Mike Bloomberg is under fire for resurfaced comments in which he says the way to bring down murder rates is to “put a lot of cops” in minority neighbourhoods because that’s where “all the crime is”.
The billionaire and former New York mayor made the comments at a 2015 appearance at the Aspen Institute, as part of an overall defence of his support for the controversial “stop and frisk” policing tactic that has been found to disproportionately affect minorities.
Bloomberg launched his Democratic presidential bid in the United States late last year with an apology for his support for the policy. On Tuesday, after the comments resurfaced, he reiterated his apology and said his 2015 remarks “do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity”.
But the audio of his Aspen speech highlights his embrace of the policy just a few years ago, and suggests he was aware of the disproportionate effects of stop and frisk on minorities. Bloomberg says in the audio that “95 percent” of murders and murder victims are young male minorities and that “you can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops”. To combat crime, he says, “put a lot of cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighbourhoods”.
In the audio, he acknowledges that focusing police forces in minority neighbourhoods means minorities are disproportionately arrested for cannabis possession, but dismisses that as a necessary consequence of the crime in those neighbourhoods. And to “get the guns out of the kids’ hands”, Bloomberg says, police must “throw ’em against the wall and frisk ’em”.
“And they say, ‘Oh, I don’t want that, I don’t wanna get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun,” he says.