- In 2015, Michael Bloomberg defended ‘stop and frisk’ while acknowledging that it led to disproportionately more arrests of black and Hispanic men.
- Bloomberg also asserted that in order to cut down gun crimes, it was necessary to “throw” minority men “up against the wall and frisk them.”
- His past support for the policy was widely expected to be a political liability, but a Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed that Bloomberg was second among Democrats in terms of support from black voters.
Just over a year after his tenure as New York City mayor ended, billionaire media magnate Michael Bloomberg offered up an aggressive defense of “stop and frisk,” saying that the controversial policing policy was successful even though it required police to “throw” minority males “up against the wall and frisk them.”
At the Feb. 6, 2015 event, hosted by the Aspen Security Institute, Bloomberg also asserted that the demographics of murderers and murder victims were so similar that “you can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all of the cops.”
Bloomberg’s record defending and expanding stop and frisk as mayor is well known, and was widely considered a hindrance to his prospects as a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. But the issue appears not to have hurt Bloomberg’s support with black voters.
Quinnipiac University released a poll on Monday showing that 22 percent of black voters surveyed said they support Bloomberg. That was only second to former Vice President Joe Biden, who clocked in at 27 percent.
Bloomberg has since apologized for supporting stop and frisk. On Nov. 17, a week before announcing his presidential bid, he told a black church in Brooklyn that he was “sorry” for supporting the initiative. But his candid remarks at the Aspen event have not been as widely reported as some of his other comments.
The Daily Caller and gun rights websites reported on his statements at the time, but the story did not get coverage in the national media.
Bloomberg’s remarks are in stark contrast with the status quo of the current Democratic party, which has shifted drastically to the left in recent years, especially on issues related to race.
The party’s shift became evident during the 2016 presidential campaign when progressives criticized Hillary Clinton for her remarks in 1996 that “super-predators” were responsible for a higher crime rate among black youth.
Biden has come under scrutiny during the 2020 cycle for supporting the 1994 crime bill, as well as for his comments praising Democratic segregationist senators during the 1970s.
It is too early to say whether Bloomberg’s comments from five years ago will translate into a political liability. But perhaps realizing that his defense of the stop and frisk went too far at the time, Bloomberg successfully blocked the Aspen Security Institute from releasing video of the event.
Audio from the event shows that Bloomberg acknowledged that his views about crime statistics were “controversial.”
“First thing is all of your — 95 percent of your murders, and murderers, and murder victims fit one [unintelligible]. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all of the cops,” Bloomberg said.
“They are male, minorities, 15 to 25. That’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city in America.”
Bloomberg has denied that the policy was racist. Instead, he’s argued that more minorities are stopped by police because of higher crime rates in minority communities.
“So one of the unintended consequences is, people say ‘Oh, my God you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities,’” Bloomberg said.
“Yes, that’s true,” Bloomberg acknowledged.
“Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes that’s true, why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the first thing you can do for people is to stop them getting killed.”
But that line of argument has done little to persuade progressives and civil libertarians to support stop and frisk. While advocates of the policy said that it was intended only to be used near areas where a crime had been reported, or when officers had reasonable suspicion that a target was carrying a weapon, its critics assert that police officers frequently abused protocol and disproportionately stopped minorities with little cause.
“We did a calculation on how many people who would have been dead if we hadn’t brought down the murder rate and gotten guns off the streets,” Bloomberg said at the Aspen event.
“And the way to get guns out of kids hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.”
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