President Donald Trump quickly deleted a tweet that attacked former Mike Bloomberg as "racist" over comments the former New York mayor made in an unearthed audio recording defending stop-and-frisk.
"WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!" Trump wrote before the tweet was deleted shortly thereafter. The president later re-tweeted a post that included the hashtag #BloombergIsRacist.
It is unclear why Trump deleted the tweet, though it could have something to do with his longstanding support for stop-and-frisk. A federal judge struck down the practice 2013 as "indirect racial profiling" that led to police regularly stopping "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white."
Trump said during his 2016 campaign that the program "worked very well" in New York and called for its nationwide implementation.
"I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to — we did it in New York. It worked incredibly well," Trump said at the time. "You understand — you have to have, in my opinion. I see what's going on here — I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City, it was so incredible — the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor. But New York City was incredible — the way that worked. So I think that could be one step you could do."
The president doubled down on his support for the unconstitutional program in 2018, arguing that "'stop-and-frisk' works and it was meant for problems like Chicago."
Bloomberg apologized for his support of the policy when he launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in November, even though he defended it as recently as January 2019.
Bloomberg was heard defending the policy during a February 2015 speech at Aspen Institute in an unearthed recording that was widely circulated Monday. Bloomberg's aides asked the organizers not to release the footage of his remarks after the event, according to The Aspen Times.
"Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops," Bloomberg says in the clip. "They are male minorities 16 to 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 the people that are getting killed."
"People say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana who are all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods," he continued "Yes, that's true. Why'd we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you should get the guns out of the kids' hands is throw them against the wall and frisk them."
Bloomberg said in a statement that Trump's tweet was "the latest example of his endless efforts to divide Americans" but acknowledged that stop-and-frisk was "overused" in New York.
"By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95%. But I should've done it faster and sooner. I regret that, and I have apologized. And I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities," Bloomberg said. "But this issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity."
Bloomberg continued to defend stop-and-frisk for years, though his claims about its success were wildly overblown.
While violent crime fell in New York, other large cities like Dallas, Los Angeles and New Orleans experienced far larger drops in violent crime without using the racist policy. And guns were found in only 0.2% of stops, despite stops increasing by 600% under Bloomberg, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).
Between 2002 and 2011, black and Latino New Yorkers made up roughly 90% of people stopped. While Bloomberg claims that the stops were aimed at high-crime areas, the data shows that the stops were discriminatory in predominantly white areas, too.
"For example, in 2011, Black and Latino New Yorkers made up 24 percent of the population in Park Slope but 79 percent of stops," the NYCLU said. "This, on its face, is discriminatory."
Since Bloomberg left office, the use of stop-and-frisk dropped by 98% compared to 2011 levels, according to the NYCLU.
The audio release comes after Bloomberg rocketed up in numerous polls, hitting 15% nationally in the latest Quinnipiac poll Monday. Trump has increasingly ramped up his attacks on Bloomberg as the mayor surged in the polls. His attempt to paint the former mayor as "racist" comes after Trump used his State of the Union and Superbowl ads to try to reach black voters, who overwhelmingly voted against him in 2016.
But "Trump is in a glass house on this issue," The Washington Post's Aaron Blake wrote. "Not only is his record on racial issues what it is — most notably on the Central Park Five and Charlottesville — but he has vocally supported the stop-and-frisk policy."
As progressive activists urged Democrats to back another candidate, Bloomberg was not in a better spot overthe recorded remarks.
"Nominating a racist candidate to run against Donald Trump, whether it's stop-and-frisk racism or turn-the-record-player-on racism, is taking your side's single greatest advantage — being significantly less racist — and throwing it out the window," Time editor-at-large Anand Giridharadas tweeted.