Rev. Al Sharpton: Bloomberg isn’t the only 2020 Democrat with ‘racial baggage’

Rev. Al Sharpton said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday that the top Democrats in the 2020 presidential field all have “racial baggage,” urging them not to attack former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a way to distract from facing questions about their own records.

Sharpton was asked by host Mika Brzezinski what Bloomberg could do to repair the damage from his controversial stop-and-frisk policy used by New York City police officers while he was mayor. In a 2015 audio clip that resurfaced last week, Bloomberg defended the policy.

“The way you should get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them,” Bloomberg said in 2015.

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“Ninety-five percent of murders – murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” he said. “They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed.”

Sharpton said Bloomberg should not get a “pass” on the issue and he will have to do something to “repair the damage” beyond making speeches and apologies. He said Bloomberg must put forth a “criminal justice initiative” of some kind aimed at those who were “scarred” by stop and frisk.

He then turned to the other candidates and called on them to also address their records on criminal justice and minorities.

“I also, Mika, don’t want to see him as a leaf that the other candidates dump some of their racial baggage. … I want to know what Bernie’s gonna say about the vote he did for the [1994] crime bill, where people went to jail.

“No matter his reason for voting for it, it was a law that incarcerated people. Joe Biden wrote it,” he said, adding that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is now facing questions for her prosecution of a 16-year-old black male.

An Associated Press investigation into the 17-year-old case uncovered new evidence and myriad inconsistencies, raising questions about whether the teen was railroaded by police in the death of an 11-year-old girl by a stray bullet.

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“All of them have racial baggage,” he added.

Brzezinski pushed back that the other candidates are answering questions on their records while participating in primaries and debates, but Bloomberg is sitting out the first four contests and not facing tough questions.

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