Recently, the lieutenant governor of Texas suggested to President  Obama that the President be more cautious in the language he uses which  may be taken as denigrating the police. One cannot help but admire how Obama is able to combine apparent sincerity, hurt, long suffering and righteous indignation in the tone of this response:
“I have been unequivocal in condemning any rhetoric directed at police officers,” … So I think, Lt. Gov., you’d have to find any message that did not include a very strong support for law enforcement in all my utterances dating back to Ferguson ….” [Emphasis added.]
Let’s look at the record.
On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown is reported killed by a police  officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The mass media, which love stories denigrating  the police, jumped on it.   They immediately characterized Brown as “an unarmed teenager'” and were able to locate and publish a picture of him in high school graduation robes. They trumpeted an unverified allegation that Brown was shot while he had his hands in the air saying “Don’t shoot”; they also spread another unverified  report that Brown was shot in the back -apparently either not noticing or not caring about the apparent contradiction between those two allegations.
The media reports sparked violent demonstrations, looting and arson, destroying many black businesses.
The mass media either did not learn or did not report that Brown was 18 years old, 6’4″ tall and weighed 296 pounds. And the mass media either did not locate or did not report that there was a video of Brown taken a matter of minutes before the shooting.  The video showed Brown robbing a convenience store, pushing around a small slightly built clerk.
Here are stills from  that video.
Surely, that video tape was relevant.  It gave the lie to the implication that the “victim” was an innocent harmless teenager, a characterization which ignited destructive rampages in not only in Ferguson but in more than 100 other cities.
We since have learned that the release of the video tape was delayed because Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and the Democrat Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, wanted the tapes suppressed. Nixon was quoted as saying “It appeared to cast aspersionson a young man that was gunned down in the street. ” [Emphasis added.] Why should it not?
But one member of the media, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Judicial Watch obtained the video under Missouri’s version of the Freedom of Information Act.
And what was President Obama’s take on this? He stated:
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed.
I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.
Thereafter, President Obama sent 3 representatives to Michael Brown’s funeral. [He did not send any representatives to the memorial service for James Foley, the American beheaded by ISIS.]
After consulting with President Obama and Eric Holder, Al Sharpton appeared in Ferguson. Sharpton first came to notoriety as an advocate for Tawana Brawley, a teenage black girl who accused 4 white men, including police and a prosecutor, of raping and abusing her. Sharpton was vociferous in accusing all involved of racism. Brawley’s allegations  were found to be false; she had invented the story herself.  Sharpton lost a lawsuit to one of the accused men.
Despite that background and despite owing millions in back taxes, Sharpton is an Obama advisor who has visited the White House more than 100 times.
Predictably, Sharpton lost no time in denouncing the police and characterizing Brown as “a gentle giant.”
Could the president make it worse? One month after the incident,  Obama appeared before the United Nations and told the world:
I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within our own borders. This is true. In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri – where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2014/09/24/obama-united-nations-ferguson-general-assembly/16148309/
Was that a fair and full statement of what happened?  Was that “very strong support for law enforcement?”
The Ferguson Grand Jury
My first years after graduation from law school were in the criminal law; I spent one year as a full-time defense lawyer for indigents charged with criminal offenses; I then spent 6 years as a prosecutor.
I was impressed at the transparency of the district attorney handling the investigation of the Brown shooting. I had never seen a prosecutor make public the entire record before the grand jury – in this case some 5000 pages and interviews of some 60 witnesses.
The  investigation took 3 months. The evidence included more than one autopsy revealing, among other things, that Brown was under the influence of THC,  and forensic results which showed, among other things, Brown’s DNA on the officer indicating he had come in contact with the officer, and the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses, most of whom were black, that Brown was walking in the middle of the street, refused the officer’s direction to go to the sidewalk,  charged the officer and attempted to seize his weapon,and, most important, that there was no hands up gesture and no “Don’t shoot” words.  It was also established  that the few witnesses who initially testified to the gesture and words admitted they had not seen or heard it and that they had made it up or were repeating what someone had told them. All of this evidence was made available to the FBI and the Department of Justice.
There was only one legitimate and honorable position for the President and Attorney General Holder to take. State that the evidence was thoroughly examined,  the Department of Justice had full access to it, that the Grand Jury’s conclusion was correct and that the President and the Attorney General stood behind it. They also should have added this caveat: Obey the law; Michael Brown would still be alive had he done so. Without cavil, that would have been “very strong support for law enforcement.”
Did they do that? No, they did  not.
President Obama issued a statement which included these comments:
“… so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.
…I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur…As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, …we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. …But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.”  [Emphasis added.]
Obama got his message across; he was telling people the decision could have gone either way but it went the way it did because of racism.
Holder continued that implication. He indicated that the Department of Justice would conduct its own investigation. [It was Holder’s Department of Justice which refused to pursue the case against the Black Panthers who brandished a weapon to intimidate voters at a polling place on election day.]
In sum, the President and Holder continued to fan the flames. It was so understood. More riots and destruction occurred immediately thereafter. The Hands Up “Don’t shoot” lie continued with no effort by the President or Holder or Sharpton to tell the people it never happened. In the week following the Grand Jury decision,  the receivers of the NFL St. Louis Rams made the gesture in front of the game crowd and a national tv audience.  Why? “…we wanted to come out and show our respect to the protests and the people who have been doing a heck of a job around the world.” The gesture continues to be used to this day to exacerbate racial tension.
And to this day, the President never has said it should stop because it is not the truth.
Henry Payne’s cartoon summed up the situation
The Federal Investigation
After more than 3 months, in March, 2015, the results of the federal investigation were announced.  No surprise – other than it took more than 3 months. The conclusion: the Ferguson Grand Jury’s decision was correct. Did Eric Holder, the President’s Attorney General, use this opportunity to do what should have been done back in August 2014. Did he tell America that there was no Hands Up Don’t Shoot?Did he even mention that Michael Brown had acted like a thug and violated a number of laws?
