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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Michal Bloomberg Apologizes For Setting Up His Discriminatory Harassment Policy Known as "Stop and Frisk"

There is no chance that Mike Bloomberg will/could/would win the Presidency of the United States, in our opinion. 

Of course this is the same thing people said about Donald Trump before he was elected. But there is one big difference: Bloomberg openly showed his disdain for African Americans in his highly discriminatory policy called "Stop and frisk" in New York City when he was mayor.

I spoke with many African American professionals and non-professionals in the past several days (ergo, not a scientific study) and 100% told me they would NEVER vote for Bloomberg because of "Stop and frisk".

I do not think that Mike's apology in all the major media today, November 17, 2019, will help him.

Credit...Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
Michael Bloomberg Apologizes for Stop-and-Frisk: ‘I Was Wrong’
New York Times, November 17, 2019

Ahead of a possible Democratic run for president, the former mayor of New York City reversed himself before an important party constituency: black voters.

Ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York reversed his longstanding support of the aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy that he pursued for a decade and that led to the disproportionate stopping of black and Latino people across the city.

“I was wrong,” Mr. Bloomberg declared. “And I am sorry.”

The speech, Mr. Bloomberg’s first since he re-emerged as a possible presidential candidate, was a remarkable concession by a 77-year-old billionaire not known for self-doubt that a pillar of his 12-year mayoralty was a mistake that he now regrets.

Speaking before the congregation at the Christian Cultural Center, a black megachurch in Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomberg delivered his apology in the heart of one of the communities most impacted by his policing policies and at a location that nodded to the fact that should he decide to run, African-American voters are a crucial Democratic constituency that he will need to win over.

Until Sunday, Mr. Bloomberg had steadfastly — and his critics say stubbornly — defended stop-and-frisk, which gave New York police officers sweeping authority to stop and search anyone they suspected of a crime. Mr. Bloomberg stood behind the program even after a federal judge ruled in 2013 that it violated the constitutional rights of minorities and despite the fact that crime continued to drop even after the program was phased out in recent years.

Mr. Bloomberg’s policing record is seen as one of his biggest vulnerabilities in 2020, given that black voters have helped determine the winner in the last nomination contests, elevating Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Moments after services ended, Mr. Bloomberg called the Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil-rights leader who sparred with Mr. Bloomberg over stop-and-frisk during his mayoralty, to ask if he had watched his speech.

“You can’t expect people like us to forgive and forget after one speech,” Mr. Sharpton said he told Mr. Bloomberg, promising to hold him to the same standard as other politicians, such as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has walked back his past support for tough-on-crime drug legislation.

At the peak of stop-and-frisk, the racial disparities in its enforcement were jarring. Of 575,000 stops conducted in 2009, black and Latino people were nine times as likely as white people to be targeted by the police (even though, once stopped, they were no more likely to actually be arrested). In 2011, police stopped and questioned 684,330 New Yorkers; 87 percent of those stopped were black or Latino.

Proudly technocratic and data-driven, Mr. Bloomberg had long resisted what the numbers showed so starkly: Even as the stops were phased out toward the end of his administration and decreased sharply under his successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, crime rates continued to plunge new lows unseen since the 1950s.

“I now see that we should have acted sooner, and acted faster,” Mr. Bloomberg said on Sunday.

Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that the program had led to an “erosion of trust” and said that he hoped to “earn it back.”

“Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong,” he said. “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.”

After Mr. Bloomberg stepped down from the pulpit and returned to his seat in the front row, the church’s pastor, the Rev. A. R. Bernard, a longtime ally and former adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, shook the former mayor’s hand.

“Come on C.C.C., show some love and appreciation,” Rev. Bernard said, amid tepid applause.

For 2020, the critical question is whether Mr. Bloomberg’s reversal will be received in the black community as one of pure political expediency or genuine remorse.

“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, a racial justice activist and a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders in the presidential race, said on Twitter.

“You defended it for a whole generation,” he said. “Now you know you need Black votes and you have a change of heart.”

Mr. Bloomberg did not shy away from the fact that he was reconsidering his record in his last job as he eyed a potential new one. “In recent months, as I’ve thought about my future, I’ve been thinking more about my past — and coming to terms with where I came up short,” he said.

Mr. Bloomberg had consistently stood behind the program until now. “I think people, the voters, want low crime,” Mr. Bloomberg told The New York Times last year. “They don’t want kids to kill each other.”

In fact, Mr. Bloomberg had gone to this very same church, located in East New York, in 2012 to defend the stop-and-frisk program and answer mounting criticism around it.

“There is no doubt those stops have saved lives,” Mr. Bloomberg declared then. He tried to link the stops to a 34 percent crime rate drop at the time. “When you consider that 90 percent of all murder victims are black and Hispanic, there is no doubt most of those victims would have come from communities like this one,” he said then.

But on Sunday, he acknowledged that the community around the church had experienced the program very differently. The church is situated at the edge of the 75th Precinct in New York, which the New York Civil Liberties Union said led the city with 265,393 stops between 2003 and 2013.

“Our focus was on saving lives,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “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.”

The reversal on stop-and-frisk was the starkest in a series of steps that Mr. Bloomberg has taken in the last two weeks to lay the groundwork for entering the Democratic presidential primary, a step that appears increasingly imminent.

He has already filed to be on the primary ballot in two states, Arkansas and Alabama. His advisers have outlined a strategy that would circumvent the four states that vote first in the 2020 nomination contest in favor of the broader map on Super Tuesday, when he could leverage his personal fortune.

And he announced plans to spend $100 million on digital ads against President Trump in key general election battleground states, blunting criticism that he could spend his money better elsewhere. Those ads would not feature him, advisers said, and the spending would be in addition to what he might spend on his own candidacy.

Mr. Bloomberg played coy about his plans from the pulpit. “I don’t know what the future holds for me,” he said.

Credit...John Locher/Associated Press

Where Michael Bloomberg Stands on the Issues