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President Trump spoke at CPAC on Sunday, February 28, 2021, in Orlando.

Anyone missing his rallies will enjoy his closing address, which lasted about an hour. I watched RSBN’s coverage, which was excellent. The video covers the whole day, so go to the 8-hour mark to see the speech:

UPDATE ON THE VIDEO — March 4:

For now, it is available from the American Conservative Union and a well respected news site:

Liberty Nation has a good version of the transcript. I’ve made a few edits in the excerpts below. Emphases are mine.

President Trump began by thanking CPAC organisers Matt and Mercedes Schlapp. Mercedes Schlapp worked on Trump’s communications team during his presidency and also on his 2020 campaign. He also acknowledged Rush Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn:

Thank you very much and hello, CPAC. Do you miss me yet? A lot of things going on. To so many wonderful friends, conservatives, and fellow citizens in this room, and all across our country. I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together – we went through a journey like nobody else. There’s never been a journey like it, there’s never been a journey so successful. We began it together four years ago, and it is far from being over.

Our movement of proud, hard-working – and you know what this is? The hardest working people, hardworking American patriots – is just getting started. And in the end, we will win. We will win. We’ve been doing a lot of winning. As we gather this week, we’re in the middle of a historic struggle for America’s future, America’s culture, and America’s institutions, borders, and most cherished principles.

Our security, our prosperity, and our very identity as Americans is at stake – like, perhaps, at no other time. So, no matter how much the Washington establishment and the powerful special interests may want to silence us, let there be no doubt, we will be victorious, and America will be stronger and greater than ever before.

I want to thank my great friends, Matt and Mercedes Schlapp. Matt, thank you. Thank you, Mercedes. Thank you very much. And the American Conservative Union for hosting this extraordinary event. They’re talking about it all over the world. Matt, I know you don’t like that but that’s okay. All over the world. I also want to pay my love and respect to the great Rush Limbaugh, who is watching closely and smiling down on us. He’s watching and he’s loving it and he loves Kathryn. Kathryn, thank you for being here. So great. Thank you, Kathryn. He loved you, Kathryn, I will tell you that. Fantastic. Thank you, Kathryn, very much.

He put paid to rumours about a new political party. There will not be a new party. Trump aims to take over the Republican Party:

To each and every one of you here at CPAC, I am more grateful to you than you will ever know. We are gathered this afternoon to talk about the future of our movement, the future of our party, and the future of our beloved country for the next four years. The brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media, and their toxic cancel culture – something new to our ears, cancel culture. And I want you to know that I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We will do what we’ve done right from the beginning, which is to win.

We’re not starting new parties. They kept saying, he’s going to start a brand-new party. We have the Republican Party. It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news, fake news. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party and let’s divide our vote so that you can never win – no, we’re not interested in that.

Mr. McLaughlin just gave me numbers that nobody’s ever heard of before, more popular than anybody – that’s all of us. Those are great numbers and I want to thank you very much. Those are incredible numbers. I came here and he was giving me 95%, 97%, 92%. I said they’re great, and I want to thank everybody in this room and everybody all throughout the country – throughout the world, if you want to really know the truth. Thank you.

We will be united and strong like never before. We will save and strengthen America and we will fight the onslaught of radicalism, socialism, and indeed it all leads to communism, once and for all. That’s what it leads to. You’ll be hearing more and more about that as we go along, but that’s what it leads to – you know that.

Not surprisingly, he spoke a lot about the disastrous Biden administration:

We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us even imagined just how bad they would be and how far left they would go. He never talked about this. We would have those wonderful debates – he would never talk about this. We didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, actually.

His campaign was all lies. Talked about energy – I said, you know, this guy, actually he’s okay with energy. He wasn’t okay with energy. Wants to put you all out of business. He’s not okay with energy. He wants windmills – the windmills that don’t work when you need them.

Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history. Already, the Biden administration has proven that they are anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-borders, anti-energy, anti-women, and anti-science. In just one short month, we have gone from America First to America Last – you think about it, right? America last.

