On Saturday, a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent when a driver rammed into a group counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. President Donald Trump initially said there was violence “on many sides,” and waited two days before he specifically condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists. However, by Tuesday, the president – speaking from Trump Tower, where thousands of protesters gathered throughout his three-day visit to New York City – had doubled down on his original statement, equating the white supremacists to the counterprotesters.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked the acting secretary of the Army to remove the names of Confederate generals from streets on the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Bronx Community College also announced the removal of busts commemorating Confederates in its Hall of Fame for Great Americans, while a church in Brooklyn took down a plaque honoring Robert E. Lee. New York legislators also took action on a federal level, as Rep. Nydia Velazquez announced a bill that would allocate $50 million in federal funds for fighting hate crimes, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler introduced a resolution to formally condemn the president for his comments. The president tweeted on Thursday that the removal of “beautiful statues and monuments” of Confederate leaders was “sad.”
Andrea Stewart-Cousins. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Hedge fund manager, charter school supporter and major New York donor Daniel Loeb was criticized this week for a since-deleted Facebook comment saying that state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” Loeb has donated to Congressional Republicans, GOP New York City mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and city Comptroller Scott Stringer – who will use his donation to back efforts to bring the state Senate under Democratic control. Elected officials and New Yorkers rallied in support of Stewart-Cousins, who is African-American, on Monday. This incident should teach Loeb an important lesson: always keep your Facebook private, and refrain from publishing inaccurate racially charged remarks.
Farewell to Farrell
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr. (Judy Sanders / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Assemblyman Denny Farrell announced that he would step down on Sept. 5, after 42 years in the Assembly. The 85-year-old lawmaker cited health and the stress of leading the Ways and Means Committee – but that wasn’t his only motivation. After City Councilman David Greenfield andstate Sen. Daniel Squadron, Farrell is the third politician in recent months to resign after the deadline passed for possible candidates to file a petition to run for the seat. Now, the county Democratic committee will get to choose who gets to appear on the ballot.