Former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is facing righteous heat regarding a leaked interview where he appears to not only advocate for, but champion the racist policy of stop-and-frisk in New York City, a practice emboldened by the NYPD.
The audio represents a tremendous hill for Bloomberg to climb and conquer, if he can get a leg up to do so.
The clip is reportedly from a 2015 speech Bloomberg gave at the Aspen Institute, just two years after leaving the mayoral office once current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio won the seat. Bloomberg, a billionaire who secured his vast wealth by inventing computer software called the Bloomberg Terminal, was mayor from 2001-2013.
“Ninety-five percent of murders- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O.,” he can be heard saying in the clip. “You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed. So you want to spend the money on a lot of cops in 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 wall 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 a 2015 report by the Aspen Times, Bloomberg requested that the video not be made public. However, podcaster Benjamin Dixon, a Black man who owns and operates his own independent media company, was able to locate and release the audio. Dixon’s choice to unearth the audio caused a stir on national media as prominent journalists accused him of releasing the information due to his support of Bernie Sanders, instead of focusing on Bloomberg’s commentary which is blatantly based in racist ideology.
A second clip surfaced showing Bloomberg in 2013 arguing that whites are disproportionately stopped more than Black people.
Stop-and-frisk was a policy that began during the mayoral tenure of Rudy Giuliani who proceeded Bloomberg. However, under Bloomberg, the program expanded and gave law enforcement free rein to stop and search anyone who was suspected of a crime. The policy of course disproportionately affected lower-income neighborhoods resulting in the stops of thousands of Black and brown men on New York City’s streets.
“Of 575,000 stops conducted in 2009, black and Latino people were nine times as likely as white people to be targeted by the police (even though, once stopped, they were no more likely to actually be arrested),” according to The New York Times. “In 2011, police officers made about 685,000 stops; 87 percent of those stopped were black or Latino.”
In 2013, a federal judge ruled the policy violated the constitutional rights of New Yorkers, but the practice still continues on.
Prior to announcing his candidacy for president last year, Bloomberg appeared at Christian Cultural Center, a predominantly black megachurch in Brooklyn, New York, where he apologized for his role in stop and frisk.
“I was wrong,” he began. “And I am sorry.”
“I now see that we should have acted sooner, and acted faster.”
Many saw it as too little too late and questioned his timing, especially once he announced his candidacy for president not too soon after.
Bloomberg issued an apology on Tuesday much similar to the one he gave to the congregation members after the audio stirred up conversation on social media. However, his words urge us to take a hard look at candidates and their records as public officials.