Things That Matter

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Apologizes For Years Of Stop-And-Frisk Policy Ahead Of Possible 2020 Run

As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighs a run of a possible 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, he has some regrets about some of his previous policies. In speaking to potential voters at the Christian Cultural Center, a Black church in Brooklyn, Bloomberg showed remorse for his handling of the controversial stop-and-frisk policy. During his 12-year tenure as mayor and well after he left office, Bloomberg defended the policing strategy which allowed city officers to stop and search anyone they suspected of committing a crime.

“I was determined to improve police-community relations while at the same time reducing crime even further,” Bloomberg said at the church. “Our focus was on saving lives. But the fact is: Far too many innocent people were being stopped.”

Statistics show that the policy didn’t work as it should have and instead targeted people of color in the community, most notably Black and Latino residents.  

Credit: @ava / Twitter

The stop-and-frisk policy was in place long before Bloomberg took office in 2002 and has long been viewed as a policy that directly targeted Black and Latino communities. The strategy allowed city police to detain an individual and subject them to unnecessary searches sometimes to look for possible weapons, drugs or other paraphernalia. An officer would have to have a reasonable belief that the person is, has been, or is about to be involved in a crime. The purpose of the policy was to deter violent crime in the city but, in return, it destroyed police-community relations for years in New York. 

“The temperature in the city at the time was that the police were at war with Black and brown people on the streets,” Jenn Rolnick-Borchetta, the director of impact litigation at the Bronx Defenders, told the New York Times. “And that is how people experienced it.”

Statistics show that Black and Latino people were nine times as likely as white people to be stopped by police officers when it came to the policy. They were no more likely to be arrested, the New York Times reported back in May 2010.

During Bloomberg’s tenure as New York City mayor, there was a huge spike in the overall use of the stop-and-frisk policy. According to the New York Times, the number of stops reached a peak of 685,724 in 2011 and then fell to 191,851 in 2013. In Bloomberg’s 12 year tenure as mayor, there were 5,081,689 stops by police recorded. 

Political pundits and criminal justice reform advocates are fiercely criticizing Bloomberg’s sudden backtracking on the controversial policy.

Credit: @NYCmayor / Twitter

There has been a growing wave of criticism for Bloomberg’s sudden policy walk back that is coming just as he is set to announce his 20202 campaign run. Many are criticizing Bloomberg as changing his tune in an attempt to appeal to the voters once terrorized by a policy he spent over a decade defending. One of the most high profile critics has been current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who dropped out of the 2020 presidential race earlier this year. 

“This is LONG overdue and the timing is transparent and cynical,” Mayor de Blasio tweeted.“With all due respect to my predecessor, we’ve spent six years undoing the damage he created with this bankrupt policy. We ended stop and frisk AND drove down crime. Actions speak louder than words.”

Another critic was social justice advocate Shawn King who decried Bloomberg’s apology. He voiced what some see as a political walk back in midst of a potential run at president. 

“BULLSHIT. After years of running the Apartheid-like policy of stopping and frisking millions of people of color throughout New York City, and then defending it every day in office, then every day he was out of office up until this week, @MikeBloomberg,” King tweeted

Many view his apology as a way to try to gain Black and Latino voters. More importantly, it is seen as an attempt to regain years of lost trust between him and the community. 

Credit: @amandawrites / Twitter

“The fact is, far too many innocent people were being stopped while we tried to do that. The overwhelming majority of them were black and Latino,” Bloomberg told church attendees on Sunday. “That may have included, I’m sorry to say, some of you here today. Perhaps yourself or your children, or your grandchildren, or your neighbors, or your relatives.”

There is one notable person that has voiced his approval in Bloomberg’s apology, Rev. Al Sharpton, who said the former mayor reached out to him. He says that history will be the judge of the policy-making that Bloomberg had in New York City. 

