The head of the New York state troopers’ union is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to denounce the riots and violent acts against police officers in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
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Union president Thomas Mungeer told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday he supports peaceful protests, but the events in New York have devolved into riots and become increasingly dangerous. Just Monday night, a trooper and a police officer in Buffalo, New York, were struck by a car at a protest and seriously injured, he said.
“I find it appalling that you have not condemned the violence directed at your New York State Troopers during the riots across the state,” said Mungeer in a Sunday letter to Cuomo. “In fact, during your daily briefing today you repeatedly used the word 'ugly' to describe recent events but did not acknowledge that the Troopers under your command have been responding to riots with unwavering loyalty to public safety.”
Mungeer stressed the importance of the right to a peaceful protest, but slammed Cuomo’s lack of recognition for the troopers despite the violence toward law enforcement and even other residents in parts of the state.
“What Troopers are being called upon to respond to across the state are not peaceful protests or voices of reason urging societal changes, these are violent riots taking place around the state,” Mungeer wrote. “Peaceful protestors do not arrive with hammers and Molotov cocktails, burn police cars, smash the windows of businesses or spray graffiti on St. Patrick's Cathedral – criminal opportunists and vandals do. Peaceful protestors do not start fires in the streets or to businesses - arsonists do. Peaceful protestors do not gather en masse to openly disregard laws, create havoc and impede on the rights of the general public - rioters do.”
No troopers have been injured in the riots so far, Mungeer told FOX Business on Monday. A spokesperson for Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Cuomo’s lack of recognition for the serious dangers created by the rioters has not gone unnoticed by troopers deployed during the events, Mungeer said Monday.
“That really hit home, the morale of my people on the ground, where they're trying to keep some semblance of order and not have the support from their boss,” he said. “You kind of wonder why you're out there.”
Protests flared in response to the death of Floyd, a black man who died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck.
Floyd, who was in handcuffs at the time, died after the officer ignored bystander shouts to get off him and Floyd's cries that he couldn't breathe. His death, captured on video, sparked days of protests in Minneapolis that have spread to cities around America.
"Listen, as police officers, we're all appalled by what happened out in Minneapolis. None of us condone that. We were not taught to do that training-wise,” Mungeer said. “That can't happen again. It was unbelievable. So it’s hit home for us, too. But now to be in the midst of it. Thrust in the middle of these riots, and again, it's a select few people ... it seems that we're not getting the support that we should have.”
Troopers are deployed throughout the state and are largely in charge of overseeing law enforcement in the majority of New York outside the Big Apple and other big cities. But they can also be deployed by Cuomo when he determines their assistance is needed in New York City or elsewhere in the state.
The governor has not responded to Mungeer’s letter, he said.
“You continue to deploy our manpower during these riots and other periods of unrest to assist local officials and we answer the call every time,” Mungeer wrote. “Despite a lack of respect and support, uniformed New York State Troopers have not protested, gone on strike or refused to go to work. We get up each and every day, proudly put on that gray uniform and serve and protect the people of the state of New York.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to include Mungeer's interview on Tuesday with Maria Bartiromo