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-CortezHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots Young minority voters show overwhelming support for Biden: poll MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday panned former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown on the NRA lawsuit: 'Come November, we're going to make sure they're out of power, too' Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump 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 SandersOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic 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 says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE and his campaign manager, Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE, 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 KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world 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."