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Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2009

OBAMA STICKS TO HIS GUNS ON GATES REMARKS.... It's tempting to think the most important part of last night's White House press conference would be President Obama's responses to questions about health care. Alas, he answered a question about Skip Gates' arrest in Cambridge, and now reporters and Republicans seem awfully excited about it.

What's more, since the president is still talking about it, we can expect the interest in this to continue again tomorrow.

President Obama today stood by his comments that the Cambridge, Mass. police department acted "stupidly" in its arrest of Henry Louis Gates, telling ABC News' Terry Moran that the Harvard University professor should not have been arrested.

"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement because I think it was a pretty straight forward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, whose in his own home," Obama told Moran.

In an exclusive interview to air on Nightlight tonight, the president said it doesn't make sense to him that the situation escalated to the point that Gates was arrested.

"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president added. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."

Obama added that the arresting officer is an "outstanding police officer," but under the circumstances, he doesn't think it makes sense "to arrest a guy in his own home if he's not causing a serious disturbance."

That, I suspect, won't make any of the various angry parties feel any better. Sgt. James Crowley is upset. So is his lawyer. So is the Fraternal Order of Police. The union representative of the Boston Patrolmen Association said the president's comments are "unforgiveable."

The House Republican campaign committee hopes to exploit this, and Rush Limbaugh wants white people to think the Obama administration is out to get them.

Our political discourse can be very frustrating sometimes.

As for my own take on this, I don't know all of the details of the arrest, but I'm hard pressed to imagine why an older guy who walks with a cane, and who showed identification showing that he was, in fact, in his own house, needed to be arrested and taken away in handcuffs. The president's remarks last night did not strike me as especially outrageous.

But all things being equal, I would have preferred to see the president steer clear of the matter. He's usually pretty disciplined, but his remarks about a local police matter have become a distraction -- at a time when a distraction is not at all helpful. Obama's follow-up remarks today give news outlets another excuse to avoid discussion of substantive policy matters, and focus even more on this issue, to the delight of Republicans.

Joe Klein's take sounded about right to me: "...Obama wasn't exactly being smart when he allowed himself to answer this question at length. It was an unusual lapse of discipline on his part, giving my colleagues an excuse to resurrect all the tired old stuff about Obama and race -- which is understandable since this situation is personal and emotional; the health care negotiations are technical and abstract. Obama should have said, 'Skip Gates is a friend of mine. He's not a very disorderly sort and I'm glad the charges have been dropped.' But then, the guy is human."

Steve Benen 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (109)

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Comments

God forbid the President should call 'em as he sees 'em. People might get upset, and then health care reform won't pass.
Earth to Steve: That's not happening anyway, and the ritual indignation of police unions won't be the reason.
I think Obama is a cautious, careful man, too careful sometimes. But he's not a coward, unlike much of the party he leads.

Posted by: JMG on July 23, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone explain to me why, other than political hay, BPA and FOP are upset? The right got all worked up about Ruby Ridge and laws were being broken there. Here, no laws were being broken and a man was arrested in his own home. What could possibly be anything other than stupid about this?

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on July 23, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

What JMG said. Steve.

Posted by: Scott F. on July 23, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

White people, cops, and people in the military can ABSOLUTELY DO NO WRONG!

Oh yeah, and especially white firefighters.

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on July 23, 2009 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

I agree with you completely. The whole thing between Gates and the cop turned into a bigger event than it should have. You have this guy whose traveled what? 25 hours by plane with 'terminal' jet lag and he can't find the key to the front door of his house. Then you have a cop trying to do his job. It was a formula for a disaster waiting to happen.

Obama should have left it alone......esp. with all the other issues on the table.

Posted by: ted on July 23, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

hmm...I agree, Obama wouldn't ordinarily fall into something like this. Perhaps this is cover for congress to work on Healthcare without the daily headlines on bills floating around?

Or perhaps I just need to get out more? :-/

Posted by: Mark on July 23, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to get worked up over anything these days since I've become convinced that our country and possibly the world is ultimately doomed to destruction at the hands of willfully ignorant children masquerading as veteran politicians and media celebrities whose sense of their own glorious rightness totally blinds them to the results of their hideous misunderstanding of life as long as they are completely insulated against the consequences of what they do by the millions of dollars given to them to complete the work of their soulless masters who enable their destructive acts.

I wish I could say I was kidding, but I'm not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on July 23, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I agree, but I think there's also something like the bitch-slap aspect of politics going on here. Once the question was asked, if Obama had dodged, or remained neutral, or been more cautious, I think the meme today would be "Obama recognizes he's weakened - won't defend Gates." I think it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Posted by: plain on July 23, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Having spoken up about this (and especially since there are no charges against Gates), the President should do the righteous thing -- and call James Crowley, the cop who arrested Gates.

It's the classy, human thing to do: "look, he's a friend of mine, and I realize I'm the President and all that, but you and I know that nobody except the people who were there, and not all of them, know what the facts were. This was an ugly little incident, and I'm glad it didn't get a helluva lot worse. Like I said the other day, both of you should have backed off. I know you're not going to apologize to Skip, and I'm not asking you to. But because I spoke up about it, I figured I should give you the chance to tell me where to get off, so, here's your chance to tell the President of the United States where to stick it...."

Crowley will say, gee, I was doing my job, and you shouldn't have stuck your POTUS nose into a local issue -- and then Obama gets to say: "yeah, I know. I have people who do nothing but tell me when to shut up, and I don't always listen. But, look -- you're the cop, and I know when you got that call, or when you get the next one, you don't know what the situation is really going to be, if the guy in the house is the owner or some maniac. I honestly appreciate what you do, and how much restraint you have to have -- so, look, man: thanks."

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 23, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I can hardly imagine the furor that would have developed if Obama had DUCKED that question.

On another topic-when one of our kids does something "bad" that must be addressed, don't we carefully make a distinction: YOU are not bad but what you've DONE is bad. I think that's exactly what Obama did in his answer to that question

Posted by: Judith Martinez on July 23, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Except, theAmericamoron, the cop was in the wrong Now, of course I know you're not smart enough to understand that. It's the truth, nevertheless.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on July 23, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama wasn't exactly being smart when he allowed himself to answer this question at length... But then, the guy is human."

But then, the guy is BLACK!!! What a fucking tool Jokeline is. Does anyone doubt that the president himself has gone through something like what Gates went through? And that he justifiably is angry about it? From the time he was 18 until a few years ago he lived in Manhattan, Cambridge and Chicago. EVERY black person I know goes through this shit. EVERY ONE OF THEM. And Joe thinks they should just shut the fuck up about it because it makes his idiot white friends at Time feel less than comfortable. Eat shit and die Joe.

Posted by: pinson on July 23, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm reminded of an old joke I heard in the early 90s, after I first moved to Seattle. It was a local SNL-type show called "Almost Live", and they did the same sort of stuff for Seattle and the Northwest that SNL does for New York City and the nation.

"Today, police in Bellevue [insert elite neighborhood of your choice there] pulled over a black man. He hadn't done anything wrong, but they had never seen a black man in Bellevue before."

I can see both sides here. Yes, Gates could have probably been more cooperative initially, and the police more genial. However, as I gay man I have been in in a similarl situation to Gates', and I've seen how the police can be in situations like that.

Sometimes, it's a situation where damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Obama should have just made a general statement that he was confident the issue would be resolved by local authorities and let it be.

Posted by: Michael W on July 23, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

In the ownership society, it's not only okay for corporations to lobby the government to steal your property for their needs, but they can come into your house and arrest you for breaking no law other than existing under the influence of being black.

I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again, I dramatically underestimated the degree to which having a black President has unhinged the Republican party.

Posted by: doubtful on July 23, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I dramatically underestimated the degree to which having a black President has unhinged the Republican party.

I thought they'd frantically exchange misspelled, poorly illustrated racist email jokes through Thanksgiving 2008 and then pretty much move on re the black thing. The period of adjustment is proving to be remarkably long and tumultuous.

Posted by: shortstop on July 23, 2009 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I know exactly what happened, because I nearly got arrested for the same sort of thing (trying to break into my own car). The charge is called "Contempt of Cop", and it works like this:

1. Law-abiding citizen is doing something that's actually law-abiding but really does look suspicious to a cop doing a drive-by patrol. (In my case, I was trying to get into my car with a coathanger).

2. Cop stops and demands that you freeze, show ID and not make any threatening moves.

3. Cop confirms your identity (he ran my plates and confirmed they were registered to the name on my driver's license) and you ask for your ID back.

4. Instead of giving the ID back to you and apologizing for the mistake-- so you can be gracious and admit that it must have looked funny-- he hangs onto it and starts to give you some lecture.

5. You're already stressed about not being able to get in, nearly being arrested didn't help and this guy not immediately admitting his mistake really irritates you. You ask to for his badge number.

