“Look at the facts, look at what they did, and charge appropriately,” Cuomo said.
A spokesperson for the Bronx District Attorney’s office says that they have charged 58 people with 2nd-degree burglary so far, and 28 people on misdemeanor charges related to theft and vandalism, but Cuomo is calling for more action.
Over the last week, looters have smashed their way into both small businesses and big box stores, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. But most of those who were arrested walked free due in part to the state’s new bail reform law, signed by Cuomo himself.
“The DA should charge these looters,” Cuomo said. “They should charge them with Burglary 2 and they should be held and set bail.”
In a statement, the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York said: “The notion that District Attorneys can charge Burglary 2 in cases where individuals throw rocks through windows of closed businesses to loot is not supported by New York State’s penal law.”
“You can set bail if somebody enters a building without having permission to do so - and is entering that building to commit a crime, which is a larceny, which is a theft, and they possess a deadly weapon.” said New York Trial attorney and former prosecutor Arthur Aidala.
Criminal justice form advocates say they are outraged by Governor Cuomo’s comments.
“And especially right now, with what people are reacting to, the rage, the pain that they feel, is about our criminal legal system,” said Justice Olderman, Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders. “It is about the treatment of the NYPD and police forces across the country.”
Olderman also says that advocating for more people to be sent to our city’s jails, especially Rikers Island increases the risk of exposing them to COVID-19.