Bloomberg sorry for 'stop and frisk' as he mulls presidential bid

Clay Curtis
November 18, 2019

Amid a possible presidential run, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 77, made a confounding concession on Sunday, reversing his longstanding support for the "stop-and-frisk" policy that became a controversial pillar of his 12-year run as mayor of NY. Under the policy, hundreds of thousands of people were stopped and searched by police without warrants, with the city's black and Latino population disproportionately targeted and the vast majority released without arrest.

"Over time I've come to understand something that I've long struggled to admit to myself", Bloomberg told congregants at the Christian Cultural Center in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. "I got something important really wrong".

"I now see that we could and should have acted sooner, and acted faster, to cut the stops", he said at a black megachurch in Brooklyn.

Bloomberg said during his past year in office stops fell by 94 percent and crime and continued to drop as it has under his successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Meanwhile, relations between police and communities of color were at a nadir.

"It is convenient that Bloomberg suddenly apologizes but has done nothing to undo the vast damage he has caused on countless lives", said activist DeRay Mckesson.

Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who would self-finance his presidential run, acknowledged on Sunday that the program had led to an "erosion of trust" and he hoped to "earn it back".

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Lynch was critical of Bloomberg's apology, indicating that the implementation of the aforementioned policy created a rift between police and the community that still exists today.

The self-made billionaire who served 12 years as NY mayor had long defended stop and frisk as an effective police tactic that saved lives, even after a federal judge in 2013 found it violated the rights of ethnic minorities. A total of 605,328, or 88%, of the people stopped were innocent, NYCLU data shows.

"I wish we had and I'm sorry that we didn't but I can't change history", he continued.

In January, he still argued that the policy he backed and expanded as mayor, helped reduce the murder rate in NY, although these claims were disputed by some NGOs like the Equal Justice Initiative fighting against mass incarceration.

Bloomberg's successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio made ending the practice a centerpiece of his first run for office. "And it still bothers me", he said.

"I think that's pretty important at a time when not just the party in some respects but the nation is deeply divided".

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