Posted by 18 November 2019
Throughout his tenure as New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg was a vigorous defender of the controversial police practice known as “stop and frisk.” On Sunday, however, he apologized for his past actions. Some see this as a belated acknowledgement of the harms caused by this practice, while others view his apology as a purely political move.
Bloomberg recently announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many observers said that he would have trouble appealing to the liberal base of the party due to his staunch defense of “stop and frisk.” This policy was one used extensively by the New York City Police Department to stop individuals and frisk them for weapons. Critics said it was an unconstitutional search of people who had done nothing wrong. They also said that the city was targeting minorities in its use. Then-Mayor Bloomberg defended the policy, saying it was vital to keeping illegal weapons off city streets, but courts severely curtailed its use.
While speaking at an African-American church this week, Bloomberg said, “I can’t change history. However today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong.” He specifically noted that this policy was applied largely to black and Latino men.
The Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. Federal courts held that “stop and frisk” could be constitutional if narrowly applied, but that New York’s use was problematic. At the time of the legal challenge over this practice, Mayor Bloomberg vigorously defended it, dismissing the idea that New York police were violating the Constitution.
Do you think that Michael Bloomberg should have apologized for New York City’s use of “stop and frisk” to detain people and search for weapons?