Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is now apologizing for “stop-and-frisk,” an aggressive policing strategy he pursued for a decade that led to the disproportionate stopping of Black and Latino people across the city.
“I was wrong,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a speech before congregation at the Christian Cultural Center, a Black megachurch in Brooklyn. “And I am sorry.”
The shift in attitude toward stop-and-frisk comes after Bloomberg had reportedly been defending his record as mayor, including the controversial policy. The notion that it coincided with a fall in crime rates would later become obsolete as the phasing out of the policy happened at the end of his administration and the sharp decrease in crime would continue into his successor Bill de Blasio’s mayorship. “I now see that we should have acted sooner, and acted faster,” Bloomberg said on Sunday.
“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.”
The speech comes in the midst of Bloomberg mulling a run for president. The timing has some concerned, including Rev. Al Sharpton, who is accepting Bloomberg’s revolation over the policy, but wants his advocacy for people of color to go beyond a simple speech.
"As one who helped lead countless demonstrations, marches and rallies to amplify the racial impact that was had on the Black and Brown community from stop-and-frisk policing, I am glad to see Mr. Bloomberg now admit that the policy was wrong,” said Sharpton via a statement. “He called me after his speech and I communicated to him that it will take more than one speech for people to forgive and forget a policy that so negatively impacted entire communities.”
“However, I’m glad to see his position vocalized at a time when President Trump is calling for stop-and-frisk nationally and I’m glad this position is being taken by someone so identified with the policy,” he continued. “We will have to wait and see whether it was politically motivated but Mr. 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.”
At stop-and-frisk’s peak, the racial disparities in its enforcement were obvious and jarring. Of the 575,000 stops conducted by police in 2009, Black and Latino people were nine times as likely as white people to be targeted by the police.
In 2011, police officers stopped and question about 685,000 New Yorkers were stopped with 87 percent of those being Black or Latino.
Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images