Michael Bloomberg Apologizes for 'Stop-and-Frisk' Policy While as NYC Mayor, Says 'I Was Wrong'

Michael Bloomberg, who is reportedly mulling entering the 2020 Democratic presidential race, apologized to black churchgoers Sunday for his longtime support of a controversial "stop-and-frisk" policing tactic.

Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York City from 2002 through 2013, apologized and denounced his advocacy of the policing strategy that allowed law enforcement to search anyone even mildly suspected of a crime. The aggressive stop-and-frisk policy was widely derided by civil rights groups and fellow Democratic lawmakers who cited statistics that it overwhelmingly targeted black and Latino residents.

On Sunday, Bloomberg appeared at a Brooklyn, New York megachurch to apologize and pull back his decades-long support of stop-and-frisk.

"I was wrong," Mr. Bloomberg told the Christian Cultural Center audience Sunday morning, The New York Times first reported. "And I am sorry."

Bloomberg immediately received mild praise from black community leaders including Al Sharpton in a tweet Sunday, but many remain skeptical of the former mayor's sudden change of heart on a policy that led to the imprisonment of thousands, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Black and Latino residents were nine times as likely as white people to be targeted by police using the stop-and-frisk policy, with 575,000 stops being made in 2009 alone.

According to a Times analysis, the New York Police Department stopped and questioned 684,330 New Yorkers in 2011, with 87 percent of those people being black or Latino.

"I now see that we should have acted sooner, and acted faster," Bloomberg continued. "Over time, I've come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong. I didn't understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know: good intentions aren't good enough."

As many critics have noted, Bloomberg adamantly stood by stop-and-frisk as late as September of last year in an interview in which he also derided the "#MeToo" movement.

According to a 2018 Pew Research Center analysis, African American voters make up about 20 percent of the Democratic Party's base nationwide. Bloomberg successor in the NYC mayoral office, Bill de Blasio, announced the reversal of the city's stop-and-frisk policy in January 2014.

"Former Mayor Bloomberg just apologized for stop and frisk policy while he was Mayor. Whatever his motive, I'm glad to see this. Hurt people...It's the right position, motive will be questioned," Sharpton remarked on Twitter Sunday shortly after Bloomberg's comments.

"You can't expect people like us to forgive and forget after one speech," Sharpton added in a call to Bloomberg, the Times reported.

Appearing on MSNBC Sunday, NBC BLK reporter Janell Ross offered a more skeptical approach to Bloomberg's policy reversal, comparing his "moderate" disconnect to that of fellow Democratic candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

"There is a lot of concern about crime in black communities, however, I think that the solutions or the ways that black voters would like to see those issues addressed might not align with say, really aggressive, hyper-focused policing which Bloomberg until today had been an advocate of."

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Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg apologized to black churchgoers Sunday for his longtime support of a controversial "stop-and-frisk" policing tactic. Reuters
Michael Bloomberg Apologizes for 'Stop-and-Frisk' Policy While as NYC Mayor, Says 'I Was Wrong' | U.S.