6. He refuses to give it to you and tells you that he isn't finished saying whatever he's saying, and not to move.

7. You tell him you're not interested in his rationalizations and face-saving and demand his badge number.

8. He tells you to shut up and stop acting in a threatening way.

9. Knowing your rights, you blow your stack.

10. He decides to show you who's boss, calls for backup and threatens to arrest you.

I avoided arrest because my father the litigator (who'd been called because he had my spare set of keys) showed up while we were waiting for backup, and read the cop the riot act.

Gates has every right to be furious. He should sue. Obama has every right to be furious-- everyone who cares about civil rights should.

Hate to break it to you, Steve, but this is a rule of law/civil liberties issues, and yeah, this takes precedence over health care and process stories.

It takes precedence over everything, and good for Obama for speaking up. Really, he should have pointed out that nobody has the right to forcibly detain for no reason, but given the arguments his Justice Department is making, I guess that's a little much to ask.

Anyone who thinks the police have a single dog in this hunt can get the hell out of my country and set up your own police state with Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Woodrow L. Goode IV on July 23, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but the President was in no way off base in characterizing the situation as he did. When someone is forced to explain his presence in his own home, and then baited into a situation where he can be arrested on the bogus (and unsupportable) charge of disorderly conduct, it's entirely appropriate to say that the arresting officer behaved stupidly. That this can happen to someone of Gates's relatively privileged social & professional status is illustrative of the idea that, no matter how greatly he excels, a black man in America is still viewed by some as nothing more than a common criminal. It would be cowardly to downplay the significance of this incident. Good for Obama for calling it what it is.

Posted by: junebug on July 23, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with you on this one, Steve. Obama is not the one making a distraction out of this. He was asked the question, his answer was on-target, and if he is asked about it again he should simply remind the questioner that he has already commented and move on.

Posted by: Algernon on July 23, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

We can't get many of our fellow citizens to denounce torturing brown people in the name of their precious security ...

I certainly don't expect these guys to empathize with the black guy over the white authority figure overstepping his job description, authority, and decency. ... At this point, I just expect them to fade into irrelevancy or to die, depending on their age, weight, and demographics.

Posted by: Gonads on July 23, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama should do nothing of the sort. He should have given a quick primer on all the weighty issues currently requiring all his efforts and castigated the media for their shallowness and pile on with "there is a reason a recent poll shows a comedian is considered America's most trusted newsman by 44%. Now either ratchet up the intelligence or get the fcuk out of my face."

Posted by: Chopin on July 23, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Dollars to donuts, Obama could have said "Same thing happened to me, in Chicago-Cambridge-East Gish when-visiting-friends, and more than once, and it's a disgrace", thought better of the first half ('...mustn't whine, it's not about me') but said the second half.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 23, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm totally with Obama on this one Steve. It would have been weak not to have made a strong statement. I think Obama thought those words through very carefully before he said them.

Now it's more entry in Obama's lengthy resume' of successful baitings of the wingnuts, that in the long run weaken them as a meaningful opposition because they lose credibility with the mainstream public. In this case the wingers are lured into arguing that it was a good thing for cops to arrest a homeowner in his own home, who they had affirmatively ID'ed as being the homeowner, who had done nothing wrong except express his outrage toward the cops. In my red state, most right-wingers would do a hell of a lot worse than cuss out the cop in that situation--at least they'd like to think they would.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho on July 23, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

thank you woodrow l. goode iv. you absolutely fucking nailed it.

and i'm not even black

Posted by: just bill on July 23, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Are they calling this "Gatesgate" yet?

a middle-aged man who uses a cane, whose in his own home," Obama told Moran

Who's.

Posted by: navamske on July 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Oh goody! Another manufactured outrage!! As the world spins down the tubes, we can argue and fight endlessly about stupid crap.

Posted by: Speed on July 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who would let themselves be "distracted" from healthcare reform by the Gates episode isn't going to support it anyway.


Posted by: McGuier on July 23, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

The way the police organizations respond to valid criticisms you would think they were kindergarten crossing guards.

How do people who wrestle PCP-addicts to the ground get to be such cry babies?

Posted by: inkadu on July 23, 2009 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

To me this seems like a simple issue: if Gates did what he did in a local pub, a library, or on a public street, the police did the right thing.

But it wasn't on public property! We all give up rights when we are on public property. But there is some saying that a man's house is his castle. The burden shifts to the police.

If Gates had been on a public sidewalk, the police could do pretty much anything. Usually the police operate within this public space, or they have a warrant which extends their authority into a specific private place. That didn't happen in this case. Gates could have probably, legally, shot the cop for following him into his house: an armed person enters your home uninvited? No warrant? No signs of "breaking"? Total bs, and it has nothing to do with race.

Posted by: tomj on July 23, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think Pinson put it best and the angle that is missed: Maybe Obama is, in a sense, showing his connection to African-Americans, a group that got in what, 90+% of their vote for him? Add to that the justifiable anger as a black man facing police harrasment throughout his life, and you can see why he did as he did.

And as Republicans pile on him, they hammer that nail in their coffin as far as African-American vote goes.

Posted by: Flaffer on July 23, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Please. I once got a $25 "double parking" ticket for mouthing off to a cop. The third baseman calls it the Sassy Mouth Fine and tells the story at embarrassing moments to people I'd just as soon didn't hear it. If I'd said what I did to that cop -- which wasn't that bad, honest -- while being black and male, I'd have spent the night in jail.

Look, a lot of cops don't like it when citizens ask for their badge numbers, fire questions at them or otherwise appear to question their complete authority. Most officers manage to remember that their job is to defuse, not exacerbate, tension that clearly does not involve physical danger to the cop, his/her colleagues or others nearby. It's not exactly news to anybody, however, that too many cops have a compelling need to be hardasses at these moments.

A lot of white people just insist on kidding themselves about how much more frequently this happens to black men than to white people. Their squeamishness about facing the facts doesn't require Obama to pussyfoot around a straight question when he's asked it. He would have been pilloried for that, too, and he'd have been on the wrong side of things while he was at it.

Posted by: shortstop on July 23, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

OK...let's HAVE cooler heads prevail. This exact thing happened to me and I am a white, educated woman. I lost my keys, no one was at home and I arrived from a long business trip. I was wearing a suit so I removed my shirt, climbed up over the deck and went in thru the sliding doors. About that time the police showed up and demanded ID. A neighbor had called them watching me climb over the deck. I showed them the ID and told them the story. Cool. What GATES did was scream 'racial profiling' the MINUTE they asked for his ID, FINALLY showed it to them but by that time everyone was pissed off and the police did their thing. They were WRONG. However, Gates is not the innocent black Harvard scholar that is being purported all over the news. He was tired and bitchy and decided to see how far this would go. We REALLY need to quit putting our fears and biases into EVERYTHING and start dealing with the facts. This HYSTERIA everytime something happens is really getting tiresome. OK guys...attack me now.

Posted by: SYSPROG on July 23, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

while I wish he would show the same candor on other issues, I personally find it refreshing to have a president who when asked a question gives an honest answer without filtering it for political purposes. Cops do stupid things everyday. So do most people. I was not there, I do not know the facts, but it sure sounds like it was stupid for a cop to handcuff a middle aged guy who walks with a cane at his own house. Politically expedient no, but I do believe that it adds to the sense that when Obama says something, it has at least a touch of what he honestly believes. Can anybody name a prominent Republican who they feel way about except maybe the truly crazy?

Posted by: Terry on July 23, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Change a couple of details.

Make the homeowner the white president of the local NRA office. Keep everything else the same. The wingnuts would be screaming that Obama's response was weak, covering up the fascist conspiracy against gun owners: "It wasn't 'stupid.' It was a direct attack by Obama and his liberal pals against our 2nd Amendment rights, blah blah blah."

Somewhere along the line, the media has to start calling out the noise machine.

Posted by: tomeck on July 23, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, your comments strike me as oddly shallow. Let's not forget, Obama is a lawyer and it's hard for lawyers not to comment on a public legal issue, especially when they see something grotesquely wrong. Besides, Gates is a friend.

But it really should be irrelevant what the Fraternal Order (eesh! Sounds like a fascist organization!) thinks on the subject--their job is to protect their members. This is a situation that should be settled according to LAW, not according to how cops feel about being called racist.

FWIW, I don't think the cop was guilty of either racism or racial profiling. But I can't say the same thing about the neighbor. But the Crowley IS guilty of very poor judgment and arrogance and CPD is possibly now guilty of an attempted coverup (now, where's that arrest report?). There is no question that the DA did the right thing. There is also little doubt--even if everything Crowley claimed was true--that the police did the wrong thing.
Joan Vennochi put out a column this morning in BG that suggested that both Gates and Crowley were guilty of arrogance. I don't see it this way. Gates might have had a short fuse, but the only one arrogant in this confrontation was Sgt. Crowley. And it is worth continuing the investigation into his behavior as well. Vennochi cites Harvey Silverglate who--quite correctly IMO--states that if the arrest was meant to teach someone a lesson, there should be consequences.

