“You defended it for a whole generation,” he said. “Now you know you need Black votes and you have a change of heart.”
Mr. Bloomberg did not shy away from the fact that he was reconsidering his record in his last job as he eyed a potential new one. “In recent months, as I’ve thought about my future, I’ve been thinking more about my past — and coming to terms with where I came up short,” he said.
Mr. Bloomberg, 77, had consistently defended the program until now. “I think people, the voters, want low crime,” Mr. Bloomberg told The New York Times last year. “They don’t want kids to kill each other.”
In fact, Mr. Bloomberg had gone to this very same church, located in East New York, in 2012 to defend the stop-and-frisk program and answer mounting criticism around it.
“There is no doubt those stops have saved lives,” Mr. Bloomberg declared then. He tried to link the stops to a 34 percent crime rate drop at the time. “When you consider that 90 percent of all murder victims are black and Hispanic, there is no doubt most of those victims would have come from communities like this one,” he said then.
But on Sunday, he acknowledged that the community around the church had experienced the program very differently. The church is situated at the edge of the 75th Precinct in New York, which the New York Civil Liberties Union said led the city with 265,393 stops between 2003 and 2013.
“Our focus was on saving lives,” Mr. Bloomberg said Sunday. “But the fact is: Far too many innocent people were being stopped while we tried to do that. And the overwhelming majority of them were black and Latino. 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.”