He spoke about the wall along the southern border, which requires closing the gaps in places:

We did such a good job; it all worked. Nobody’s ever seen anything like we did, and now he wants it all to go to hell. When I left office just six weeks ago, we had created the most secure border in U.S. history. We had built almost 500 miles of great border wall that helped us with these numbers, because once it’s up – you know they used to say a wall doesn’t it work well. You know what I’ve always said: walls and wheels, those are two things that will never change.

The wall has been amazing, it’s been incredible, and little sections of it to complete, they don’t want to complete it. They don’t want to complete little sections and certain little areas, they don’t want to complete, but it’s had an impact that nobody would have even believed. It’s amazing, considering that the Democrats’ number one priority was to make sure that the wall would never, ever get built – would never, ever happen. We’d never get financed – we got financed. We ended catch and release, ended asylum fraud, and brought illegal crossings to historic lows. When illegal aliens trespassed across our borders, they were promptly caught, detained, and sent back home. And these were some rough customers, I want to tell you – some rough customers were entering our country.

I had hoped he would have said ‘bad hombres’, as he did in 2016, but, perhaps wisely, he did not.

He continued:

It took the new administration only a few weeks to turn this unprecedented accomplishment into a self-inflicted humanitarian and national security disaster. By recklessly eliminating our border security measures, controls, all of the things that we put into place, Joe Biden has triggered a massive flood of illegal immigration into our country, the likes of which we have never seen before. They’re coming up by the tens of thousands. They’re all coming to take advantage of the things that he said, That’s luring everybody to come to America. And we’re one country, we can’t afford the problems of the world, as much as we’d love to – we’d love to help, but we can’t do that.

So they’re all coming because of promises and foolish words. Perhaps worst of all Joe Biden’s decision to cancel border security has single-handedly launched a youth migrant crisis that is enriching child smugglers, vicious criminal cartels, and some of the most evil people on the planet, you see it every day just turn on the news, you’ll see it every day.

Under my administration, we stopped the child smugglers. We dismantled the criminal cartels. We greatly limited drug and human trafficking to a level that nobody actually thought was possible and the wall helped us a lot. And we protected vulnerable people from the ravages of dangerous predators and that’s what they are dangerous, dangerous predators. But the Biden administration has put the vile coyotes back in business and is done so in a very, very big way.

Under the new administration, catch and release has been restored. Can you imagine? We worked so hard. Catch – you know what that is – you catch them, you take their name. They may be killers, they may be rapists, they may be drug smugglers. You take their name and you release them into our country. We did the opposite. We not only didn’t release them, we had them brought back to their country, illegal immigrants are now being apprehended and released along the entire southern border – just the opposite of what it was two months ago. They weren’t coming because they couldn’t get in. Once they think they can get in they’re coming, and they are coming at levels that you haven’t even seen yet – by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, they’ll be coming.

The Biden administration is now actively expediting the admission of illegal migrants, enabling them to lodge frivolous asylum claims and admitting them by the thousands, and thousands and thousands a day; crowded together in unsanitary conditions despite the ongoing economic and public health crisis, COVID-19 – or, as I call it, the China virus.

He made a short announcement:

This alone should be reason enough for Democrats to suffer withering losses in the midterms and to lose the White House decisively four years from now. Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House, but it’s one of those things. But who knows, who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time, okay?

Trump said that his administration has already paid for the completion of the gaps in the wall. All that needs doing is the work itself:

Joe Biden defunded the border wall and stopped all future construction, even on small open sections that just needed to be finished up – routine little work. It’s already been bought. Wait ’til the contractors get to him and they say no, it costs us much more money not to finish this small section than if we finished it – that’s going to be nice. Wait ’til you see those bills start pouring in.

