Bloomberg’s Aspen “Stop And Frisk” Defense Deals Damage

Michael Bloomberg.

NPR reports and Coloradans are obliged to take note of newly unearthed audio of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, speaking in 2015 at the Aspen Institute in defense of arguably his most controversial legacy: the “stop and frisk” policy employed by New York City police that greatly expanded under then-Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, and from which Bloomberg has backed away and apologized as he runs for president today.

Back in 2015, however, Bloomberg sang a very different tune about “stop and frisk,” at least within the glitzy and cozy confines of Aspen, Colorado:

Bloomberg made the remarks at the Aspen Institute on Feb. 5, 2015. In the audio, he can be heard saying: “95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.” [Pols emphasis]

He continues: “That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city in America. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed.”

Bloomberg’s idea of a solution? Flooding minority neighborhoods with law enforcement.

“People say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana who are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why’d we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you should get the guns out of the kids’ hands is throw them against the wall and frisk them,” Bloomberg says.

It’s not like the “stop and frisk” policy is unknown to Democratic primary voters, but Bloomberg’s factually challenged defense of the policy you can read above–the percentage of murders and murderers in America who are “male minorities” is nowhere near 95%–runs starkly counter to the distancing from “stop and frisk” Bloomberg has attempted since entering the presidential race. Today, Bloomberg claims credit for reducing the use of the policy, even though it was during his administration that “stop and frisk” grew to hundreds of thousands of incidents each year, dwarfing its use during his predecessor Rudy Giuliani’s administration. The numbers we’ve seen on the effectiveness on the policy indicate that between 70-90% of the persons who were stopped and frisked were found to be entirely innocent.

Although Bloomberg’s staff reportedly prevailed upon the Aspen Institute to withhold release of the video of these remarks, the conservative Daily Caller posted audio shortly after the event in February of 2015. The Aspen Times also reported on the controversy at that time, but it wasn’t until these publicly Googleable stories were recirculated by a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the last few days that it’s blown up into a controversy.

Regardless of how these remarks came back into circulation it’s definitely a problem for Bloomberg, since it both contradicts Bloomberg’s newfound contrition over “stop and frisk” and paints Bloomberg as exactly the kind of rich white elitist he needs to convince Democratic primary voters he is not. We’re not sure what Bloomberg could have done to blunt the inevitable re-upping of this easily-located material, but it’s pretty clear the “that was the old me” line isn’t going to work now.

Money can buy you love, but it can’t make your own words go away.

36 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    $90 million ad buy in the Super Tuesday states. That's a bit sickening, but hey, at least he isn't spending his money on handjobs from underage trafficked girls, a la Robert Kraft (so far as we know).

    In any event, these disturbing and quite recent recent comments thoroughly clown his campaign. The blatant lies in his non-apology apology tweet don't help either. Happy trails, Mike.

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    If we let this bazillionaire sonofabitch take over the Democratic Party like Trump took over the GOP, America is doomed.

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    The problem for Bernie is Jane.  Republicans are keeping that can of worms ready for the general.  Jane is to Bernie as Bill was to Hillary.  Jane's supposed hijinks are going to get a lot of air time.

    • MattC says:


      Was she an illegal immigrant who came to the US on a tourist visa- overstayed and started working as an underwear model while haveing an adulterous affair with a rich guy who bought her anchor citizenship?

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        As a college administrator, she basically took Burlington College into insolvency and walked away with a fat severance.  Nothing particularly illegal like Hillary's email server.  You can do a search on Jane Sanders and Burlington College.

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          Sounds like THE SYSTEM WAS RIGGED in Jane's favor.

        • kwtree says:

          Jane Sanders left Burlington College in 2011, after 7 successful years. The college closed in 2016. In between her tenure as President and the college’s closure, most of the board turned over, and three other Presidents came and went.

          Although the expansion of the college and purchase of Diocese land was originally Jane Sanders’ idea, along with the Board at the time, there were opportunities for a lot of folks to make the expansion work by increasing enrollment or getting donors over the next five years. . It can hardly all be deemed Jane Sanders’ fault. The Burlington Free Press has a solid series of articles on the topic, including the investigation that never interviewed Sanders and never filed any charges against her. 

          However,  Brady Toensing, a Republican attorney, GOP operative, and Trump supporter, has cobbled together this line of attack. You are repeating his attack line almost verbatim. Sure you want to do that?

          Will you be repeating the other canard that Sanders intentionally and personally exported Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor Latino community in Texas? That’s another real popular Republican line of attack you may enjoy repeating. Also baseless, but truth doesn’t matter much, apparently.  Vermont, and 3 other states, struggled for years to find a place to store nuclear waste, and  finally ended up shipping their nuclear waste to a very secure disposal facility in Texas. Jane Sanders got a small stipend for being on the board that oversaw that disposal. 

