WASHINGTON — 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 late last year with an apology for his support for the policy.
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 impact of stop-and-frisk on minorities. Bloomberg says that “95 per cent” 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.”
He acknowledges focusing police forces in minority neighbourhoods means minorities are disproportionately arrested for marijuana 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.
According to a report in the Aspen Times that year, Bloomberg blocked the release of video of the Aspen Institute appearance, but the Aspen Times reporter uploaded what appears to be the full audio online, and it drew renewed attention Monday after podcaster Benjamin Dixon circulated it on twitter.
Early Tuesday, Bloomberg faced sharp criticism. Symone Sanders, a top adviser to Joe Biden’s campaign, called the comments “sad and despicable,” and said he “will have to answer for these comments.” President Donald Trump, who himself has supported stop-and-frisk policies, sent out a tweet with a clip of the audio declaring “Bloomberg’s a racist,” which he soon after deleted.
The Bloomberg campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.