The presidential campaign for Michael Bloomberg says he will get it done: “He will fix health care, strengthen the middle class, make America safer and bring us together.” However, some are asking how the former mayor of New York City can bring “us” together when he has been known to spout racist comments.
During an interview with CBS’s Gayle King, Bloomberg described then-presidential candidate Cory Booker as “well-spoken.” Bloomberg later apologized for the racist language. Bloomberg told King: “Cory Booker endorsed me a number of times, and I endorsed Cory Booker a number of times. He’s very well spoken, he’s got some good ideas.”
Booker said he was taken aback by Bloomberg’s comment, which was deemed a racist slight as it commented on the candidate’s intelligence.
“It’s sort of stunning at times that we are still revisiting these sort of tired tropes or the language we have out there that I don’t think folks understand,” Booker said in a radio interview. “The fact that they don’t understand is problematic.”
Bloomberg later apologized by saying, “I probably shouldn’t have used the word, but I could just tell you he is a friend of mine,” he said. “He is a Rhodes Scholar, which is much more impressive than my academic background. I envy him.”
As NYC’s mayor, Bloomberg opposed efforts to clean up lead-contaminated buildings in Harlem and other parts of the city. This decision aided billionaire NYC landlords while negatively affecting the city’s poor, who are mostly people of color. Bloomberg finally caved and met with Cordell Cleare, a Harlem mother who crusades against landlords whose neglect of lead paint hazards had poisoned thousands of kids. But the meeting didn’t change his mind.
Cleare informed Bloomberg that the lead paint dust causes an epidemic of brain damage among mostly Black and Latino children. His response surprised Cleare.
“He said, ‘Yeah, well, I just don’t understand certain behaviors in certain populations,’” Cleare recalled on a recent morning over a cup of tea at a Dunkin’ Donuts on 116th Street. “Then he told me his foundation was trying to find out why people take drugs.”
“She understood the mayor’s insinuation: Irresponsible minority parents, not landlords, were the ones to blame for lead-tainted paint dust coating the floors and surfaces of their poorly maintained apartments,” MotherJones reported.
“I took it as an insult,” Cleare said. “It was so mind-blowing to me that I honestly can’t tell you how I came back. Everything just stopped right there, and I said, ‘I’m talking about lead-poisoned kids.’”
“It was so mind-blowing to me that I honestly can’t tell you how I came back.”
“But Bloomberg’s remark came straight out of a racist industry playbook dating back decades, lead experts say. Bloomberg’s critics say it also highlights a gap between the wealthy financier’s reputation as an environmental philanthropist and his record as a policymaker,” Mother Jones reported.
As the mayor of New York City, Bloomberg stoutly defended the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, which was deemed as racist by a number of civil and human rights organizations. When there was a push-back against it, Bloomberg defended racial profiling.
In response to opposition to the push for an anti-racial profiling bill, Bloomberg said, “These are bad bills. The racial profiling bill is just so unworkable. Nobody racially profiles.”
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During a speech Bloomberg gave to the Aspen Institute in 2015, Bloomberg again defended NYC’s stop-and-frisk by saying: “Ninety-five percent of murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg can be heard saying in his unmistakable and signature nasal tone. “They are male, minorities, 16-25. 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 people that are getting killed.”
Years later, Bloomberg apologized for supporting stop-and-frisk.
In the same speech, Bloomberg went on to blame nearly “all” marijuana crimes on minorities. He said: “So one of the 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 neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. 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… ‘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.”