Bloomberg Claims “Nobody Asked” Him About Stop and Frisk Until He Ran for President. That’s a Lie.

The controversial policy came to define his legacy as New York City’s mayor.

Suzi Altman/ZUMA

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Last month, just one week before officially adding his name to the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates, Mike Bloomberg apologized for his longstanding support for the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” program, a policing practice that overwhelmingly targeted black and Latino people and that increased sevenfold during his tenure as the city’s mayor.

“I was wrong and I’m sorry,” Bloomberg said in a speech to a black megachurch in Brooklyn. 

But when asked about the timing of his recent and sudden show of contrition during a Friday appearance on CBS This Morning with Gayle King, Bloomberg appeared somewhat impatient. “Well, nobody asked me about it till I started running for president,” he complained. “So, c’mon.”

That claim, however, is simply not true. The billionaire was regularly called to defend the program as mayor, and has been asked about the program many times since leaving office in 2013. In each instance, even as recently as January of this year, Bloomberg staunchly defended the program. “We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system,” Bloomberg said while taking questions at the United States Naval Academy’s annual leadership conference in January. “The result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year.”

Bloomberg’s defenses as mayor were even more full-throated. After a federal court found the program was unconstitutional in 2013, he assailed the ruling at a press conference: “This is a dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works.”

Friday’s interview, which came shortly after his campaign released a typo-ridden criminal justice reform plan, is likely to fuel suspicions that Bloomberg isn’t serious about addressing elements of his record that trouble civil rights and police reform advocates.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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