Crowley could have just issued a summons for the offense of which he accused Gates. There was no reason for arrest. But even that would have been legally questionable because Gates was in his own home and exhibited nothing threatening or violent. He was angry--and IMO justifiably so. A cop comes into your house, refuses to accept your identification and practically accuses you of burglary--most of us would have been angry. To top it off, he refuses to leave and keeps provoking a confrontation.

Doesn't that sound familiar? Remember what happened in San Diego earlier this month?

Posted by: buck on July 23, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, it's always good to see privileged ignorant white boys like Steve Benen and Joe Klein lecture a black man on the appropriate manner in which to address racism.

Posted by: Disputo on July 23, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

This HYSTERIA everytime something happens is really getting tiresome.

More capital letters, please. You're not shrieking dramatically enough.

Posted by: shortstop on July 23, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

One more thing--cops and prosecutors always defend their behavior, no matter how obviously wrong it might appear to everyone else. Note how infrequent it is for prosecutors to VOLUNTARILY request reviews of convictions, even in capital cases where evidence clearly shows that they were mishandled. Cops never admit wrongdoing and courts often give them a pass (Rodney King, Louima). I don't think Crowley is a bad guy, but there is a reason these guys wear uniforms--even when alone, they still succumb to the mob mentality. He did something stupid because he wanted to prove a point and got caught with his pants down because.. well, because he did not know whom he was messing with.

And Obama is not getting mixed up in local affairs. He made a statement about a social problem as exemplified by this incident. And, yes, the behavior of the CPD was--and continues to be--remarkably stupid. A quick apology would have diffuse the situation and made go away. Instead, they resist and cover up.

Posted by: buck on July 23, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"I dramatically underestimated the degree to which having a black President has unhinged the Republican party." - Right On Brother

More Fake Outrage from the guys who don't have any credibility in the first place. The cop isn't the only 'stupid' guy here.

So explain to me why this cop didn't do something stupid? He arrests a guy in his own home for 'breaking in' that home or is it because once the cop realized what a fuck up he (the cop) was made worse by his inability to own up to what would have been, up to that point, an honest mistake, he CHOSE to make matters worse than what really needed to.

I have two family members who were cops for 20 years each and I know that a cop has to have a reason to arrest you. They can't arrest you for resisting arrest when they had no business arresting you in the first place. What's the original arrest for? If it isn't for anything, it's time to be the professional that you'll claim to be once a President calls you out for being 'stupid,' and do your job.

And STUPID you are. You're a pathetic excuse for a cop and should just let this one go since it was you who created this mess in the first place. Take some responsibility and move on.

Posted by: QuestionEverything on July 23, 2009 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

We REALLY need to quit putting our fears and biases into EVERYTHING and start dealing with the facts.

One of the facts you might begin dealing with, yourself, is that police don't have a history of arresting, detaining, or otherwise harassing educated white women, so you didn't walk into that situation with a virtually hardwired, and justifiable, defensiveness over having to explain why you were in your own home.

Posted by: junebug on July 23, 2009 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Gates could have probably, legally, shot the cop for following him into his house... -tomj

I'm not quite sure what the local laws there are, but when you can and cannot shoot someone is typically very narrow. Without imminent threat to his life, ie. a gun was drawn and pointed at him, he probably would have been guilty of murder.

Although like Duncan Idaho I believe accurately observed above, many of the blowhards making a big deal about this are the same 'heroes' who, had something similar happened to a them, would have suggested violence was appropriate.

Posted by: doubtful on July 23, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK
And as Republicans pile on him, they hammer that nail in their coffin as far as African-American vote goes.

You can't put any more nails in a coffin covered by six feet of dirt.

Posted by: inkadu on July 23, 2009 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK
Let's not forget, Obama is a lawyer and it's hard for lawyers not to comment on a public legal issue, especially when they see something grotesquely wrong.
I seem to remember that during Nixon's presidency, he (a lawyer) was asked about some case that was then ongoing (it was in trial), and he said something like, "... and the guy is obviously guilty." I remember him getting some heat for that, with some people saying the defense might have justifiably asked for mistrial, but I don't recall anything more of the story than that. (Of course, the fact that Nixon was a crook himself -- this was before Watergate and its associated crimes -- isn't the point I'm trying to make.) Posted by: navamske on July 23, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

[...] you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama told Moran.

Sure you do (need to restrain him). Preferably before he whacks you with the cane. Does he even have a permit to open-carry a cane? What if the cane unscrews into a deadly dagger?

Why has Crowley lawyered up?

Posted by: exlibra on July 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

One of my black female friends was stopped by the police for no reason here in Cali. She did nothing wrong, didn't run a stop sign, wasn't talking on a cell phone.....

This happened a few months ago in Costa Mesa.

She told me the female cop's first question, "are you on probation or parole?" When my friend told her no, the cop said, "Are you sure?" The officer took her I.D. ran a check on her, then came back to let her go.

Now, what is this all about? Does it mean because you are of a certain ethnic group, you are guaranteed to have a police record?

The police sometimes do not have the right attitude. Yet, this is with everyone. Example, their attitude combined with your's depend on whether you will get a ticket or not.

Here in Cali, we've had several police shootings of minorities, and everytime, the police said, "they had a gun!"

Yes, the police is doing gang-sweeps, yet, the gang members are getting younger and younger, and they take orders from other gang members.

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Man, every so often something comes around that really stops you short. The reaction that so many white liberals are having to Obama's comments is one of those things.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on July 23, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why has Crowley lawyered up?

Why is Crowley publicly denouncing Obama's comments after he has been ordered to STFU by his superiors? Sounds like the kind of cop who sees power flowing in only one direction -- to himself.

In 6 months he'll be proffering his views on race as a Fox News analyst.

Posted by: Disputo on July 23, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Make the homeowner the white president of the local NRA office. Keep everything else the same. The wingnuts would be screaming that Obama's response was weak, covering up the fascist conspiracy against gun owners: "It wasn't 'stupid.' It was a direct attack by Obama and his liberal pals against our 2nd Amendment rights, blah blah blah."

You needn't make it a hypothetical.

The Ruby Ridge incident, which involved a righteous bust, so inflamed the wingnuts that they still to this very day insist that it happened during the Clinton admin.

Posted by: Disputo on July 23, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

What Woodrow L. Goode IV said.

Posted by: anonymous on July 23, 2009 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the cop was hassling your friend because she said the phrase "here in Cali."

Posted by: inkadu on July 23, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

No one knows what it's like to be a minority better than a bunch of rich white guys. We should really listen to them on this one.

Posted by: kitsune on July 23, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Woodrow - it's happened to me, and I'm Asian. Most cops do that (give a bs lecture) when they make a mistake.. something similar happened to me, and the cop accuses me of lying, I just stay polite. In the end, I get my ID back. And, the cop was a Hispanic female. I'm not justifying what happened to Gates, but I don't think Obama should speak about this unless he knows the facts of the matter.

Posted by: Kint on July 23, 2009 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

One of my cousins brought up an interesting point.
Why is it that white always say African-American?

An interesting point, Obama can be called African-American because his mother is American and his father is African.

Think about it, would you call an Asian that live in Europe, Asian-European? Latino-Briton, Iranian (or Persian)-Cuban.

Yes, there are Iranians in Cuba!

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

The key to this is the cop wanted Gates to "step outside" AFTER Gates had already shown him two forms of ID that proved he was in his own home. That would not have happened with a White guy. Period. That's when Gates wanted his name and badge number, and rightly so, which is what caused the cop to arrest him on a bogus charge in an effort to try and blunt any complaint that he know would soon be filed against him.

Of course, now the cop is trying to cover his outrageous conduct by claiming he merely wanted Gates to "go outside" for his own protection, in case an intruder was still in the house. Except that is a lie, as he had already established there was no intruder.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 23, 2009 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

So you know, I have Whites, Blacks, Native Americans, Egyptians & Lebanese, and Gays in my family.

That is why you never heard me say things that are clearly offensive -

you've never heard me call a black person the N word, a white person the C word, Middle Easterners the SN word, or gays the F word.

I have brought up this point here because you never say White-American when referring to white people, nor do you say White-European or White-British. It is always classified as just European or British.

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Obama laid his head on the pillow on the first night he spent in the White House and said to himself "No more bullshit".
Because if he has to look the other way at "Driving While Black" now, there's not much point in his being President, is there?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 23, 2009 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

"I seem to remember that during Nixon's presidency, he (a lawyer) was asked about some case that was then ongoing (it was in trial), and he said something like, '... and the guy is obviously guilty.'"
Posted by: navamske

I think that was during the Charles Manson trial, if I remember from Helter Skelter.

My question is not about the police or Gates, but about the neighbor. Didn't the person who made the 911 call notice that the man trying to break into the house also lived there?

Posted by: 2Manchu on July 23, 2009 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Once it was determined that Gates was the home owner there was no reason for the police man to continue contact with him or remain on his property.
So any escalation of words or acts at that point become the responsibiliy of the police, who, since there was not crime, became trespassers and thus became the criminals.

Posted by: Marnie on July 23, 2009 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think that this just points out how sensitive blacks are about police treatment of members of their color. Even the President became unglued about it and lost his normal cool. That says something important and we should pay attention.

