we saw last night.
Mayor: Thank you.
Moderator: Rich from WCBS is up next. Rich –
Question: Good morning, if we can say that.
Mayor: Yeah –
Question: So, who are the instigators of the violence and the looting, if they're organized or loosely organized, is there a way you could tell us who they are or is there a prohibition against that because you may have had their organizations penetrated? And the second question is, do you expect the National Guard to be activated and do you need their help, their numbers?
Mayor: Thank you, Rich. No, we do not need nor do we think it's wise for the National Guard to be in New York City nor any armed forces. I'm going to tell you why and this is really important we have this out right now. Someone needs a history lesson. When outside armed forces go into communities, no good that comes of it. We have seen this for decades. Go back to the 50s, 60s with the Civil Rights Movement on through all the way up to today. People who are not trained for the conditions in New York City, they are public servants, they protect us in a different way. I appreciate them deeply, but they're not trained for the circumstance here. They have not been spending decades working on the relationship between police and community, particularly in the intensive way it's been worked on in recent years, every officer out there, and some of them are imperfect because we're all human beings, but the vast majority are doing their job, doing it well, doing it with restraint because they've been trained incessantly to act with restraint. A National Guard – a member of the guard called up from any part of this state doesn't have that particular training, doesn't know our environment, but is carrying a loaded weapon.
That is a bad scenario. So far, thank God we have not had a loss of life in these last five days, but if you bring outside armed forces into the equation that they are not trained for, the people who could be very, very unnerved by the dynamics that our police officers have learned to work with and deal with, that is a dangerous scenario. So, I want to just put down the marker. The National Guard should not be brought here. We have 36,000 police officers. They are the best equipped to deal with this situation. And you know what will help them deal with the situation? Not the National Guard, the people of New York City are much more powerful than anything the National Guard could do. The true authentic leaders of communities – members of the clergy come out now, I'm calling you out, civic leaders, block associations, come out now and stand up for peace. Stand up against anyone who would do looting, stand up against anyone who would attack a police officer. I know our communities. I know how many good people there are. I know how many stakeholders there are who will not accept this violence, but they now need to come to the fore. I've said about the Cure Violence Movement, a crucial piece of the equation, come to the fore, stand up, come to the fore, do not let looters – and they're not that many in the scheme of a city of eight million people – do not like criminals, do not like gang members, do not let anarchists get to call the shots. You – it's your community, you call the shots. So, Rich, I've given you my answer on the National Guard.
In terms of who's instigating – we see a pattern all over the country. There is a group of people, in some cases, from outside the city and some cases inside, but we're seeing the same pattern in a number of cities, a mix of people in that city and outside – to some extent organized, to some extent trained or sharing protocols, negative violent protocols for how to great mayhem, how to break chaos, how to get it on video, how to attack police officers. We're seeing such a clear pattern. Anyone who doesn't see that isn't looking very hard. So, yeah, there is a pattern. I’m not saying that about you, Rich. I'm just saying in general, if anyone wants to deny a pattern we're seeing over and over and over again, give me a break, you're not trying if you can't see it. We're providing as much evidence as we can. I know Deputy Commissioner Miller did a briefing. I've asked him to keep doing briefings with the press.
Every day he's got new information to try and show you the pattern. Obviously, what we can show, there may be some things we can’t. It's clear there is an organized piece to this. That's not the only thing going on because last night in the Bronx, I think they were gang members. I don't know if they were organized by anyone but their own gang to do harm to their neighborhood. We see people who are just common criminals. Yes, that exists in our society. Some people are just career criminals. We saw some of them out looting in Midtown. They are small in number, but they made an impact and we will not allow it. So, there is a pattern, our job, Rich, is to show you all the information we can show you to help people understand that pattern. But I'd say to anyone, if you see someone attempting to loot, you need to immediately get away from that and alert the police. If you see anybody in a protest trying to instigate violence, you need to report that person immediately and separate from that person. Rich, one more thing. We have been seeing that all over New York City, too. We've been seeing members of protests, throwing violent people out of their protests. In fact, again, it will not be reported. I challenge any of you to report this. I'll be very interested to see if even a single one of you will take me up on it. There were peaceful protesters who rejected the violent elements and forced them out of protests. There were Cure Violence Members who told folks who wanted to foment violence to get out of protest. There were elected officials and clergy who said to people, if you're going to protest in our community, it must be peaceful, if you attempt any violence, we will reject you. That is what was happening more and more on Sunday and Monday. That ultimately is the big story here – community people taking back their own city.
