Top Leaderboard, Site wide
July 12, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Atlases Reveal Climate and Weather Impacts




S Street Rising
Gays in the Military


Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Ear to the Ground

Prof. Gates Tells His Side of the Story, Chastises Policeman

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Jul 21, 2009
Gates
pbs.org

Looks like Harvard professor and race scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. won’t face criminal charges after last Thursday’s unfortunate confrontation with a Cambridge, Mass., police officer, but the incident definitely touched off some reactions well beyond Harvard Square. Meanwhile, Gates has given his account of what happened and has called for an apology from the officer in question.

The Boston Globe:


Gates accused the officer who arrested him at his Cambridge home of having a “broad imagination” when he summarized last Thursday’s confrontation in police reports, and he denied making several inflammatory remarks.

“I believe the police officer should apologize to me for what he knows he did that was wrong,” Gates said in a phone interview from his other home in Martha’s Vineyard. “If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling ... That’s what I do for a living.”

Read more

 

More Below the Ad

Advertisement

Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By ardee, July 28, 2009 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

glider, July 28 at 12:11 pm #

Also, I would be more inclined to believe there was a racial component to this if it occurred in a poor black neighborhood, not this upscale one.

........................

How then do you justify the 911 operator asking the caller for the ethnicity of the two men? Just wondering….

Report this

By glider, July 28, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Personally, had this happened to me I would have started off by thanking the police officer for looking after my house (I want the police out a my place if something suspicious is happening) and then explain I was the owner and given him ID to prove it.  I get upset with some cops who do socially useless tasks like sitting at the most ridiculous post speed limit sign they can find so they can score easy tickets, but investigating a potential burglary is what they should be doing. 

Also, I would be more inclined to believe there was a racial component to this if it occurred in a poor black neighborhood, not this upscale one.  Like the white commentator substituting for Keith Olberman last night said he too had a false arrest in his past.  So cops do misbehave with white people a lot.  If they misbehave with a racial minority the victim is naturally going to think racism is at the root of it.  I think probably in this case it was not racially motivated and more likely a normal police power trip, but how can anyone really ever know the actual motivation?

Report this

By cyrena, July 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

By PKM, July 25 at 12:18 am
•  ‘Just remember that the media isn’t always quick to fix discrepancies in their story if what they reported is getting a lot of reaction. For instance the caller who reported what they thought was a break-in was not the next door neighbor. The caller was someone who just happened to be driving by the home of Mr. Gates and thought the two men on the porch were attempting to break-in. As it turns out the front door was difficult to open because the lock had been damaged a few weeks earlier when someone tried to break-in.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jqwi0TSVtxC458-6AKpUuaTpH5FgD99N2MB00

Thanks for posting this PKM, specifically the part about the media discrepancies, which don’t get fixed when the story (with all of the discrepancies) is getting so much attention. I just read some newer details at the above link, which are clearly different from the original accounts, and you also answered the question that I had myself, from day one, when I read the discrepancies.

For instance, ALL of the accounts of this incident that I’ve read, have indicated that the front door of Prof. Gates’ home was jammed or something, making entry difficult for Prof. Gates and his driver on their return. However, the first report that I read, claimed that Prof. Gates and his driver had been unable to gain access via the front door, (after attempting) and so had gone to the back door where Prof. Gates used his house KEY to go in, and then disable his alam. Supposedly, the officer followed him in that way.

Now, if in fact that is what occurred, (because we already know that police lie in reports after the fact) then it would make sense that someone saw Prof. Gates and his driver attempting to get in the house through a front door with a jammed lock. (only now am I discovering that the door was messed up 3 weeks prior, which answers my billion dollar question from day one. That is, HOW DID THE FRONT DOOR GET JAMMED TO BEGIN WITH???)

It also wasn’t a neighbor that reported it to 911, but another women who’s attention had been directed to the activity by someone else. She reported that she saw two men on the porch, with backpacks, and it appeared that they were PUSHING on the door. (with shoulders). So yeah, it might have appeared that someone was attempting to break in, if in fact Prof. Gates and his driver were doing that in an attempt to enter the house. So, she did the right thing in contacting 911.

However, in the story linked above, the woman who made the call says that she did NOT initially identify the men as black men, at least not until the 911 operator forced the issue, wanting specific descriptives. Even then, she thought one of them might have been Hispanic, (the one she actually saw, but she says she didn’t even see the ‘smaller’ one well enough,  because he’s the one that disappearend into the house. ) She also made it clear that she didn’t KNOW if a crime was in progress, (breakin) but only that she saw these guys at least APPEARING to force the door open.

So…there are lots of versions beside what the police report claims….after the Sgt realized his error and Gates pissed him off. From what most of the reports now read, the police officer was already on his way out, having confirmed that Gates was the resident, when he went back in the house to arrest Gates for being ‘belligerent’.

