CIVIC CENTER — Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for fingerprinting public housing residents as a crime fighting measure — a proposal that immediately drew fire from civil rights groups and politicians.
"If you have strangers walking in the halls of your apartment building don't you want somebody to stop and say, 'Who are you? Why are you here?' said Bloomberg Friday during his weekly radio address with WOR's John Gambling. "What we really should have is fingerprinting to get in."
The mayor added that public housing have statistically higher crime rates.
"Five percent of our population lives in NYCHA housing. 20 percent of the crime is in NYCHA housing. With numbers like that, we've just got to find some ways to keep bringing crime down there."
The NAACP countered that fingerprinting residents would be treating law-abiding citizens like criminals.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s derogatory statements about public housing residents are an outrage,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in a statement. “Families live in public housing apartments, not criminals. Public housing residents, as well as the friends and family visiting them, deserve the same level of respect from our Mayor as any other New York City resident.”
Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio called Bloomberg's remarks "insulting."
"Once again, Mayor Bloomberg has resorted to presuming innocent people are guilty simply because they happen to live in certain areas, and in doing so he is stigmatizing entire communities," he said.
Fellow candidate Bill Thompson called the mayor's remarks "disrespectful."
"Just like stop and frisk, this is another direct act of treating minorities like criminals. Mayor Bloomberg wants to make New Yorkers feel like prisoners in their own homes," Thompson said.
Bloomberg made the remarks after being asked about the Manhattan federal judge who wrote the decision on stop-and-frisk now preparing to hear a case about police patrolling stairwells in public housing.
"If you live in NYCHA you should be really worried about [Judge Shira Scheindlin]," said Bloomberg, "because if we stop these vertical patrols crime can easily just get totally out of hand."