Moderator: Joe from Politico is up next. Joe?
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor: Hey, Joe. How are you doing?
Question: Not too bad. I have two questions for you. You said earlier that the protesters have been heard and, you know, there are reforms underway. I'm wondering if you could run through some of the things that are in motion or you can commit to, and, in particular, the City Council is going to hear legislation banning chokehold, which I think you opposed last time around in 2014. And so, in particular, I'm curious if your position has changed at all. And secondly, I'm curious if you – you’ve said before that curfews can have downsides and I think you were hesitant before we had our first one to impose it. So, I'm curious if you can talk about why you think 8:00 PM is realistic for people that – even peaceful protests that have been out much longer than that. And I think people are nervous it's going to serve as an excuse for the crackdowns. Thank you.
Mayor: Joe, those are – I appreciate the questions. Let me start with – well, actually, I'll talk about the chokehold bill quickly and then go to curfew. First you said what are the reforms? In addition to the end of the broken, unconstitutional policy to stop and frisk, settling the Central Park Five case, retraining the entire police force, and now doing it constantly de-escalation, reducing the number of gun discharges deeply, diversifying the police force, adding body cameras to every police officer, ending marijuana arrests – I could go on for a while, but I think you're getting the point, Joe, in addition to that, we are going to improve and speed the process, the appropriate – the legal, appropriate, due process rights-based approach to police discipline. It must go faster and we will ensure it goes faster. We will do a better job of addressing the police officers who don't seem to fit in a precinct or be able to work with communities. We will do a better job of removing those few – and they are few – who do not belong in our police force. We have a tremendous opportunity to pass the repeal of the 50-a law in Albany. We are staring in the face a historic moment here to once and for all get rid of a law that has held back transparency and undermined the relationship between police and community. But we must add a new law that protects the identities and the personal information of police officers in a way that might endanger them. I do not want any police officer's home address made public. Remember, our police officers are asked to arrest people who mean harm to us. There are some people, some bad people out there who therefore mean harm to our officers. We cannot in any way endanger our officers. But you can strike a balance and have disciplinary information out in a transparent fashion without in any way undermining our officers. We need to do that.
The chokehold situation, this has been, I think, profoundly misunderstood from the beginning. This city for decades has had a prohibition on chokeholds. The day the horrible tragedy of Eric Garner – that day, the day that occurred, the day he was killed – Bill Bratton, 24 hours later, right here in this room had a picture up of that incident and the Police Commissioner of New York City – one of the most renowned police leaders of our time said that looks like a chokehold to me and therefore made clear that's not acceptable. So, the fact is it's been banned in New York City by the rules of our police department for decades. The idea of codifying that I could very much support, so long as there is recognition that sometimes a police officer is in a life and death struggle as part of their work. And I do not want to see any officer harmed legally if they were simply trying to protect their own life. That’s very different than what we're talking about in other situations that people are rightfully upset about where chokeholds were applied inappropriately. In those instances, consequences are absolutely appropriate for any police officer that does the wrong thing, like the officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, all of whom should pay the price for what they did. So, we’re going to work with the City Council. I'm confident we can strike the right balance and get to a bill that makes sense.