          • RepealAndReplace says:

            I hadn't heard about the sending of the nuclear waste to the Latino community in Texas. Thanks for sharing…..

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            Thanks for the clarification kwtree.  I do appreciate it.  Can we hope that the Republicans will ignore this matter and concentrate on their policy differences with Senator Sanders?

            • kwtree says:

              You’re joking, right?
              Probably not. Democrats care about policies – Republicans (and some moderate Democrats) care about personalities and branding.

              • Gilpin Guy says:

                Of course I'm joking.  The whole point was to highlight that this "scandal" is going to be unleashed if Senator Sanders gets the nomination.  Glad you are on it because we will all have to go to bat for him when it the Russian bots explode it all over the Internet.

                • RepealAndReplace says:

                  The Jane stuff is small potatoes compared to the really good stuff they have on him.

                  The honeymoon pictures from Red Square will go over well.

                  Or the way he used to live back in his activist days when he had no working utilities in his house and ran extension cords from his neighbor's home.

                  There are his fawning remarks about the Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul, not Julian and Joachim) – there goes Florida's 29 electoral votes.

          • MADCO says:

            "… truth doesn’t matter much…"  at all.

            It's not about what's true – it's about how and why people (vote) believe anything.  

  4. Gilpin Guy says:

    I'd vote for Bloomberg in a heartbeat in a general against Trump.  Too bad he is a rich sonofabunny.  At least he earned it.  Trump can't say that.

  5. Pseudonymous says:

    I feel like we're heading in a particular direction with these…

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      What direction is that?  What else is he guilty of?

      • Mr. L. Prosser says:

        Whether you want to admit it or not the USA is a racist country and stop-and-frisk or redlining is not going to play too loud in the "heartland." What will play if Bloomberg in the candidate is he will appear as a sane, male, straight and middle of the road counter to the president*. I wouldn't be surprised if he won the nomination he'd pick Klobuchar as VP.

        • DENependent says:

          Do you think Republicans won’t be happy to point this out in the cities through sock puppets or hint broadly that they’d like to see some press about this? Depressing the urban-liberal vote in swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida lets the conservative parts of those states to dominate.

          And why would these male, straight, middle of the road voters choose a mild stop and frisk guy like Bloomberg over a real “no-nonsense, crack some heads, lock up the Central Park Five” Republican?

          Bloomberg is the “New Coke” of candidates. The assumption of the ad executives is that to defeat Pepsi the problem is that Coke needs to be more like Pepsi so they change it. They lose the people who like their brand while not gaining anyone who’s loyal to the other guys.

          • Mr. L. Prosser says:

            I would posit that Bloomberg will play he really is Coke and everyone else is the new stuff . I'm sure he has already thought about his past record and can hire enough flacks to get him over it as well as really get the MSM on his side. Your "no-nonsense" voters aren't going for any D so ef 'em. No one who has come out of the primaries is an idol to minority voters except maybe Biden and if that's his only advantage he won't make it.

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          I think it will be Bloomberg/Klobuchar, and I would like that ticket. Or Bloomberg/Harris would be fine, too.

  6. Diogenesdemar says:

    Why is it the Democratic Party is the one that always, always attracts these billionaire (nee Republican, nee Independent) saviors??? …

    Did someone tape a “Kick me!” sign on the back of this Party?

    If Mayor Racist wants to take on President Racist, why the hell not just do it head on in the Racistiest Party???

  7. JohnInDenver says:

    Can we wait just a bit on Bloomberg?  Last I looked, he was one poll short of even getting on the debate stage (10% nationally or 12% in Nevada & South Carolina where he is not running ads).

    And when Colorado and 12 or 13 other jurisdictions finish voting on March 3 and get results out on March 4, we'll know something about whether a Max Headroom candidacy is working. 

    We will have some actually information on the amount of support he's able to garner in the somewhat crowded and confused "pragmatic progessive" lane of the selection process. Bloomberg's money clearly is an advantage.  Biden & Klobuchar have experience. Buttigieg has some money – more than Biden, less than Bloomberg – and probably a better ground game than the others.  If all 4 remain plausible, the plurality of support will likely go to Sanders.

  8. itlduso says:

    A Michael Bloomberg ad penetrated my normal ad blocking (since I watch most shows on delay).  I noticed that he uses about 50 versions of "I" or "me" in a 60 second ad.  I've always been impressed with Barack Obama who goes great lengths to avoid using "I" and instead, referred to "we" and "us". 

    I guess that's what happens when Bloomberg self finances his campaign.  It won't be a grassroots movement, or any kind of movement.  Just another observation of the crazy times we're experiencing.

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