Posted by: freds on July 23, 2009 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Just remember the old expression of not making judgments until you have walked a mile in the other persons's shoes. All white men have no clue of what it is like to be stopped and possibly arrested solely because you are black. As an American Indian woman, obviously it is not something I have experienced first hand either. However, I have dated several black men and experienced that sort of treatment while with them. And, white policemen do have a knack for humiliating a black man when they think he is someplace he shouldn't be.

Posted by: Bonnie on July 23, 2009 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

In 6 months he(Crowley)'ll be proffering his views on race as a Fox News analyst. -- Disputo, @18:40

Well... We've had "Joe-the-Plumber". And "Frank-the-Firefighter". "Crowley-the-Cop" should round up the expert list nicely, though it would have been better had his first name been "Claude", rather than "James".

Posted by: exlibra on July 23, 2009 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

As a Cambridge resident i can tell you that if you dis a cop he will arrest you. Most have a god complex and gates freaked out. The Boston globe had a quote "I'm outraged ...this is really about justice for the least amongst us" Thats hilarious. He is far from "the least amongst us" being a tenured professor at Harvard and probably having an income of 100K ++. He certainly looks smug in the head shot photo in this story. I can understand his anger because blacks do get hassled by cops but if I insulted a cops mother and was arrested there is not way in hell the charges would be dropped. Being a Harvard professor has its privileges.

Posted by: Cambridge resident on July 23, 2009 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

SYSPROG: I think you got it right, and I was a bit disappointed in Obama's answer to the question, although extending it into the whole topic of race relations and the police was I think really good. None of us were there. It's too bad none of the people who had assembled outside made a cell phone video, although the still shot doesn't look too good for Gates. I read the police report, which was well written by a guy who had witnesses for much of it so I think less prone to make stuff up.

It seems to me that Gates freaked out and went all ghetto in a circumstance that did not in any way warrant that. When first asked for an ID he refused and soon started in with yo' mama kind of stuff. The first ID he finally offered was a Harvard professor ID. "See, I'm not some ghetto black (lower than you) from the projects, I'm a real Harvard professor (much better than you)". He was playing the race card and the professor card. The cop, maybe kind of a jerk, wanted to make the point that when a cop is there trying to do his job it is not helpful to go off the rails.

It was I think much more of a cop/inappropriately reacting public person thing than a white cop/black guy thing. I wear a uniform and deal with the public in my job and sometimes experience something similar. Some people do not want to back down and admit they are acting appropriately no matter what - they have to keep going and try to "win". But the cop should have used some conflict resolution skills and let it go and not try to "win" himself. What probably happened was that Gates wouldn't back down and kept freaking out on the cop. The cop thought, OK, I tried to do my job as I'm supposed to and this guy continues to refuse to cooperate and is throwing out all kinds of shit and so F him, I will exercise my perogative to put an end to it and clarify what is the correct behavior in this kind of situation.

The cop was wrong to arrest him, but I think this particular situation probably had much less of a racial angle (from the cop's standpoint, not Gates') than it has been portrayed, including by Barack.

Posted by: emjayay on July 23, 2009 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

One funny thing, conservatives like to pick on e.g. teachers' or trade unions for supporting individual members regardless of merit, defending them when they do wrong etc. But if it's a group they like, conservatives are supportive.

Also, conservatives are quite willing to hate representatives of government power like US Marshals, FBI etc. if those agents are picking on, say, white conservative heroes or objects of sympathy like Koresh, or Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge etc. instead of black people like Gates or Rodney King? Remember what Gordon Liddy said about shooting federal agents etc, in the head?

Posted by: demoraptor on July 23, 2009 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

I love how the right is howling over the "mistreatement" of this cop, yet have no compassion for an American soldier who probably got lured off base and was kidnapped by Afghan soldiers...

I also love hearing about poor white boys having their necks stepped on by minorities.

Here's another cop anecdote for you. My husband and I live in Texas and once lived in a tiny town here. We witnessed the sheriff taking a flashlight to the head of a neighbor for no good reason and called him on it. He was ticked.

Unfortunately, that same neighbor, who had PTSD from Vietnam and just lost his wife to cancer, after having lost his job and his big rig (he was a trucker) later went off his gourd and threatened me. My husband was out of town and I called the sheriff. He immediately told me that if I heard shooting to get down, which scared the crap out of me. That blew over and the neighbor, through a long series of incidents (too many details to post here) took off back to PA. The sheriff came by later to remind me how he stood up for me even after I "tried to take him down." Luckily I was moving because I was totally alarmed at the guy's police-state type behavior and felt threatened. Authoritarian figures don't like being called on their behavior, but it is necessary to keep them in line. Taking them on isn't for the squeamish though...

Posted by: Always Hopeful on July 23, 2009 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

As implied above, the first thing you ask if there are complaints about a politician commenting on X: did they volunteer their remarks, or were the statements a response to a question like in a press conference? It makes a lot of difference, since the pol is on the spot in the latter case - it's hard to just duck out. And one thing we can look for is sharp comments from Bush, Reagan, etc. (the latter did pick on the welfare class, didn't he?)

Posted by: Neil B ☼ on July 23, 2009 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing to me that people who proclaim we can't know the facts of the case-- oh, say SYSPROG and emjayay-- then go on to describe what an asshole Gates must have been to the cop, and what his mental processes were. I guess because you can always tell how "those people" are going to act.

Posted by: calling all toasters on July 23, 2009 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't like talking about this, but, in this case I will.

Once, I was leaving San Diego county, I was stopped by border patrol and asked where was I going, and asked for my I.D.

There are other ocassions when Mexicans ask me where I am from. I politely say, "from my mother."

The thing is, I think the President should be outraged. This country likes to tout "this is the greatest country in the world." At the same time, you see how they treat blacks. I know this because where I live, there are hardly any blacks. Some of the stores that used to hire blacks, now there's only 1, if that.

People from other countries have told me that they were told to stay away from blacks upon arriving here.

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a good link, because it's written by the reporter (Lynn Sweet) who posed the question to Obama:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2009/07/obama_says_cops_acted_stupidly.html
Obama didn't say that cop was racist, just about a history of such things and blamed the "department" as a whole.
Look at comments, such as many complaining she shouldn't have asked the question.

Posted by: N e i l B on July 23, 2009 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

What Woodrow Goode et al. said. Even if we assume for the purpose of argument that Gates was unduly pissed at the cop[*], the kind of person who responds to an irate but law-abiding citizen by escalating the conflict is exactly the kind of person whom I don't want carrying a gun and a badge.

[*]And for this, we really only have the cop's word. What do you expect him to say in the arrest report? "I was pissed that the suspect called me a racist and I wanted to teach him a lesson about mouthing off to me, so I provoked him into giving me an excuse to arrest him"?

Posted by: Seth Gordon on July 23, 2009 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, just saw a comment above. Here's my take, that is why some police officers fail the psychological exam. You have to be able to deal with situations like this. This is not about a power play, or tit-for-tat. Where is it in the penal code that you can lock someone up for "running off at the mouth" that is not inciting a riot, or putting the officer in danger?

He presented his I.D., which is in the penal code. You must present I.D. upon request of a law enforcement officer.

He didn't run, which is in the penal code.

The end result is this, these white officers can continue to cause problems in the ethnic neighborhoods. In the end, they will be the cause of destroying their own careers.

First, most teachers do no want to work in inner-city schools, nor do most officers want to patrol the inner-city - that's why they get scared and shoot first, then want to claim the suspect had a gun.

It's a known fact, criminals have far-greater fire power than the police. With gangs-drugs ever so growing, the gangs will once again start protecting their "turf," or "territory." Cops are not going to be able to deal with the pressure, especially with the layoffs. The chief's/sheriff's will be replaced because they will be blamed for letting situations get out of control, and will take the fall the departments rank & file. They keep this up, the Rodney King riots will look like just a school campus fight.

Thing is, some of the guys look scary, and they are scary. The tattoos on the face and head is not just "For Show" It means something.

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

They asked and he told the truth. The problem is that a Black man is almost always lower than even the scummiest cop.

Posted by: Jay on July 23, 2009 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from assessing Obama on this, Gates may indeed have been something of an asshole, see this report:
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0723092gates2.html.
If fairly accurate, then the cop just did what was expected (he wouldn't know right away that Gates lived there) and Gates indulged himself. Maybe we can get more out of witnesses. But his happens a lot, people arguing with cops and then getting arrested for "disorderly conduct." Worth arresting for or not, many of the people involved could have avoided it - it's the ones who didn't even do that much and get screwed over we worry about.

Posted by: Neil B. on July 23, 2009 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Right, because had Obama said something more understated, TV coverage would've been focused on details of health-care proposals, and Obama's priorities, and what Congress is doing.

Face it, Steve (and everyone else who's considering the concern trolls' complaints): TV covers what TV wants to cover. And politicians' reactions are the same -- is Olympia Snowe going to come out and say, "I was tempted by the public option, but then Obama said something that offended some New England cops, so now I want to deny 47 million Americans health coverage! That'll show him!"