So…bottom line, the policeman’s ego was bruised after being chastised for assuming that Gates was breaking into the home, so since he had the guns and the badge and the handcuffs, he used that to “fix that uppity black” guy for being irate and chewing him out in public. (whatever ‘public’ was there). It hurt his little bitty white feelings. How dare a citizen display annoyance at being accused of breaking into his/her own home?

Report this

By Sepharad, July 27, 2009 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

ardee, I’m not trying to whitewash Crowley. If Prof. Gates had been feeling well and not jet-lagged, the whole thing would possibly have gone quite differently. I do believe the class/entitlement factor may have been at work, as well as Crowley’s “please respect my uniform”. 

The weight of history is aways relevant to some degree, to lesser or greater extent depending on the person. (And the region. Can you imagine how this would have played if it happened in Oxford, Miss instead of Boston, Mass?) I can and do sympathize with both Crowley and Gates, for different reasons. Anyway, I’m glad Obama is going to have a beer with them both. Crowley should have thought ... Gates should have thought ... maybe after the beers they’ll both have learned something.

Report this
PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, July 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

A very relevant article.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1912778,00.html?xid=newsletter-weekly

All too often nowadays the police are judge and jury with an us versus them mentality in dealing with the public. 

With red light cameras, radar cameras and the myriad of meter maids in Washinton D.C. when the police call looking for money for their police charities I often tell them there are too many police and many of their functions are now being outsourced.

They quit calling after awhile.

Report this

By Jaime, July 25, 2009 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sgt Crowley performed MOUTH TO MOUTH resuscitation on Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis(a black man) while Lewis suffered cardiac arrest…wow , it makes me wonder what lengths some people go to hide their true motivations

Report this

By ardee, July 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad, July 24 at 7:28 pm #

I searched and found the reference you cited , and yes, Crowley does indeed teach a class about racial profiling, and he has a reputation as a good cop. The point is that Gates has ample reason to be insulted by an invasion of his home. That officer should have asked if Gates minded if he stepped in. If the officer was so worried about a second suspect why did he not await backup?

One must judge this event in the light of the history of such events between police everywhere and minorities. Your attempts to whitewash Crowley simply avoid reality and do an injustice to justice.

I have been present at several events in which police reports were ultimately filed, political demonstrations among other such, and I can verify that the subsequent police reports bear very little resemblance to the actual occurrences.  As do the statements of the others present for that matter.

If we are concerned with equality then we use this particular occurrence to illustrate the very real problems still existing insofar as race relations are concerned. If we are not so concerned with such then we attempt to excuse the cop and vilify the one arrested.

Report this

By Nola, July 25, 2009 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To respond to Folktruther’s concern that there are people out there that do honor and answer to the authority ...

It wasn’t until the past 30 years that people in this nation began to really disrespect and challenge authority on every level. When I was a child (about 45 years ago), we respected all authority at all times. Children are questioning their parents and their teachers abilities to lead in dishonorable ways along with killing each other in our school systems, and officers are being gunned down in our streets because of this above authority attitude. We are in trouble in this nation with no end in sight. But not for the reason you reflected in your response. It is because of our lack of authority that is causing the problem. Everyone wants to be the boss and in control. Everyone is wanting to be treated special or handled with kid gloves because of skin color. If there is no real authority (leadership) and civil control then a country will move into chaos and financial ruin. Even my 16 year old daughter was smart enough to go along with the 6 cops suspecting her of burglary. However, when she heard the call come in over the radio that they were at the wrong house she voiced her opinion that she was not happy in many different statements! At that point the authority realized she had every right to be angry.  Keeping a cool head is a sign of maturity and mental stability. That means no matter what a situation has in store you follow protocol until the issue can be resolved. The officer in this case is the only one that has reflected that type of maturity. I’m actually glad this has happened. Hopefully it will help people stop judging others, jumping to conclusions and stereotyping policemen who are risking their lives to serve their community and protect. Those who have a problem with answering to authority don’t seem to have one when a rapist or burglar has slashed their throat and and an officer is holding the wound together until the paramedics get there. They seemed to have a problem when they feel they have been inconvenienced. Being inconvenienced is not a crime it is a fact of life. If you have children and they are still home I hope you teach them to honor authority and respect those in charge. For if you do not they may be gunned down in an incident with a policeman one day for making a foolish decision.

Report this

By PKM, July 24, 2009 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s interesting to read the comments being made in this forum. Everyone is so sure they know what happened and are drawing their own conclusions based on their own prejudices which are very transparent. Just remember that the media isn’t always quick to fix discrepancies in their story if what they reported is getting a lot of reaction. For instance the caller who reported what they thought was a break-in was not the next door neighbor. The caller was someone who just happened to be driving by the home of Mr. Gates and thought the two men on the porch were attempting to break-in. As it turns out the front door was difficult to open because the lock had been damaged a few weeks earlier when someone tried to break-in. Also there may be some tapes of transmissions between Officer Crowley and dispatch which may have recorded Mr. Gates flipping out. It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out.

