RICHMOND, Va. — Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEngel scrambles to fend off primary challenge from left It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned MORE apologized for his past handling of the controversial stop-and-frisk policy on Saturday and pledged to “dismantle systems that are plagued by bias and discrimination” as president.
“I’ve seen the abuse of police practice called stop and frisk, and I’ve gotten a lot of grief for it lately, and I defended it for too long” Bloomberg told a crowd of more than 900 people at an organizing event in Richmond.
Stop and frisk was a law enforcement policy the former mayor claims he “inherited” from his predecessor to curb crime.
The controversial practice, which disproportionately targeted communities of color in New York, was ended in 2013 at the end of Bloomberg’s tenure. A judge ruled that the policy violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city.
“I didn’t fully understand the unintentional pain,” he continued.
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“I should have acted sooner, and I should have stopped it, and I didn’t, and I apologize that for that,” he said to applause.
“I’ve listened to their stories. I’ve heard their pain and their confusion and their anger, and I’ve learned from them and I’ve grown from them,” he said.
“So tonight, let me make clear because they want to know, as president of the United States, I will work to dismantle systems that are plagued by bias and discrimination. I will invest in communities that have worn the brunt of these systems for generations,” he said. “I will put this work at the very top of my agenda.”
Bloomberg’s latest comments on the matter come as he faces backlash for unearthed, controversial remarks he made in 2015 defending the policy.
The former New York City mayor said at the time that the practice was a way to curb crime by throwing minority kids “up against the walls” and frisking them.
Bloomberg added in the audio that “95 percent” of “murders — murderers and murder victims” are male minorities between the ages of 16 and 25.
When he was pressed on the issue at a campaign event earlier this week, he said the resurfaced remarks did not reflect how he led the city as mayor.
“I don’t think those words reflect what, how I led the most diverse city in the nation. And I apologized for the practice and the pain that it caused,” Bloomberg said on Thursday.
“It was five years ago,” he added when pressed again. “You know, it’s just not the way that I think, and it … doesn’t reflect what I do every day. I led the most populous, largest city in the United States and got reelected three times. The public seemed to like what I do.”