Who ‘Acted Stupidly’? The Cop, The Professor, Or The President?

We have a situation in which a police officer placed a man who turned out to be a Harvard professor of African-American Studies under arrest for disorderly conduct.  And then we have a situation in which the President of the United States of America decides to directly involve himself in his role as Racial-Arbiter-in-Chief.

The best place to begin is with the facts.  A neighbor saw two men attempting to force their way into a home that had already sustained an attempted break-in previously that week.  The police arrived.

And then, from excerpts of the police report (the full actual report is available in PDF format here):

On Thursday July 16, 2009, Henry Gates, Jr. – -, of Ware Street, Cambridge, MA) was placed under arrest at Ware Street, after being observed exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, in a public place, directed at a uniformed police officer who was present investigating a report of a crime in progress. These actions on the behalf of Gates served no legitimate purpose and caused citizens passing by this location to stop and take notice while appearing surprised and alarmed.

When I arrived at Ware Street I radioed ECC and asked that they have the caller meet me at the front door to this residence. I was told that the caller was already outside. As I was getting this information, I climbed the porch stairs toward the front door. As I reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified {} who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand arid told me that it was she who called. She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of• Ware Street. She told me that her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry. Since I was the only police officer on location and had my back to the front door as I spoke with her, I asked that she wait for other responding officers while I investigated further.

As I turned and faced the door, I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of {} Ware Street. I made this observation through the glass paned front door. As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied “no I will not”. He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was “Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police” and that I was “investigating a report of a break in progress” at the residence. While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed “why, because I’m a black man in America?”.   I then asked Gates if there was anyone else in the residence. While yelling, he told me that it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police officer. I assured Gates that I was responding to a citizen’s call to the Cambridge Police and that the caller was outside as we spoke. Gates seemed to ignore me and picked up a cordless telephone and dialed an unknown telephone number. As he did so, I radioed on channel I that I was off in the residence with someone who appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative. I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end of his telephone call to “get the chief’ and “what’s the chiefs name?’.   Gates was telling the person on the other end of the call that he was dealing with a racist police officer in his home.  Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was “messing” with and that I had not heard the last of it.  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.  I asked Gates to provide me with photo identification so that I could verify that he resided at Ware Street and so that I could radio my findings to ECC. Gates initially refused, demanding that I show him identification but then did supply me with a Harvard University identification card. Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, I radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University Police.

With the Harvard University identification in hand, I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared to leave. Gates again asked for my name which I began to provide. Gates began to yell over my spoken words by accusing me of being a racist police officer and leveling threats that he wasn’t someone to mess with. At some point during this exchange, I became aware that Off. Carlos Figueroa was standing behind me. When Gates asked a third time for my name, I explained to him that I had provided it at his request two separate times. Gates continued to yell at me. I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and that if he had any other questions regarding the matter, I would speak with him outside of the residence.

As I began walking through the foyer toward the front door, I could hear Gates again demanding my name. I again told Gates that I would speak with him outside. My reason for wanting to leave the residence was that Gates was yelling very loud and the acoustics of the kitchen and foyer were making it difficult for me to transmit pertinent information to ECC or other responding units. His reply was “ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside”. When I left the residence, I noted that there were several Cambridge and Harvard University police officers assembled on the sidewalk in front of the residence. Additionally, the caller, Ms. Walen and at least seven unidentified passers-by were looking in the direction of Gates, who had followed me outside of the residence.

As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him. Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates’s outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest. I then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates. Gates initially resisted my attempt to handcuff him, yelling that he was “disabled” and would fall without his cane. After the handcuffs were property applied, Gates complained that they were too tight. I ordered Off. Ivey, who was among the responding officers, to handcuff Gates with his arms in front of him for his comfort while I secured a cane for Gates from within the residence. I then asked Gates if he would like an officer to take possession of his house key and secure his front door, which he left wide open. Gates told me that the door was unsecurable due to a previous break attempt at the residence. Shortly thereafter, a Harvard University maintenance person arrived on scene and appeared familiar with Gates. I asked Gates if he was comfortable with this Harvard University maintenance person securing his residence. He told me that he was.

And then there’s the President of the United States, feeling the need to directly involve himself in a report of a break-in and a disorderly conduct arrest:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I — I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.

I don’t know all the facts. What’s been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.

So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into — well, I guess this is my house now, so — (laughter) — it probably wouldn’t happen.

(Chuckling.) But let’s say my old house in Chicago — (laughter) — here I’d get shot. (Laughter.) But so far, so good. They’re — they’re — they’re reporting. The police are doing what they should. There’s a call. They go investigate. What happens?

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I’m sure there’s some exchange of words. But my understanding is — is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

Now, I’ve — I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportion ately. That’s just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn’t lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that’s been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently, and oftentime for no cause, casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that’s why I think the more that we’re working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we’re eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody’s going to be.