Posted by: Chris on July 23, 2009 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Neil,

"Gates may indeed have been something of an asshole, see this report:
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0723092gates2.html
"

The police report ?

Surely you jest. The cop already knew he had a complaint that was going to be filed against him. You think he wasn't going to spin what happened in his favor ?

How many times have we seen cops file police reports that later turned out to be FALSE police reports when the videotape comes out ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 23, 2009 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Obama was way off base before, but now I agree with him. Gates looks like a yeller, and he was probably rude, but the cop should not have escalated it. Sometimes even cops have to walk away shaking their heads.

Posted by: Bob M on July 23, 2009 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

I will exercise my perogative to put an end to it and clarify what is the correct behavior in this kind of situation.

Uh, emjayay, that's the point. Police officers do not have the "prerogative" to arrest someone if they didn't break the law. And guess what? You can be rude to a cop. Not that you should, but you are allowed to. Welcome to America.

Posted by: eadie on July 23, 2009 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Eadie, you are right. Let's turn the situation around. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, black officers that arrest white men. How many times a black officer arrive to the scene and is called the N word, and other obscenities - does that give the officer the right to arrest for 'disorderly conduct?'

Posted by: annjell on July 23, 2009 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think this now makes it obvious why the cop wanted Gates to "step outside". Check out the basis of the Disorderly Conduct charge from the police report:

Henry Gates, Jr. of Ware St. 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 office...

Clearly Gates was NOT placed under arrest IN A PUBLIC PLACE, as we have seen from the photo of him exiting his home handcuffed and already under arrest, therefore even if any "loud and tumultuous behavior" had occurred, it did not occur IN A PUBLIC PLACE, but the cop wanted Gates outside even after he had provided ID to prove he was in his own home.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 23, 2009 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

The excuse for this sergeant gets worse. His boss came on television saying the sergeant is a "expert on racial diversity."

Didn't we hear that with Iraq?

How can a white man be an expert on blacks, or Iraqis? If they can become an expert based on books, and seminars, sign me up!

Believe me, the police in Los Angeles couldn't control the gangs, so they hired what they thought were ex-gang members to help to stop some of the violence. Yes, they were on the payroll!

Let's see how long it will take for the police department to come under political fire for this!

Posted by: annjell on July 24, 2009 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Here's another scenario, how about white women that live in black neighborhoods due to a black boyfriend or husband? The police automatically assume when they see a white woman in a black neighborhood, it probably due to drugs!

Or, the white man in a black neighborhood, who probably has a girlfriend there. The police assumes he's in the neighborhood looking for drugs.

Or, for the sake of an argument, let's change it to a latino neighborhood.

Either way, it is racial profiling. This is America and people should be able to live wherever they want.

Let's hope the end result is not like what we saw in France or Greece. The sergeant should apologize, and now the boss should apologize, not sure if he was Chief.

Posted by: annjell on July 24, 2009 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

What I find incomprehensible about this is that it occurred in what is probably the most liberal and enlightened acreage in the United States-the Harvard campus, where most people probably know who Gates is.

I would like Gates to seek major $ damages against the Cambridge police and stop pussyfooting around.

Posted by: bob h on July 24, 2009 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

It's not only unfair, it's inaccurate to say "the cop was in the wrong."

Gates himself has -- finally -- acknowledged that the cop properly responded not only to the 911 call, but also to the presence of a guy IN the house which the call said may have been broken into.

What Gates hasn't -- yet -- brought himself to acknowledge, is that the cop had no way of knowing who it was in the house.

A better man than this guy would have calmed down by now, and realized that, in truth, the cop was trying to save his ass, if it had been a home invasion and the poor feeble professor had been freshly beaten bloody in what he likes to say is "his own home".

The fact is, a police officer responding to a possible burglary in progress at a given address, has no way of knowing that the guy in the house is the owner -- or a guy who has the owner on the floor with a gag in his mouth.

Gates' failure here -- and it is NOT the cop's -- is that he tried to take over an unresolved police situation.

In one analogy made above, the transition between the police situation when someone is observed breaking into their own car, happens when the person proves that it IS their car.

In this case, Gates was resisting the cop's authority BEFORE he'd let the cop establish that he was the homeowner, e.g., Gates himself says he accused the cop of racism before he showed the guy his id, he refused to step outside his house when the cop has no way of knowing it WAS his house and he called the chief of police when -- in Gates' own version of the story -- the cop was simply doing his job, determining that the guy in the house was the owner.

Then Gates wouldn't shut up. Sure, the cop might have been able to walk away -- but ask yourself this: since Gates refused to come out of the house when the cop asked/told him to, why was Gates out of the house when the cop finally arrested him?

There are two police officers and a handful of witnesses who back the cop's version. There are NO eyewitnesses who back Gates' version.

The Massachusetts' standard for disorderly conduct is either very high, basically inciting a riot, or unConstitutionally low -- take your pick.

But I'm not so sure as the rest of you reflexologists that giving a cop discretion in a situation like that is such a bad thing.

Ya wanna know why? Cuz unlike you assholes, I've thought it through: what's the lesson this teaches for the next bright young African American kid who locks the keys in his car and starts fishing for the lock with a coat hanger?

Well, naturally, it's to dis the cop who shows up with the not unreasonable assumption that he just MIGHT be trying to steal it.

People who steal cars are sometimes armed, and they are often dangerous. Cops are SUPPOSED to respond to people like that warily -- so y'all are perpetuating bullshit political stereotypes that are likely to make things a whole lot worse.

The next kid who gets hurt by a cop, or worse, because he speaks up when he should have shut up, is gonna pile a little karma on this privileged Harvard professor -- and NOT on Police Sergeant Crowley, doing his job for a decidedly ungrateful citizen.

Gates is a pampered (his employer fixed the door on his own house???), privileged guy who is bitching about race when he was, let's face it, just bitchy -- in a city with a black mayor, in a state with a black governor, and a country with a black President. The cop in this case TEACHES where the line is for racial profiling: he did not cross it, never even came close.

Put it this way, since you clowns are simply too obtuse to get it any other way: there is absolutely NO evidence that Gates would have been in any difficulty at all -- not with this cop, not in Cambridge -- if he had been cooperative, as he should have been. If you even bother to try to make the argument that Cambridge cops were likely to beat him up, you're self-evidently full of shit.

But cops get killed every day responding to 911 calls when they are insufficiently wary about who the innocent-looking guy is. THAT's why sensible people respond to cops with "yes sir", "no sir", and "of course sir".

You get the badge # when the incident is OVER.

Shame on you guys for letting your dumb-ass reflexology interfere with what ought to be common sense.

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 24, 2009 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist, think "escalation" -- both about the cop and your own rant. Thank God for Obama.

Posted by: Bob M on July 24, 2009 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

I see the policeman is all over the networks
this morning and his story is being told as though he is the wounded party, lets get real, this black gentleman is elderly, small and I hear that he uses a walking cane, I think any policeman should have given him a little more respect.Also he apparently has just got home from a tiring long flight.

Posted by: JS on July 24, 2009 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

JS it isn't about respect. Plenty of cops are harmed and killed by smaller assailants. Responding to a robbery or home invasion in progress is a dangerous situation.

I have been ordered to produce ID on my own property. I did not do what Gates did and refuse for some time -- and then say the something about the officers mothers sexual habits.

Gates was abusive in the extreme.

There is prejudice int his situation and with the commentators -- it is an elite class prejudice against someone with a very dangerous working job.

I am not a republican, I am a democrat and an second generation African American police officer

Posted by: rr on July 24, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

I am not a republican, I am a democrat and an second generation African American police officer
Posted by: rr

Then you're letting the cop assumption of authority cloud your humanity. Gates didn't break the law, but (arguably) was an asshole to one of your fellow cops, was goaded to come outside (after establishing his identity and right to the house), and was THEN arrested on his porch (?public) to make the wounded cop feel better about himself.

Cops are entrusted with authority by the public; it didn't descend from God, and it isn't deserving of some unerring respect. Consider removing the blue chip off your shoulder.

The next kid who gets hurt by a cop, or worse, because he speaks up when he should have shut up, is gonna pile a little karma on this privileged Harvard professor -- and NOT on Police Sergeant Crowley, doing his job for a decidedly ungrateful citizen.
Posted by: theAmericanist

You're an authoritarian piece of shit, true 1984 fodder, and barely passable for what American values look like. ... Are all conservatives such cowards afraid of "disrespect" being shown to the guys with guns? Our "respect" isn't required of them to do their fucking jobs, without prejudice, for all of us. That's why we let them carry guns and badges.

And I can only assume that the next cop killed by the next black guy whom he racially profiles in his own home can be laid at the feet of Sgt. Crowley?

Posted by: Gonads on July 24, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'm totally with Obama on this one.