Report this

By Sepharad, July 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

ardee, a PS—just saw an AP article in our local paper saying Sergeant Crowley was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling. Fellow officers black and white say he is not racist, one adding that “...if every cop in the world were like him, it would be a better place.” On the face of it, this doesn’t sound like the unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian Prof. Gates describes. The White House meeting will be maybe more interesting than I though.

Report this

By Sepharad, July 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

ardee, the policeman involved gave his side in today’s NYTimes—you might want to check it out—and I’ve also read more of Prof. Gates’ side. Honestly? I think they both could have played it better. Also honestly, I think you’d have had to be there to know who was more out of line. (If I were the cop, I’d apologize whether I was wrong or not, just to avoid inviting the wrath of Harvard royalty.)

I’ve had experiences with cops who were racist and cops who were not—scary experiences in the voter registering period; scary experience with state cops in Birmingham who stuck my dad in jail overnight for flatly refusing to blame an elderly black farmer for an auto accident caused by a drunken patrolman; good experience in voter registration period with a cop who spent the night in jail with three of us because we were scared and saw that we got out of town alright; annoyed that a cop stopped & patted down my son because he was a mixed-race kid but then apologized after son showed his i.d. and pointed our house out. (It was a high-crime part of SF). There are cops who break heads in an omni-racial way—as in Chicago, and cops who are decent. (It’s a good thing this happened in Boston and not somewhere down south or the comments would include gratuitous denunciations of the evil South.)

All cops are at risk of becoming bullies; most of them resist it. My husband thinks the profession itself might attract people who want to throw their weight around as well as people who really want to do be useful to the community. When I was living in a high-crime (mostly black on black plus a lot of domestic violence) lower middle class mixed-race ghetto, our building was untouched because the woman on the top floor was visted day and night by St. Louis’ finest. Cop cars were always out in front. The flat below the woman was occupied by a drug dealer, who used his mail box on the porch entrance for pick up and delivery, and was never arrested. There are corrupt cops. There are incorruptible cops.

I think it’s a good idea to always be polite and say “sir” to anyone in authority who has a gun. Once recently I was speeding well over the limit, late to the dentist’s, but by no means going as fast as some of the traffic, when a cop pulled me over.  When he said he’d stopped me for speeding, I said (and not intending to be a smart-ass) that I thought he was after the guy who passed me like I was standing still, which is why I didn’t pull over immediately. That offended him, though such was not my intent, and I got a whopping ticket, undeserved (I thought). At least he had the decency to go racing after people driving REALLY fast after ticketing me.

To the extent that there are still racists in the U.S. there are going to be racist cops. Someone suggested last year that we try to find DVDs of “The Wire”, and we watched all of the seasons. From my experience and what I’ve read, I believe that “The Wire” is a very fair representation of what cops in America do day in and day out, some of it good and some of it not.

Even in the ‘60s and ‘70s I didn’t like it when people called all cops “pigs”. Some deserve it, probably most don’t, but calling them ALL that name is another kind of “profiling” and just as dangerous. It really does bother me when people generalize (Folk and Ed come to mind) an entire category of people negatively. Lack of discrimination between individuals is where fascism begins.

I hate racists because they are wrong, and, even more, because they are a danger to my nuclear and extended families.

I also hold in contempt people who are blessed with enough social standing and luxury that they can throw their weight around to intimidate anyone who they perceive as not being their social equal.

And I think it is absolutely brilliant of Obama to invite both Crowley and Gates to the White House: will be a learning opportunity for both of them and no one will go away feeling dissed.

Report this

By cyrena, July 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment

By ApprxAm, July 22 at 5:36 pm

•  “This is plain simply a desire to not be treated this way.  There is a concept of law that is almost always ignored during police interaction with blacks and it’s called the “spirit” of the law.  It imparts a “sense” of justice depending on the situation and requires giving one the terribly illusive “benefit of doubt”.”

You’re right on this concept of the law, which is damn near eradicated it would seem, from the stuff taught in the police academies these days. Then again, the “spirit” of the law has been eviscerated from multiple areas of our judicial system over the past several years/decades.

Still,marcus here makes the same point:
By marcus medler, July 22 at 2:57 am #

•  One of the burdens of a professional police officer, allowed a gun, is restraint and thick skin.
In fact, ANY professional dealing with the public (as in to protect and/or serve) is supposed to exercise restraint, and obviously maintain a thick skin. I’m dumbfounded that the police officier refused to provide Prof. Gates with his badge number when Prof. Gates requested it several times, HAVING ALREADY PROVIDED HIS OWN TWO PIECES OF IDENTIFICATION. From whom does Sgt Crowley collect his paycheck?

Ed Harges makes the point even better..

“There is simply no way that the policeman, after as much as two seconds of conversation with the man, could honestly have believed that Gates was some kind of burglar or any sort of menace at all, even if Gates was not very nice about having a policeman barge into the house and demand that Gates prove he had a right to be there.”

Exactly!! The policeman made a very unprofessional (based on his ego) decision to ARREST and HANDCUFF the professor AFTER he had already verified that Gates was the documented resident of that home. He reacted ‘emotionally’ –NOT PROFESSIONALLY- as a result of Gates chastising him.

