In audio that surfaced online this week, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his administration's sometimes-controversial anti-crime strategies, saying the "only way to get guns out of kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them."
Bloomberg's remarks came in a Feb. 6 talk to the Aspen Institute in Colorado.
The former mayor reiterated his well-known views about crime in minority communities, saying it was necessary to put more cops in those neighborhoods and have them be more aggressive to get guns off the streets, according to audio of the speech posted by the conservative website The Daily Caller on Tuesday night.
"It's controversial, but . . . 95 percent of your murders, and murderers, and murder victims fit one MO," Bloomberg said. "They are male, minorities, 15 to 25. That's true in New York; it's true in virtually every city in America."
He added: "You've got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. First thing you can do to help that group is to keep them alive."
When asked for comment about the discussion, Stu Loeser, the former mayor's spokesman, reiterated that Bloomberg has made similar comments while in office and called them "indisputable, unfortunate facts."
"As he said hundreds of times, we need common-sense gun laws in Washington and policing focused on high-crime areas to stop them from getting killed," Loeser said in a statement.
The city's overall crime rate dropped 32 percent between 2001 and 2013, according to police statistics.
Although Bloomberg has voiced such views before, the Aspen Times reported that his team asked the institute not to release the video of the speech before an audience of 400 people.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has sharply curtailed the use of stop-and-frisk, said he didn't listen to Bloomberg's comments, but called the practice "counterproductive" and hurtful toward good community-police relations.
"It's unfair to the vast majority of innocent people who were treated that way," he told reporters Thursday.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that sued the city over stop-and-frisk, chastised Bloomberg for continuing to promote the policy, noting that it only resulted in a gun seizure "less than 0.2 percent of the time."
"New York City cops and New York City residents know that we can have both security and dignity. The former mayor is the only one who seems to think those two are mutually exclusive," she said in a statement.
With Matthew Chayes