Tags: America's Forum | Barack Obama | Eric Garner | race

Michael Reagan: Obama Wrongly Prioritizing Race Over Crime

By    |   Thursday, 04 December 2014 03:33 PM

With his comments and actions regarding two black men who died this year in encounters with white police officers, Barack Obama insists on making race a central concern of his presidency when he ought to be focusing on crime, policing and jobs, columnist Michael Reagan told Newsmax TV on Thursday.

"He picks and chooses what he wants to get involved in, and every issue he chooses to get involved in is a race issue," the son of former President Reagan, and head of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, told "America's Forum" host JD Hayworth.

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Newsmax contributor Reagan said that, for example, the president is not talking about the plague of gun violence in his home base of Chicago, where shootings in the city's poorer, predominantly black neighborhoods have attracted  national attention and concern.

"Instead, he finds a race issue in every single issue, and that's what's sad about this president," said Reagan, adding that there are "a lot of issues on the table in the world that we live in — jobs and everything else — but he wants his legacy to be that he's trying to do everything he can about race. But maybe he needs to do things about crime."

Reagan weighed in on the controversy surrounding Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died on July 17 after an arrest attempt — captured on video — in which one officer put him in a chokehold. On Wednesday, a grand jury in New York declined to indict the policeman, Daniel Pantaleo, a decision that was followed by mostly peaceful demonstrations in the city.

Reagan contrasted the Garner case with that of Michael Brown, the Ferguson, Missouri resident shot and killed on Aug. 9 by then-officer Darren Wilson, who was himself cleared by a grand jury — a ruling that was met with a far more violent local response from protesters.

In both instances, the person who died was black and the policeman who faced grand jury scrutiny is white. The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating both deaths for the possibility of civil rights charges against the officers, and Pantaleo remains under an internal investigation.

But Reagan argued that the Garner case is primarily about police tactics and training, and the improper use of a chokehold.

"In fact, they ask you not to use the chokehold," Reagan said of New York City police. "That indeed is a problem for the police officer.

"The other issue," he said, "is that you have somebody [in Garner] who was, yes, resisting arrest, but also told you — what, 11 times? — he couldn't breathe."

Reagan said that "if you can't breathe, [and] you're saying you can't breathe, and the police officer's using a chokehold — which is not against the law, but against policy in New York — then you have a lot of different issues than what you had going on in Ferguson."

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Garner — who was approached because police suspected him of illegally selling loose cigarettes on the street — also reportedly suffered from asthma and other health problems.
Reagan noted that, unlike the Ferguson case, with its unusually transparent and lengthy proceedings, the New York case has been more typical of grand juries operating in secrecy and not putting out a  transcript.

"We have not heard … the testimony before the grand jury [in New York] as we've heard the testimony before the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri," he said. "So to sit there again and make this a race issue —  This isn't a race issue. If it was a white guy with an asthma problem or a Spanish guy with an asthma problem, the same person would've died."

Reagan also discussed the battle between the president and Republicans in Congress over his executive action on immigration, and the joint lawsuit by 17 states challenging Obama's sweeping order to begin issuing visas and work permits for millions of immigrants here illegally.

He said the states filed suit "because they're the ones who are going to be paying the bill" for managing illegal immigration's impacts on communities following the president's decision to bypass Congress and set a policy on his own — which critics have labeled "executive amnesty."

Reagan said that Congress needs to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that emphasizes border security, send it to the president and, in effect, dare him to veto it.

He also criticized Obama for not seeking consensus through normal political channels.

"If Ronald Reagan were president he'd pull them all into the Oval Office, pull the legislation out, look and say, 'Where are the areas we agree? Write that, send it to me, and I'll sign it,' " said Reagan.

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Barack Obama insists on making race a central concern of his presidency when he ought to be focusing on crime, policing and jobs, columnist Michael Reagan told Newsmax TV on Thursday.
Eric Garner, race
Thursday, 04 December 2014 03:33 PM
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