He talked about another amnesty, which is probable:

To top it all off, the Biden people are pushing a bill that would grant mass amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, while massively expanding chain migration – that’s where you come in and everybody comes in; your grandmother, your father, your mother, your brother, your cousins. They come in so easily. So crazy. It even requires that the U.S. government provide illegal border crossers with taxable funded lawyers. Anybody need a good lawyer? You can’t have one. They get the lawyers. They’re probably very good, too.

He then discussed coronavirus, beginning with schools that are still closed:

The Biden administration is actually bragging about the classroom education they are providing to migrant children on the border, while at the same time millions of American children are having their futures destroyed by Joe Biden’s anti-science, school closures. Think of it, we’re educating students on the border, but our own people, children of our citizens – citizens themselves – are not getting the education that they deserve.

There’s no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans should not be back in school, immediately. The only reason that most parents do not have that choice is because Joe Biden sold out America’s children to the teachers’ unions. His position is morally inexcusable – you know that. Joe Biden has shamefully betrayed America’s youth, and he is cruelly keeping our children locked in their homes. No reason for it whatsoever. They want to get out.

They’re cheating the next generation of Americans out of the future that they deserve – and they do deserve this future. They’re going to grow up, and they’re going to have a scar. It’s a scandal of the highest order and one of the most craven acts by any president in our lifetimes. It’s the teachers’ union – it’s the votes. And it shouldn’t happen and nobody has more respect for teachers than I do. And I’ll bet you a lot of the people within that union, they agree with everything I’m saying. Even The New York Times is calling out the Democrats.

The mental and physical health of these young people is reaching a breaking point. Tragically, suicide attempts have skyrocketed, and student depression is now commonplace and at levels that we’ve never seen before. The Democrats now say we have to pass their $1.9 trillion boondoggle to open schools, but a very small part of it has to do with that. You know where it’s going – it’s going to bail out badly run Democrat cities, so much of it. But billions of dollars for schools remain unspent from the COVID relief bills that were passed last year.

So on behalf of the moms, dads, and children of America, I call on Joe Biden to get the schools open and get them open now.

He talked about Operation Warp Speed’s success in obtaining coronavirus vaccines and treatment for the American people:

When I left office – and we’re very proud of this because this was something that they said could not be done; the FDA said it, everybody said it, and the article you read said it couldn’t be done, it would be years and years – I handed the new administration what everyone is now calling a modern-day medical miracle. Some say it’s the greatest thing to happen in hundreds of years. Two vaccines produced in record time with numerous others on the way, including the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that was approved just yesterday – and therapeutic relief also if you’re sick.

If you’re sick, we have things now that are incredible – what has taken place over the last year under our administration would have taken any other president at least five years and we got it done in nine months. Everyone says five years …

I pushed the FDA like they have never been pushed before. They told me that loud and clear. They have never been pushed like I push them. I didn’t like them at all, but once we got it done I said, I now love you very much.

What the Trump administration has done with vaccines has, in many respects, perhaps saved large portions of the world – not only our country but large portions of the world. Not only did we push the FDA far beyond what the bureaucrats wanted to do, we also put up billions and billions of dollars – ten billion – to produce the vaccines before we knew they were going to work. It was called a calculated bet or a calculated risk. We took a risk. Because if we didn’t do that, you still wouldn’t have the vaccines, you wouldn’t have them for a long time so think of that; we took this bet. We made a bet, because we thought we were on a certain track, but you’d be starting to make them right now. It’d be a long time before you ever saw. It takes 60 to 100 days to manufacture and inspect new doses. And that means that 100% of the increased availability that we have now was initiated by our administration

Joe Biden is only implementing the plan that we put in place. And if we had an honest media, which we don’t, they would say it loud and clear. By the time I left that magnificent house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, almost 20 million Americans had already been vaccinated – 1.5 million doses were administered on my final day alone. Yet Biden said, just a few days ago, that when he got here – meaning the White House – there was no vaccine. He said there’s no vaccine. Oh, good, say it again, Joe. Now, I don’t think he said that, frankly, in a malicious way – I really don’t. I actually believe he said that because he didn’t really know what the hell was happening.

