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If Mike Bloomberg jumped off a cliff, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser would follow right behind.
Bowser went on CNN last night and regurgitated Bloomberg’s misleading talking points in defending his use of the controversial and unconstitutional stop and frisk policing tactic, which should come as a surprise to no one.
A 2015 recording of Bloomberg resurfaced recently in which he said that as mayor of New York City, “we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods, yes, that’s true. Why’d we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the ways you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk ’em.”
Asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett whether Bloomberg’s statements made the D.C. mayor “wince,” Bowser parroted a statement Bloomberg’s campaign released the day before.
“What you heard from Mike loud and clear is that the policies that he inherited related to stop and frisk went on too long in New York City, and they disproportionately impacted black and brown communities,” said Bowser, who is serving as Bloomberg’s national campaign co-chair. “And Mike has expressed his mistake in not stopping it sooner.”
Burnett pressed further, asking Bowser if she believed Bloomberg’s apology, given his defense of the tactic up until the time he announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Again, Bowser stuck to Bloomberg’s explanation before pivoting to talking about her friend’s more positive qualities.
“Well I know that before he left office the practice was stopped in New York City, and 95 percent of those types of stops stopped before he left office,” Bowser said. “And I know that he wished in leaving office that he expressed what he found before he left and how he fixed it. More than that, I know that the story in how he also invested in young men of color needs to be explained as well.”
But Burnett still wasn’t done. She played another snippet of the 2015 audio in which Bloomberg said “95 percent of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one MO. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minority, 16 to 25.”
And what did the D.C. mayor think of that?
“We all agree that the practice of stop and frisk was overused in New York City, and it stopped at the end of Mike’s term,” Bowser said, gearing up for another obvious pivot.
“And what our focus is, is how we can switch the conversation from talking about would-be crimes, and people who might commit crimes, to how we invest in those communities to that there’re greater opportunities.”
It didn’t take long for reporters to call bullshit on Bloomberg’s (and now Bowser’s) explanation.
A fact checker at the New York Times noted that his statement is “technically accurate” but leaves out important context.
It’s true that Bloomberg did not introduce stop and frisk to NYC. The tactic had been around for decades and was first used in NYC in the 1990s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But, as the Times and other outlets point out, the use of stop and frisk exploded under Bloomberg.
“After Mr. Bloomberg took office, the number of recorded stop increased sevenfold to a high of 685,724 in 2011 from 97,296 in 2002, according to data from the Police Department compiled by the New York Civil Liberties Union,” the Times reports. “In Mr. Bloomberg’s last year as mayor in 2013, the police recorded 191,851 stops, a decline of about 72 percent from the 2011 peak or an increase of 97 percent from his first year in office.
The 95 percent reduction, according to Bloomberg’s campaign, refers to the decline from 203,500 stops in the first quarter of 2012 to 12,497 in the last quarter of 2013, around the time he left office
Also absent from Bloomberg’s statement is a federal judge’s 2013 ruling that NYC’s use of stop and frisk was unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ordered the city to stop it, and noted in the order that more than 80 percent of the 4.4 million stops from 2004 to 2012 were of black or Latinx people, whereas the police stopped white people only 10 percent of the time. In addition, out of the 2.3 million stops that was followed by a “frisk,” police found a weapon just 1.5 percent of the time.
As mayor, Bloomberg appealed the decision but ultimately lost. He continued to defend the practice after leaving office, including as recently as January 2019. He conveniently apologized weeks before he entered the Democratic primary, but continues to promote his stop and frisk program as an effective crime reduction strategy.
During a news conference last month, when Bowser first announced her endorsement of Bloomberg, the former NYC mayor repeated his apology while adding: “And I’m happy to say that the murder rate went down from 650 to 330.”
But Bloomberg’s 2015 comments weren’t the only ones circulating recently.
Consider this clip from 2013, for example, in which Bloomberg argued that police “disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” when considering who “witness and victims describe as committing” crimes.
And then there’s the report from the AP highlighting his 2008 comments during a Georgetown University forum in which he said the elimination of redlining, the racially discriminatory practice of refusing loans to people who live in a certain area, was responsible for the 2008 economic collapse.
Asked for comment on Bloomberg’s racist comments, Bowser directed LL to a campaign spokesperson, who did not immediately respond to an email.
Bowser will continue stumping for Bloomberg today with a trip to Houston for an endorsement event with Mayor Sylvester Turner, Washington Post reporter Fenit Nirappil scooped.