Soooo…it was a STUPID call on behalf of that officer to arrest the man, specifically at the point in the interaction where he did. But, HE had to save face…stupid white men have gone to war for less.

Report this

By ardee, July 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

The owner of OpEd News is Rob Kall, a man I have had many debates with in the past. He is a bit of a centrist and a democratic loyalist, as well as an entrepreneur of note. Come to think of it he may be a democratic loyalist precisely because he is a capitalist.

Nice to see one post that fails to mention Zionism…..

Report this

By Folktruther, July 24, 2009 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

Obama has now backtracked on this blatant racist incident and states that both sides were at fault.  He does so because there is so much sentiment among the American people on the side of the police. Including pseudo-Prgressives like Ron Kall, the owner of Op-Ed News.

This is an indication that we are in bad trouble.  It isn’t possible to form a class struggle movment if the American people are so racist that they support the police dragging people from their homes for no criminal reason.  A class stuggle consensus must be a mult-racial consensus, since one out of every two children born today are non-Anglo.

And the American people have been taught to identify with the police and military.  Americans don’t ssem to understand that the violence organs are not there primarily to protect them, but to oppress them. 

Rather, they understand both things at once, but will side initially and reactively with oppressive power rather than the people oppressed by power.  As Nola says, when an officer tells you to do something he is authority, and you do not ask why or answer back, you do it. 

This mindset appears to be widespread, which is why the US power structure can continue to increase the enormous class inequality.

When does it happen that people realize that they are being screwed by authority, the same authority that that cop represents.  It obviously hasn’t happened yet.

Report this

By M Currey, July 24, 2009 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am responding to NOLA and while Prof. Gates might have mouthed off and we do not know this because the tapes have not revealed anything.

And then there is racial profiling it is DWB which means Driving While Black, and other happenings because of the color of one’s skin.

And DWB is happening because I was with a person and police stopped this musicians saying he must have been drunk because he was leaving a bar.

But then musicians do work in bars not necessarily drinking while working I call those police jumping to conclusions.

And the charges were later dropped after this musician had stayed one night in jail.  And he stated that he wanted to stay in jail rather than pay the bail bondsmen who should not receive anything for a arrest that should not have happened.

As far as what Obama says he has felt what Prof. Gates is going through.  He once said I might be half white but tell that to a cab driver on the south side of Chicago.

Obama is going on the facts and he also had a disclaimer and he said that I am a friend of Gates and I take that to mean I do not think Prof. Gates went off the deep end.  If he did then I am sure Obama will back the police but until this “Mexican standoff is resolved, I side with the fact that police treat black people and people of color differently than white people.

Report this

By Nola, July 24, 2009 at 7:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We all have opinions and thoughts here goes mine:

A college education does not give you the ability to know how to handle a possible burglary case, as Mr. Gates might think. When an officer of the law (who is our authority) asks you to do something you do not ask why or talk smack, you do it. If you do not you can and will be arrested. He did not. My daughter was held at gun point by 6 policemen who arrived at the wrong house for a burglary once. She was on the computer in her bedroom and they still thought she was a burglar until they received a call that they were at the wrong address. They were white and she is white. If she were black would that have been a problem? Come on… of course not… they would have been doing what they thought was their job there.
If I were a cop in that area where Mr. Gates lives and I ever received another call that a possible burglary was in progress at his address…I would stop for donuts and coffee before arriving at the scene.
This man thinks he is above the law and now has insulted the wrong man. I have no doubt that this officers reputation will speak for itself. Truth works its way out and now more truth is being revealed about our president’s ability to discern and judge. Jumping to conclusions and a conceited proud attitude is Mr. Gates problem. My deepest concern is he is a friend of Obama. That is scary. The apology goes to the officer, but we know that neither of the men who mouthed off are probably big enough to do that. The officer is the one who should sue for his character has been questioned just because he is white. I hope he goes for it! If Obama doesn’t apologize and mean it….it will be Palin the next time around guaranteed!

Report this

By ardee, July 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

“Second, if this guy was so well known in his community, and a neighbor called the police that there was a breakin, then I can’t see how it is against the law for the cop to follow him into the home when he went to get his ID. ”
..........................

It was not a neighbor who called the police, Mr. Westbury, it was a passing motorists in fact, and one who lived in another area miles away. After all, two black men pushing on a door is obviously a crime in progress, right?

Further, have you seen the picture of this professor?...Criminal my ass…..A policeman cannot enter your home without an invitation or probable cause. First we have the crime of driving while black, and then walking while black, and now living in ones own home while black…..I’d be a bit pissed off too, wouldnt you? Rascism is alive and well in America and it is long past time that honorable and decent folks stood up and protested it.

Speaking of protesting, when was the last time Herr Folktruther didnt find an excuse to swing the discussion around to Jews? Those of you who defend this execrable piece of work might wish to examine your own consciences…..