Never let them forget this was us, we did this, and the distribution is moving along according to our plan – and it’s moving along really well. We had the military, what they’ve done – our generals, and all of the people – what they’ve done is incredible. But remember, you know, we took care of a lot of people, including, I guess, on December 21 we took care of Joe Biden, because he got his shot, he got his vaccine – he forgot. It shows you how unpainful that vaccine shot is, so everybody go get your shot.

He spoke about his policies of peace:

When I left office, we had virtually ended the endless wars, these endless wars they go on forever. They go on forever. I would go to Dover and I would see caskets, coffins coming in, I’d see the parents and wives and husbands I would see the kids, endless wars 19 years in Afghanistan, we have it down to almost nothing left and I hear they might want to go back in Iraq, remember I used to say don’t go in, but if you’re going to go and keep the oil well we went in and we didn’t keep the oil.

We had made historic peace deals in the Middle East, like nobody thought were even possiblenot a drop of blood. By the way that one American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan in over a year, think of that, not one those troops have largely come home at the same time, the new administration unilaterally withdrew our crippling sanctions on Iran foolishly giving away all of America’s leverage before negotiations have even begun. Leave the sanctions, negotiate.

Then he addressed the Biden administration’s fawning attitude towards the WHO and China:

And another horrendous surrender: he agreed to get back into the World Health Organization for approximately $500 million a year which is what we were paying. When I withdrew from the WHO and you know the whole story with that they called it badly. They really are puppets for China. They called and they wanted us to stay in. I said, ‘How much are we paying, approximately $500 million? How much is China paying … in terms of population country?’ ‘Sir, they’re paying $39 million.’ I said, ‘Why are we paying 500 million and they’re paying 39?’ I can tell you why. Because the people that made the deal is stupid. That’s why.

So, so, and I had no idea how popular was we I didn’t even know if I would be able to politically because people were so happy when I did get out. But I said so we went in, we could get it for 39 million, which is what China not 500 million, which is what we were stupidly paying and they said, We can make a deal we want you to go in, we can make a deal. Okay, and I did, I decided not to do it. We could have had it for 39, we could have had it for the same as China, and they decide now to go back into the World Health Organization and pay 500 million. What the hell is wrong with them?

He talked about the Paris Climate Accord:

Just like Iran and the World Health Organization Joe Biden put the United States back into the very unfair and very costly Paris Climate Accord without negotiating a better deal. They wanted us so badly back in. I’ll tell you they wanted us. I was getting called from all of the countries: ‘You must come back into the Paris Accord’. I said, ‘Tell me why. Give me one good reason.’ First of all, China doesn’t kick in for 10 years, Russia goes by an old standard which was not a clean standard and other countries, but we get hit right from the beginning when it cost us. Hundreds of 1000s and millions of jobs; it was a disaster.

But they go back in. I could have made an unbelievable deal and got back in but I didn’t want to do that, surrendering millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to all of these other countries, almost all of them that were in the deal, so they have favorable treatment. We don’t have favorable treatment and we just had we’re going back in to go back in, they wanted to so badly. You couldn’t negotiate if you wanted to go back in, which, frankly we have … the cleanest water and everything else that we’ve ever had.

He discussed Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the folly of wind power and the price of petrol over the past few weeks:

One of his first official acts, which was incredible, because, again, he talked about energy. He never said he was going to do this. He cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, destroying not the 8000 or the 9000 or the 11,000 jobs that you hear, but 42,000 great paying jobs on just about day one, right? He never talked about that during a debate, because he wouldn’t have gotten away with it …

We cannot let this stuff continue to go on, but one of my proudest accomplishments as president was to make America energy independent. The United States became the number one energy superpower, number one. Number one, bigger than Saudi Arabia, bigger than Russia by a lot. We left them all in the dust

How bad is wind power? So, I talked about it all the time …

The wind isn’t blowing. I don’t believe we’ll have any electricity … It’s such an important such an expensive form of energy. It’s so bad for the environment, it kills the birds, it destroys the landscapes. And remember, these are structural columns with fans on them, they wear out, and when they were out all over the country you see them, nobody takes them down, they’re rotting, they’re rusting. How this is environmentally good for our country?

