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.