On the curfew – I don't think any of us were enthusiastic – I wasn't, the Commissioner wasn't, and we do see downsides to a curfew. And, honestly, Joe, until 9:00 PM on Sunday, I think we were absolutely in the right place, because we looked at the overall situation from Thursday all the way to 9:00 PM Sunday. There were tense moments, there were difficult moments, there was a lot of things that we would like to have done better, but there was no loss of life that, there were not to that point major, major injuries. There were some bad things that happened, some people got injured, including police officers. I feel for every one of them, but if you look from Thursday night to Sunday night, things were being held together in a very complex, ever-shifting dynamic. Sunday night was when we saw something we hadn't seen before, and that was the very localized looting in Lower Manhattan. That's what made us feel something had to then be different. And that's when we got together, the Commissioner and I, with the Governor, and decided, in the scheme of things, a curfew made sense, and we would start it for a later hour, understanding how the city – the rhythms of the city are different than a lot of other places.
To your question about the protesters, to finish up. I saw our police leadership do some extraordinary things last night, because we understand that we can put down a rule and we understand that we're going to also be smart and flexible about how to approach that. So, we saw protestors out [inaudible] I saw them with my own eyes, people who are not committing acts of violence. The police made the choice, looking at that, let people disperse over time, and they did disperse, and that achieved the goal. We don't want to cause a problem for anyone who was going – we want people to go home right away. We want people not to be out after a curfew. But if people are going about their business or people are on their way home, we understand that. The curfew was there to allow the police to be able to address any situation where someone is trying to do violence to a person or property. And it helps clarify that if someone's going to do that, they can be addressed. So, it is a helpful tool and having it at 8 PM before it gets dark, we think will magnify our ability to control the situation. It's a tool that strengthens the hand of the strategies the police are using and now have I think a smart, strategic sense of we really want to stop this pattern immediately, we're going to extend it through the week. So, again, 8:00 PM curfew every night through Sunday. I think that will allow us to do a lot more.
Moderator: Katie from the Wall Street Journal's up next. Katie?
Question: Hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. I have two questions for you. The first is, I know you're calling on community leaders and elected officials and members of the clergy to unify and denounced the looting. And you also took offense to the idea that there was looting with impunity, but from some of these community members and elected officials – I spoke with Councilman Richard Torres this morning, he represents the Bronx. He said, that's exactly what was going on. So, I want to get your reaction to that. And, secondly, you know, there seems to be sort of a, a change in policing – you know, peaceful protesters sometimes have a large police presence, but then there were, you know, videos of just people going in and out of stores without much police presence – a comment on that. And thirdly, I know there's a call from multiple sides of –
Mayor: Katie, we're not doing thirdly. You did two. Sorry. So, on the – I want to differentiate, if there's a specific instance where there was something wrong and the NYPD did didn't respond, I want to know why. There may be a very good and specific reason why it wasn't possible to do what they normally want to do. But I want to be very clear, if for any reason someone didn't respond who could have responded, that's wrong. I'll let the Commissioner speak to that. But the fact is, I'm really a little tired of people trying to characterize when we see with our own eyes, in so many instances, consistency. I'm sure you can always find exception. We do not allow looting, period. Anyone who's looting is a criminal. They're violating the law. They have to suffer the consequences. There may be times when police officers are trying to stage to address the situation or being mobilized to get to someplace and it starts before they can get there. Obviously, we're talking about covering a lot of ground. But the point is, this whole idea of with impunity as if it's something that people condone – no, it's unacceptable and we will not allow it. And I saw with my own eyes, many, many police officers taking action to stop things. Now, if there was a strategy that wasn't effective, if something that could have been prevented wasn't prevented in time, or officers weren't mobilized to the right location time, that's what we're going to be looking at today in detail to make sure strategically the NYPD is in the strongest position. There will be additional police resources out. We're going to focus on the lessons we learned yesterday, because one thing I can say, as I turn to the Commissioner, I've seen him make amazing adjustments, because this is what CompStat has taught all of us, and this is one of the guys right here who's used CompStat to the fullest – you learn from every day, you learn from every hour and you make changes. We’re human beings. Sometimes we see something we didn't expect. We did not expect what started Sunday night at nine. We didn't see any evidence before Sunday night at nine, when it started adjustments were made immediately. When we saw last night, adjustments were made. Sometimes they're not made as quickly as I want or the Commissioner wants, but there'll be a lot of adjustments for tonight and the earlier curfew, and that puts us in a much stronger position. You want to add Commissioner?
