Mike Bloomberg apologized Thursday at a campaign rally in Houston for his controversial stop-and-frisk policy which he promoted as New York city mayor, telling the predominantly black crowd that he “deeply regrets” the legacy and that he “should have acted sooner and faster to stop it.”
“I am committed to using the power of the presidency to right the wrongs of institutional racism,” Bloomberg told the crowd at Houston’s Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, before then pivoting to promote his “Mike for Black America” plan, which is aimed at addressing economic inequality.
Bloomberg was joined on stage by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, as well as other black mayors who had endorsed him recently. A Quinnipiac University national poll released Monday showed that Bloomberg had gained 14 points among African Americans in a single month.
Turner told the Houston Chronicle that while he saw Bloomberg’s record with stop and frisk as “insensitive” and “quite frankly wrong,” his “whole record” pushed him to endorse Bloomberg.
“I think the sign of any good leader is recognizing the mistakes and then putting forth the path to go forward,” Turner said.
Several clips of Bloomberg discussing and defending the policy, which disproportionally affected minority communities, emerged earlier this week. During a 2015 speech at the Aspen Institute, Bloomberg argued that maintaining a heavy and proactive police presence in minority neighborhoods was necessary to curb violent crime.
“So one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods,” Bloomberg said. “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 wall and frisk them.”
The former mayor apologized for the policy after beginning his campaign last November, calling it “overzealous,” but claimed that “nobody asked me about it until I started running for president.”