And it costs, many, many times more than natural gas … [Natural gas] can fuel our great factories. Wind can’t do that and, and solar, I love solar but it doesn’t have the capacity to do what we have to do to make America great again. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen under the radical Democrat policies.

The price of gasoline has already surged 30% since the election, and we’ll go to $5 $6 $7 and even higher. So enjoy that when you go to the pump, because it’ll be about $200 to fill up your van … It’s a shame what’s happening, energy prices are going to go through the roof, and that includes your electric bills. That includes any bill having to do with energy our biggest costs.

We will now be relying on Russia and the Middle East for oil and they talk about Russia, Russia, Russia. What’s better than what this guy’s done for Russia?

He deplored what is happening to women’s sports:

Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing policies that would destroy women’s sports … Hate to say that, ladies, but a lot of new records are being shattered. … Now, young girls and women arebeing forced to compete against those who are biological males

Now I think it’s crazy. I think it’s just crazy what’s happening. We must protect the integrity of women’s sports, so important. Controversial. Somebody said, ‘Well, that’s gonna be very controversial’. I said, ‘That’s okay’.

He defined Trumpism, a word he says he did not coin. However, he defended this new movement and pointed to his administration’s record:

Many people have asked what is Trumpism, a new term being used more and more. I’m hearing that term more and more, I didn’t come up with it. But what it means is great deals, great trade deals, great ones

Did you see grain prices and grain sales are at an all time high? We are at an all time high … We did a lot of work with the tariffs and all these things that we had to do to get it and now the farmers are doing greatthey’re setting records.

It means low taxes and eliminating job killing regulations. Trumpism, it means strong borders, but people coming into our country based on a system of merit … It means no riots in the streets, it means law enforcement. It means very strong protection for the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. It means support for the forgotten men and women who have been taken advantage of for so many years, and they were doing great.

They were doing great before that horrible thing from China came in and hit us, and now they’re starting to do really well againNo country comes even close to competing with our comebackA strong military and taking care of our vets but a strong military, which we have totally rebuilt. We have rebuilt it. And our military has never been stronger than it is today. It was tired, it was depleted, it was obsolete and now we have the best brand new equipment ever made. And it was all produced right here in the USA.

And we take care of our vets. You know, we had a poll recently just before leaving office, the vets had a 91% approval rating for the way we took care of them, that’s the highest number in the history of the polls. But on top of all of that. We have even created the Space Force the first new branch of the United States military in nearly 75 years …

The mission of our movement and of the Republican Party must be to create a future of good jobs, strong families, safe communities a vibrant culture, and a great nation, for all Americans, and that’s what we’re creatingThe culture of our country, our party is based on love for America, and the belief that this is an exceptional nation, blessed by God.

We take great pride in our country. We teach the truth about history. We celebrate our rich heritage and national traditions we honor, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln Thomas Jefferson and national heroes. And of course, we respect our great American flag.

He received a lot of applause with that and thanked the audience several times.

He continued:

We are committed to defending innocent life and to upholding the Judeo Christian values of our founders and of our founding. Free thought. We stand up to political correctness, and we reject the left wing lunacy, and, in particular, we reject cancel culture. We know that the rule of law is the ultimate safeguard. And we affirm that the Constitution means exactly what it says. As written, as read

That is the essence of Trumpism.

I’ve covered only half of President Trump’s speech. The other half can be found here.

Afterwards, he received a standing ovation from nearly everyone in the crowd.

President Trump’s speech closed the CPAC conference. It’s hard to imagine a better ending to it and a better beginning to 2021 for Republicans.

Acrylic paint has several advantages, among them ease of use and quick drying time.

Unfortunately, it isn’t very good for subtle tones. As a result, the finished canvas often looks sophomoric.

