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Arrest of Henry Louis Gates

So the matter at hand is that Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested by Cambridge police after struggling against the jammed front door of his own home. Evidently, somebody called in a report that a man was attempting to break into the house. The police report indicates he was booked for loud and disorderly conduct after Gates yelled at the policeman inside his home and continued to do so while following him back outside, stating he was targeted because “I’m a black man in America.” It helps having the President as a personal friend when Obama publicly announced the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” and is a demonstration of “how race remains a factor in this society.” Gates claims the police officer didn’t tell the truth and that the police report is a fabrication. Meanwhile, the police officer refuses to apologize, indicating “While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.”

Before going any further, yes, there are definitely police out there that do stupid things. Take the situation where a state trooper pulled over an ambulance for going through a red light with a patient on board being treated by paramedics as a prime example. That said, let’s dispense with the all cops, emergency personnel and firemen are flawless beacons of truth and greatness argument before it even gets laid on the table. By and large though, from my time driving ambulances and working with Army Reservists from the NYPD I can say virtually all the police I’ve worked with are perfectly normal people just like you and me if not even more so from the patience they have (whether we believe it or not) from dealing with the dregs of society daily.

Who do you believe – the cop arresting him for disorderly conduct or Gates claiming he was targeted for being black?

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Notice how the article’s indicated that if Gates had been a white man, none of this would have happened. They left out the counter-example by ignoring “what if the policeman had been a black man.”

Would Gates have still gone on his tirade about being asked for identification as a targetting of black folks if the cop was black, too? Or would they have just fist-bumped, called each other brother and laughed about whitey-mcgee who called the police in the first place?

It just seems “too perfect” that a professor of African studies takes what would have otherwise been an innocuous confirmation of identity and blows it completely out of proportion to place a race card.

I suppose I would give the benefit of the doubt to the police officer only if charges stuck. Whenever charges don’t stick I’m suspicious of unlawful dominion. After all, the explanation of the officer quoted in this post is that Gates’ behavior was surprising and confusing. Last time I checked, that’s not a crime.

Being arrested in your own home or on the front porch is outrageous – no matter which way you spin race. This after the officer had determined that Gates was lawfully in the house! A double outrage! Look, I would be angry, too. Furious! I probably would not follow the cop yelling. But that probably is because I’m not a black man in America. I wouldn’t be carrying the constant burden of racism, of racial profiling, or of police brutality. These facts, if not excusing Gates’ behavior, explain it sufficiently for me to conclude that I hold with Gates. He was more wronged.

Some will say the officer was just doing his job, but his job is that of representing power – and for police, an ever increasing and some might say militarized power, perhaps beyond what is good for society – and therefore he should prepare to exercise that power as benignly and as passively as possible . . . especially when in another man’s home. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been yelled at. Perhaps he shouldn’t have arrested Gates. In the end, though, it’s a credit to our system that it took only four hours for justice to mostly prevailed.

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Both at Fault by gnifyus

Perhaps Henry Lewis Gates has been so immersed in this general issue of disparity in Black arrests that he was overly suspect of the officer’s motives.

Perhaps Officer Crowley has just come off his 10th break in report that week and was overly zealous in his approach. (Heck, years ago, I lived in that neighborhood further down Harvard St, and our apartment was broken into right in the middle of the day.)

Whatever the case, it’s both parties fault that it turned out the way it did. Gates did not have to so quickly and suspiciously say, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?" He could have just straightened it out civilly. Officer Crowley should have been better able to access the scene (he’s an old guy for one!) and deal with the man’s anger differently.

They could both take some anger management lessons from Officer Steven Murray. (He can tell you about “tumultuous”.)

Of course, (sigh), I wasn’t there. I know neither the anger of a profiled Black man, nor the weariness of a Cambridge police officer in that neighborhood.

Seriously, if the guy had told the officer that he was glad someone was looking out for his property and shown ID, he would have been fine.

If the guy had simply asked the police officer the RIGHT questions, the only ones you should ever ask a cop (“Am I being detained, am I free to go”) he would have been fine.

He most likely caused a scene and the cop over reacted.

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O Irony by LordDilly

So … that “racist” cop? Turns out he is his unit’s profiling expert/sensitivity trainer. Either a: once again “racism” is being blown the hell out of proportion or b: we have a super-secret-incognito-racist disguised as a sensitivity trainer lying in wait to hassle a black African Studies professor. You be the judge!

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Hoopla by Anonymous

What would he say if someone else (white, black, purple, orange, it doesn’t matter) had been breaking into his house and the cops just drove by.. He’d be having a cow and calling for the police officer to be fired for not doing his job, etc.

The cop didn’t know who’s house it was or what was occurring. I’m sure Mr. Gates had a cell phone to call the police and let them know what he was doing. Also, what happened to the days of keeping a spare set of keys at the neighbor’s house. We still do.

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There was no.. by ldsudduth

racism, discrimination or other suspicious activity here. There was only a police officer doing their job.

Had Dr. Gates simply cooperated with the officer, the incident would have been over in about 5 minutes. Instead, Dr. Gates decided to go alone with the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton and make a innocent inquiry into a reported break-in all about race. Personally, I would be HAPPY as a clam to know that a neighbor reported seeing me break into my own home. It’s quite understandable that the neighbor didn’t know him; he had not lived there long by his own admission.

Instead, Dr. Gates proceeds to play the race card, rather loudly. After being warned about his conduct OUTSIDE the home not once, not twice, but THREE times; he was arrested. Where I come from, you yell at a police officer one time, and you’ll find yourself cuffed and transported to lockup for disorderly conduct.

As to the charges being dropped—that was probably just office politics being played to make the whole incident just go away. The charges are exteremly minor anyway; typically a mere fine and court costs after a night in jail (assuming you didn’t pay bail).

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Why should we care? by Occams

Our crappy media loves stories like this that drive a wedge through our fragile society and put people into two opposed camps.

Both people reacted like humans they had honor but made some mistakes. Both were at fault to some degree.

It’s just a media beat up. Who cares?

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