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June 1, 2020

Contact: Jake Oliver,, (347) 361-9983

New York, N.Y. (June 1, 2020)— Citizens Union has issued the following statement from Board Chair Randy Mastro:

As our country lurches from one crisis to the next, New York once again finds itself on high alert. And our country once again finds itself lacking the leadership and empathy we so desperately need from our federal government.

First came the coronavirus crisis, which has devastated our country, in general, and New York, in particular. We are living at the epicenter of this crisis, having experienced more than 20% of our country’s COVID-19-related deaths. In New York City we have seen our local hospitals overwhelmed, our local economy upended, and a full reopening still far off. Yet we remain largely cut out of federal aid packages at a time when our state and local governments have literally had to spend billions to address this crisis and will be crippled without federal financial support. In times of crisis — like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the recent Texas flooding — the federal government responded as it should have, with generous support to help those devastated communities come back. No state has been hit harder by this coronavirus crisis. So to paraphrase a favorite movie quote, “Show us the money too.”

Now come protests in major urban centers across the country over shocking incidents of racial injustice. While the most horrific incidents occurred elsewhere, New York City has not been spared the fall-out from these protests. For the most part, state and local officials have responded appropriately, calming fears, respecting the rights of peaceful protesters, condemning violence and property damage, calling for a measured response from law enforcement, and pursuing independent investigation into instances in which there are allegations of excessive force. 

Our President, in contrast, conjures up conspiracy theories of left-wing extremists and anarchists supposedly inciting violence throughout the country. The attribution of such ulterior motives to these protests simply misses the point and diminishes the genuine outrage that so many understandably feel — not only over these recent incidents but also over our country’s tortured history on race relations.  And President Trump fails to grasp the problem when he tweets out catch phrases like: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” That is simply unconscionable. At a time when we need empathy and healing, our President should not be stoking division and unrest. 

Mr. President, please stop playing the blame game and start leading by example. Wear a mask. Mourn with us the more than 100,000 Americans — and nearly 24,000 New Yorkers — who’ve died from coronavirus on your watch. Put politics aside and insist on fair treatment for your former home state. Listen more and tweet less. And give a speech encouraging all of us to come together as a nation at a time when we need to be more united than ever.  

The true measure of a leader is one who inspires us to be the best version of ourselves and treat each other with equality, dignity and respect. Now is a time when we crave such leadership.

For follow up, please contact Jake Oliver at Anat Gerstein, Inc. at or 347-361-9983

About Citizens Union
For 120 years, Citizens Union (CU) has been a force for transparency, accountability and ethics in New York’s City and State governments. A nonpartisan organization, some of our current initiatives include increased voter participation and civic engagement, greater police accountability, and an accurate 2020 census. Learn more at


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