Posted on February 20, 2020

I Was the Judge in the Stop-and-Frisk Case. I Don’t Think Bloomberg Is Racist.

Shira A. Scheindlin, New York Times, February 19, 2020

In 2013, I ruled in Floyd vs. City of New York that the tactics underlying the city’s stop-and-frisk program violated the constitutional rights of people of color. {snip}

Despite this, Mayor Bloomberg continued to zealously defend stop-and-frisk, including in eyebrow-raising comments at the Aspen Institute in 2015 which recently resurfaced. He apologized for the policy only days before jumping into the presidential race. Many people are wondering — is he a racist? I don’t think so. Not if you look at many other valuable things he has done for minorities. I don’t believe he ever understood the human toll of stopping black and Latino men, 90 percent of which did not result in a summons or arrest. But the stops were frightening, humiliating and unwarranted invasions of black and brown people’s bodies.

At the time of the Floyd trial, and still today, I am convinced that Mayor Bloomberg believed that the stop-and-frisk policy — which began under Rudy Giuliani, his immediate predecessor, but grew dramatically during Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure — was protecting African-Americans, who were disproportionately the victims of crime. {snip} This was misguided because a stop based on racial profiling instead of reasonable suspicion is unconstitutional. But this does not mean he hates black people. The most I can say is he had a pure heart but an empty head; the stop-and-frisk program was very poorly executed.


No one is perfect. But there is another side to Mr. Bloomberg that may not be as well known: His achievements in creating opportunities for many minority New Yorkers while mayor and his commitment to good works in his post-mayoral years.

In 2005, he started the WeCare initiative, which provided job opportunities to low-income people. The next year, he created a citywide antipoverty program around a new Center for Economic Opportunity, which received half of its $100 million initial funding from the city. This program, too, focused on job creation. In 2009, he spearheaded an agreement with the Building Trades Employers’ Association to ensure more construction job opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses and ensured that 45 percent of apprenticeship slots would be filled from underrepresented groups. Two years later, he launched the Corporate Alliance Program which was dedicated to increasing the value of public contracts to women and minority businesses, with a 47 percent increase in contracts in 2010 to these groups. In 2006, just 379 businesses were certified to do business with the city. By Mr. Bloomberg’s final year in office, that number grew to 3,700. The Bloomberg administration placed job-recruitment centers in many city Housing Authority buildings.


If he is the best person to head the Democratic ticket this fall, then his failed stop-and-frisk policy should not prevent him from assuming that most important role. {snip}