In 2010 in New York City, 601,285 people were stopped and frisked by the New York City Police and 315,083 of them were Black. In 2011, 685,724 individuals were stopped and 350,743 were Black. Over 90 percent of those stopped by police where African American or Hispanic.
Michael Bloomberg was mayor in New York from 2002 to 2013. When new Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, and after an ACLU lawsuit against New York City, the stop-and-frisk program was greatly reduced. All the theories that stop-and-frisk reduced crime were disproven by crime stats going down along with the use of the policy.
Now Bloomberg is running for president and his use and endorsement of a policy targeted to minorities and members of the Muslim faith is again under discussion. This week, Bloomberg lied and said he hadn’t been asked about stop-and-frisk until his run for The White House. Bloomberg’s money has allowed him a place on the national debate stage at a time when a creeping sense of doubt remains regarding the Democratic candidates currently competing.
There are now “more billionaires than Black people in the 2020 race,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) dropped out of the presidential race on Dec. 3.
“Stop and frisk was an outdated and unfounded law enforcement policy of racial harassment. It harmed Black communities and communities of color and did not make us any safer,” said Monifa Bandele, vice president of MomsRising who is a longtime New York City resident and an expert on criminal justice. “Police officers regularly violated rights by stopping a disproportionate number of Black and Latino New Yorkers who they often threatened or physically harmed. These stops rarely ended in an arrest and mostly served to terrorize and criminalize our communities
“The effects of this destructive policy had a profound psychological impact, too,” Bandele told NNPA. “It affected how young Black and Latino men lived their lives in their own neighborhoods, it increased feelings of stress, anxiety and trauma, increased racial discrimination in a city already struggling with massive inequality.”
But Bloomberg continues to attempt to minimize the impact of a policy that impacted thousands of New Yorkers over 10 years during his time as mayor. Even though the current presidential race just lost a candidate, Sen. Harris, who repeated the line “justice is one the ballot,” another candidate who is likely to bring up Bloomberg’s Achilles’ heel will be on the stage. Sen. Booker is likely to bring up justice reform and stop-and-frisk if he is on stage with Bloomberg.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE.