Revising history (read: lying) is nothing new for presidential candidates, but the most recent entrant into the sweepstakes to be the Democratic nominee for president may have reached a new low on Friday.
Michael Bloomberg, a purported Democrat who is also the former mayor of New York City and widely credited with being the architect and chief enforcer of “stop and frisk,” feigned his ignorance on live TV about the very real outrage over the racist and unconstitutional policing tactic of profiling “suspects” based on the color of their skin.
The former Republican entered the presidential race last week to little fanfare, especially among Black and brown New Yorkers who were victimized by the racist policing policies he championed and continued to defend as recently as this year. That is, until he declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Now, all of a sudden, the billionaire who made his fortune from his eponymous media ventures is on an apology tour, saying how wrong he was for instituting a practice that the Supreme Court ruled violated the constitution.
Bloomberg continued that apology tour Friday morning during an appearance on Good Morning America, where he was interviewed by the venerable Gayle King, who’s been on a hot streak of major Q&As with big names in the news. King made sure to ask Bloomberg about “stop and frisk” and the timing behind his recent realization that he was wrong about the policy rule.
“Some people are suspicious of the timing of your apology,” King said to Bloomberg.
“Well, nobody asked me about it until I started running for president so, come on,” Bloomberg lied through his teeth.
King gave Bloomberg another chance to explain himself, but he — who, at points, sure seemed like he was defending “stop and frisk” again — came across as annoyed at the line of questioning before offering yet another hollow apology and trying to deflect.
“Looking back, made a mistake, I’m sorry, I apologize,” he said devoid of any emotion and empathy for those who have been hurt and affected by “stop and frisk.” He continued: “Let’s go fight the NRA and find other ways to stop the murders and incarceration. Those are things that I’m committed to. And the more I do that the better off everybody is.”
To be clear, there was plenty of vocal dissatisfaction with and questions for Bloomberg about the “stop and frisk” policy from the moment it was instituted. Local civil rights leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network have faithfully spoken out about “stop and frisk” for years — well before the rumors that Bloomberg would run for president became a reality.
In June of 2012, the New York Times reported that “several thousand demonstrators conducted a silent march on Sunday down Fifth Avenue to protest the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policies, which the organizers say single out minority groups and create an atmosphere of martial law for the city’s black and Latino residents.” In that same article, the Times wrote that “Bloomberg has argued that stop-and-frisk gets guns off the street and reduces crime,” further proof the mayor at the time was asked about the policy.
The next month, Bloomberg tried — and failed — to put the ACLU on blast over the civil rights organization’s criticism of “stop and frisk” as being “dangerously wrong” and “no better than the NRA.”
One year later, Bloomberg himself wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in response to “stop and frisk” critics — the same criticism he said Friday morning he was “never asked about” until he ran for president.
At the time that Bloomberg made his candidacy official, Sharpton said that “it will take more than one speech for people to forgive and forget a policy that so negatively impacted entire communities.” Sharpton added that “Bloomberg should be judged by the same standards we judged Joe Biden, the author of the 1994 Crime Bill that led to disproportionate numbers of Black and Brown men going to jail for years, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted for it.”