“Whatever his motive is, I’m glad that he’s taking this stand,” Sharpton told the Daily News. “We will have to wait and see whether it was politically motivated but Mr. Bloomberg should be judged by the same standards we judged Joe Biden, the author of the 1994 Crime Bill that led to disproportionate numbers of Black and brown men going to jail for years, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted for it.”

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American Latinos United Launches Committee To Take Down President Trump In 2020

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American Latinos United Launches Committee To Take Down President Trump In 2020

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Monday, American Latinos United (ALU) made the announcement that it would be forming a committee to create a new super PAC, “focused on defeating President Donald Trump by activating Latino voters in key battleground states.” As the 2020 election cycles draw closer and closer, political groups are already looking to key battleground states where Latino voters will play a key role in determining the next president. 

Backed by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and entrepreneur Fernando Espuelas, the new committee will be targeting Latinos in six key battleground states: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The ALU does not appear to be backing or supporting any specific Democratic candidate as of now. Instead, it will be placing emphasis on Latino voter engagement in these key states. 

This year will be a historic one for Latinos as for the first time ever, they will become the largest minority group of potential voters in the United States. The ALU wants to be sure that a majority of those eligible to vote actually do so. 

The 2020 election has a lot on the line besides just the presidential nomination. For Latinos, issues like healthcare, immigration, and the economy are some of the biggest factors they’ll be considering when heading to the ballot box this November. The ALU plans to energize Latino voters on these issues through specifically targeted technology, culturally appropriate messaging, and on-the-ground work to turn out voters. The committee will also have ads that will be played in English and Spanish across traditional media and digital platforms.

The ALU points to the 2016 election as an example of the importance of having Latinos come out and vote. The number of eligible voters of Latino background who did not cast a ballot in 2016 was overwhelmingly high, 14 million, considering the anti-Latino sentiment heard from Trump on the campaign trail. 

According to the Pew Research Center, over half of the 27 million eligible Hispanic voters stayed home. That may be credited to not only Trump but a lack of enthusiasm when it came to Hillary Clinton. This year hopes to be different as 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2020, compared with 30 million African-Americans.

“President Trump captured about 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016. If he falls under that threshold in 2020, key battleground states will be out of his reach,” Espuelas said in a press release. “With the Electoral College in play, we intend to empower Latinos in battleground states to defeat Trump with their votes.”

The ALU called out President Trump and his administration for “incompetence and corruption.” It warns if voter turnout this year is anything like 2016, Trump will surely be re-elected. 

In advancing its message, the ALU hopes to also hope to connect with Latinos on single-issue voters that have previously not voted Democrat. In doing so, they will also educate voters on the “moral danger that Trump represents” and the consequences of reelection victory for his administration. 

 “Our country is on a precipice. President Trump’s incompetence and corruption are threatening our democracy and the American way of life,” Villaraigosa said. “Latino voters can make all the difference – if we know how to engage and activate the millions of people that sit out most elections. Through ALU, we’ll connect deeply with our community and create the mechanisms to turn out the vote in historic proportions.”

While most Latinos tend to vote Democratic, that shouldn’t make their vote an automatic given. Many Latinos have cast doubt over the party in recent years, some even pointing anger towards former President Obama who deported more than three million undocumented immigrants. 

The ALU wants to change the narrative on the 2020 election not being just about a party but about having your voice heard. The 2018 midterm elections saw some momentum when it came to the Latino vote as about 40.4 percent of eligible Latino voters came out to the polls, about 11.7 million voters in total, according to the Pew Research Center

“American Latinos United can stop him. We are everywhere. All across the country—around kitchen tables, in-office conference rooms, on busways and buses, in town halls— American Latinos are talking, planning, gathering force and strength,” the ALU website reads. “We have the power to stop Trump. And we can shine the unwavering light of truth on the corrupt Republican party that enables him.

