Michael Bloomberg has walked back his support of the controversial stop-and-frisk police strategy.
While addressing a mostly black crowd at a Brooklyn church, Bloomberg backed away from the policy that he supported during his time as New York City's mayor. Although he knows that he "can’t change history," he told the congregation that his stance in favor of stop-and-frisk was wrong.
"Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong," Bloomberg said. "I got something important really wrong. I didn’t understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know: Good intentions aren’t good enough."
The stop-question-and-frisk program is described by the Cornell Legal Institute as a brief non-intrusive police stop of a suspect. Many argue that this is a violation of the fourth amendment because these stops are done without reasonable suspicion of a crime.
The program also disproportionally targeted Latinx and black communities. At the peak of stop-and-frisk they were nine times more likely to be targeted by the police than white people, according to the New York Times. Also, 87 percent of the stop-and-frisk searches in 2011 were done to black or Latinx New Yorkers.
Despite having a data-driven political career, Bloomberg pushed back against these numbers and anyone that opposed stop-and-frisk during his mayoral career. He seemed to suggest that the numbers were justified due to the murders New York City experienced early in his tenure.
"New York City had 650 murders a year when I came into office, and the toll fell heaviest on black and Hispanic young men," Bloomberg said to Politico. "We were determined to do everything possible to stop gun violence, both by taking guns off the street and by taking on the NRA—when few other elected officials were willing to do that."
He now admits that this caused an "erosion of trust" with his black and Latino constituents. "I now see that we should have acted sooner, and acted faster," Bloomberg said after apologizing to the Chuch attendees.
This apology comes ahead of Bloomberg's potential presidential bid. He filed for the presidential primary in Alabama earlier this month. A political advisor told the local CBS affiliate that the flooded Democratic field left Bloomberg thinking that the party "needs another alternative."