President Trump came out swinging at Mike Bloomberg this morning with a tweet (now deleted) calling him “A TOTAL RACIST!”, after a clip resurfaced of the former NYC mayor defending the city’s old “stop-and-frisk” policy — which Trump himself defended for years.
Now, the Bloomberg campaign is hitting back.
On Monday, writer and podcaster Benjamin Dixon posted audio from a 2015 appearance by Bloomberg at the Aspen Institute in Colorado where he defends his mayoral administration’s controversial “stop and frisk” policing policies, ruled to be unconstitutional in 2013.
“95 percent of your murders – murderers and murder victims — fit one MO. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all of the cops. They are male, minority, 16 to 25,” Bloomberg said in the audio. “That’s true in New York and virtually every city [inaudible]. That’s where the real crime is.”
“One of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you’re arresting marijuana that are all minorities,’” Bloomberg continued. “Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.”
Following the event, Bloomberg had persuaded the Aspen Institute and GrassRootsTV, which filmed the event, not to release footage, although audio was later made public by the Daily Caller.
After years of defending the policy, Bloomberg apologized for stop-and-frisk late last year, shortly before declaring his candidacy for president. “I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong,” Bloomberg said in a November speech at a Brooklyn megachurch. “I was determined to improve police-community relations while at the same time reducing crime even further.”
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted and then quickly deleted the tweet. His campaign manager Brad Parscale said the video was “horrible” and called Bloomberg “a complete racist.”
“President Trump’s deleted tweet is the latest example of his endless efforts to divide Americans,” Bloomberg said in a statement provided to VICE News by the campaign. “I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused. By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95%, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities.”
“The president’s attack on me clearly reflects his fear over the growing strength of my campaign,” Bloomberg added. “Make no mistake, Mr. President: I am not afraid of you and I will not let you bully me or anyone else in America. Between now and November, I will do everything I can to defeat you whether I am on the ballot or not.”
Trump, whose campaign appears poised to make the administration’s work on criminal justice reform an issue in the general election, repeatedly praised stop and frisk before and during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Stop-and-frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City,” Trump said during a September 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton.
He even called for expanding the tactic to nationwide usage at one point, saying during one campaign stop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio: “I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive.”
As for Bloomberg, aside from the controversial audio, he’s having a pretty decent day: Despite not campaigning at all in New Hampshire — he’s skipping the first four primary contests in order to focus on Super Tuesday and beyond — he won the tiny town of Dixville Notch in Tuesday’s primary.
Cover: Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)