But how to defuse the "controversy" and move on? Easy. Next time Obama is anywhere near Cambridge, he should invite Gates and Crowley to lunch at a local, blue collar bar and grill. The three of them sit and have lunch, make friends, and get over it. This positions Obama as the peacemaker who sets an example for the rest of us by sitting down and talking face to face rather than blowing everything out of proportion and going all media-blitz-law-suit over it.

Posted by: chrenson on July 24, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

History is certainly inscrutable. It was just one week ago that conservative Republicans embarrassed themselves in front of the entire world by allowing their inner racism to show when a relic from the Old Confederacy became their public face during confirmation hearings of the first Hispanic nominee in our history to the Supreme Court.

Repulsive reactionaries like Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions from Alabama hoped to us the hearings as an unpaid political advertisement for the Radical Right's only message these days that white guys can't get a fair shake in a country run by a liberal Democrat black guys like Barak Obama who appoints white-guy hating "racist" Latinas like Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

This toxic message is, quite literally, all Republicans have got -- a point Pat Buchannan tried to make explicit with his column in Human Events last week in which he said the GOP should stop all this politically correct pussy-footing and just say out loud what everyone already knows, which is that Republicans are, and should always be, the party of "white folks who built this country."

It is in this context that, just a few days later, President Obama allowed race to slink back onto the national stage when stuck up for his good friend Skip Gates who appears to have been the victim of insulting over-zealousness by the Cambridge Police. But in order to take Gates' side the President had to jump to conclusions about what actual transpired in a case whose facts are only now just coming out. And, thanks to the high profile -- and high stakes -- the Presidents remarks have now given this essentially local case, those "facts" will likely be in dispute for some time.

By nationalizing this issue the President has done the Radical Right a huge favor. They looked like bullies and fools harrassing Judge Sotomayor, who quite ably brushed aside their accusations that she would allow racial prejudice and solidadrity prevent her from ruling objectively and fairly in cases where race may be at issue. Obama left himself vulnerable by taking the side of his good friend before, by his own admission, all the facts are known.

The reactionary and racist Right Wing of the GOP would like nothing more than to spend the rest President Obama's first term in a mud fight over race. That was clear from the Sotomayor hearings. It is very likely that in the next few days details of what happened at Professor Gates home this week are likely to show that everyone involved behaved badly, and that the President was on solid ground for saying the Cambridge Police over-reacted. But by jumping into the fray before a consensus view of events has developed, Obama has unfortuantely breathed new life into the Radical Right’s poisonous agenda of exploiting white resentments and fears for the purpose of promoting racial backlash.

I’m a huge Obama fan, don’t get me wrong, but I think the president blew this one and he knows it. You can’t say you don’t have all the facts and then go off calling the Cambridge police “stupid” without being called a racist yourself by your political opponents -- however cynical and unfair that might be — when the conclusions you reached about possible police misbehavior seem based on nothing more than the say-so of your friend Skip Gates alone.

More than anyone I’ve seen in politics, President Obama seems to have an instinctual feel for the fissures in public life and how we might go about healing them. That is because he is a community organizer at heart. But I’m afraid that in his press conference on Wednesday the President indulged himself in a bit of understandable anger (dare we say “empathy”) for a friend who’d been wronged and humiliated, as well as rage over a confrontation between police and a black man he’d seen far too many times before.

The President was understandably and justifiably furious by what he heard, and his reaction was entirely human. But that said, the President must recognize that he has a much bigger agenda to worry about that he he allowed himself to take his eyes off that ultimate prize. He also has given the Radical Right home field advantage to wage a political fight over the next few days, weeks or even months, on their favorite topic -- race.

The bottom line? The President made a tactical and political blunder on Wednesday and I think he knows it.

Posted by: Ted Frier on July 24, 2009 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Chrenson's idea is better than mine -- I suggested the President call the cop; he went one better and suggested they all get together for a beer and a burger. (Although I think my idea is more practical, logistically, and less of a media stunt.)

But it is truly amazing how stooopidly unreflexive you guys are, viz, "I can only assume that the next cop killed by the next black guy whom he racially profiles in his own home can be laid at the feet of Sgt. Crowley."

No doubt that is the limit of your ability, which says a lot about how truly limited you are.

Look -- Crowley isn't (or wasn't) well-known; Gates' is. This isn't a race case, it's about celebrity.

Gates evidently expected Crowley to know who Gates WAS -- without producing identification, just because Gates happened to be in his own house... which the cop had just been called to by someone who made a 911 call about what sure as hell could look to a reasonable person as a burglary in progress.

She didn't call it in because Gates and his driver were black. She called in a break-in because Gates and his driver were ... um, breaking in the door.

WTF would you have expected her to do? Somebody should ask Gates what HE would have done, if he saw two guys putting a shoulder to HER door.

The cop didn't ask Gates to identify himself because he was black. He asked Gates to identify himself because Gates was IN the house ... which, the cop is required to assume, just MIGHT have been burglarized. It was perfectly reasonable for the cop to act as if the guy in the house had invaded Gates' home and had knocked his bitchy ass outl.

What Gates -- and, sadly, the President -- have said and done encourages anybody, and ESPECIALLY African-Americans in similar circumstances, to assume and even accuse the cops in cases like this, of acting inappropriately, for racial reasons.

That's hugely irresponsible.

After the Diallou shooting, the mom of one of the kids I coached told me: "Look, I've told him -- when a cop stops you, keep your hands visible. Do NOT run, no matter what. Say 'yes sir' and 'no, sir', to everything the police officer says. Do NOT act like he's wrong, no matter what you think. Put up with any amount of crap for as long as it takes -- period.'

And just who has been encouraged to act so intelligently in the NEXT case like this, from the way Gates and our President have said?

Ya wanna get over racism in America? Tell Gates he was an asshole, and stop acting like THAT was the cop's fault.

Literally the worst reasonable thing that can be said about the cop's behavior in this case, is that he didn't stand there passively for God knows how long it would have taken for Gates to let it go. Does anybody see any evidence Gates WOULD have let it go?

The facts are that this Harvard professor (whose home and thus, potentially whose life the cop had been trying to save) had accused the cop of racism, and threatened the cop's livelihood by calling his boss, and had followed the cop outside to continue hollering at him in front of witnesses -- ALL of whom back the cop's version, and not Gates.

They all support the telling detail, that the cop didn't IMMEDIATELY arrest Gates, nor 'continue' to provoke him -- the cop warned Gates, took out his handcuffs, and warned him again that if he didn't shut up, the cop would arrest him.

Gates obviously believes that nothing the cop did was justified -- and so, he kept pushing HIS authority over the cop until the cop DID arrest him.

Not one of you knuckleheads has bothered to recognize that the cop wasn't wrong -- everything he did (including the arrest) was proper police procedure.

It's not the cop's job to assume that a burglary didn't happen, just cuz it was a nice neighborhood. It's not his job to guess that the guy in the house is the owner, just cuz he says so. It's not his job to walk away from a citizen who is raising hell BEFORE the primary mission (the potential burglary) is resolved.

None of you has ever heard of a case where a guy in Gate's position smacked the woman who made the 911 call? Which are you -- stoopid, or ignorant? There ain't a third choice.

Witnesses to crimes that didn't happen, mistaken identity cases, neighbors who don't know (or like) each other -- cops get called into situations like that all the time, and it's SOP to ensure that the situation is stabilized before the cops leave.

If the witness had spoken up, to say "gee, I'm sorry, I saw two black guys breaking into the house, and I just thought...", and Gates had smacked her with his cane: who would have been surprised, given the way we know (cuz he's admitted) he acted?

THAT's why the cop wouldn't leave until he could be sure Gates was rational, why he remained as the focus of Gates' bitchy anger, and it is why cops should have wide discretion to make arrests in cases like this -- and there ain't a single one of you who truly believes that Gates acted reasonably.

Which is why you're all making excuses. Shame on you.

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 24, 2009 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

While it is not clear what happened or how things escalated I do think Gates is in the wrong.

The cop asked Gates outside to talk for his safety. You would have to be an idiot to go into a house alone with two potential burglary suspects. It was totally classless for Gates to insult his mother. I think Gates most likely assumed the cop was racist, which is it self prejudice. He probably should not have been arrested, but he easily could have avoided it by not assuming the cop was racist and by not screaming "Do you know who I am" and coming off as a pompous arrogant jackass. The cop could have let it go and have been the bigger man, but it is hard to do your job with idiots like Gates around.

Obama should not have said this cop acted "stupidly" and also said it was a matter of race. It was a very divisive comment and reckless. There are at least two people here that acted "stupidly", maybe even three.

Posted by: bob z on July 24, 2009 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

chrenson's idea at 9:35am is brilliant!

Posted by: Bob M on July 24, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with everyone here who has suggested that Obama get personally involved in resolving the bad feelings from this. That in many ways has been what his presidency has been about so far -- building bridges of trust and credibility between adversaries, both at home and abroad. He needs to heal this wound before it is allowed to feseter -- if for no other reason than to take the stream out of what is a very predictable right wing exploitation of the racial tensions the case has aroused. This is a perfect opportunity for our post-racial, bridge building president to strut his stuff.

