MANCHESTER, N.H. — A recording of Michael R. Bloomberg in 2015 offering an unflinching defense of stop-and-frisk policing was circulating widely on social media Tuesday, signaling that the former New York City mayor is about to face more intensive scrutiny as he rises in the polls as a Democratic presidential candidate.
While Mr. Bloomberg apologized for his administration’s law-enforcement tactics in November just before he entered the race, he had previously spent years insisting that the policy was justified and effective, showing no indication that he had developed serious misgivings about stop and frisk. The policing tactic was used disproportionately against black and Latino people across New York City for years.
He offered a particularly blunt defense at the Aspen Institute in 2015: The Aspen Times reported then that Mr. Bloomberg said that crimes were committed overwhelmingly by young, male minorities, and that it made sense to deploy police in minority neighborhoods to “throw them up against the wall and frisk them” as a deterrent against carrying firearms.
An audio clip of those comments was posted on Twitter Monday by Benjamin Dixon, a progressive podcaster, who highlighted it with the hash tag #BloombergIsARacist.
“Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O.,” Mr. Bloomberg said in the recording. “You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every every city.”
He went on, “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 walls and frisk them.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign did not immediately comment on the audio. Material like this is certain to continue surfacing as the campaign advances: Mr. Bloomberg has not been shy about expressing his views since leaving office in 2013, often at elite conferences before friendly audiences.
But he is seeking to win over a different audience now, making significant inroads among Democratic primary voters thanks to a massive and largely unanswered blitz of television advertising. It remains to be seen whether the appeal he has demonstrated so far can survive a more searching examination of his record.
President Trump, who has supported the stop-and-frisk policing tactic and who has been criticized for statements widely criticized as racist, on Tuesday tweeted the audio recording of Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks. In a Twitter post that he pinned to the top of his feed, Mr. Trump wrote, “Wow, Bloomberg is a total racist!” He deleted the post a short time later, but his campaign manager and his son, Donald Trump Jr., aggressively pushed the recording on social media.
In Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign for president, he endorsed Mr. Bloomberg’s past use of stop-and-frisk and said it was an effective tool.
The highlighting of Mr. Bloomberg signals a change in approach for the broader Trump apparatus, which has mostly ignored Mr. Bloomberg even as the president has fretted about the billionaire’s profligate spending. Mr. Bloomberg rose to third place in a national poll of the Democratic primary released yesterday by Quinnipiac University.
Mr. Bloomberg’s 2015 remarks were far from the most recent occasion when he stood foursquare behind stop-and-frisk: As late as the fall of 2018, when he was laying the groundwork to run for president as a Democrat, Mr. Bloomberg told The New York Times that the policy had deterred crime without violating anyone’s civil rights, ignoring a court ruling to the contrary.
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