Former New York mayor and current U.S. presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is being dragged after audio of him profiling people of color as criminals resurfaced on social media. The resurfaced audio sparked outrage and #BloombergIsRacist began trending on Twitter.
Bloomberg made the inflammatory comments about “stop-and-frisk” during a speech to the Aspen Institute in February 2015, according to The New York Post. The policy allowed police officers to stop citizens on the street if they believed there was probable cause for a search.
“Ninety-five percent of murders, murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg said. “They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed.”
The former mayor also justified placing more police officers in minority neighborhoods “because that’s where all the crime is.” He also credited “stop-and-frisk” for getting guns off the streets.
“And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them,” Bloomberg continued. “And then they start … ‘Oh, I don’t want to get caught,’ so they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.”
Shortly after the speech, Bloomberg’s team tried to block the audio from being released by Aspen Institute, as reported by Aspen Times.
News regarding Bloomberg brought on the hashtag and a flurry of public comments. “Wake up and see #BloombergIsRacist trending. Thank goodness people on Twitter are not as dumb as the supposly smart people on CNN & MSNBC,” wrote one critic. “By the way, Bloomberg is a sophisticated/well spoken version of Trump. They are freaking the same!”
“Jesus Christ! Of course #BloombergIsRacist. Always has been, so why is this trending now?” wrote another.
“Billions of dollars and he still can’t have common sense or decency,” said another. “Is it really shocking that this Oligarch is racist and sexist.”
Several users reposted a video an interview Bloomberg did in 2013. Once again, he defended “stop-and-frisk” and refuted the media’s argument against the policy.
“One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying ‘oh it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be, but it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the [crime],” he stated.
Bloomberg added, “In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying.”
In 2009, Black and Latinx people were nine times more likely to be stopped than white people, according to The New York Times. A couple years later, in 2011, Black and Latinx people made up 87 percent of stops.
The billionaire tried to repair his image before he announced his plan to run for president on Nov. 24. A week before the announcement, he apologized for the policy in front of a congregation at a predominately Black church.
“I now see that we could and should have acted sooner, and acted faster, to cut the stops,” he said. “I wish we had, and I’m sorry that we didn’t. However, today I want you to know that I realized back then that I was wrong and I’m sorry.”
It remains to be seen how this will affect his already testy relationship with Black voters. On Monday, Quinnipiac University released a poll placing Bloomberg in second place among Black voters. However, the sample size only consisted of 665 Democrats and left-leaning independents.