Michael Bloomberg‘s sudden rise in status as a presidential candidate has been boosted significantly by the coalition of Black leaders and voters who are seemingly pushing him beyond the fray surrounding his checkered past when it comes to race relations. That was true in spite of his checkered legacy with his Black and brown constituents as the former three-term mayor of New York City.
The latest support for Bloomberg — who has come under renewed fire over old comments on his racist stop and frisk policing tactics surfaced on social media — from Black folks including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the largest group of Black Democrats in Alabama and a contingency of faith and church leaders. That was all in spite of the 77-year-old multi-billionaire’s checkered past when it comes to race, something for which he has repeatedly apologized.
Aside from encouraging police to racially profile suspects, something that was ultimately declared unconstitutional, Bloomberg has also defended the practice of selectively discriminating against people of color based on the areas where they live — more commonly known as redlining — in addition to offering unfiltered commentary about the now-exonerated Central Park 5 and using a racist stereotype to describe a Black presidential candidate.
All of which is not to mention Bloomberg’s damning legacy on other aspects of Black and brown lives in New York City, including their housing and education. Some of his policies he put forth and championed in those departments were largely seen as racist, too. But for all intents and purposes here, keep reading to find Bloomberg’s most racist quotes through the years as he campaigns to win the Democratic nomination to face Donald Trump on Election Day in November.
Stop and frisk
“Ninety-five percent of murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg said while speaking the Aspen Institute in 2015 in a recently resurfaced minute-long clip that went viral this week and echoed his previous defenses of stop and frisk. “They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed.”
In the same breath, he went on to defend police “arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.”
Bloomberg also recently told Gayle King during an interview on “Good Morning America” that nobody seemed interested in talking about stop and frisk until he declared his candidacy, an assertion that is just plain incorrect. When King told him, “Some people are suspicious of the timing of your apology,” Bloomberg inexplicably disagreed.
“Well, nobody asked me about it until I started running for president so, come on,” he said.
When a federal court ruled in 2013 that stop and frisk was unconstitutional, Bloomberg slammed the judge and did not take the decision very well. He called the ruling “a disturbing disregard for the good intentions of our police officers” who have saved “countless lives” of “black and Hispanic young men.”
What Bloomberg conveniently ignored is that nearly 90 percent of the Black and brown “stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent,” according to data calculated by the ACLU.
That same year, Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show that not enough Black and brown folks were stopped and frisked. “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” he said at the time.
One year earlier Bloomberg visited a predominately Black church in Brooklyn and tried to convince congregants that stop and frisk is “not because of race — it is because of crime.” Again, the data suggests otherwise.
The Central Park 5
In the months after he declared his presidential candidacy, Bloomberg was, of course, asked about his defense and utilization of stop and frisk. That conversation led to Bloomberg all but shrug while openly admitting he was clueless about whether he thought the NYPD “acted in good faith” when they arrested and charged the Central Park 5, the group of Black and brown teens more appropriately known as The Exonerated 5 who were falsely accused and imprisoned between five and 12 years stemming from false allegations of raping a white woman in the 1980s.
“I really have no idea,” Bloomberg told CBS News’ Tim Perry before blaming his admitted ignorance about a defining case in New York City on being “away from government” for a long time. Bloomberg went on to say that “apparently, the courts ruled that [the Exonerated 5] … did not commit a crime,” adding that “we just have to accept” their exoneration.
Less than a month after he launched his presidential campaign, Bloomberg was called out for labeling fellow Democratic candidate Cory Booker as “well-spoken,” which is a common dog whistle of a racist trope.
“Cory Booker endorsed me a number of times. And I endorsed Cory Booker a number of times. He’s very well-spoken,” Bloomberg said in part in December. Chances are more than likely that Bloomberg would never describe any of his white rival candidates — or any white person, for that matter — in the same manner.
Back around the start of the Great Recession of 2008, Bloomberg was asked, “how we got here.” He responded by blaming the ending of “redlining,” a racist practice to keep wealth from Black and brown people in America.
“Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said people in these neighborhoods are poor, they’re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages,” he said at the time. “Tell your salesmen don’t go into those areas. And then Congress got involved and local elected officials as well. And said, ‘Oh, that’s not fair. These people should be able to get credit.’ And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like.”
Tell us how you really feel, Mr. Mayor.