On Monday evening, a liberal podcaster leaked audio from a February 2015 address former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave at the Aspen Institute. Bloomberg had blocked the release of footage from the event. According to the audio, Bloomberg supported the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing strategy in order to keep guns out of the hands of young black males who are disproportionately likely to commit murder and to be victims of murder. These comments went viral and “#BloombergIsRacist” started trending on Twitter.
“WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!” President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. He deleted the tweet soon afterward, however.
Trump may have deleted the tweet because he realized the “#BloombergIsRacist” hashtag focused on the stop-and-frisk policing, a strategy for fighting crime that Trump himself supports.
According to the audio, the former mayor went further than stop-and-frisk, however. He appeared to advocate for disarming the young black men who are victims of murder, not just the perpetrators.
“Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25,” Bloomberg says in the audio. “That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city and that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed.”
Regardless of the truth of these claims, the former mayor appears to be advocating the disarming of future murder victims.
His strategy? Stop-and-frisk. “You want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets. Put the cops where the crime is, which is in the minority neighborhoods. 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. 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,” Bloomberg added. When they expect to be frisked, “they don’t bring the gun.”
The former mayor’s outright linkage of crime with racial minorities drew swift condemnation.
“This is disgusting. Every cable news show should be leading with and discussing this today,” Bakari Sellers, a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, tweeted.
This is disgusting. Every cable news show should be leading with and discussing this today. https://t.co/KCnA3EHq2U
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) February 11, 2020
“This is horrible as hell!” tweeted Nina Turner, an Ohio state senator and national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign.
This is horrible as hell!
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) February 11, 2020
Dilbert creator Scott Adams had a field day. “If you are a Trump supporter who wants some laughs today, check out the [Bloomberg is racist] hashtag to see what spending $350 million buys you in 2020. [Cancelled] [No refunds],” he tweeted with laugh emojis.
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) February 11, 2020
If liberals had not already soured on Bloomberg over the Xerox video, they might “cancel” him entirely after hearing these remarks on policing: “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
— HootHootBerns🌹 (@HootHootBerns) February 11, 2020
Benjamin Dixon, the podcaster who released the Xerox audio, also dredged up Bloomberg’s horrific classist remarks about taxing the poor for their own good.
Now on to Bloomberg’s classism:
I’ve shared this before, but it needs repeating. In this clip, the Democratic Establishment’s knight in oligarch’s armor explains why regressive taxes are necessary to help poor people from their bad habits of drinking sugary sodas. pic.twitter.com/FaEYhGyGGn
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 10, 2020
Dixon also complained about the video showing Bloomberg’s smarmy condescension against Midwesterners for not accepting transgender bathrooms. The liberal Dixon did not complain about the classism in that video, but rather about the fact that Bloomberg described a “transgender woman” as “a man in a dress.”
“The only difference between Bloomberg & Trump when it comes to Black & Brown boys being stopped and frisked, poor people struggling to survive, transwomen & other marginalized groups is that [Mike Bloomberg] will sound ‘presidential’ while harming us,” Dixon concluded. “As far as the Supreme Court goes, we have no legitimate reason to think Bloomberg would make liberal or progressive appointments to the bench when he’s shown us [a] lifetime of conservative beliefs and policies.”
As far as the Supreme Court goes, we have no legitimate reason to think Bloomberg would make liberal or progressive appointments to the bench when he’s shown us lifetime of conservative beliefs and policies. #MikeBloombergIsARepublican#MikeBloomberg2020
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 10, 2020
Dixon was clearly engaging in hyperbole. Bloomberg does support many liberal causes, especially gun control, a $15 minimum wage, and radical climate proposals — although far short of the Green New Deal.
When it comes to race, some analysts have predicted that black voters in swing states may buoy President Trump to re-election. Trump had delivered near-record-low black unemployment, rising wages, and criminal justice reform.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has long dominated among black voters in the Democratic race, but his support appears to be dropping. A recent national poll suggested that as black voters sour on former Vice President Joe Biden, they flock to Bloomberg. These stop-and-frisk remarks may seriously undercut that support.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.