This is probably the biggest sign yet that Michael Bloomberg is serious about running for the presidency. In a “highly emotional” speech before a predominantly African-American audience at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn this weekend, the former mayor actually apologized for one of his greatest achievements while running the Big Apple from 2002 until 2013. He told the assembled group that he was very sorry for the aggressive law enforcement tactics that had kept the city far safer than it was in the bad old days. The so-called “stop and frisk” practices were, according to Bloomberg, responsible for a “toxic impact” on minority communities. (NY Post)
Michael Bloomberg, preparing to jump in the race for president, apologized Sunday for the NYPD’s aggressive stop and frisk of young minority men while he was mayor.
Bloomberg dropped the mea culpa during a speech in the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, a church with a predominately black congregation.
“I got something important wrong. I got something really important wrong… stops on the black and Latino community,” an emotional Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg blamed his “preoccupation with driving down crime” for the stop and frisk policy. He then proudly pointed out that he’d seen the error of his ways by his final year in office and such incidents dropped off dramatically. He also claimed that crime continued to drop after those policies were scaled back.
Hoo, boy. Where to even start with all of this? First of all, having a “preoccupation with driving down crime” isn’t something a mayor should be apologizing for. It’s sort of in their job description. If you’re not preoccupied with that you shouldn’t be running for office.
It’s also worth noting the direct impact that Bloomberg’s policies had on violent crime. Murders in New York City reached their peak in 1993 under the leadership of Democratic Mayor David Dinkins. There were a staggering 2,420 homicides that year. Then Rudy Giuliani took over and implemented the strict “broken windows” policies that receive so much criticism from liberals, including stop and frisk. By the time Rudy left office in 2001, the number of murders had been cut to 960 and all other violent crime was down across the board.
Bloomberg came into office promising to continue this trend and he did so. He maintained Giuliani’s policing policies and by the time he was done in 2013, the murder count was down to 644. Incidents of forcible rape were down to 2,575 from the more than 5,000 such attacks in 1993. To call that a failure in any regard is simply insane.
Bloomberg was also not being entirely honest about how crime “continued to fall” under his successor, Bill de Blasio. It’s true that the NYPD has managed to keep the murder rate down in an admirable fashion. But while actual homicides remained down, the total number of shootings this year has risen by more than seven percent, with more than half of those being classified as “gang-related.” Property crimes were up as well, not to mention the countless cases of abuse of police officers in broad daylight.
The reason Bloomberg is offering this mea culpa is obvious. The base wants to hear about less policing, not more. That’s basically what appears to have sunk Kamala Harris’ campaign hopes. So anyone “guilty” of aggressive, successful policing and prosecution of criminals needs to walk that record back pronto. Is this apology going to make the sale with voters? I’d be shocked if it does.