Commissioner Shea: Hey, yeah Katie. Thanks for the question. I just want to point out Brooklyn Bakery, Mr. Mayor here too –
Mayor: [Inaudible] favoritism for Brooklyn.
Commissioner Shea: Yeah. We're dealing with thousands of protestors at a very interesting point in history when you look at the country and the city during a pandemic, with thousands of police officers deployed in this great country and respecting the right to peacefully protest and assemble and be heard, Katie. We're not rounding up people and arresting them, we’re allowing them to protest. People are using that as cover. I think it's well documented for vicious attacks. A combination of looting, which we've seen really over – only over the last two nights here in New York City, for the most part, which any second of it is one second too much. We are very fluid in terms of the deployments and how we're addressing it. We've continued to make adjustments over the last five nights of protest, depending on what we've seen on any point in time. And that's from restricting movement while balancing the rights of protests. I could tell you that we've had countless discussions, Mr. Mayor and I, in de-escalating protests versus allowing freedom of movement, but then taking into account what you're describing, periods of looting that we've seen. I've told you where it was over the last couple of nights. I could tell you that I firsthand was out there. I firsthand saw at times what was going on. I also saw police officers making again, numerous arrests, some of which probably haven't even been processed yet. There were periods of time last night where certain cells have to be reallocated because there was too many arrests in certain things. These are the things that we've balanced and move with all the time.
As I said, there was close to 700 at a starting point, our arrests made just yesterday, Katie, so while there were, yes, there were videos of looting, there was also almost 700 arrests for the very same offenses. We'll continue to learn, adjust, reapply and move resources around to make sure that New Yorkers are safe, first and foremost, to make sure that criminals don't feel comfortable in doing this and we will be vigilant to make sure that property owners, people that are going to work, people that live in and visit this great city are as safe as possible, but we will need, as I said before, we will need assistance. We need consequences. So, I'm eagerly anticipating what happens to those 700 arrests, that's part of the story, Katie. And I'm eager to hear that and read them.
Moderator: Abu from Bangla Patrika is up next. Abu?
Question: [Inaudible] first, think to step back, getting some perspective, and separate the issues [inaudible].
Moderator: Right onto our next one. Sydney from the Staten Island Advance. I think Abu is having some tech issues. Sydney?
Question: Hey Mr. Mayor, can you hear me?
Mayor: Yes, Sydney, how are you doing?
Question: Good. How are you? Are you worried about a second wave of the coronavirus in the city, given all of these large protests and people not socially distancing and at times not wearing face coverings? And are social distancing roles and crackdowns on large gatherings still being enforced, not just protests, but this Saturday I saw hundreds of people gathering in large crowds outside of bars and Hell's Kitchen, drinking, and did not see any cops around to enforce a social distancing measures. So, I'm curious, what's going on? And will you consider sending the National Guard to enforce the citywide curfew if there's more looting tonight?
Mayor: Sydney, I don't think you heard my earlier point. So, let me try again. No, on the National Guard. We will regret it if we bring outside armed forces. I want to say it's as clear as a bell, if someone wants to go and check all the history of what happens when outside armed forces go into our communities, I'm going to ask community leaders and elected officials to back me up, unless you think you want to take that chance, which case I'm going to say, you're going to regret it. When you bring in people not trained for the circumstance, but still with loaded weapons and put under horrible stress, really bad things happen. We have not had loss of life the last five days. We’re to work every minute, every day to avoid any loss of life. There has been loss of life in other places, and I am pained for all of them. But if you bring in folks who are not trained for the situation, it puts them in a horrible circumstance. Let's let the folks who are trained for the situation, 36,000 members the NYPD handle – yes, is it complex? Yeah. It's complex. Life is complex. It's a difficult circumstance is going to be solved overnight. No guys, it's not going to be solved in one on off switch. I would like people to pay attention to how things really work. This will take a little time to work through from Thursday night to Sunday night, we thought we were working things through, working them out, and moving forward. Something changed Sunday night, things change. And when things change, you quickly have to make adjustments. We made one adjustment for last night. We're going to make another adjustment for today. We're going to keep making adjustments, but no, the answer is not instant gratification, let's bring in outside armed forces and everything's going to be great. No, it's dangerous. It will make things worse.
