On Tuesday, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg faced swift backlash after a clip resurfaced of the Republican presidential candidate defending the stop-and-frisk policy, which is known to aggressively target Latino and Black men.
Political podcaster Benjamin Dixon posted a one-minute audio clip from a speech Bloomberg gave at the Aspen Institute in 2015 and explicitly claimed Bloomberg’s representatives requested the video not be released. In the clip, we hear the former mayor state that nearly all murderers and murder victims fit one description – they’re minorities.
“You can just Xerox [a description] and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg said. “They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city.”
He also admitted that during his tenure as mayor, he sent cops out to “minority neighborhoods” because “that’s where the real crime is.” His reasoning was that the way to get guns off the streets is to “throw [minority kids] up against the walls and frisk them.”
The clip garnered over 7 million views and #BloombergIsRacist quickly began trending on Twitter.
Another user shared an interview in which Bloomberg claims that white people are stopped more than minorities. “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” he said. Of course, that’s factually incorrect.
Towards the end of Bloomberg’s third term as mayor, stop-and-frisk peaked. According to the Center of Constitutional Rights, in 2011 the NYPD stopped 685,724 people – 84% of whom Latino and Black. Bloomberg’s intent was reportedly to get guns off the streets, but “contraband was found in only 2% of all stops.”
When Mayor de Blasio took office in 2014, the number of reported stops decreased by 98%, according to The New York Civil Liberties Union. However, Latino and Black men are still being targeted in stop-and-frisks.
Following the backlash, the presidential candidate issued a statement of his own.
“I have apologized for taking too long to understand the impact of stop and frisk on Black and Latino communities,” he said before pivoting to a non-apology. “I inherited stop-and-frisk. In an effort to stop gun violence, it was overused. I cut it back by 95%. I should have cut it back sooner.”
Or, perhaps, he shouldn’t have targeted us at all.
“The notion that this makes us safer is a big lie,” said Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, to The Guardian in 2012. “We don’t need to violate people’s human rights or their basic dignity to make this country safer.”