Mike Bloomberg Just Can’t Constantly Apologize (OPINION)

Feb 16, 2020
12:02 PM

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to supporters Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Mike Bloomberg, the former Republican who recently chose to portray himself as a Democrat. We’ve all heard what he’s said. We know about his policies. Yet somehow, voters are flocking to him because they believe he is the only one who can beat Trump. The problem: Bloomberg is no different than Trump with the exception of how he delivers his racist views to the media and the general public.

If you’re not familiar with Bloomberg’s racism, or conveniently chose to forget about it, I’m here to remind you of who he still is. What Bloomberg did as mayor of New York City with his expansion of the racist stop-and-frisk policies allowed police to invade and occupy minority neighborhoods all over the city, normalizing the use of racism in policing.

In fact, it can be argued that his policies increased racially motivated policing all over America, setting us back decades. Similarly to Bloomberg, other departments all over the country used a similar terroristic campaign for long-term crime reduction despite evidence showing that the negative impacts were much more problematic. Many departments across the country followed his lead while ignoring data showing that stop-and-frisk was a huge failure.

It’s a policy that not only failed to accomplish Bloomberg’s stated goal but created trauma, fear, and resentment towards police who took the policy as an approval to be aggressive towards minorities across the five boroughs. Resentment came from the nearly 90% of persons stopped by police who were not only innocent but were found to have no illegal contraband on them.

So many innocent children and young men were merely collateral damage to Bloomberg. He knew of the lasting psychological damage he was inflicting on Black and Brown bodies as they were slammed up against walls or thrown on the ground as they are groped by strange people with guns±in many cases, at gunpoint.

Since leaving the mayor’s office Bloomberg has been resolute on his use of stop-and-frisk. The Trumpian mayor continued his rhetoric lauding his failures as successes while doubling down on the racism. He made that clear as recently as a few years ago at the Aspen Institute in 2015.

“Ninety-five percent of your murders —murderers and murder victims— fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, sixteen to twenty-five. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city.” Bloomberg’s words resonated with many other police departments helping drive these policies in cities all over the country.

He continued: “One of the unintended consequences is, people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana, they’re all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is… The way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them.”

In an interview with Gayle King, Bloomberg declared that no one seemed interested in stop and frisk until he declared his candidacy. When King told him, “Some people are suspicious of the timing of your apology,” Bloomberg replied, “Well, nobody asked me about it until I started running for president so, come on.” A blatantly false assertion.

In 2013, a federal court ruled that stop and frisk was unconstitutional, Bloomberg slammed the judge and didn’t take the decision well at all. 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.” In saying all of this, Bloomberg chooses to ignore that 90% of the Black and Brown men stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers were found to be completely innocent.

That same year, Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show that not enough Black and Brown folks were stopped-and-frisked saying, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.” A year prior, Bloomberg visited a predominantly Black church in Brooklyn and tried to convince its congregants that stop-and-frisk is “not because of race, it is because of crime. Yeah, he said these things despite data (and his own motivations) suggesting otherwise.

Apparently, many minority voters are fine with this even though it’s still happening in New York City and across the nation. Despite the fact that he doesn’t see minorities as individuals and as some sort of criminal enterprise, in which he articulates in his race-based policy, minorities have clearly lost their damn minds in supporting him.

It doesn’t end there.

After declaring his candidacy, Bloomberg was inevitably asked about his defense and justification of using stop-and-frisk. It was a conversation that led Bloomberg to all but shrug while admitting that he had no clue about whether the NYPD “acted in good faith” when arresting and charging the Central Park 5, who were a group of Black and Brown teens now known as the Exonerated 5. The teens were falsely accused of raping a white woman in the 1980s who were imprisoned between 5 and 12 years.

Bloomberg told CBS News’ Tim Perry, “I have no idea,” before blaming his ignorance about a prominent 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.

Let’s not forget that less than a month after he launched his campaign, Bloomberg was called out for calling fellow Democratic candidate Cory Booker “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 December. It’s safe to say that Bloomberg would never describe any of his white rival candidates —or any white person, for that matter— as “well-spoken.”

Going a little further back to around the start of the Great Recession of 2008, Bloomberg was asked about “how we got here.” His response blamed the end of “redlining,” yet another racist practice that kept wealth out of the hands of 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,” Bloomberg 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.”

Many questions have arisen about prominent city leaders endorsing his candidacy. One of his latest endorsements comes from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. While Bloomberg and Bowser have a close relationship lasting years, voters began immediately questioning the endorsement after Bloomberg donated a significant amount of money to D.C. While Bowser’s support is likely genuine, we can’t ignore the major donations he’s made all over the country.

In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies made a $4 million investment in D.C. public schools along with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation. Bowser is quoted on the website saying, “These investments will support Cornerstone Assignments, DCPS’ new curricular approach that exemplifies the Bowser Administration’s commitment to ensuring equity and increasing excellence in every classroom across the city.”

Bowser and Bloomberg have both received similar criticism for their time as mayors over racial profiling tactics used by city police. Residents and activists in D.C. have slammed the mayor for “jump-outs.” Officers who employ this tactic randomly drive up on a crowded street corner, jump from their squad cars and pat everyone down—searching for guns or illegal substances. The tactic has been compared to Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk.

While Bloomberg continues to buy his endorsements, minorities in America must heed the warnings about his history. These aren’t comments, statements, or policies from decades ago, his blatant racism is as recent as Donald Trump’s. He may be nicer about it, but it doesn’t change who he is, what he believes, and what will drive his policy decisions regarding minority communities all over the country.

Bloomberg, like Trump, should scare you as much as it bothers me. His policies, such as gun control, seem good on paper. But I can all but assure you that once they are in place, they will impact minority communities much harder than those of our melanin deficient fellow citizens. Crime occurs in white neighborhoods just as often as anywhere else but it goes unreported because cops aren’t out there. They’re in our neighborhoods oppressing us.

It’s a well-known fact that drug use is equal to, if not worse than, it is in our communities yet Black and Brown folks are incarcerated at much higher rates. Much of it due to racial profiling which is the foundation of Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk model that so many departments adopted.

He may have apologized for being a racist but he made no concessions on putting an end to the continuing problems in America as a result of his policies. Because of him, police departments all over the country now use race-based policing and they treat Black and Brown folks like mafiosos. Most Americans want to “vote blue no matter who” to get rid of Trump but I fail to see how Bloomberg is any better. The only difference between the two is Bloomberg’s presentation.

If you’re supporting Bloomberg or are considering voting for him in the primaries, I strongly urge you to reconsider. People of color, immigrants, and other marginalized groups can’t take much more oppression in America. We don’t need any more racists in power in the 21st Century.


Arturo Tha Cuban is a front-line anti-racism activist, essayist and upcoming author who advocates for equality, justice and accountability. He tweets from @ExtremeArturo.