No, he did not . Here is what Holder said:
“Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson. I concur with the investigative team’s judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard. ..Of course, violence is never justified.  But seen in this context – amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided practices – it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg…Clearly, these findings – and others included in the report – demonstrate that, although some community perceptions of Michael Brown’s tragic death may not have been accurate, the widespread conditions that these perceptions were based upon, and the climate that gave rise to them, were all too real.”[Emphasis added.]
Is not the implication that some sort of technicality prevented Officer Wilson from being charged with murder? Holder’s statement ran over 30 paragraphs- 6 paragraphs on the incident and 25 criticizing the police.
Note the phrase “…although some perceptions may not have been accurate.” In other words, it is not important that the reports were lies.
Freddie Gray
One month after the results of the federal investigation into Ferguson, there was a death of a black man in the custody of Baltimore, Maryland, police. Freddy Gray was a 25-year-old convicted drug dealer who had served 2 years in prison and, at the time of his arrest, was facing a pending felony trial on the charge of dealing heroin. He sustained injuries in a police van where he was not properly secured. A week later he died of those injuries.
President Obama’s reaction: “We have some soul-searching to do. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.”
No one was in doubt as to the President’s meaning – what was going on for decades was racial discrimination against blacks by the police. Following the Ferguson example, looting and destruction occurred in Baltimore.
As with Michael Brown,  the President sent 3 representatives to the funeral of Freddy Gray. It was noted there were no presidential representatives at the funeral of a slain heroic police officer.
There was a problem with the the President’s racism analysis. In Baltimore, the mayor and the district attorney were black and  3 of the 6 police officers charged were black. Baltimore had been under the control of Democrats for decades. Three trials resulted in the acquittal of the  police officer in each case., Thereafter, charges were dismissed against the remaining 3 officers.
Racism is in our DNA
The President persisted. In the summer of 2015, he proclaimed “…racism is in our DNA.” That theme was quickly picked up by Hillary Clinton.
The Ferguson Effect
The “Ferguson Effect” refers to a reluctance of law enforcement officers to aggressively pursue offenders because of the way the police were treated in Ferguson.  The director of the FBI and the head of the DEA give credence to the theory and Rahm Emanuel, Democrat mayor of Chicago, said much the same.
The President was reported as saying “We have not seen any evidence of that,” but allowing “it’s true that we’ve seen some spikes in violent crime in some cities.”
In July, 2016, citing police killings of blacks,  a black sniper, Micah Johnson,  ambushed and killed 5 Dallas police officers.
One incident Johnson cited was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Alton Sterling was killed in the course of his attempted arrest. Sterling, a registered sex offender, had been convicted 20 times from 1996 to 2009, of crimes including robbery and aggravated burglary, as well as multiple gun and drug charges.
The nation was in shock over the murders of the Dallas officers.  A memorial service was held, and, this time, the President did attend a service for police. He spoke appropriate words of of sympathy but pivoted to a most inappropriate eulogy of Alton Sterling, the career criminal  shot in Baton Rouge:
“Even those who dislike the phrase Black Lives Matter should be able to relate to stories about Alton Sterling, who always cooked enough for everyone,…” The expression on the faces of the police officers viewed behind Obama showed their dismay at equating the felon with their murdered colleagues.
Baton Rouge
Five days after Obama’s remarks, a black gunman, Gavin Long, ambushed and shot 6 Baton Rouge police officers, killing three, including a black officer. Wikipedia contains this report:
“A friend said that Long visited him in DeSoto, Texas, two days after the Dallas shooting; during the visit, Long obsessively watched video footage of Sterling’s death and praised the Dallas shooter Micah Xavier Johnson, saying ‘at least he did something.’ “
Disparities in arrests
The President has mentioned the disparities in arrest rates between blacks and whites as evidence of racism. The reasoning is fallacious as numerous commentators have pointed out.  Black columnist and commentator, Larry Elder, noted:
While only 13 percent of the population, blacks accounted for 28 percent of nationwide arrests in 2010 and 38.1 percent of arrests for violent crime (murders, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault). But are they unfairly arrested? Studies find that arrest rates by race are comparable to the race of suspect identification by victims. For example, in a given city, x number of robbery victims describe their assailants as black — whether or not the suspect has been apprehended. It turns out that the race of those arrested matches the percentage given by victims. This has been found repeatedly across the country, in all categories of crime where the race of an assailant is identified. So unless the victims are deliberately misidentifying their assailants — unconcerned about whether the suspect is apprehended and knowingly give a false race — blacks are not being “over-arrested.” http://townhall.com/columnists/larryelder/2012/04/19/creators_oped
The record does not show “very strong support for law enforcement”  by the President. A better case can be made that, more than any other individual, Barack Obama is responsible for the exacerbation of racial tension with the horrific results described above. The hands up don’t shoot gesture is continually employed to inflame passions. and, knowing the truth, the President refuses to speak it. He will not tell demonstrators to stop promulgating a dangerous lie.
What is really going on? Why would he deliberately increase racial friction?  Black economist Walter Williams has pointed out:
Liberals desperately need blacks. If the Democratic Party lost just 30 percent of the black vote, it would mean the end of the liberal agenda. That means blacks must be kept in a perpetual state of grievance in order to keep them as a one-party people in a two-party system. When black Americans finally realize how much liberals have used them, I’m betting they will be the nation’s most conservative people. Who else has been harmed as much by liberalism’s vision and agenda?
Barack Obama may have an additional motive: to cast America as an oppressor and reduce her standing in the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016:_Obama%27s_America
We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.
–  Ronald Reagan

Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018