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Ocasio-Cortez blasts Bloomberg on stop and frisk: 'People's lives were ruined'

Ocasio-Cortez blasts Bloomberg on stop and frisk: 'People's lives were ruined'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTrump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere Trump tweets Thanksgiving criticism of NFL QBs for kneeling Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday panned former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE's response to leaked audio this week that shows him defending the controversial policing policy known as "stop and frisk.”

An audio clip from 2015 surfaced on Tuesday of Bloomberg defending the practice of law enforcement questioning and searching people for weapons on the street, saying that nearly all murderers and murder victims "fit one M.O." of young minority men. The stop-and-frisk policy was widely criticized for racial profiling and ineffectiveness in reducing crime.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has endorsed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality Trump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere MORE (I-Vt.) in the Democratic presidential primary, said that Bloomberg's attempt to distance himself from those comments fell short and failed to take responsibility for the policy while he served as mayor of the city that includes her district.

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"That was my family. And that was my community. And that was my neighborhood," said Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens.

"People's lives were ruined. So are those folks going to get their records expunged? With a tweet? They're not," she added in a conversation with reporters near the House floor. "So I think that we need something a little bit more than that."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE and his campaign manager, Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE, seized on the clip on Tuesday as evidence that Bloomberg is a "complete racist."

"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 video. "They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. It’s true in virtually every city."

Bloomberg had previously apologized for stop and frisk, and in a statement on Tuesday, he acknowledged that the policy was "overused" and that he regretted it wasn't ended sooner.

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"I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused. 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.

However, the use of stop and frisk initially rose significantly during his time as mayor and declined in part because of litigation against it.

According to data from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the number of recorded stops rose from 97,296 when Bloomberg took office in 2002 to 685,724 in 2011. It decreased to 191,851 stops in 2013, his last year in office. More than 80 percent of the people stopped were black or Latino.

Ocasio-Cortez said that it was misleading for Bloomberg to attempt to distance himself from stop-and-frisk policies.

"Stop and frisk was a uniquely and largely Bloomberg administration policy. I don't think he can blame it on a predecessor," she said.

Bloomberg, who is trying to cast himself as a centrist alternative to candidates such as Sanders, unveiled three new endorsements from members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday in the face of the latest controversy over stop and frisk.

Centrist House Democrats are openly fretting that Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night following a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses, would be a disaster if he becomes the party's nominee. Some even fear that having Sanders at the top of the ticket could lead to Democrats losing the House.

Ocasio-Cortez downplayed those concerns, noting that the situation would be reversed if a more centrist candidate such as Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) were currently the front-runner.

"I think that no matter what, we're gonna unify under the nominee. There will always be concerns about party unity no matter who it is, right? If Klobuchar or whomever was the front-runner right now, there would be a lot of stress as to whether progressives would unify," she said. 

"Similarly, with Bernie being the front-runner, there's going to be stress around more conservatives rallying behind that nominee," she added.

But she urged Democrats to set internal differences aside and focus on beating Trump in November.

"I think we need to all acknowledge the existential threat," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We need to be bigger than that."