Michael Bloomberg Apologizes for “Stop and Frisk” Just a Few Months After Defending It

“I got something important wrong.”

Thibault Camus/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Since leaving office in 2013, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has consistently backed his police department’s “stop and frisk” program in which black and Latino people were nine times more likely to be stopped by police than white people, all in an effort to reduce crime. 

As recently as January of this year, Bloomberg defended the policy, saying it succeeded in decreasing the city’s murder rate. But on Sunday, Bloomberg, who filed paperwork for two primaries in a possible bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last week, started his apology tour of sorts, telling a crowd of black churchgoers that he was “wrong” about stop and frisk. 

“Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong,” he said in a speech at a black megachurch in Brooklyn, apparently in an effort to marshal black voter support. “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.”

A federal judge in 2013 deemed the New York police department’s use of stop and frisk starting in 2005 unconstitutional. Research shows that the policy was largely ineffective as a crime reduction strategy.

Bloomberg’s apology also distances him from the president, who has praised stop and frisk policies for reducing crime and called on Chicago police to adopt the practice to stem the tide of gun violence there. Bloomberg’s turnabout at this megachurch speaks to the political nature of the apology: In 2012, he defended “stop and frisk” in the same church, the New York Times pointed out.

Some critics pointed out that “sorry” from Bloomberg simply wasn’t enough. 

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.