We All Need to Remember Michael Bloomberg’s “Stop and Frisk” Past

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg appears to be considering a 2020 presidential run once again. Earlier this year, Bloomberg claimed he was not going to run but has now made moves that signal he’s changing not just his mind, but his party, too.

The former Republican and Independent is expected to file the paperwork needed to get on the Democratic primary ballot in Alabama this week, his spokesman told CNN. Bloomberg has not completely decided to run in 2020, the unnamed spokesman added.

This is far from the first time the billionaire has mulled a presidential run. He previously contemplated jumping into the ring in 2016, before pulling the plug. In a column published on Bloomberg View, he cited fears of participating in a three-way race that would lead to the election of fellow New Yorker Donald Trump. Of course, the reality TV star went on to beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, anyway.

In March, Bloomberg again announced that he would not run for president. The reason then, according to The New York Times, was due to former Vice President Joe Biden’s popularity with Democratic primary voters. Should Bloomberg enter the race now, it could present a threat to Biden, who has struggled to raise money and has been forced to defend his centrist views in a race dominated by populists Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). According to The New York Times, Bloomberg’s latest moves has the potential of hurting Biden with centrists Democrats, traditional party donors and the business community.

Why It Matters

The former Republican mayor would face a hard path to gain the Democratic nomination. A Fox News poll in October found that Bloomberg would not fair well with Democratic primary voters. As a hypothetical candidate, just six percent of Democratic primary voters said they would definitely support him. And 32 percent said they would never vote for him.

Bloomberg would also have a difficult time explaining his continued support for the controversial and racist “stop and frisk” practice used by police in New York City. The practice, also known as Terry stops, involves police officers stopping a passerby, questioning and possibly searching him/her, often on the very weak and subjective ground of “reasonable suspicion”.

Despite data showing that the practice disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx men and that it had little connection to a drop in crime, Bloomberg has vehemently defended the practice.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, when he was a New York City councilman, worked with Council Member Brad Lander in 2010 to rein in the NYPD and fought against Bloomberg to end the practice. “With all the information and data that we had, he still refused to accept that this policy was wrong and that was very frustrating,” Williams told Politico. “We had to spend a lot of energy and time pushing back instead of working together to make it a safe city like it is now.” Williams did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding Bloomberg’s latest potential run.

What Bloomberg Has Said To Defend Stop & Frisk

  • “I think people, the voters, want low crime. They don’t want kids to kill each other.” September 2018 The New York Times

  • “New York City had 650 murders a year when I came into office, and the toll fell heaviest on Black and Hispanic young men. We were determined to do everything possible to stop gun violence, both by taking guns off the street and by taking on the NRA—when few other elected officials were willing to do that.” November 2018 Politico

  • “I think it’s also true that most police departments around the world do the same thing, they just don’t report it or use the terminology.” January 2019 CNN

Stop & Frisk By The Numbers

  • When Bloomberg entered office in 2002, 97,296 NYPD stops were recorded. Of those, 80,176 (82 percent) were innocent, according to the NYCLU.

  • In 2011, a record 685,725 NYPD stops were recorded, of which 605,328 (88 percent) were innocent. That year, 53 percent of the people stopped, or 350,743 individuals, were Black, and 34 percent (223,740) were Latinx, according to NYCLU. Only 9 percent (61,805) were white. For some context, according to the Census of 2010, Whites accounted for 33.3 percent of the population, while Latnix made up 28.6 percent, and Blacks just 22.8 percent.

  • When Bloomberg left office in 2013, 191,851 NYPD stops were recorded. Of those stopped, 169,252 (88 percent) were innocent. Blacks (56 percent) and Latinx (29 percent) continued to be stopped at higher rates than whites (11 percent).

  • According to NYCLU, in the first half of 2019, 7,101 stops were conducted, of which 4,795 were innocent (68 percent). Black people continue to be disproportionately stopped (60 percent), followed by Latinx (29 percent) and white people (10 percent).

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About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia, Australia and the Americas.