Governor Cuomo Asks Attorney General to Investigate "Disturbing, Violent Clashes" During Protests in NYC

New York Governor Andrews Cuomo asked the state's attorney general to investigate the "disturbing, violent clashes" that occurred in Brooklyn, New York, Friday.

"Last night we saw disturbing, violent clashes amidst protests right here in New York City, in Brooklyn, and we all saw the video last night. I am asking Attorney General [Letitia] James to review the actions and the procedures that were used last night because the public deserves and answers and they deserve accountability," Cuomo said at his daily coronavirus press briefing Saturday.

Protesters in Brooklyn gathered in support of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck. The demonstrators crowded together at Barclays Center, where over 200 arrests were made by the New York City Police Department following violent clashes.

The governor said he spoke to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and that they both agreed to have an "independent review" into what occurred at the protest.

"We agree that the attorney general is an independently elected official in the state of New York," the governor said, adding that he asked James to take a "short period of time" to write a review and release it to the public.

A spokesperson for the governor's office told Newsweek they "hope for the review to be completed in 30 days."

In a statement through her office Saturday, James said concerning the interactions between the NYPD and civilians during the protests Friday evening: "Peaceful protest is a basic civil right. That right should be protected and guarded. We take the designation to investigate last night's actions very seriously. We will act independently to seek answers, ensure that the truth is laid bare, and that there is accountability for any wrongdoing. We will be transparent in our findings as we seek accountability for those who did wrong."

"We are asking anyone with information about last night, including visual evidence, to please share it with our office so we can take it into account as we proceed with this investigation. Please email Complaints@ag.ny.gov."

De Blasio also held a press conference Saturday to comment on the protests Friday that led to violent clashes with police, in which he criticized both the actions of the NYPD and the actions of violent protesters.

"It's the NYPD's obligation to find the best possible way to keep peace, to protect everyone, to avoid anything that allows further violence to occur," de Blasio said. "But that means also recognizing that any aggressive act towards a peaceful protester sends exactly the wrong message."

The mayor said there were elected officials present at the protest who were pepper-sprayed.

"That's unacceptable and we need to understand exactly what happened and there needs to be accountability...We've seen some videos where protesters were handled very violently and roughly and that is not neighborhood policing and we will not accept that kind of behavior," the mayor said.

De Blasio also stated that some of the people present at the protests also perpetrated "acts of violence" against the NYPD.

"We saw acts of violence from protesters that have nothing to do with the tradition of peaceful democratic protest that has pervaded the history of New York City...The NYPD has protected protesters for generations of every point of view and done it well," the mayor said.

"But some protesters last night came with an agenda of violence and incitement and they meant to harm police officers and they did harm police officers they meant to attack police vehicles and they did they meant to attack police precincts and that is all purely unacceptable."

Newsweek reached out to the mayor's office and the NYPD for further comments, but they did not respond back in time for publication.

Updated 5:21 PM ET, with a statement from New York Attorney General James.

 Protests Against Police Brutality Over Death Of George Floyd Continue In NYC
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 29: Police put out a fire as they confront protesters in front of the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn on May 29, 2020 in New York City.(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Spencer Platt/Getty