Billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg landed in hot water when an audio clip of him defending his 'stop-and-frisk' policy, surfaced online. His racist take on the matter prompted widespread criticism, with #BloombergIsRacist trending on the internet.
Having served as the New York City mayor for over a decade (2002-2013), Bloomberg was originally a Democrat, before crossing over to the Republicans in 2001 during which he successfully ran for the mayor of NYC. After his stint as an independent from 2007 onwards, he announced his Democratic presidential bid in November, last year.
What did Bloomberg say in the released audio?
In the audio released by writer and a Bernie Sanders' supporter Benjamin Nixon, which swiftly went viral on social media, Bloomberg said, "Ninety-five percent of your murders -- murderers and murder victims -- fit one M.O", Bloomberg says. 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 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", he added.
Bloomberg goes on to say, "You want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets. Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighbourhoods. So, 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 neighbourhoods. Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is," the clip continues.
He then goes on to defend the 'stop-and-frisk' policy, "And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them. And then they start, they say, 'Oh, I don't want to get caught.' So they don't bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home".
The clip is part of his speech 2015 speech in Colorado, CNN reported. On February 16, 2015, The Aspen Times reported that Bloomberg blocked the footage of the Aspen Institute appearance, where he gave the infamous speech.
#BloombergIsRacist trends online
US President Donald Trump was quick to criticize Bloomberg, in a now-deleted tweet, which said, "WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!". He replaced it with another tweet, mocking Bloomberg's height.
On his part, Bloomberg issued a statement, in which he apologized "for taking too long to understand the impact of stop and frisk on Black and Latino communities". "I inherited a stop and frisk. In an effort to stop gun violence, it was overused. I cut it back by 95%", he says. "I should have cut it back sooner", he further adds.
'Stop-and-frisk' is the practice of temporarily detaining, questioning, and at times searching civilians and suspects on the street for weapons and other contraband.