Michael Bloomberg’s Racism Goes Well Beyond Stop-and-Frisk

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is using his billions to pay for his presidential campaign ads, blanketing television, radio and social media feeds across the country. As pundits, including CNN’s Brian Stelter , suggest, this national visibility blitz may have boosted Bloomberg’s standing in national polls; it rose to 15% in a Quinnipiac survey last week. With that polling boost however, comes an increase in media and voter scrutiny — of his mayoral policy record, his business decisions as head of Bloomberg LP and his long history of speeches and media appearances.
First, audio of Bloomberg’s 2015 comments defending the stop-and-frisk policing strategy at an Aspen Institute event was spread on social media by activist Benjamin Dixon. Now, Vice reports that Bloomberg made disparaging comments on “ PBS NewsHour ” about black and Latino men while he was promoting the Young Men’s Initiative, a $127 million, three-year collaboration between his own foundation, the Open Society Institute and the city of New York.
The Young Men’s Initiative was designed to improve work opportunities for underserved communities and to “attract industries that can use the people here who are unemployed.” In the PBS interview, however, Bloomberg insulted the same communities his initiative was supposed to be serving.
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“There’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males, age, let’s say, 16 to 25, that don’t have jobs, don’t have any prospects, don’t know how to find jobs, don’t know what their skill sets are, don’t know how to behave in the workplace where they have to work collaboratively and collectively,” Bloomberg said.
Later in the interview, he added, “If you look at where crime takes place, it’s in minority neighborhoods. If you look at who the victims and the perpetrators are, it’s virtually all minorities.”
Bloomberg has apologized for both the 2015 comments and his general advocacy of stop-and-frisks, but his campaign didn’t respond to Vice’s requests for comment on the 2011 PBS interview.
Just as many reporters are combing through past media appearances, some, like Medhi Hasan of The Intercept, are looking at Bloomberg’s record on surveillance, particularly of Muslim communities in New York following the Sept. 11 attacks. Hasan writes, “Michael Bloomberg oversaw the mass warrantless, suspicionless surveillance of Muslim New Yorkers, as the New York Police Department ‘ mapped ‘ where they prayed, ate, studied, and worked.”
Hasan points out that Bloomberg derided Donald Trump’s Muslim ban after the 2016 election, but Trump had high praise for Bloomberg’s surveillance work: “You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques, because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques,” candidate Trump told MSNBC . “And from what I heard, in the old days … we had great surveillance going on in and around mosques in New York City.”
That the surveillance Trump mentions was courtesy of Bloomberg is not a newly revealed secret. The Associated Press received a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for its investigation into the New York City Police Department’s clandestine surveillance program. What is new is the national attention on Bloomberg. What remains to be seen is whether he’ll be able to spend his way out of scrutiny and into the Democratic nomination.
Watch the “PBS NewsHour” clip here , and read Hasan’s full article here .

2020-02-17 | election 2020, islamophobia, michael bloomberg | English |