Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched an aggressive campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee who will eventually challenge President Trump in November, but he has seen heavy criticism in the city due to the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” policy, which he supported while in office. But one former New Yorker, who was once wrongfully jailed because of police and prosecutorial railroading, is speaking out against him.
“We all might vote for a different candidate, but I’m sure [any other Democrat] will be better than Michael Bloomberg,” said Kevin Richardson. “Don’t let these ads get to you. Don’t be bamboozled by this. We know personally who Michael Bloomberg is, and I’m here to step forward and let you know it’s time to vote, it’s time for our voices to be heard.”
Richardson was one of four Black and Latino teens who were wrongfuly accused of raping a woman in New York City in 1989. He spoke at a protest outside the 2020 Democratic hopeful’s campaign office in Manhattan.
In 2003, Richardson, along with Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were cleared of attacking the jogger in Central Park and sued the city. Under Bloomberg, the lawsuit dragged out for more than a decade. In 2014, after current Mayor Bill De Blasio took office, the city settled for $41 million.
“It wasn’t about the lawsuit. It was about getting our life back,” Richardson said Thursday. “At the end of the day, no amount of money could equal what we endured.”
Bloomberg has spent more than $400 million in campaign ads, many of them show him with other African Americans, like former president Barack Obama. He has also garnered endorsements from prominent Black politicians like Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington D.C., and another former NYC mayor, David Dinkins.
But he also has been criticized for comments that recently surfaced where he apparently defended the discriminatory housing policy of redlining and seemed to blame minority mortgage seekers for the 2008 housing crisis.
At the Democratic primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday, Bloomberg reiterated his admission that his support for the “Stop and Frisk” policy was wrong and that he apologized for it.
“We let it get out of control and when I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent,” he said. “And I've apologized and asked for forgiveness. I've met with Black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.”
He will not appear on the South Carolina primary ballot on Saturday, as his campaign is focused on Super Tuesday, March 3.