Report this

By Folktruther, July 23, 2009 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

This is a very omnious incident, not for the act itself-non-Whites are routinely oppressed by the police- but for the American reaction to it.  Going by the comments to the Boston Globe, the people of Boston were IN FAVOR of this arrest, and, like Sepharad, thought that Gates was being uppity.

According to the article today on Counterpunch by Lindorff, after returning from the airport by limo, Gates found his front door stuck.  He got the black limo driver, dressed in a tux, to help jimmy open the door.  When a cop came to investigate, Gates showed him his IDs, which he of course was carrying with him, and demanded the name and number of the policeman because he planned to file a complaint.  It was the policeman who wouldn’t give Gates his ID, not the reverse.

Gates demanded it and the policeman followed Gates into his home AFTER he knew who he was.  Gates was arrested apparently for demanding the ID of the cop, which legally he has a right to, and was imprisoned for four hours, fingerprinted, and defamed with an arrest record, no small thing for an academic.

that the media sided with the cop is customary, but the people of Boston also appeared to side with the cop. My wife said that Boston had race riots over busing years ago and has a strongly racist streak in the population. But, my God, Gates was in his home.  If cops can routinely come into your home and arrest you for demanding your legal rights if you are black, than they can do it if your skin is brown, yellow or white. 

The people of Boston are already conditioned for a neolibeeral police state that is rapidly being imposed under Obama.

Obama publically stated that the cops were ‘stupid.’  Presumably for not treating differently professional-class blacks from the general African-American population.  I don’t find that reassuring.

Note the difference among Zionsits though.  Sepharad as a ziofascist naturally is racist, as Israel is, strongly discriminating against dark-skinned Jews just as the US discriminates against dark skin Americans.  She naturally identifies with the cop since the Ziofascists can only continue ethnic cleansing under an Israeli police state, and are trying to impose one in the US to maintain Zionist support and to prevent opposition to Zionism.

Ardee, although a Zionist, is against this racist approach.  this is a big difference in worldview, and may polerize the Jewish population.  It is represented best by Inherit, who is silent on the matter as he usually is when Zionist issues are at stake.  His worldview is muddled, as is the worldview of most of the Jewish population. 

They can go either way, toward Sepharad’s racism and police state, or toward the liberalism of Ardee. toward peace Zionsim or the war Zionism of Sepharad and the Zionist lemmings. But it is the war Zionists in power in Israel and the Jewish population is reluctant to oppose them openly.  But unless they do, they will implicitly support them and who will represent them to conduct ethnic cleansing and possibly nuclear war.

Report this
RAE's avatar

By RAE, July 23, 2009 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

M. Currey wrote: “Seems funny in Prof. Gates situation the charges were dropped.”

It seems to me that “authorities,” uniformed and not, use intimidation and harrassment as valuable tools of their trade. Police often have the option of just asking a few questions where you are, or hauling your ass to a police station and subjecting you to the “third degree” for several hours. It will “get out” (Ooops, how did the TV cameras get outside?) that you’ve been arrested for, say, child abuse, when, in fact, you haven’t. But once that stone is thrown EVERYONE KNOWS you will ALWAYS be a suspect till the day you die. The Police know they can ruin your life almost without laying a hand on you and certainly without laying a charge.

This is abuse of power in my view. If lawmakers would like to earn their keep they perhaps could concoct a law that states that if police action, that doesn’t result in a charge because it was unwarranted and deliberate, results in any significant negative impact on you in any way, including financial, they should be open to a hefty lawsuit - PAYABLE BY THE OFFICERS THEMSELVES, not some mutual slush fund.

Police use of intimidation, threat, coersion or even outright lies or deception should be a crime. Or, alternatively, if it’s OK for them, then it should be OK for everyone else. Police can’t expect everyone but themselves to be honest and have any respect come their way.

Report this

By M. Currey, July 23, 2009 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is true that the police report is a one sided thing. Since it is written up by the police it reflects their side of the story.

Some might comment that the Prof. was throwing his weight around but police can be very rough when confronting a black person and maybe even resent that the man was more educated then they were.

I find it hard to believe what the police say.

And I say it because racial profiling does still go on.

Case in point, what happened at the Montgomery County Swim Club.

Just a case of an overcrowded pool, just happens the pool was overcrowded when the members found out that 60 or 65 children were black.

But the officials of the pool say “it was not racism.

Seems funny in Prof. Gates situation the charges were dropped.  In the case of the Montgomery County Swim Club the children were invited back.  Seems like trying to prevent lawsiits.

Report this
Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, July 22, 2009 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment

By Sepharad, July 23 at 2:21 am:

Can you not comprehend the implication of the fact that after the policeman asked for identification, he followed Gates uninvited into the house as Gates went to get his ID cards? The message was plain: if you’re black, in your own home, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you belong there. Until you do, not only do the police get to knock on your door and bother you, but they also have the run of your house.

We have a fourth amendment. Policeman do not get to barge into people’s houses on the presumption that the people in those houses don’t belong there unless they can produce ID. The policeman’s presumption was an outrage.