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Joe Biden Says That Undocumented Immigrants ‘Have To Learn How To Speak English’ To Become Citizens

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Joe Biden Says That Undocumented Immigrants ‘Have To Learn How To Speak English’ To Become Citizens

joebiden / Instagram

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is coming under fire once again after he casually suggested that a requirement for U.S. citizenship should be fluency in the English language. The United States does not have an official language, prompting critics to question Biden as to why English fluency should ever be considered a requirement. Biden had the floor when he was addressing supporters at a campaign stop in Iowa when he touched on his immigration plan. Biden’s primary talking point to address immigration issues is to emphasize a “pathway to citizenship.” President Trump’s 2020 Campaign Deputy Director of Communications, Zach Parkinson, shared a video of Biden’s campaign stop in Iowa, where Biden’s “pathway to citizenship” details the language requirement not listed anywhere else in Biden’s campaign.

While Biden’s formal immigration campaign doesn’t include a language requirement, this isn’t the first time he’s let a remark like that slip. 

During a campaign speech in Iowa, Joe Biden said he would enact the policy change “within a matter of months of being elected President.”

CREDIT: @AZACHPARKINSON / TWITTER

When Biden talks about the “pathway to citizenship” he envisions, he remarks that “like every other person who’s come here, they have to pass, they have to learn how to speak English, they have to demonstrate they pay their taxes…But it’s a pathway.” Passing the citizenship test is a feat in of itself because the verbal portion of the test is administered in English. If Biden is talking about how undocumented immigrants “have to pass” that test, it’s indisputable. If he’s, in fact, saying that undocumented immigrants “have to pass” culturally speaking, he is flat out wrong.

The United States does not have an official language. There are plenty of citizens born or naturalized into America who live in communities that don’t necessitate English fluency to thrive. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go visit Hialeah or Little Havana in Miami and get yourself lost because even the street signs are in Spanish. 

In November, Biden cited that undocumented immigrants should “learn the language” as a requirement to becoming a U.S. citizen.

CREDIT: @AZACHPARKINSON / TWITTER

“The deal is, that, if you want to be an American citizen, you gotta come out of the shadows,” Biden told a crowd before his formal immigration plan was laid out. He goes on to call his version of a “pathway to citizenship,” “earned citizenship.” He also insidiously chooses to characterize undocumented immigrants by telling his supporters, “By the way, they didn’t come across the Rio Grande. They came on a visa and they overstayed their visa… You get in the process of doing what everyone else has had to do who has come. Learn the language, etc, you go through the same process.”

Biden’s official “roadmap to citizenship” only includes three requirements, none of which is English fluency.

SCREENSHOT. DIGITAL IMAGE. JOEBIDEN.COM. 7 JANUARY 2019.

There are 12 million people living and working in the United States without documentation. On his campaign page, Biden calls them, “our mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. They are our neighbors, co-workers, and members of our congregations and Little League teams. They contribute in countless ways to our communities, workforce, and economy.” Biden’s 2020 online message is clear: he “will aggressively advocate for legislation that creates a clear roadmap to legal status and citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who register, are up-to-date on their taxes, and have passed a background check.” 

When Biden speaks at campaign events, however, it seems less clear. These aren’t brothers and mothers who work to become the fabric of society. They are immigrants who take advantage of the visa system and overstay their welcome. They are choosing to stay “in the shadows” when they really need to do what “everyone else” has allegedly had to do and “learn how to speak English” and “earn” their citizenship. 

Children of these same immigrants are speaking out against Biden.

CREDIT: @JUANSAAA / TWITTER

My parents have worked over the past 19 years, paid their taxes, and given back to their community. They’re in their late 50’s and are integral to the fabric of Florida. You’re going to deny them citizenship over a language requirement should they come out of the shadows?” asked Twitter DACA advocate Juan Escalante. 

The Biden campaign has responded to Politico journalist Alex Thompson to say that “the verbal portion of the naturalization exam is administered in English (except for in very select cases) and our plan offers English language education support.”

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