However, for high school art classes, acrylic’s advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Art

I’ve only ever seen two acrylic paintings that were any good. Both were by an amateur artist who exhibited them at an art fair in our area last year.

The artist did well to paint on small canvases which allowed her to use the medium to its best advantage: achieving fine detail.

That sounds contradictory, however, this lady’s paintings — one of a field of poppies, the other of daisies — were marvellous. She must have spent a lot of time on them, because all the leaves of grass were visible and natural, as were the dozens of flower petals. Both were pleasing to the eye and a joy to look at.

It was clear the artist understood and had perfected her brush strokes with the medium.

By contrast, I had a friend many years ago who painted large canvases with acrylic and achieved mediocre results for the most part. He was unable to properly blend one colour into another. That happens to most big-canvas acrylic artists who try to paint portraits or street scenes. Acrylic is best left for the abstract which requires dramatic colour and broad brush strokes.

An example of an acrylic painting follows. Subject matter aside, the brush strokes need work, a common mistake. Art teachers really need to teach students more about brush control, particularly according to paint medium.

The Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building in Washington DC, is home to an exhibit of artwork by American high school students, winners of the Congressional Art competition. The artwork changes every year.

This photo shows part of the current selection, which, as you can see, is of high quality. I particularly like the masterful detail in the painting of the pair of shoes in the lower left hand corner.

The other painting which is striking is the black Liberty in the upper right hand corner. That student understands brush control, texture and subtlety.

There is a noticeable gap on the wall. An acrylic painting hung there, but a Republican congressman removed it for its subject matter. The amateurish acrylic brush strokes are a greater reason why it should not be there. Bill Clark of CQ Roll Call took this photo of Untitled #1:

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 5: A controversial painting by Missouri student David Pulphus depicting police as animals hangs in the tunnel connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office building as part of the annual student art exhibit on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. The painting was selected as the 2016 Congressional Art Competition winner from Rep. William Lacy Clay's district in the St. Louis area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, comes so close. The technique holds it back.

Roll Call reports:

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has removed from display in the Cannon tunnel the controversial student art contest painting of police-community relations in Ferguson, Missouri, that depicts police officers as animals.

A Huffington Post reporter first tweeted a photograph of the empty space and said that Hunter removed it.

Hunter took it upon himself to take down the painting, Washington Republican Rep. Dave Reichert’s office later confirmed. It was sponsored by Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who had defended it.

Reichert, who spent 33 years in law enforcement, had criticized the artwork earlier, and gave Hunter a phone call on Friday after finding out about the removal.

Fox News tells us that the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement which read in part:

“The rehanging of this painting for public view represents more than just protecting the rights of a student artist, it is a proud statement in defense of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression to every American,” the statement said, noting it had been “removed without permission or proper authority” by Hunter. 

Hunter, R-Calif., personally unscrewed and removed the painting last Friday, saying he was angered by its depiction of law enforcement officers. He then delivered the painting to Clay’s office. 

“Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to,” Hunter told FoxNews.com at the time, “but I’m allowed to take it down.” 

The painting, hanging since June, was done by high school student David Pulphus, who had won Clay’s annual Congressional Art competition. 

However:

After the piece was removed Friday, Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said in a statement they were “very pleased.”

He said: “At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation’s Capital is not acceptable.”

One could make a case for both points of view.

However, looking at the other Congressional Art winners on the wall, it does seem as if the painting was chosen for its subject matter rather than its artistry.

Art teachers should spend the first few lessons teaching brush technique. A small canvas will help students greatly in developing the patience — and art — of working with acrylics. Instead, I suspect, they teach colour mixing, perspective and get the students to begin expressing themselves boldly straightaway.

I arrived at this conclusion after attending an evening a few years ago with the since-deceased London Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell who studied at the Courtauld. He told us that a university art student sought his advice about improving his painting. Sewell advised the student to buy finer brushes — the type used to achieve detail on feathers and fur — and really practice with them before committing to a working canvas. Sewell lamented the lack of today’s training even at Britain’s best art schools. The brushes are on sale, he said, but teachers ignore them, consequently, students are unaware of them. The instructors, he concluded, are not interested in teaching fine art.

