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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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