- Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized in a Sunday speech for his support of the New York Police Department’s use of “stop-and-frisk.”
- For years, Bloomberg has vigorously defended “stop-and-frisk,” even after a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the program violated the constitutional rights of minorities.
- Bloomberg’s speech comes as he considers a possible presidential run for the Democratic nomination.
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Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized on Sunday for his support of the New York Police Department’s use of “stop-and-frisk,” reversing his longstanding stance on the issue as he gears up for a potential presidential run for the Democratic nomination.
“I was wrong,” the billionaire said during a speech at a black megachurch in Brooklyn. “And I am sorry.”
Bloomberg on stop-and-frisk this a.m.: "I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong."
"We could and should have acted sooner and acted faster to reduce the stops."
"I was wrong and I am sorry."
— Bill Hammond (@NYHammond) November 17, 2019
The NYPD’s aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policy gave officers broad authority to stop and search people on the street, with the number of stops growing to hundreds of thousands each year under the Bloomberg administration. In 2013, a federal judge rule that “stop-and-frisk” violated the constitutional rights of minorities; according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, most of the people stopped were black and Latino, and nearly all were innocent.
Despite that, Bloomberg continued to vigorously defend the program. In the aftermath of the court ruling, he blasted Judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision, calling Scheindlin “an ideologically driven federal judge who has a history of ruling against the police,” and noting that “when it comes to policing, political correctness is deadly.”
As recently as January, when questioned on “stop-and-frisk” targeting black and Latino communities, the former mayor responded: “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,” he added. But, according to the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, murder rates declined after “stop-and-frisk” was abandoned – raising questions about the efficacy of the program.
On Sunday, however, Bloomberg appeared to reverse course, acknowledging that his desire to drive down crime blinded him to the negative impacts of the program. “We had eroded what we worked so hard to build: trust,” he said, adding that he hoped to “earn it back.”
Bloomberg’s speech was his first since news broke that he was contemplating a presidential bid. His apology and choice of venue seem to recognize the former mayor’s acknowledgement that, to secure the Democratic nomination, he will need support from African-American voters.
— Rachel (@rachelnoerd) November 17, 2019
“Our focus was on saving lives,” Bloomberg said on Sunday. “But the fact is far too many innocent people were being stopped while we tried to do that. And the overwhelming majority of them were black and Latino. That may have included, I’m sorry to say, some of you here today, perhaps yourself, or your children, or your grandchildren, or your neighbors or your relatives.”