Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a Bible aloft and quoted the Good Book to open his Wednesday press briefing, in a shot at President Trump, who struck a similar pose earlier this week in front of a historic church that had been burned by rioters.
“The president held up the Bible the other day in Washington, DC,” said Cuomo in an Albany briefing, raising the holy book in his right hand. “Here in New York, we actually read the Bible.”
Cuomo then read four passages, which he said carried significance in the time of nationwide turmoil that has exploded since George Floyd, a black Minnesota man, died on May 25 as a white cop kneeled on his neck.
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” — Matthew 5:9
- “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” — Mark 3:25
- “Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace and work to maintain it.” — Psalms 34:14
- “The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” — James 3:18
“I think those words are all appropriate for where we are today,” said Cuomo, whose move referenced Trump walking to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday following a speech in which he invoked the mobilization of military force to restore “law and order” to the nation.
Holding a Bible aloft in his right hand, Trump posed for photos outside the church, which was torched Sunday by rioters.
The photo op drew significant criticism from protesters who said they were cleared from the area by law enforcement with tear gas, a tactic the US Park Police have denied employing, although they did use pepper balls and smoke canisters.
Cuomo supplemented his Bible quotes with one from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who on Wednesday voiced opposition to bringing in the military to keep the peace.
“The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Cuomo quoted Esper as saying in a press briefing held earlier Wednesday.
“We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” Esper added.
Cuomo has resisted calls from the president to send in the National Guard to maintain order in such hard-hit areas as New York City, and drawn a sharp contrast between the peaceful protesters who genuinely seek justice for Floyd’s death and opportunistic looters capitalizing on the chaos.
“He’s not just attacked New York in tweets, his policies have been vicious to New York,” said Cuomo. “He’s gone out of his way to be negative to New York.”
The governor cited as examples a “refusal to fund” New York infrastructure projects and an unwillingness to help state governments hammered fiscally by the coronavirus.
Cuomo acknowledged, however, that “there have been good things,” including the conversion of the Javits Center into a federal field hospital to help ease the strain on city facilities in the pandemic.
The governor left the briefing again holding the Good Book high and saying, “I’m taking my Bible and I’m going back to work.”