Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has officially reversed his support on the infamous “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy. His support of this strategy initially wreaked havoc on the African American and Latino communities in the city for a decade.
The stop-and-frisk tactic gave police the right to stop and search anyone that they deemed suspicious on the streets of New York. This gives police the ability to stop people of color for no justifiable reason, which raised a lot of red flags regarding possible racism within the force.
“I was wrong, and I am sorry,” Bloomberg said.
According to the New York Times, Bloomberg’s point of view on stop-and-frisk was severely affecting him on the campaign trail. Bloomberg’s race for president was highly affected by his position on stop-and-frisk and made him “vulnerable.”
Bloomberg may be making the statement because he regrets his actions, or he may be making the statement in order to secure the presidential nomination. Presidential candidates often say agreeable opinions that they are not truly passionate about solely for the reason of having a better chance of winning the race.
During Mayor Bloomberg’s three terms in office, the police recorded more than 5 million stops.
“The temperature in the city at the time was that police were at war with black and brown people on the streets,” said Jenn Rolnick-Borchetta, Director of Impact Litigation at the Bronx Defenders.
Stop-and-frisk was an incredibly harsh tactic to stop crimes. When Bloomberg entered office in 2002, the murder rate was just shy of 655, and by the time he left office in 2013, it was 335. It did have some sort of impact on the city, despite how harsh this method of arrest was.
Men of color were extremely affected by stop-and-frisk, and a lot of them were stopped several times during the height of this tactic. One man who was immediately affected by stop-and-frisk was Kalief Browder.
Browder and his friend were stopped by police who were looking for two African American men who had just robbed a Hispanic man. After this fateful night, Browder was brought to Rikers Island where he would await trial for two long years. Browder was released on May 29, 2013 on anticipation that the charges would be dismissed.
Browder was one of many who were wrongfully accused of committing a crime and sent to prison due to stop-and-frisk. Browder committed suicide two years after his release because of the abuse he endured during his time at Rikers Island.
The implications of stop-and-frisk can have serious consequences by putting away innocent victims. It was a racist tactic to allow police to arrest people that they deemed “suspicious,” which is not always true. Just because someone looks a certain way should not make them a suspicious suspect.
Stop-and-frisk was not the proper way to reduce crime in New York City. Michael Bloomberg should have reversed his position on it sooner, not only because it was affecting his campaign profile, but because of how harmful the policy was to citizens.