Reality

Moving on to Untitled #1‘s subject matter, it is surprising that, after two terms — eight years — of the nation’s first black president at the helm, America has such a racially divisive atmosphere, the likes of which have not been seen since the late 1960s when civil rights laws were just coming into existence.

Sadly, Obama never visited Ferguson. Instead, he sent Attorney General Eric Holder. However, the situation was so violent by then that the president should have made the journey himself. He missed a great opportunity to converse with the residents in person. He could have appealed for calm by giving them more facts behind the events, excerpted below:

Michael Brown robbed a Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store of two handfuls of cigarillos just minutes before Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him on Aug. 9, according to his friend Dorian Johnson’s testimony before a St. Louis County grand jury. Wilson testified Brown’s possession of the cigarillos was the impetus behind the encounter that ultimately led to his death.

Wilson avoided indictment on criminal charges Monday after the grand jury decided there was a lack of probable cause to suggest that he committed a crime. The decision generated widespread outrage, particularly in Ferguson, where police used tear gas to subdue crowds that started fires and destroyed property.

In the days and months after Brown’s death, the convenience store robbery was considered a major factor in determining his and Wilson’s motives during their fatal encounter …

Johnson testified he had planned to pay for the cigarillos, but Brown reached over the counter and grabbed them. Brown walked toward the door and the store clerk rushed around the counter to prevent his exit. He shoved the clerk and left the store. As they walked out, the clerk said he would call the police …

But as Johnson and Brown walked down the middle of Canfield Drive, they encountered Wilson’s police cruiser. Wilson testified he told the pair to move to the sidewalk, prompting a vulgar response from Brown. “It was a very unusual and not expected response from a simple request,” Wilson told the grand jury …

Johnson testified Wilson initiated physical contact, that he never saw Brown throw a punch and that Brown was outside the police cruiser when Wilson shot him.

Wilson testified he acted in self-defense after Brown punched him and attempted to grab his gun. During the struggle for the gun, he said, Brown “had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

Obama could have also explained that the average citizen looks at each police incident as an isolated event. By contrast, law enforcement officers see things differently. They encounter criminals or strange situations all the time. It’s what they do. They are trained professionals.

A 2015 US Department of Justice report agreed with Wilson’s actions (p. 84 of the PDF). The quotation below explains how difficult it is to fully judge a situation when seconds could mean life or death (emphasis mine):

While Brown did not use a gun on Wilson at the SUV, his aggressive actions would have given Wilson reason to at least question whether he might be armed, as would his subsequent forward advance and reach toward his waistband. This is especially so in light of the rapidly-evolving nature of the incident. Wilson did not have time to determine whether Brown had a gun and was not required to risk being shot himself in order to make a more definitive assessment.

For my readers who do not live in the United States, it is important to understand that American police shoot more white suspects than black. A 2016 study conducted at Harvard revealed the statistics. Emphases in the original below:

The study was conducted by the Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., an African-American, who said it produced “the most surprising result of my career.” His team studied over 1,300 police shootings in 10 major police departments over the 2000-2015 span …

When encountering a suspect, police officers were about 16-19% more likely to use their hands on the suspect, push the person into a wall or to the ground, use handcuffs, and draw their weapons, if the suspect was black. They were also 24-25% more likely to point their weapons or use pepper spray or batons on a black suspect.

But when it came to shooting the suspects, police officers were more likely to fire without having first been attacked if the suspects were white. Additionally, the study learned that black and white civilians in the shootings were equally likely to be carrying a weapon.

And while zeroing in on the police department in Houston to get a more detailed picture, Mr. Fryer found that in situations of justifiable use of force, when, for instance, the officer is being attacked by the suspect, officers were 20% less likely to shoot at a black suspect. Accounting for other control factors in tense situations, Mr. Fryer saw similar results that there was either no difference between how blacks and whites were treated or that blacks were less likely to be shot.

