Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for his administration’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy after spending the last few years defending it.
Bloomberg said he was “sorry” on Sunday as he spoke at the Christian Cultural Center, a predominantly black church in Brooklyn, saying he didn’t realize the impact the policy, which was later repealed, had on black and Latino communities.
(Video: Twitter/The Hill)
“Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I’ve long struggled to admit to myself,” the billionaire Democrat, who has not yet formally announced if he will run for president in 2020, told the congregation.
“I got something important really wrong. I didn’t understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives — but as we know: good intentions aren’t good enough,” he added.
“I now see that we could and should have acted sooner and acted faster to cut the stops,” he said, contending that crime went down under the “stop and frisk” method which allowed New York officers to stop and search anyone suspected of committing a crime.
“I wish we had and I’m sorry that we didn’t, but I can’t change history,” Bloomberg continued.
“Today, I want you to know that I realize that back then I was wrong,” he said. “And I’m sorry.”
He acknowledged that the controversial policy led to “far too many innocent people” — many from the black and Latino communities — being stopped, leading to resentment and a breakdown of trust.
“The erosion of that trust bothered me,” Bloomberg said. “And I want to earn it back.”
ABC News reported:
Ultimately, a federal judge found in 2013 that stop-and-frisk intentionally and systematically violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men. Bloomberg blasted the ruling at the time, calling it a “dangerous decision made by a judge who I think does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the U.S. Constitution.”
Bloomberg’s successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio made ending the practice a centerpiece of his first run for office. In a campaign-defining ad, his son Dante, who is biracial, made the case that de Blasio “would end the stop-and-frisk era that unfairly targets people of color.”
New York City’s top police union slammed the former three-term mayor on Sunday.
#BREAKING PBA STATEMENT ON MAYOR BLOOMBERG’S APOLOGY FOR STOP, QUESTION AND FRISK POLICY
“We said in the early 2000s that the quota-driven emphasis on street stops was polluting the relationship between cops and our communities.” pic.twitter.com/gmvda27XKq
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) November 17, 2019
Bloomberg, who became New York City mayor in 2002, has filed paperwork to enter the presidential primaries in Alabama and Arkansas, but has not formally announced his entry into the race. Many skeptics, like activist Shaun King, saw his apology as connected with his intention to run for president and criticized his timing. (Warning: Language)
After years of running the Apartheid-like policy of stopping and frisking millions of people of color throughout New York City, and then defending it every day in office, then every day he was out of office up until this week, @MikeBloomberg now admits he was wrong.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) November 17, 2019
Oh, now @MikeBloomberg apologizes. For years, he has defended ”stop-and-frisk,” the racially discriminatory and ineffective police tactic that he backed and expanded as NYC’s mayor. Now that he is running for president and needs black votes, he’s sorry. https://t.co/Sgf6RlXwCx
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 17, 2019
Under Bloomberg, NYPD increased stop and frisk from 100,000 stops to nearly 700,000 stops per year. 90% of those impacted were people of color – overwhelmingly black and brown men. Bloomberg personally has the money to begin paying reparations for this harm. “Sorry” isn’t enough. https://t.co/kF1n9nLhfT
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) November 17, 2019
Others, like Sen. Cory Booker, were glad Bloomberg seemed to have a change of heart.
“I’m happy he did,” the New Jersey Democrat and 2020 contender told ABC News while campaigning on Sunday in Nevada.
“It’s interesting timing that the mayor would apologize for that now,” Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary and 2020 candidate, said. “That was a wrong policy. I guess it’s better late than never. People will have to judge whether they believe his apology.”
“I am glad to see Mr. Bloomberg now admit that the policy was wrong,” Al Sharpton told ABC News. “It will take more than one speech for people to forgive and forget a policy that so negatively impacted entire communities.”
Earlier this year, however, Bloomberg was still defending the controversial policy.
“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,” he said in January.
“It’s interesting to hear him apologize for something in 2019 and also hear him defend his use of the same thing in 2019,” Republican Councilman Joe Borelli told the Daily News. “Which Bloomberg is running for president?”
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