Report this

By Sepharad, July 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

ardee, Our oldest kid was once stopped by a cop walking up our street in the wee hours—he was working his way through college doing day jobs and night work at a youth home across the Bay. He was stopped because was a mixed race kid,  (Jewish/Cherokee/Dutch/Haitian) in a big jacket. That was racism. (When he told us what happened later, we both had to restrain my husband from going down to the station and yelling at someone.) 

An academic of an elite university badgering a cop responding to a call that two men were breaking into the guy’s home, asked for his i.d., and was leaving when the professor started yelling at him—that’s not racism. More like an elitist put-down of a mere cop, which is a class issue, not racism. Of course, I only assert this if what happened was as NPR reported it. If not and the cop was throwing his weight around unduly, I’d think differently.

Our kid went on to graduate from an elite Eastern university on a full scholarship, is now a professor with tenure himself, and treats everyone he encounters with courtesy and zero attitude.

I understand there is a lot of talk about racist cops and some are, but many aren’t. If the Harvard professor had been white and behaved so rudely and superciliously, there would be no story on Truthdig. There’s all kinds of racism, ardee.

Report this

By Xntrk, July 22, 2009 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

My original post about bad-mouthing a cop and having my husband arrested , was true, but not serious. Reading other posts tho about the experience of Prof. Gates and other Blacks, as well as many statements about how we should ‘show respect’ to cops, made me realize there is a much deeper issue here. one based on age, experience, and sex, as well as race.

I am a 72 to white woman, raised in Seattle. My first experience with the Police was based on complaints against an abusive male. First, when I was 12, it was my Step Father hitting my mother when he was drunk, and then when when I was 14, a neighbor got drunk and hid his wife’s wooden legs [she was in her 70’s at the time].

In both cases, the cops came in, had a drink with the abuser, and laughed about the plight of the woman. A couple of years later, there was a big Police/Sheriff Department scandal about the cops running hookers on a circuit, for the West Coast Mob [pre-1955 in Seattle/Snohomish County.

Needless to say, the last person I would turn to for help, if it involved a man and was after dark, would be the police. I could give you a few more examples, but they are all basically the same. The cops, and the Working-Class male having a good laugh at the expense of the ‘little woman’. Watch the Honey Mooners, or listen to the Bickersons and you’ll see this same story played out and glossed over as ‘humor’ for the masses.

Once I got an education, and moved into the ‘middle-class’ my experiences with the police were less abrasive. Altho, a group of women I met with often [2 Teachers, a Lawyer, an Engineer, and a Real Estate Broker, all white, and in our 50s] got to talking story one night, and it turned out all of us had been arrested for one reason or another, as adults - No felonies, btw.

I wonder if that would be true of five middle-class white professional men of that age?

IMO, the last thing I owe a Policeman is ‘respect’. If he shows it to me, I’ll reciprocate, but I won’t expect it up front!

Report this

By Folktruther, July 22, 2009 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

did you look at the comments of the readers of the Boston Globe?  Most of these comments are racist, like Sepharad’s.  Here a small Educated guy with luggage is trying to get into his own home and he is arrested for not being respectful to a policeman hasseling him in his home,  and most of the readers of a liberal paper approve!

You could understand this racism on the part of Sepharad,who is a ziofascist, where racism is a strong component, but for the responding Boston population?  the clear implication of these comments, as was Sepharad’s, was that Gates was being uppity.

That the American people identify with the police to enter people’s homes when the home owner is black is startling.  there are ethnic reasosns for this response, but it indicates that racism is just below the surface.

Report this

By RobertinWestbury, July 22, 2009 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

“There are more than two sides to every story. If you will remember, Gates had just returned from a trip to China, ever been on a plane for 12 hours? Further he had trouble getting in to his own home upon arrival. Then some officer breaks the law by following Gates into his home uninvited.”

First, wherever he was returning from, and for however long he’d been traveling - is totally irrelevant, IMO.  It is not the job of the police to determine if someone is tired or worn out in their dealings of a potential crime. 

Second, if this guy was so well known in his community, and a neighbor called the police that there was a breakin, then I can’t see how it is against the law for the cop to follow him into the home when he went to get his ID.  If he was a criminal, he could have just run out the back.  On the other hand, Ed Harges makes some good points about his demeanor that should have keyed the cop into the probablity that this was indeed his home.

I agree with you there are more than 2 sides of a story.  And we’ll never know for sure whose version is closest to what actually occurred. 

Having said that, it ‘feels’ to me like we have slipped into a police state.  And that is tragic.  I read everday it seems of children and old people being tasered.  See video clips of excessive police brutatily.  And I wonder what can be done about it?  Who controls them?  I suppose it is the mayors that the department heads answer to.  Is police behavior ever a key factor in a mayoral campaign?  Have any states passed laws to reign in the police?  I don’t know what the solution is….???  And it seems that outside of the people who are personally affected by these incidents, there isn’t much of a movement to reinforce the fact that this is NOT a police state.