Posted by: Ted Frier on July 24, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

bob z,

"The cop asked Gates outside to talk for his safety. You would have to be an idiot to go into a house alone with two potential burglary suspects."

That gets a pass UNTIL Gates provided ID that proved he was in his own home and there were no intruders. What's the excuse when the cop continues to demand that Gates "step outside" his own home ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 24, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

RR, Gates was arrested AFTER he produced ID, and the police knew that he was in his own home quite legally. Did Gates handle the situation ideally? No, apparently not. But did the cop do the right thing? No, he absolutely did not.

As someone else pointed out, the claim that Gates was engaging in disorderly conduct in a public place is contradicted by the picture showing him being taken from his house in handcuffs. He was already under arrest.

Everything up to the point at which Gates produced ID, the police were in the right. After that, yes, they should have de-escalated, walked away, and if Gates were a white guy with conservative political leanings, the GOP would be howling with outrage that he was even put to the inconvenience of producing ID.

Posted by: Lis on July 24, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Like I said before it's not clear what happened. But from what I can tell Gates showed his Harvard ID, and the cop radioed for the Harvard cops. Hopefully they will release the tapes and we can resolve this dispute. It would also be nice if we had clear and definite rules regarding verbal conduct with cops. I wouldn't mind being able to speak my mind to a few cops that I have encountered.

Posted by: bob z on July 24, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

The more you guys try to talk yourself into the idea that this was the cop's fault, the more stupid you demonstrate yourselves to be: "What's the excuse when the cop continues to demand that Gates "step outside" his own home ?"

Tell me, did you ever look at anyone's identification? Takes a moment of concentration and focus, doesn't it?

To the extent you're looking at the name, address and especially the photograph, you're not looking at the guy who handed it to you -- nor are you as aware of anyone else who might be there. Doncha think that might be important DURING the commission of a crime?

The cop was called to the house BY A REPORT OF A BURGLARY IN PROGRESS. So he is required to act as if the guy in the house might be a burglar. The call said two guys were breaking in -- don't suppose you think the cop might be thinking: where's the other guy?

He asks Gates to stop out of the house for ID -- but Gates is not cooperative, starts yelling, accuses the cop of racism, i.e., trying to intimidate the cop from doing his job. Gates -- with much bitching -- does produce his ID, but not until the cop enters the house.

How come you assholes haven't figured out that by entering the house, the cop was making a judgment call to put himself at risk IN ORDER TO SERVE AND PROTECT, since at that point he was certainly not assured Gates was not a burglar and did not have an accomplice ready to attack the police?

The cop evidently felt it was okay -- enough -- to enter the house, but fercryinoutloud, he's a POLICE OFFICER, you knuckleheads, he's SUPPOSED to be in charge of a potential crime scene. If the real Gates was on the kitchen floor with chair busted over his head, the time to figure out that the bitchy old guy didn't match the photograph on the Harvard ID comes a bit later in the process, don't ya think?

You guys act like there aren't ever crimes which cops must investigate without actually knowing from the 911 call what's going on, or that when police respond to calls about home invasion robberies, they should assume that the guy in the house is a Harvard professor just cuz he says so and knows where to find a wallet.

I'd still like somebody to ask Gates the following questions:

1) If you saw two guys you didn't know breaking in to your neighbor's house, the woman who called in a break in at YOUR home -- would you call 911?

2) Even if they were black? Your actions call your judgment into question, Professor: you accused the cop of racism, so it's fair to ask if you wouldn't make the call, UNLESS the two guys breaking in were of some race other than your own.

And if you would make the call regardless of the personal characteristics of the people breaking in, why did you complain when the cop responded properly?

3) If you made the call about a neighbor's home, and the cop saw someone inside that house, would you expect them to believe that person when they claimed it was their home? Without asking for identification?

4) Since you are a scholar, it is fair to ask if you know the data on which you base your opinions: what are the statistics for home invasion robberies in the US? In Massachusetts? In the great Boston area? Cambridge?

5) Do you know how many women are raped in home invasion robberies in the US? In Massachusetts? In Boston? In Cambridge?

6) How would a police officer responding to a 911 call within minutes know who lived in your house? Or the age and gender of that person?

7) Since you brought up the police officer's mother in the incident, if it had been YOUR mother living in your house, would you want the police officer to assume that a man in house belonged there, after getting a 911 call about a break-in in progress?

Ever called the police chief to express your opinion about THAT, Professor? Or is it too abstract -- you only bitch when it is about YOU?

8) Since you're a scholar, Professor, kindly tell us what the incidence is of pissed-off citizenry assaulting mistaken witnesses in cases like this. Give us your analysis of why cops should not be instructed to remain on the scene, as the focus for the anger of someone like yourself until he or she has calmed down sufficiently to ensure that the mistaken witness is NOT at risk for an honest mistake.

9) Are you accusing the woman who made the call of bad faith?

10) Are you saying that your behavior -- initially refusing to produce identification, requiring the police officer to take the risk of entering a possible home-invasion crime scene, insults and threats to the officer, and then following the officer outside to continue the incident, gave the police officer no grounds for concern that -- had the incident then turned on the witness without the presence of a police officer -- you might have made it all much worse? So, finally:

11) Don't you owe everybody involved an apology, Professor?

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 24, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting tidbit for those not living in the Boston area of this witches brew of race and class in America.

I'm nearly certain (please correct me if I am wrong) that the first public comments made by Officer Crowley were made in the venue of Boston's WEEI Radio on the Dennis and Callahan show which is a Sports Radio talk show. Either one or both hosts of the radio show, were banned by WEEI, from the airwaves for a period of time a few years ago for making obscene and racist comments about Boston's Metco students which resulted in public outcry and bad pr for WEEI. Metco is a program where innercity and largely black school children are bused to Boston's largely white, affluent, and leafy suburbs.
I've listened to the show on occassion, but I had to turn it off as the hosts delved into rightwing politics and talking points rather than just sticking to sports talk.

Posted by: John on July 24, 2009 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,

You're lost in the weeds of what occurred PRIOR to Gates producing ID that proved he was in his own home and there were NO intruders.

"He asks Gates to stop out of the house for ID"

Nonsense. Even in the false police report the cop filed he doesn't make that claim. Even if it were true, why was the cop demanding that Gates "step outside" AFTER he produced his ID that proved he was in his own home and there were NO intruders ?

The cop should have left. His job was done.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 24, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

@Joew, you are lost in the weeds.
You're lost in the weeds of what occurred PRIOR to Gates producing ID that proved he was in his own home and there were NO intruders.
What occurred Prior was that Gates and his limousine driver were going around the house checking windows and finally jimmying and forcing open his own door. This produced a 911 call. Gates was the one who was aware from his own actions of a few minutes before that the cop was legitimately responding. He did not drive by and see a black guy at the door, he was responding to a call trigger by GATES casing and forcing his way into the house.

In such a situation in many jurisdictions it would have been legitimate for the officer to restrain and frisk Gates before even asking him for ID. The officer did not do that He asked for Gates to step outside -- a known and recommended security precaution. Gates responded with a his own bigoted diatribe agaisnt the officers mother.

The cop should have left. His job was done.

Nonsense he would have been derelict. There were classic indicators of a home invasion. Gates might well be claiming the officer was racist for leaving and undeserving and underprotecting black residents if the officer had left.

The fact is Gates is grandstanding. He is the one who is bigoted.

Posted by: Murry on July 24, 2009 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

The news that came out this morning that Gates had been prying the lock and forced the door open puts a different light on the story.

If you break into your own home, and know you did, and a cop shows up, you know he got a legitimate call and has reason to suspect a dangerous situation. That danger could be to him with you as a perpetrator, to you as a victim with your family held hostage, or both.

Guy getting int his own car with the key gets stopped vs guy of any race breaking window of car, even his own, then acting like a idiot and faking offense when a cop asks him to see his ID.

Posted by: Doc32 on July 24, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Murry,

"What occurred Prior was that Gates and his limousine driver were going around the house checking windows and finally jimmying and forcing open his own door. This produced a 911 call. Gates was the one who was aware from his own actions of a few minutes before that the cop was legitimately responding. He did not drive by and see a black guy at the door, he was responding to a call trigger by GATES casing and forcing his way into the house.""

I haven't seen anyone complaining about the neighbor making the 911 call or the cops responding.

The issue is what happened AFTER Gates produced his ID that proved he was in his own home and there were NO intruders.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 24, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen anyone complaining about the neighbor making the 911 call or the cops responding.

You haven seen anyone complaining about it because the full details about the fact it was Gates himself creating of his own accord a breaking and entering / home invasion scenario has been left out of the reporting sympathetic to Gates.
The issue is what happened AFTER
Nonsense, who says that is the only issue? are you assertion that a police responding to a situation in which Gates had created the appearance of imminent danger are segmenting the episode into a segmented series for moot court and childish commentators?

At the point they stepped outside after the ID, the officer had been dealing with a racially bigoted gates, a threatening gates, a gates impeding a response to a dangerous situation, and Gates continuing a disturbance outside.