We find out in addition that the police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, actually teaches courses on racial profiling at Lowell Police Acadamy, and has been teaching the course there for five years.  We find out that Sgt. Crowley receives no pay for teaching the class, and that he drives from Cambridge to Middlesex Community College in Lowell.  And we find out that he is an incredibly well-respected police officer.

Okay.  So here’s your test: WHO was “acting stupidly”?

For the record, it is black men like Henry Louis Gates who make the charge “racist” utterly meaningless to me.  Because the only way I could be any more racist than Gates is if I went to weekly meetings wearing a white robe and a pointy hat.

Personally, I have to give a tie to Professor Henry Louis Gates and President Barack Obama.  Gates is clearly an arrogant hard-core racist jerk who deserved to be seriously beaten with a baton, let alone arrested.  And Barack Obama is clearly an arrogant, hard-core fool who should have kept his stupid mouth shut rather than join Gates in throwing around charges of racism.

Mouthing off to police officers is a bad idea, and Henry Louis Gates officially disqualified himself from the roles of reasonable and intelligent people for having so remarkably mouthed off with so little provocation.  And Harvard University is clearly an inferior academic institution for having such pathetic, angry, bitter, nasty, racist psychos on its payroll as “faculty.”

I am a law-abiding citizen, yet I have had several similar encounters with the police.  On one occasion, I was ordered off my motorcycle (back when I had one), and ordered to interlock my fingers behind my neck and drop to my knees on the side of a highway.  I hadn’t mouthed off in any way, or given any cause to believe that I was a threat when the black police officer gave me the order.  And the officer’s tone had been, “Do it now or I will shoot you.”  He inspected me for weapons and inspected my bags, before clearing me to stand up.  When I asked why he had treated me this way, the officer curtly answered, “You matched the general description of a robbery suspect.”  No, “Gee, I’m really sorry.  It must have been kind of embarrassing kneeling on the side of the road with your arms over your head like that and all them cars driving by.”

I thought the officer was a complete jerk.  But it never even occurred to me to think that this black authority figure was a racist out to get even with whitey.  Primarily because I’d already had three earlier unfortunate wrong-place-wrong-time situations with rude police officers who were white.  Once I’d been loudly cursed at by a police officer who was manning a perimeter check point when I tried to tell him I’d just seen the man they were probably looking for and noted the direction he was running.  Another time I was ordered out of my car at literal gunpoint out in the desert.  I had gone out there to walk my Rottweiler, and the officer was treating the situation as a possible stolen car incident.

It’s partially because police officers are always potentially about to be shot at, and partially because law enforcement just too often attracts men and women who get off exercising authority, that civilians often feel like they are being treated rudely.

In the particular case of Sgt. James Crowley and Professor Henry Louis Gates, it seems clear to me that Crowley was in the former category of “potentially about to be shot at,” while Gates was in the latter category of “get off exercising authority.”

Blacks often talk about racism being about an unequal power relationship.  Well, the racists in this particular situation are the powerful men in society: a privileged Harvard University professor, and a President of the United States.  And the victim of racism is an honest, blue collar working man.

How dare you accuse such a man of racism, Professor Gates?  How dare you, President Obama?  You were the two men who acted stupidly, and you are the two men who should feel ashamed of yourselves.

Is Barack Obama a racist? As far as I’m concerned, he’s now got three strikes.  Strike one was belonging to a thoroughly racist church under Jeremiah Wright for 23 years.  Strike two was his appointment of a “wise Latina judge” who had imposed a racist ruling penalizing white firefighters just for being white.  And strike three is standing up for a racist bigot like Gates – who apparently becomes the next thoroughly racist extremist bigot Obama would no more disown than his own white grandmother – and associating Sgt. Crowley with racism and racial profiling when he didn’t know the facts of the case by his own admission is strike three.

It’s not the police officer who should be defending himself against allegations of racism.  It’s Henry Louis Gates.  And it’s Barack Obama.  Obama should be asked every single day, “How dare you defend the kind of racist behavior your good friend Henry Gates exhibited toward that poor white police officer who was just trying to do his job?”

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4 Responses to “Who ‘Acted Stupidly’? The Cop, The Professor, Or The President?”

  1. admin Says:

    Michael, we would like to invite you to consider becoming part of the hypocrisy.com family of blog sites. You can reach us at admin at hypocrisy.com. Thanks.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Thanks for the offer, admin. I took a peek at your site and liked the cut of its gib.

    I’ll seriously consider your offer.
    Michael

  3. themadjewess Says:

    The ‘pres.’ as usual, acted like a dope.

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    I’m starting to think the REAL newsworthy item would be if the president DIDN’T act like a dope…

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