Report this

By ardee, July 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad, July 22 at 1:48 am #

If Professor Gates’ words to the policeman were as quoted on NPR, they were at the very least disrespectful and, to put it less kindly, an example of a profesional elitist venting his outrage at someone of lower social status because he felt entitled to do so.
..................

There are more than two sides to every story. If you will remember, Gates had just returned from a trip to China, ever been on a plane for 12 hours? Further he had trouble getting in to his own home upon arrival. Then some officer breaks the law by following Gates into his home uninvited.

I do not doubt your support of civil rights issues but you come at it like a typical white person, totally unaware of the every day harassments like driving or walking while black.

We all need a bit more distancing and understanding.

Report this
PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, July 22, 2009 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

I believe all police should have to pay for their own private malpractice insurance which in effect would regulate their conduct and actions. 

Just like tickets, the more you get the higher your premium. 

The taxpayers should not have to payout via our taxmoney, lawsuits or legal fees for those police suspended with pay, when the fault of the policeman is clear and the vetting system which hired them is broken.

Report this
ApprxAm's avatar

By ApprxAm, July 22, 2009 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

This isn’t that difficult. 

This isn’t hiring preferences over more qualified white applicants, or disregarding higher GPA and SAT scores of college applicants, or the feigned issue of the Fire Fighter’s Promotional Exam in New Haven, a procedure in which that city ruined, intentionally I believed, because they feared a suit by black employees that failed over that of the white employees that passed.  Any of these cost one group over the other and are inherently unfair.

This is plain simply a desire to not be treated this way.  There is a concept of law that is almost always ignored during police interaction with blacks and it’s called the “spirit” of the law.  It imparts a “sense” of justice depending on the situation and requires giving one the terribly illusive “benefit of doubt”.

If one has a problem with the extension of such, the applying of appropriate responses to appropriate conditions and the exercise of rudimentary citizenship, neither of which cost money nor displaces the innocent, then, obviously, nothing can reach you, nor should one try.

Report this
RAE's avatar

By RAE, July 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

“English cops are unarmed and consequently much less douche baggy.”

SOME police in Great Britain are unarmed but not all. A system like theirs only works when there is mutual R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

In America, whatever respect there might have been at one time for the “lawman” has disappeared. Too many police have been “laid to rest” by trusting just once too often. It’s too bad… the vast majority of Americans are law abiding, good people, who’d be more than willing to cooperate if given the chance. But the few a**holes, as usual, have ruined it for everyone, forever. Once that trust is lost it will never return.

Now its WHOEVER’S GOT THE MOST FIREPOWER, WINS. In England, when a copper is arresting you, he takes you gently by the arm and says “Come along, now.” In America, FOUR ARMED-T0-THE-TEETH 300-pounders jump you, throw you to the ground, shackle you hand and foot and heave you headfirst into a truck. You, my friend, in America, are GUILTY (even AFTER you’ve been found innocent in a court of law.) Like I said… there ain’t no R-E-S-P-E-C-T any more. That’s something that must be earned. Many Americans are just too fat and lazy to be bothered.

Report this

By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, July 22, 2009 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Without guns, a lot of cops would either be more respectful when interacting with the public or a lot of cops would have badges shoved up their asses!  Case in point:  English cops are unarmed and consequently much less douche baggy.

Report this

By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, July 22, 2009 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

The badge can suck my member!  Cops have been hiding behind that “respect the badge” bullshit forever.  Sounds a lot like “respect the PhD” now doesn’t it?  If the pig isn’t going to blindly respect the diploma then why should anyone blindly respect the pig’s ridiculous symbol?  “Everyone, look at my super-powerful toy shield… Oink Oink…RESPECT my super-powerful toy shield!!! Weee Weeee Weeeee!!!”  “Respect the badge” is the last refuge of the gutless badge-wearer.

Report this
RAE's avatar

By RAE, July 22, 2009 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

Arrogance, as with ignorance and prejudice, knows no class boundaries.

The trouble is when WE get arrogant with those who are equally arrogant AND ARMED, we are destined to lose the tussle!

This “professor” obviously skipped a few chapters in his human relations text on his way to his “Piled Higher & Deeper” status. Right there, in Chapter One, it states very clearly that when unarmed and facing an armed opponent, no matter how closely he/she resembles a Neanderthal, just SHUT UP and DO AS INSTRUCTED.

It’s not fair, to be sure… but life’s not fair, no matter what the skin color. It’s better to SEE RED than to leak it all over the pavement.

Report this

By John, July 22, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They should have ‘tazed’ him.
NOT because he’s black but because he’s an arrogant, self-serving bigot. White or black… you respect the badge.

Report this

By JayZee, July 22, 2009 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

He’s lucky he didn’t get tased or shot!

Although AA’s have it worse…this crap CAN happen to anyone.

I’m jut sayin.

Report this

By mike112769, July 22, 2009 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

It doesn’t matter what color you are: If you give the police a hard time they WILL give you one back. I don’t understand why everyone says this is about race. ANY cop would have done the same thing to ANYONE regardless of color. It is in the police department’s best interests to treat people like this. The more you try to argue with them, the more charges they can bring against you.
  I have never heard of a cop who is willing to admit (publicly) to being wrong, so I don’t expect this case to be any different. If he wants an apology, he may be waiting a while. If the department is forced to issue one, the cops WILL find something else to get him on. We can’t have Barney Fife get embarassed, now could we?
  The police in this country are out of control. They can do anything they want and we have to take it (including being shot in the back while handcuffed on a subway floor). We are presumed guilty, it is up to us to prove our innocence. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in the past.
  This should NOT be an issue of race. This stuff happens to every other race too. It should be a case of authority out of control.

Report this

By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, July 22, 2009 at 5:34 am Link to this comment

Well, one thing we can be sure of:  Cops NEVER lie in a police report!  I’m sure the Cambridge PD is full of officers every bit as honest and forthright as those we have in Atlanta.  Thank God there’s somebody out there we can count on!!!  I know that when I was in high school, the people I knew I could trust implicitly were those who eventually went on to become cops. (I’m sure it’s the same everywhere.)  They were just categorically the finest people in the whole town.  Not like those reprobate misfits who eventually earned PhDs from Ivy League schools.  No siree.

Report this

By Miguel, July 22, 2009 at 4:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ah, America is still a very racist country, and nothing will change.
I’m 52 years old. When I was in my early teens I actually believed things would change so much that, by now, racism would be almost a thing of the past.
From what I see today, it’s worse, just dressed up better so your commmon American things it does not exist.
I have no faith in America, and Americans.

Report this

By Slice, July 22, 2009 at 3:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It sounds like he was caught doing something he shouldn’t. People don’t get “loud” for no reason.

Report this

By marcus medler, July 21, 2009 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One of the burdens of a professional police officer, allowed a gun, is restraint and thick skin. The elitism and arrogance I see is from the gun holder, this police officer. Our institutions need more work in purging the racial and cultural bias of the last four hundred years. Position and money and rights are trumped by ignorant authority figures. Look at the recent debate about torture. Not one reputable professional interrogator supports torture. Yet the Senate of the United States has trouble understanding torture. The arrogance of power or cultural smugness within a professional body is dangerous to a society of law.

Report this

By Sepharad, July 21, 2009 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

If Professor Gates’ words to the policeman were as quoted on NPR, they were at the very least disrespectful and, to put it less kindly, an example of a profesional elitist venting his outrage at someone of lower social status because he felt entitled to do so. Civil rights are something I have defended and will always defend. But browbeating a policeman who responded to a break-in call (after the policeman had checked his I.D. and was leaving) and then calling a Harvard colleague lawyer to underline his prestige is such a classist crock. I hope someone DOES break into Gates’ house and the police are called and don’t respond lest they trample on Professor Gates droit de seignur sensibilities.

Report this

By Xntrk, July 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

The last time I verbally assaulted a Police Officer, they arrested my husband. I think the rational was that arresting an old lady would be harder to explain then arresting an old man. The charges were dismissed of course, but it was irritating and embarrassing.

All I said was that I thought the officer would have done well in Hitler’s SS. Some people just have no sense of humor.

That said, the biggest problem seems to be that people of a certain age have read the Constitution, and may have even had a class or two on Constitutional History and the Bill of Rights. I doubt if the average cop even know what the Bill of Right’s is, altho he [she] has probably heard of your Miranda Rights, and has taken a class or two on how to avoid enforcing them.

Black, White, male, or female, I cannot imagine just rolling over because it is a Police Officer standing on my property harassing me. Even my kids, as teenagers, knew their rights, and usually successfully stood up for them.

Good for Professor Gates. I hope he follows thru with his plan to do a documentary on racial profiling and the plight of his fellow Blacks who are not Professors. We have come a long way in the 100 years the NAACP has been around, but there is still a long way to go.

Report this
Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, July 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

Prof. Gates is nearly 59, walks with a cane, and has the unmistakable demeanor of one who has lived the gentle life of an elite academic. There is simply no way that the policeman, after as much as two seconds of conversation with the man, could honestly have believed that Gates was some kind of burglar or any sort of menace at all, even if Gates was not very nice about having a policeman barge into the house and demand that Gates prove he had a right to be there.

Particularly galling is the fact that after the policeman asked for identification, he followed Gates uninvited into the house as Gates went to get his ID cards. So the message was plain: if you’re black, in your own home, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you belong there. Until you do, not only do the police get to knock on your door and bother you, but they also have the run of your house.

Report this

By cyrena, July 21, 2009 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

“Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, said today on MSNBC that even though “we’ve elected an African-American president … these kinds of profiling do, in fact, take place.”“

No kidding. Profiling is still as widely practiced as it ever was, but we never hear about those incidents in the news.

Anyway, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m glad Prof. Gates is willing to educate the police officer, but there are some things that some white folks refuse to learn. They have a real hard time with the ‘equality under the law’ concept.

Report this
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.