Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today that whites are stopped and frisked too often by New York City police and that minorities aren’t stopped enough, the New York Post reports.
“I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” Bloomberg said of the controversial practice that the city council is trying to reign in with two new bills. “It’s exactly the reverse of what they say. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.”
Stop-and-frisk lets NYC cops judge if people may be committing, or are about to commit, felonies and then question them, the Washington Times reports. Opponents say the law is akin to sanctioned racial profiling and has led to discrimination on the part of police toward minorities.
According to the New York Post, city stats indicate that of all stops last year, 87% were for blacks or Latinos, who constituted 90% of all murder suspects; 9% of stops were for whites, who made up 7% of all murder suspects.
The Post added that Bloomberg’s comments are rooted in statistics showing that a majority of serious crimes in the city are carried out by young men of color between the ages of 15 and 25.
Capital reports that Bloomberg invoked the city’s murder rate, which has fallen dramatically during his tenure, and argued that now is not the time to conduct a “social experiment.”
More from Capital on the city council bills:
One bill would create an NYPD inspector general within the city’s Department of Investigations. That I.G. would have subpoena power and would be able to issue recommendations to the police department. It passed with a large veto-proof majority in the City Council.
The other bill, whose veto-proof majority is significantly more vulnerable, would allow New Yorkers to sue the NYPD for unfairly targeting New Yorkers based on age, housing status, sexual orientation and gender in state court.
Bloomberg declarations, which came during his weekly appearance on the John Gambling radio show, included this statement on the second of the two bills: “The racial profiling bill is just so unworkable,” he said. “Nobody racially profiles.”
“There is this business, there’s one newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying, ‘Oh you’re stopping a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic or religious or age or gender group,’” Bloomberg said. “That’s not the test. The test is, ‘Are you stopping a disproportionate percentage of people who fit the description that witnesses or victims have come up with of crimes that have been committed?’”
Bloomberg emphasized that NYPD on the beat need sufficient latitude to “go out, and stop, look for, those that fit the description of a witness or a victim after a crime. And if you can’t do that, you just turn over the streets to the criminals, literally overnight.”
“People say, well you know, cops shouldn’t be stopping so many of any one group,” Bloomberg said. “The cops’ job is to stop so many of groups fitting the description. It’s society’s job to make sure that no one group is disproportionately represented as potential perpetrators.”
According to New York Magazine, Bloomberg’s comments echo NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s last month: “It makes no sense to use census data, because half the people you stop would be women,” Kelly argued. “African-Americans are being understopped in relation to the percentage of people being described as being the perpetrators of violent crime. The stark reality is that a crime happens in communities of color.”
NYC mayoral candidates quickly denounced Bloomberg’s statements:
“It’s out of touch, it’s insensitive, and I dare say it is hurtful to people all over the city,” said Bill DeBlasio. “As a New Yorker, as a father, as a son of the city, I found Mayor Bloomberg’s comments today on his radio show to be outrageous and insulting.”
“The mayor’s comments seem to indicate that if you’re black or Latino, you’re automatically a murder suspect in the city of New York,” said mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. “How … insulting it is to have even uttered those comments. And what he indicates to the hundreds of thousands of people who are stopped and frisked unnecessarily in past years, is that we’re sorry we didn’t stop more people in the city of New York.”
City Council Member Brad Lander, a big proponent of the bills, fired back at Bloomberg with a tweet:
Here’s an audio portion of Bloomberg’s June 28 WOR radio-show comments via Raw Story: