Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg entered the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination, stating that, “I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America.”
But as voters across the country reorient themselves with Bloomberg, will they still see him as a man who could “rebuild America”? His previous political positions show that might not be the case.
For years, Bloomberg ushered in and championed progressive causes, such as the gun control advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety. However, the one policy that will cause him the biggest headache will come not only from constitutional conservatives and civil libertarians but from progressives who fear that racial discrimination still plays a large role in American law enforcement and our criminal justice system.
Known to the general public as “Stop and Frisk”, Bloomberg brought about one of the most egregious law enforcement practices in modern America. This policy allowed police officers to forcibly restrain random individuals and frisk them head to toe in order to see whether they were in possession of stolen or illegal materials – all without specific, probable cause.
A recent article from the New York Daily News reminds readers of this unethical policy, like NYC resident Nicholas Peart, who was manhandled on his eighteenth birthday while at dinner with several relatives when a New York City police officer ordered him to the ground – at gunpoint – in order to reach into Peart’s pocket for his wallet in order to check his ID.
According to the official report, the officers on the scene holstered their weapons, wished Peart a happy birthday, and drove off without an apology. Peart later sued the city in order to combat the unconstitutional stops. Peart was assaulted by police again in 2011.
Peart’s story is the story of many hundreds of black and Latino New Yorkers who were stopped and frisked for no reason. For years, Bloomberg’s policy represented the darkest side of the moral questions regarding liberty vs. security.
Now, Bloomberg is running for the presidency on the premise of being a moderate reformer and unifier. While Bloomberg was still testing the waters for the race, he issued an apology, discussing his deep regrets over the universally unpopular policy. Whether you believe Bloomberg’s apology or not, the timing is suspicious.
As for Milan Taylor, another man who was also unjustly stopped and frisked while on a neighborhood jog in Queens, – who most famously told Bloomberg to his face that the policy was morally wrong – he’s not buying it.
Taylor told the New York Daily News he doesn’t buy Bloomberg’s apology one bit. “He’s been out of office for seven years. Now that he’s running for president, he apologizes? It’s a little too late.”
“Stop and Frisk” is one of the many examples of what happens civil liberties are sacrificed for security theater. No matter the neighborhood, Americans must decide when injustice against one is an injustice against all freedom-loving people.