UPDATED: 12:12 p.m. ET —
The backlash over a recently resurfaced audio clip of Michael Bloomberg defending the unconstitutional policing practice of stop-and-frisk prompted the presidential candidate’s critics to speak out. One of those voices of dissent was President Donald Trump, who reacted by, of course, tweeting — and then deleting — a post calling Bloomberg “A TOTAL RACIST” for the 2015 comments that included his preferences for how to police “minority neighborhoods.”
The audio surfaced on social media hours after a new poll showed Bloomberg surging with Black voters and hours ahead of the start of the New Hampshire primary.
Trump probably deleted the tweet because, like Bloomberg, he, too, has been called racist and is also on the record as also defending stop-and-frisk and.
Bloomberg emailed a statement to the media to try and further distance himself from the racially profiling policing tactic that he has defended as recently as last year. The statement also responded to Trump’s tweet.
“President Trump’s deleted tweet is the latest example of his endless efforts to divide Americans. I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused,” the statement said. “By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95%, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities.”
Referencing President Barack Obama, Bloomberg’s statement said his speech to the Aspen Institute was not consistent with his current personal beliefs and that those comments “do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.”
Michael Bloomberg’s surging support with Black voters has been decidedly tempered by the resurfacing of racist audio from a speech he gave five years ago that provided the latest glimpse into his line of thinking about how he has viewed Black and brown people in America. The audio surfaced on social media hours after a new poll showed the former New York City mayor was polling in a close second place to Joe Biden, whose support from Black voters has been diminished in recent weeks after enjoying a commanding lead over the field of Democratic presidential candidates.
It also was posted hours before the New Hampshire primary opened on Tuesday morning.
The edited, minute-long clip from a speech Bloomberg gave to the Aspen Institute in 2015 echoed his other previous defenses of “stop and frisk,” an unconstitutional policing tactic that disproportionately targeted Black and brown people — a policy for which he is widely credited with being the architect and chief enforcer during his three terms leading New York City. On the clip, which undoubtedly was uploaded and circulated online by some of Bloomberg’s political rivals, features Bloomberg espousing some damningly racist rhetoric about how he identifies criminals.
“Ninety-five percent of murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg can be heard saying in his unmistakable and signature nasal tone. “They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed.”
To be clear, stop-and-frisk has had a damaging legacy that continues unchecked to this day and has been touted by President Donald Trump as something police officers should do more of. With that as the underlying context, Bloomberg continued with his speech.
He went on in the same speech to say cities much “spend the money to put a lot of cops on the streets.” Put those cops where the crime is, which means minority neighborhoods. Bloomberg then defended “arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.”
The audio went viral hours after a new Quinnipiac poll released Monday revealed that Bloomberg was only trailing Biden by a few percentage points in the race to secure the Black vote. The poll showed Biden with 27 percent of the Black vote and Bloomberg trailing him with 25 percent. That was better than Bernie Sanders‘ 19 percent and significantly higher than the next candidate, Elizabeth Warren, who was polling at just 8 percent.
The former Republican entered the presidential race in November 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 last year. That is, until he declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Ever since, the billionaire who made his fortune from his eponymous media ventures has been on an apology tour of sorts, saying how wrong he was for instituting a practice that the Supreme Court ruled violated the constitution.
Bloomberg now says that he realizes the error of his ways and admits that stop-and-frisk was fueled by implicit biases. But just last month Bloomberg all but shrugged while openly admitting he was clueless about whether he thought the NYPD acted in good faith when they arrested the Central Park 5, the group of Black and brown teens more appropriately known as The Exonerated 5 who were falsely accused and imprisoned between five and 12 years stemming from allegations of raping a white woman in the 1980s.
In December, Bloomberg was called out for labeling then-fellow Democratic candidate Cory Booker as “well-spoken,” which is a common dog whistle of a racist trope. Bloomberg received instant backlash for that comment. Prior to that, Bloomberg lied that “no one asked” him about stop and frisk until he was running for president.
In 2013, Bloomberg slammed a judge’s decision to appoint a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. ““There is just no question that stop-question-frisk has saved countless lives,” Bloomberg said at the time. “And we know that most of the lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men.”
That was far from Bloomberg’s only defense of stop-and-frisk.
In 2012, Bloomberg contradicted his words from the 2015 speech when he told a predominately Black church in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn that NYPD “officers make stops in Brownsville and East New York not because of race — it is because of crime.”
As of early Tuesday morning, neither Bloomberg nor his campaign had commented about the resurfaced audio from that speech. According to a new CNN poll, Bloomberg was not registering any support in New Hampshire.
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