Michael Bloomberg on Sunday reversed his longstanding support of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, a policy he embraced as New York’s mayor even though it disproportionately impacted people of color.
Addressing a black church in Brooklyn, Bloomberg said the practice often led to the disproportionate detaining of blacks and Latinos. He added that he “can’t change history” but now realizes “I was wrong.”
If anyone was wrongly stopped by police, “I apologize,” he said.
Bloomberg’s reversal is a notable recognition of the power and importance of black voters in the Democratic Party and the fact that his record on stop-and-frisk could be one of his biggest vulnerabilities should he launch a White House run.
The stop-and-frisk practice gave police wide authority to detain people they suspected of committing a crime. Bloomberg aggressively pursued the tactic when he first took over as mayor in 2002.
Under the program, New York City police officers made it a routine practice to stop and search multitudes of mostly black and Hispanic men to see if they were carrying weapons.
Police claimed that people were only targeted if officers had a reasonable suspicion that they were breaking the law.
“Over time I’ve come to understand something that I’ve long struggled to admit to myself. I got something important wrong. 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,” Bloomberg said Sunday.
Bloomberg told the congregation that he wants to earn back the trust of black and Latino communities.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made ending stop-and-frisk a centerpiece of his first run for office.
The mayor reacted to the apology on Twitter, calling the timing “transparent and cynical.”
“With all due respect to my predecessor, we’ve spent six years undoing the damage he created with this bankrupt policy. We ended stop and frisk AND drove down crime. Actions speak louder than words,” de Blasio said.
This is LONG overdue and the timing is transparent and cynical.
With all due respect to my predecessor, we’ve spent six years undoing the damage he created with this bankrupt policy. We ended stop and frisk AND drove down crime.
Actions speak louder than words. https://t.co/DiyhLP4Irg
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 17, 2019
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