Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday said his 2015 comments about the controversial stop and frisk policing policy do not reflect the way he thinks or the way he led as mayor of New York City.
Earlier this week, audio surfaced where Bloomberg is heard describing the policy as a way to reduce violence by throwing minority kids “up against the walls and frisk them.” Bloomberg, in the audio, also claims that “95%” of “murders and murderers and murder victims” are male minorities between the ages of 16 to 25.
Stop and frisk is a type of aggressive policing that allowed — some say encouraged — officers to detain a person on virtually any type of vague suspicion, search that individual without a warrant and arrest the person if any kind of illegal substance or weapon was found. Critics have slammed the measure as racist because it overwhelmingly impacts men of color.
At an event in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Wednesday, a reporter asked Bloomberg, “Why did you say what you said in that 2015 speech?”
Bloomberg responded, “I don’t think those words reflect what, how I led the most diverse city in the nation. And I apologized for the practice and the pain that it caused.”
The reporter followed up and asked, “But why did you say it?”
“It was five years ago,” Bloomberg responded. “And, you know, it’s just not the way that I think and it … doesn’t reflect what I do every day. I led the most populous, largest city in the United States and got reelected three times, the public seemed to like what I do.”
A snippet of the 2015 audio, which was reportedly from a 2015 speech in Colorado, was originally posted to Twitter on Monday by writer and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter Benjamin Dixon, who went after Bloomberg and called the former mayor racist and classist.
After his comments surfaced earlier this week, Bloomberg put out a statement saying he has apologized for his support of the policing practice, but did not apologize for his specific comments.
“I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused. 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,” his statement reads.