To your other question, with all due respect, I'm a little confused what you think was happening Saturday night in New York City? The NYPD was dealing with a lot of very complex issues all over the city, protests, peaceful people, not peaceful people, that was their focus, not bars wherever you were with all due respect. We will go back to enforcing on bars and restaurants as we were many times very effectively. We'll go back to that. We're going to restart the city on Monday, June 8th, but for the last few days has been a national crisis. Maybe you've read about it. And that's what the NYPD has been focused on.
Moderator: Last two, Reuven from Hamodia?
Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, I wanted to ask very quickly since essential workers are allowed to be out during the curfew, if the Uber's and trains and taxis will be allowed to run? My main question is this, why recommended that protesters stay home, for others in the city, even forced gathering bans, not recommendations. The retail store owners have been closed for two months. It was experiencing financial ruins, been banned from opening a store. People from attending houses of worship, our regular part of life, have been banned from doing so with more than ten people. Now you've expressed solidarity with this particular protest cause, is that why it's been given dispensation to disregard epidemic guidelines? I know you were asked about this yesterday and you said there's such pain and anger and you don't want people to hear that as you're not hearing their concerns. What about the retail store owner facing imminent financial ruin or the religious person who cannot in the house of worship? What about their pain and anger? So Mr. Mayor, are we in a pandemic or not? And do we have one set of rules of protestors and another for everyone else? Thank you.
Mayor: Thank you, you're a smart guy asking a smart question, but I'm going to tell you that anyone who thinks there's different rules for different people, again, is not trying very hard to see the reality. And I'm just not going to hold back. If you guys want to really work hard to miss the reality, be my guest, but everyday New Yorkers can see what's going on. We're in the middle of a national crisis, a deep-seated national crisis. There is no comparison. I’m sorry, I do feel for the store owners. I really do. I know a lot of store owners and I'm so happy that on Monday, we're going to start to open up the minute we thought we could give relief.
I want to tell you in the middle of all this, we're talking about the pandemic. I haven't been in the last days talking about our thresholds because there's been so much else going on, but let me take a moment to answer your question in part with this. Three indicators, thresholds, we do every day. The daily number of people admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19, all of New York City, the latest report 40 patients, four, zero out of well over 8 million people, 40 below our threshold of 200. The daily number of people in our public hospital ICU, that threshold 375. Today is 354 people. The percentage of people that tested positive for COVID-19 as more and more testing is being expanded, literally every day in this city, four percent, lowest we've ever seen. Four percent. So Reuven, I want to make clear, before Thursday which was not that long ago my friend, we were doing one thing, one thing only, fighting back this disease for everyone's benefit. I want to say State and City, Governor and I have been totally united that we had to have a strict, strong approach to get to these numbers. It didn't happen by accident. So you could say, oh, couldn't we have done stores, and I appreciate how painful it's been for people to be missing religious observance. But I'll tell you, the religious leaders of this city have stood as one and said we are not going to do things prematurely that will endanger lives. So these facts speak for themselves. We stood there together. We held the line. We beat back this disease. These last days, I'm very worried about any resurgence that might come from these protests. I absolutely am. I wish, and I honestly believe it. I think people have made their point, change is coming. I wish people would now realize in the name of the health of all New Yorkers. It's time to go back, stay home. Let's turn this page, and the folks who are the criminals and the folks who are doing the violence need to be dealt with, but this is the other piece of the equation.
