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Queens Chronicle

Bloomberg apology comes 6 years late

Former mayor issues mea culpa for harm stop-and-frisk caused NYC

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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 4:38 pm | Updated: 12:38 pm, Thu Nov 21, 2019.

Just a few weeks after teasing intentions to enter the presidential race, former mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for his determined enforcement of stop-and-frisk policy during his time in office.

“I now see that we could and should have acted sooner and acted faster to cut the stops,” Bloomberg said at the Christian Culture Center in East New York, Brooklyn, a predominately black mega church. “I wish we had and I’m sorry that we didn’t, but I can’t change history.”

The policy gives the NYPD authority to “stop, question and search” any individual officers suspect of illegal activity or to be carrying a weapon. Bloomberg, believing the policy to be a main contributor to decreased murder and other crime rates, ordered an increase during his three terms as mayor, but he earned a reputation among critics as a racist after minorities were disproportionately targeted: According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, stop-and-frisk reached its peak in 2011 with 685,000 cases, 54 percent and 34 percent comprising  black and Latino New Yorkers, respectively.

Despite the backlash, Bloomberg continued to defend the policy, making his Sunday, Nov. 17, statement, “I realized back then that I was wrong and I’m sorry” that much more astonishing to the community. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio promptly decreased stop-and-frisks by 94 percent after replacing Bloomberg in office, a decision that did not affect the crime rate negatively. He voiced his skepticism over his predecessor’s apology in light of his intentions for a presidential run.

“People aren’t stupid. They can figure out whether someone is honestly addressing an issue or whether they’re acting out of convenience. For years, so many of us said ... this is hurting people,” said de Blasio in an interview with CNN. “The city has gotten safer six years in a row and the relationship between police and community is healing. So, there are many points where he could have acknowledged this. It seems awfully strange that it took until now.”

President of the Police Benevolent Association Patrick Lynch found the apology “too little, too late,” stating in a press release that Bloomberg should have listened to objections from police during the height of stop-and-frisk. 

“We said in the early 2000s that the quota-driven emphasis on street cops was polluting the relationship between cops and our communities,” said Lynch. “His administration’s misguided policy inspired an anti-police movement that has made cops the target of hatred and violence, and stripped away many of the tools we had used to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Councilmember Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) agreed that Bloomberg’s apology came too late. “For years, former mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk as black and brown communities were irreparably harmed,” she said in an emailed response to a Chronicle inquiry. “This apology cannot erase the years of damage caused by the discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy and is meaningless without accountability. I find his apology disingenuous and opportunistic.”

While some district representatives are skeptical over the intentions for Bloomberg’s statement, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, Queens) welcomes the apology as long as Bloomberg intends to reverse the damage stop-and-frisk has caused to city communities.

“[The apology] appears authentic and it seems to have come from his heart. But at this point, communities don’t simply want to hear an individual talking the talk, it’s important for all of us to walk the walk and repair the damage that has been done,” Jeffries said in a statement after his office was contacted. “Hopefully Bloomberg will be part of that moving forward. The Bloomberg Foundation has been involved in a wide variety of philanthropic efforts that have made a positive difference in New York City. It’s important, perhaps, to consider investing in efforts like helping currently incarcerated individuals transition into society. His voice, his resources and his effort in that regard would be very welcome.”

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1 comment:

  • stan chaz posted at 5:53 pm on Mon, Nov 18, 2019.

    stan chaz Posts: 33

    Bloomberg’s apology is welcome and refreshing to hear,

    a vindication of progresive policies & politicians such as DeBlasio/

    But if Bloomberg really wants to save this country from Trump,

    then he should use his billions to far greater benefit

    by aiding Democrats nation-wide.

    THERE - he could make a real difference.

    This is likely Mike's last chance at the prize,

    but you can’t put tasty new wine into old bottles

    at the very last minute and expect to sell it.