Mike Bloomberg struggles to defend racist remarks

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The former New York City mayor is facing scrutiny over a slew of past remarks he made about minorities and food stamp recipients.

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg struggled this week to confront the fallout from a series of reports on racist comments he made in the past.

In 2015, Bloomberg defended the racist "stop-and-frisk" policy used by New York City Police officers when he was mayor, saying the "way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them."

"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," Bloomberg said at the time, during a speech at the Aspen Institute.

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The NAACP has called stop-and-frisk "ineffective" and slammed it as "racial profiling."

Audio of those remarks was first flagged by the conservative Daily Caller in 2015 and resurfaced this week after podcast host Benjamin Dixon shared it in a tweet.

On Wednesday, at an event in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bloomberg was pressed about those comments.

"I don’t think those words reflect how I led the most diverse city in the nation, and I apologized for the practice and the pain that it caused," he replied. "It was five years ago and it's just not the way that I think."

However, the Associated Press also unearthed comments this week that Bloomberg made in 2008, in which he lamented the elimination of the discriminatory practice of redlining and blamed its removal for the financial crisis.

As the outlet notes, the term "redlining" stems from the industry practice of drawing "red lines" around certain areas on a map "to denote areas deemed ineligible for credit, frequently based on race."

"... Congress got involved — local elected officials, as well — and said, 'Oh that’s not fair, these people should be able to get credit.' And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn't as good as you would like," Bloomberg said at a Georgetown forum at the time.

Bloomberg's statement echoed comments by many Republicans who repeatedly blamed the financial crisis on poor people, rather than banks who bought and sold loans.

Bloomberg also came under fire on Thursday, after New York Magazine published a report detailing comments he made in a 2018 talk he gave at the International Monetary Fund, during which he defended the practice of fingerprinting food stamp recipients.

"Now, there was a lot of yelling and screaming and saying, that we're invading your personal space by looking at your fingerprints. Well, that may be, but you can't come to work for New York City unless we fingerprint you first. So it’s not unreasonable to think that the beneficiaries of our program would get fingerprinted too," he said during that speech. "We're just stopping people from breaking the law, which is hurting other people."

Bloomberg is currently running in the Democratic presidential primary and has outspent every one of his opponents thus far, dropping more than $188 million in the last quarter alone.

An aggregate of recent polling shows Bloomberg with 14.2% support within the Democratic Party, trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.