At the point they stepped outside, it is still plausible possibility, and one which the officer was charged with taking into account, that Gates family could have been being held at gun or knifepoint inside.

I think all of us on the left, and I am on the left and have family who are police officers, since that Gates himself created a sense of danger to the police officer (again when Gates knew the cop had legitimate reason to suspect a robbery) , that Gates response was racist.

I don't find Gates statement credible. I don't find him a credible relayer of events on this, since he KNEW that the officer was responding to the actual siting of a breaking yet his first statements were not, "officer that was me, I lost my keys, and this is my home" but essentially "your momma" and "you are a racist."

Posted by: Facts on July 24, 2009 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Nonsense, who says that is the only issue?":

Allrightythen, who is complaining about the neighbor calling 911 or the police responding until Gates produced his ID ?


"At the point they stepped outside after the ID"

That never occurred.

Gates produced his ID that proved he was in his own home and there were no intruders INSIDE his home. You can see by the now infamous picture as Gates is being escorted out his front door that he is already handcuffed and had already been arrested.


"the officer had been dealing with a racially bigoted gates, a threatening gates, a gates impeding a response to a dangerous situation"

You are relying upon a fabricated police report. Gates was in his own home and the cop should have left after establishing that Gates was in his own home and there were no intruders.


"and Gates continuing a disturbance outside."

Not chronologically possible. Gates was already in handcuffs when he was escorted out of his house.


"Gates himself created a sense of danger to the police officer (again when Gates knew the cop had legitimate reason to suspect a robbery)"

Only possible BEFORE the ID was produced not AFTER.


"I don't find Gates statement credible."

You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. It wasn't Gates that filed a false police report.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 24, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a precise timeline of the events that happened in Cambridge? It seems like there still is quite a bit of confusion and haziness in the reporting of this incident.

My understanding of the initial events is that Prof. Gates returned from an overseas trip in a livery service vehicle. The Professor could not open the front door and he then accessed his house from the backdoor and found that he could not also open the door from the inside either. Prof. Gates then went back outside and asked the driver's assistance and with his assistance somehow got the door openened. It was at this stage that a neighbor passing by saw the two men and made a phone call to the police reporting a possible break-in. The rest I'm not sure what happened.

Looks like the rest was a combination of race and class and bad judgment with both Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley.

Posted by: John on July 24, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

At the point they stepped outside after the ID, the officer had been dealing with a racially bigoted gates, a threatening gates, a gates impeding a response to a dangerous situation, and Gates continuing a disturbance outside.

... After demonstrating that it was his fucking house the cop was in, none of those aforementioned things are crimes requiring arrest.

At the point they stepped outside, it is still plausible possibility, and one which the officer was charged with taking into account, that Gates family could have been being held at gun or knifepoint inside.
Posted by: Facts

Bwahahahahaha ... you're not stupid enough to believe what you've just written, are you? Are you always this much of a coksucker of authority, or just white cops?

Posted by: Gonads on July 24, 2009 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

JF, you're an idiot.

Stripped of all the bullshit, this is a pretty simple situation: first, as noted by several people (including Gates himself), the cop had every reason to assume that there was a home invasion going on.

Read that again, since you didn't get what it meant the first umpteen times somebody pointed it out.

Second, Gates himself has said that the cop asked him to step outside BEFORE he produced any identification. Gates initially refused, both to produce any identification AND to leave his house. Since this is Gates' own version, it'd help if you applied your 'just the facts' monicker:

Because the cop was legitimately responding to a break-in call, he was also legitimately treating the guy in the house as a potential criminal -- who had been reported to have an accomplice. A cop should NOT put himself in a position where a criminal and/or his accomplice could attack by surprise. THAT's why the cop asked Gates to step out of the house, where Gates would still have had the opportunity to identify himself and resolve the situation. Gates' refusal to come out could well have set up a much more unfortunate situation where the cop would have knocked his bitchy ass DOWN, as the only safe way to determine that the real homeowner wasn't lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.

Third, after Gates had twice defied the cop (by refusing to present identification and refusing to come outside), the cop nevertheless decided to risk entering the house. This is where Gates became particularly abusive -- and it is also where, as a strict matter of law, the cop took the initiative. So it is also where Gates' bullshit take on the mess is flat-out wrong -- the cop, after all, is still responding to a 911 call about a burglary in progress. Gates, after all, is still refusing to cooperate with the cop AND is threatening the police officer, plus insulting him. So ask yourselves: what possible justification could the cop have, to enter Gates' home without permission?

Fourth, y'all lack the balls to answer the question: cuz it's frigging obvious: the cop understandably figured the (hopefully) minimal risk to his own career and distinctly marginal 4th amendment objection to entering Gates' home without the permission of the guy claiming to be Gates, was WAY outbalanced by the still real possibility that this wasn't the homeowner, who might possibly still be in the process of being robbed and/or beaten by the other guy in the original 911 call. And thus,

Fifth, you guys keep insisting that the cop should have known that none of this was happening, just because the guy in the house claimed to be that owner. Just how would the cop have known that, pray tell? So,

Sixth, when Gates finally did produce identification -- IN the house -- y'all figure that should have ended the matter: sez who? You don't know if Gates' ID picture looked much like him. You don't know if the cop had much of a chance to look at it -- he had a pissed off guy yelling at him, after all (Gates' own story), and it's not insignificant that the cop is still responding to a 911 call about a break-in with TWO potential burglars. And then ...

Seventh: Gates follows the cop out of the house. He has his ID back. He keeps yelling at the cop, accusing him of racism: what on earth could be the evidence for that -- except that the police officer did not assume that the guy in the house wasn't a burglar, being as how he was responding to a 911 call about a break-in? There isn't a single goddam thing that the cop DID which justifies Gates' reaction -- except Gates' vile assumption, which an astonishing # of you share, that the ONLY reason could be that the cop -- but not Gates -- is a blatant racist.

But whose reactions in this incident are wholly conditioned by race? It ain't the cop.

So, finally: the other point I've made (which none of you bothered to think about) is what cops are trained to do in conflict situations like this -- remember the witness.

I've asked (and nobody bothered to answer), what if in the little knot of people outside watching this Harvard professor make an unmitigated fool of himself, there was the woman who had called in the 911 herself? Being a reasonable person, she surely realized that while she had certainly seen two guys breaking into the house, she hadn't realized one of them was the Famous Professor Gates -- and so, to her chagrin, she had called the cops on a distinguished old guy breaking into his own house.

Somebody in a situation like that just might speak up and say, oops, my bad. I had no way of knowing...

C'mon, folks, no guts, no glory: is there ANYTHING in Gates' behavior from the beginning to the end of this ugly little squabble to suggest that he was incapable of smacking that woman with his cane?

Doesn't THAT indicate something of the police officer's responsibility to remind Gates -- over and over again -- that he needed to just shut up and go back in his house?

When he didn't, he was arrested, for cause -- and you all defend this asshole?

Grow up.

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 24, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid you're regurgitating the same gibberish that bears no relationship with reality.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 24, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, folks, no guts, no glory: is there ANYTHING in Gates' behavior from the beginning to the end of this ugly little squabble to suggest that he was incapable of smacking that woman with his cane?
Posted by: theAmericanist

... Other than the fact that as an accomplished Harvard professor, he would be unlikely to beat some random white woman.

Are you suggesting that we should be grateful to the Sgt for arresting this educated black man because he MIGHT have hit some random white woman with a cane?

Just because you're a woman-beating piece of white trash, there's no need to project that image onto an educated black man.

Posted by: Gonads on July 24, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I see Obama's comments from a totally different angle, and frankly, he scares me. I see him as someone who undermines people in authority, and that's something of a problem, because sometimes he is the one in authority.

Three instances.

1. Rev. Wright. I don't have one problem with Rev. Wright saying what he said and I don't have any problem with people listening to what he said and even agreeing with Rev. Wright. I do have a problem with a US Senator being one of those people. I pay my US Senator to stick up for my country. Obam's role changed when he wasn't just any parishoner, and he didn't seem to know it.

2. The Mayor's conference in Providence. Why Obama decided his staff shouldn't cross an informational picket line that dealt with COLAs on Firemen's pensions at the Mayors conference was beyond me. These Mayors and Governors are struggling with budgets across the country and the public is increasingly aware that PUblic Employee Pension benefits are outrageous and nothing remotely like them is available in the private sector. Yet the President goes out of his way to undermine the Mayors. At least thats the way I saw it.

3. Professor Gate's story is not the most compelling story of racial injustice I've ever heard, yet the President decides to say the the police acted stupidly on nationwide TV, stepping on his own health care headline.

The President needs to find a way to support authority or at least not undermine it if he doesn't want to look weak. If you are a manager, you give your people the benefit of the doubt, at least until all the facts come in.

Hey yesterday a guy in a wheelchair shot two people in Chicago, probably in Obama's old state legislative district. I swear there is a murder a day there. More resentment against the police won't be helpful in lowering the murder rate there. It is a serious and disturbing problem.

Posted by: MaryOK on July 25, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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