An audio recording of a speech former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered at the Aspen Institute in 2015 has been leaked to the media. Bloomberg is heard offering his full support for a questionable law enforcement technique known as “stop and frisk.” He is clearly heard saying:
95% of murders, murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, sixteen to twenty-five. It’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city. That’s where the real crime is. You’ve gotta get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed.
You want to spend the money, put a lot of cops on the streets. Put those cops where the crime is which means in minority neighborhoods. So, one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh, my God. You are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods.
Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.
And the way you get the guns out of the kids hands is to throw them up against the walls and frisk them.
And then they start…’Oh I don’t want to get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.
According to Fox News, after listening to this recording on Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted, “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!” That tweet has inexplicably been deleted.
Shortly afterward Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale sent a tweet which included the recording with the caption, “All the money in the world can’t undo this.”
Parscale followed up with a second tweet in which he includes a 2013 clip from Bloomberg’s weekly radio show with the caption #BloombergIsARacist.” A New York Post article quotes the former mayor saying, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they say. I don’t know where they went to school but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.” The Post explains these comments were made “in response to the City Council passing two bills aimed at reining in the controversial policing tactic.”
In November 2019, during remarks at an African-American megachurch in Brooklyn, NY, Bloomberg apologized for his past support of Stop and Frisk. He told parishioners, “Now hindsight is 20/20. But as crime continued to come down as we reduced stops and as it continued to come down during the next administration to its credit, I now see that we could and should have acted sooner. And acted faster to cut the stops. I wish we had. And I’m sorry that we didn’t…But I can’t change history, however today I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong and I’m sorry.”
CNN reports that Bloomberg defended the tactic as late as January 2019.
At a January 2019 Leadership Conference at the United States Naval Academy, Bloomberg was asked about stop and frisk and he defended it, saying that, “We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system … kids who walked around looking like they might have a gun, remove the gun from their pockets and stop it. The result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year when I left.”
This is why many minorities found his reversal after deciding to run for the Democratic presidential nomination to be insincere.
Forgive many of us for questioning apologies a decade late and on the eve of a presidential run. It is not nearly enough to erase the legacy of the systemic abuses of stop, question, and frisk on the people whose lives were harmed by over-policing, nor the communities criminalized by it…Stop and frisk was just one of many tactics pursued by the Bloomberg administration which had a detrimental impact on lower income New Yorkers and communities of more color.
I agree with Williams. Bloomberg was okay with the practice until he decided to run for the presidency. Then, knowing it would hurt his chances, he abruptly changed his position.
This issue is not going away anytime soon.
His remarks will live again in a campaign ad, if not from one of his opponents in the Democratic primary, then from the Trump campaign.