When you see a nation, an entire nation simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism. I'm sorry. That is not the same question, as the understandably aggrieved store owner, or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services. This is something that's not about which side of the spectrum you're on. It's about a deep, deep American crisis, we have never seen anything quite like what we've seen in the last few days. This is a powerful, painful historical moment. So now I have eyes to see – we're not going to treat it like it's just any other day, we're not going to treat it. Like why are people outside the bars and not notice that all of America is grappling simultaneously with a horrible crisis? Sorry guys, there's a world outside New York City. So we're dealing with this. I want to turn the page as quickly as possible, but we're not going to ignore the reality. Monday, we restart, and that relief is coming for those small business owners very quickly – on Monday, they can do curbside pickup. They can do pickup at the stores. That's going to start to relief – if we do things right, not withstanding, I'm worried again about the health impact here, but it's only been a few days. It's been people outdoors, which also thank God means less spread than when people are indoors. I want to get past this and go back to doing the work we're doing. We keep doing the good work fighting back this disease. Then the next phase happens and all those store owners, you're talking about our backend business as usual, it does not have to be far away. The religious services come back that does not have to be far away if we do the work together and we will. The transit issue, the essential services, all the essential workers have to keep doing their work,
they go to and from work, that's absolutely appropriate. Any hour of the day, all the transit that makes that happen, that's absolutely appropriate. So the things that allow the essential activities of this city go on will continue unabated despite the curfew. But the curfew is 8:00 PM. Unless you're doing essential work, you should go home. If you don't go home, there's obviously going to be a lot of police presence to address the situation, people being peaceful. That's one thing. If they're not being peaceful, the curfew alone is a reason for someone to be addressed.
Moderator: Last question goes to Matt from Newsday, Matt.
Question: Hey, good morning. All. Thanks for taking my questions. Commissioner Shea, can you tell us in general, and not about any specific case when cops are allowed to use a baton, and secondly, I watched last with my own eyes on Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street at a North Face store being actively looted cops came their presence scared away the looters and those cops left within a minute or two and including one case where a police van drove right by and didn't stop – a van of four police supervisors came and secure the scene. So, and there were thousands of people out last night, even after the curfew for hours. So, what's going on with that?
Mayor: I’ll start, and then turn to the Commissioner, because I'm going to speak as a civilian here, and I have spent a lot of time raising valid concerns and critiques and working for change with the police, but I've also spent a hell of a lot of time going back to when I was a City Council Member, working with my local precincts on up to working with the Police Commissioner, understanding the work of the police, and I was all out last night, seeing it firsthand. Sometimes a vehicle goes by the side of one thing because they're going to deal with another thing. Sometimes they immediately scare away looters and they have to go deal with another situation. In a perfect world, and again, I want to say to everyone, I wish the world was as convenient as the questions that you ask, and I know they're not asked with anything but honest intent, but the complexities our officers deal with are unimaginable, and if you scare off leaders in one location and then that location is being loaded and they need help over there. Yeah. In a perfect world, you'd have people deal with one and not have to go to the other, but that's not always what happens. I just want to lay down that point. I often ask this guy a bunch of tough questions about what's happening, and many times he says, here's what we were doing with here's the choices we have to make, and it becomes really clear. Sometimes I like to answer sometimes I don't, but there's a hell of a lot more out there than meets the eye. Commissioner?
Commissioner Shea: I think – thank you for the question and you were out there, so I think you saw, and I think you saw what was going on in a concentrated part of Manhattan yesterday. Officers dealing with I'll address the force question last officer's dealing with a lot of different variables. I think the Mayor hit it on the head in terms of we're going to defend property, absolutely. We're also going to make critical decisions at any one point in time and we're going to make decisions to preserve life above all else. So, the officers were there. You didn't say whether arrests made in that particular situation, but again, I'm telling you that literally 700 people in a very short period of time were taken into custody. That doesn't count people that were taken into custody or released with summonses.