Furthermore, police kill more whites and Hispanics than blacks. The Daily Wire has an equally interesting set of statistics from Heather MacDonald, the Thomas W Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Excerpts follow (emphases in the original):

1. Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. The majority of these victims had a gun or “were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force,” according to Mac Donald in a speech at Hillsdale College.

2. More whites and Hispanics die from police homicides than blacks. According to Mac Donald, 12 percent of white and Hispanic homicide deaths were due to police officers, while only four percent of black homicide deaths were the result of police officers.

“If we’re going to have a ‘Lives Matter’ anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter,'” said Mac Donald in her Hillsdale speech.

4. Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire a gun at blacks than white officers. This is according to a Department of Justice report in 2015 about the Philadelphia Police Department, and is further confirmed that by a study conducted University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway in 2015 that determined black cops were 3.3 times more likely to fire a gun than other cops at a crime scene. 

5. Blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops. This is according to FBI data, which also found that 40 percent of cop killers are black. According to Mac Donald, the police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than a cop killing an unarmed black person.

MacDonald concluded that the ‘Ferguson Effect’ has resulted in a 17% murder spike in America’s 50 largest cities (emphases mine):

as a result of cops being more reluctant to police neighborhoods out of fear of being labeled as racists. Additionally, there have been over twice as many cops victimized by fatal shootings in the first three months of 2016.

It should also be noted that, contrary to 50 years ago, the United States has many more minority police officers. They get shot, too.

Master Sgt Debra Clayton lost her life on duty in Orlando on January 9, 2017. She had served 17 years as a law enforcement officer.

Clayton was one of the first responders to the Pulse shooting in June 2016. She was also a loving wife, a devoted mother and a caring neighbour. The photo below comes courtesy of the Orlando Police Department via the Orlando Sentinel:

OPD officer shot and killed; deputy dies in crash

The Sentinel reports that she:

was gunned down Monday morning near a Wal-Mart on John Young Parkway and Princeton Street in Pine Hills while confronting 41-year-old Markeith Loyd, who is wanted for murder.

Markeith Loyd is wanted for the fatal shooting on December 13, 2016 of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon:

“Markeith Loyd is a suspect this community is familiar with. He should be considered armed and dangerous. He is a suspect in the murder of a pregnant woman in the jurisdiction of the Orange County Sheriff Office,” [police chief John] Mina said.

Dixon’s brother, Ronald Steward, was also shot and critically injured when he tried to come to her aid, investigators said.

Loyd is currently on the run. Interestingly, the admins at Facebook have not suspended his page:

It gets no realer then me,like it or not I’m go keep it 1,000…. I wear no mask,what you see is what you get..

Local ABC affiliate WFTV reported:

A witness to the shooting said the gunman was wearing a shirt that read “security,” but Mina said Loyd was not a security guard.

“(The shooter) was an average-looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything,” witness James Herman told Channel 9. “I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down. He took off running. It’s unreal.”

Herman said the man continued to shoot behind him as he was running from the scene.

As he was running, he was shooting back, he was shooting backwards,” Herman said. “I hit the ground on the side over here because I wasn’t sure where the shooting was coming from at first.”

Clayton was outside the Walmart when she was approached by a shopper, Herman said. 

The customer walked up to her and said that someone they were looking for, wanted, was in the store in the line to check out,” he said. “She went in there, I guess, to confront him. As she was going back to Walmart, he was coming out, and he shot her.”

May Master Sgt Debra Clayton rest in peace. My condolences to her many friends and family at this difficult time.

What this goes to show is how complex — and dangerous — law enforcement is. I have not been the greatest supporter of the police in the past, but reading about these recent cases has given me pause for thought. Perhaps others feel the same way.

It’s easy for us, so far away from the line of fire, to criticise people who put their lives on the line every day for our safety.

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