This week, once again would-be Democratic presidential nominee Michael Bloomberg is in damage control mode as he desperately walks back his 2015 declaration about his controversial stop and frisk policy which he implemented as New York mayor from 2002-2013. Print, network, cable and social media news cycles are in frenzied overdrive covering the fallout.
Decimated, devastated families impacted by Bloomberg’s allegedly discriminatory 12-year-long stop and frisk policy are not healed by a protracted presidential campaigning apology, say grassroot activists such as Erica Ford and Tamika Mallory.
Ford, the founder of community
advocating Lifecamp Inc., said, “The impact of trauma historically and generationally is sometimes unfixable, and so if you don’t understand the devastation of his
policies on Black men and Black boys…it changed their lives, they were harassed, they were subjected to militarized policing in the streets and in their homes every day. They were jailed, their families were destroyed, parents lost their jobs and marriages were disrupted.”
“Black people should avoid Bloomberg like the plague,” Assemblyman Charles Barron stated. “He still believes in stop and frisk. He said that Black and Latino mothers didn’t understand or know how to educate their children. These are some of the insults he threw at us. But, with him there was so much more under Bloomberg—the poverty rate went up, the crime rate went up, stop and frisk went up. He hammered public education. He tried to give us the unqualified Cathy Black as schools chancellor. We had to run her out of town. He’s not interested in learning, he’s trying to buy the presidency like he bought the mayoralty. But, America is fickle. If they can elect Donald Trump, anything is possible.”
According to FBI data, Black men committed 36% of murders and were 52% of murder victims in 2015 in the United States, a far cry from the “95%” former New York City mayor turned presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said in a recently surfaced recording.
“You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed,” Bloomberg said in 2015. “You want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets, put the cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. Ninety-five percent of your murders—murderers and murder victims—fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city.”
Reports indicate the infamous audio clip is from a speech Bloomberg made at an event with the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit think tank. The clip was released this week by Black podcaster Benjamin Dixon on the segment “Bloomberg’s Racist, Classist Past” about the once Republican and Independent mayor turned Democratic presidential candidate.
“This is fundamentally a conservative worldview that has been damaging,” Dixon said. “We’re not just talking about young men getting arrested who should not have been arrested. We’re talking about young men getting killed by the police because of the encounters this mentality creates.”
Bloomberg’s campaign referred the AmNews to a statement Bloomberg released this week saying that he is not a racist.
“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,” he said. “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.”
There is a well-known saying across the diaspora, “He who feels it, knows it.” So the Black and Brown community in the New York area know by direct experience or being adjacent to the urban tales the sheer everyday terror the NYPD enacting stop and frisk instilled in those deliberately targeted communities.
Seeing grown men being thrown up against a wall, or young teen or adult males having their pants being rummaged through by plain clothed or uniformed law enforcement still is not uncommon in inner city areas. That is stop and frisk. Despite the alleged 2014 City Council victory against the policy, and current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s platitudes of being against it, recent reports state that the numbers are up by over 20%.
Everyone wants to live in a safe environment, but targeting close to 700,000 (88% of whom were innocent) men and boys as Bloomberg’s policy did in 2011, means that not only does the policy not work, but it adds to the deep-seated mistrust between cops and the community.
Ford noted that victims of the pervasive stop and frisk in Bloomberg’s era “didn’t get the resources to deal with that trauma, so Bloomberg running for the presidency, while not transforming himself, is not a good sign for Black and Brown people. It would be different if Bloomberg stepped into the equation and said, ‘I repent for my sins from yesterday, that I realize that the actions and policies that I put into place were dehumanizing to people and caused harm and I want to repair the damage.’”
Going to the churches and apologizing before he announced his run for president is not even close to a start, said Ford. “The churches don’t work on the frontline to reduce violence or help people heal who were impacted by the violence of his policies.”
Bloomberg’s campaign also referred the AmNews to the meeting he held this week with 20 African American leaders within the faith community to discuss the campaign’s faith outreach program led by the Rev. Alisha Gordon. The meeting included megachurch pastors the Rev. Dr. A.R. Bernard of Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center and the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church.
“To be clear: None of us believe that Mike Bloomberg is a racist. Actions speak louder than words, and Mike has a long record of fighting for equality, civil rights, and criminal justice reform,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
Bloomberg also received endorsements from Black congressional members Reps. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands and Lucy McBath of Georgia, whose son was murdered in 2012 by a white man at a gas station over loud music. Bloomberg also landed the endorsement of Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks, who was named co-chair of the Mike for Black America National Leadership Council.
Ford insisted that his present cheerleaders do not “interface with the people who suffered from his deadly policies. This is not a game. He destroyed people’s lives with his policies.”
As she visited halfway houses in Connecticut, as part of her extensive grassroots work, activist Tamika Mallory stated on social media, “I will do everything I can to protect you, but I need you to understand there is danger in our midst. I know FIRST HAND because I met with Michael Bloomberg and asked him to support violence intervention programs, he has never been big on investing in our communities. He told me to my face there was no data to support that investing in organizations that work with at risk people would help to reduce violence. He said he believes in policy. That means passing laws that criminalize people. Stop&Frisk is just ONE of the racist policies of the Bloomberg era. And yes, people who are familiar to you will support him, but I’m talking to YOU, the impacted. Sure, there is an element among us that believes what he’s saying about YOU to be true. Reject that. Notice he doesn’t just say search young black men. He says ‘THROW them against the wall.’ It’s violent and that’s what they did to THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT MEN AND CHILDREN. They used fear instead of resources and good schools and jobs and programs. And guess what, they weren’t finding guns on the overwhelming majority of search victims. I need you to get ORGANIZED. We have to do the work. There is danger in our midst. Please listen to your sister. Do not sit back and watch from the sidelines. Get in the game.”
“I want him not to run,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. He slammed Bloomberg’s record on housing, policing, and vetoing policies designed to redress imbalances affecting the Black and Brown communities.
“The things he’s talking about now he had 12 years to talk about as mayor, 10 years after that. Where was this? If he wants to do all these things, he can be philanthropic. He said he can’t be bought—that’s because he is doing the buying,” Williams said during an MSNBC interview featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Spending a reported million dollars a day on Facebook ads, and $350 million on broadcast ads, Bloomberg, a late, late entry to the Democratic field of competing candidates, is criss-crossing the nation trying to convince potential voters that he can defeat Trump. The Center for Urban and Racial Equity announced Wednesday that they gave Bloomberg an “F” grade.
The Center stated, “During his tenure, stop and frisk police stops exploded, with police making over 5 million stops of mostly Black and Latino men and boys during Bloomberg’s three terms as mayor.”