So, all of this is extremely fluid. Multiple offices responding to different jobs. We're going to leave certain jobs. If there's somebody being attacked, whether it's a protester, we've had two shootings in the last couple of nights, we've had multiple guns recovered. So, there's a multitude of jobs that are being handled at any point in time, and of course we're going to protect those stores, but we're making critical decisions and being extremely fluid.
When you talk about the use of the baton, she didn't get into what it was over, but there's an escalation of force essentially, and that's what comes, it comes down to officers are trained in the Academy, retrain throughout their entire career on what is appropriate use of force. Force begins with just what you're hearing right now, me talking to you, hopefully it can be deescalated through voice. Sometimes it's a loud voice and you know, we get complaints on that sometimes, but that's part of at times a strategy as well. Can we deescalate with talking maybe a louder voice without having to go to some of the other tools that are available, but then you start to get into things such as pepper spray, then you get batons. Ultimately, it's what we don't want to have a deadly physical force with a firearm, and there are rules for engagement at all. It is not something that has to progress from one to the other. Sometimes you begin with a firearm, but I think the Mayor touched on that earlier.
Look at where we are in New York City. We've had a very difficult by anyone's definition, five days, literally straight of protests in the middle of a pandemic, dealing with everything, including the kitchen sink that's been thrown at New Yorkers and a point in history, it has not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I think I'm extremely proud of the work that the men and women of this police department have done. There's always going to be isolated cases, but when you look at the body of work, what New Yorkers have done, New Yorkers are hurting. New Yorkers are pulling together. I'm getting texts and emails of support as I'm sitting here, thanking the officers, thanking everyone for what they're doing. That is how we are going to get out of this. Whether it's clergy, whether it's elected officials, this is where leaders step up, and this is where lack of leadership is exposed, and leaders are coming together across this city. Whether, whether it's Cure Violence, whether it's people that just live on a block saying enough is enough. This is not who we are, and we're seeing that all over. We've seen it at protests. We've seen people throwing people out of protests. We need more of it to be quite frank, and we need people to step back, look at the entire situation. You know, no one should be protesting right now, but it is an extremely unique time, and even in the middle of a pandemic, there are larger issues at play here. But at the same time, people leaders across whether wearing a uniform or wearing clergy garb, or whether you're wearing normal street clothes can step up and say, it's time to take a step back. It's time to talk. There’s de-escalation on both sides, not just for law enforcement.
Mayor: Very well said, Commissioner.
I'll conclude really quickly here. Look there's a lot of painful images out, there's a lot of things that have to be addressed. There's a lot of things that have to be done better. A lot of things have to be fixed and that's the work we will do. There's also moments that give you inspiration, and if I would say everyone do not just look at the constant diet. We are fed of negativity. Look at those rays of light. Look at those beacons of hope. I held up the cover of the Daily News yesterday morning because it moved me deeply to see our officers show respect for people, raising valid concerns. That's where the healing begins. I urge you all look at the video of our Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo talking to a protest leader, working through the concerns. Look at the video of Chief of Department Terry Monahan, talking to protestors saying, and it was very powerful – any New Yorker who hasn’t seen it should see it – saying all of us, all of us in uniform here, we hate what happened in Minnesota. It does not represent the us. It was wrong. That's something we didn't see in the past, and it was powerful to have a uniformed police leader in the middle of a crowd, say, we did not accept what those officers did in Minnesota, and we will not do that, and that does not represent our profession, and then when the protests just said, if you want to show us respect, take a knee with us, and they all held hands together and took a knee. That is the future of New York City. We have come a long, long way from times so much more violent than this, so much more dire, so much more hopeless. We fought our way back. We will fight our way back again, and anyone who tells you otherwise does not understand New York City. Do not bet against New York City. Do not bet against the people in New York City. The people will move us forward and we're going to find a better day in this town. Thank you.