Racism raises its ugly head again

I’m not going to mince words: Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates was arrested at his house last week because he is black.

That is the only conclusion any reasonable person should draw from the incident that has now garnered international attention after President Obama’s comments about it   Wednesday night during his press conference. Mr. Obama, who admittedly is a friend of the renowned scholar, said the Cambridge (Mass.) police acted “stupidly” to arrest someone in his own home after he provided proof that he lived there after a neighbor had called authorities about a possible break-in.

Let’s run this one back again to make sure there is no misunderstanding -– Dr. Gates was arrested at his home after providing proof that he lived there after authorities had come to investigate whether he was breaking into the house.

Of course only Dr. Gates and the white cop who arrested him know exactly what was said inside the house, but no one is disputing – not even the officer --- that authorities were aware that the professor had a right to be where he was when they clapped the handcuffs on him.

In this photo taken by a neighbor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, is arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass.  (AP)

 

Given that Dr. Gates is hardly imposing – I think he’s listed at 5-7, weighs about 145 and walks with the use of a cane -- I find it hard to believe the officer felt threatened by him. In his report, Officer James Crowley offers this account of what happened:

He said he arrived at the house and saw a man standing inside watching the officer from behind the front door. The officer said he asked the man to step outside, and Dr. Gates, who had identified himself by this time, refused. When Officer Crowley told Dr. Gates he was investigating a possible break-in, the professor is reported to have responded, “Why, because I’m a black man in America.”

Let’s stop here for a second. I don’t know any black man – including myself – who would say that, or at least not in that formal a tone. To me, that sounds like something made up by somebody who doesn’t quite get that it sounds made up.

Officer Crowley also states in his July 16 report that the professor started shouting at him, calling him a racist. He said Dr. Gates eventually provided his Harvard University ID badge, but when he went back outside the professor followed him and “continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias.” He said that he twice warned Dr. Gates to calm down or he would be arrested for disorderly conduct.

 “Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me,” Officer Crowley said in his report. “It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest.”

The 58-year-old Gates, who had just returned from a trip to China and had found the door to his home, stuck shut, which is why he was trying to force it open, offers a different account. He has admitted that he was peeved by the notion he was breaking into his own home, but said that he complied. Dr. Gates said he was arrested when he followed the officer onto his porch after asking but not receiving the cop’s identification.

I believe Dr. Gates version, primarily because the officer could have easily diffused the situation if he’d chosen. He could have simply told Dr. Gates that he was doing his duty, was sorry for the inconvenience and left.

End of story. No national controversy. But it appears the officer took offense at the temerity of this black man questioning his authority. For that, it seems, he had to be punished.

I know many people will disagree with my assessment. That’s fine. But most of them likely won’t have walked that mile in someone else’s shoes.

Poll: Do you think racial profiling is a problem in American law enforcement?

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imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 07/23/09 - 07:19 pm
0
0
Good column.  Although I am

Good column.  Although I am sure both parties escalated the issue, the office is the one who is supposedly trained to defuse the situation.  All he had to do was apologize and move on.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 07/23/09 - 07:22 pm
0
0
Mr. Wynn is about as far

Mr. Wynn is about as far from wrong as any person can be.  The police were called, responded and Gates failed to cooperate.  Even gates admits everything in the police report was correct but maintains he did finally show his ID and was arrested anyway.  Of course he was arrested, he was disorderly and it had nothing to do with his race.  If anything, so many police use extra discretion when dealing with a black person because the race card is pulled so often.  The police were called, responded, acted appropriately and Gates was disorderly, disrespectful and uncooperative.  Most educated individuals would be overly helpful, appreciative and understanding but not Gates - he claims racism and makes comments about the officers mom.  This officer has performed mouth to mouth and cpr on a black man as well as teaches racial profiling classes on his own time and his own dime so Gates really picked the wrong guy to try and claim racism.  Mr. Wynn, withouth having a clue, just like President Obama side with gates without even having all of the facts.  Did the officer have to arrest him, no.  Did gates have to act disorderly, rude, provactive, etc. to offciers responding to his home for a break in, absolutely not.  Was the arrest justified, of course it was.  When dealing with the police, cooperate, period.  If you have a complaint then file it at the appropriate time.  Gates didn't even have a complaint, he just didn't want to police coming into his home and asking for ID or trying to do their job.  He better be glad he wasn't put on the ground, cuffed, etc. as many officers responding to such an incidnet would have done from upon entry - better safe than sorry.  The only racist person involved from the white cop to the hispanic officer who witnessed everything to the 911 caller to Gates was Gates for pulling the race card and being loud, disorderly and proving the point of so many who truly do think black men act out towards all levels of authority.  Read the report: 

http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/Gates_Arrest.pdf

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 07/23/09 - 07:24 pm
0
0
Yep it doesn't matter as

Yep it doesn't matter as long as you are black or latino most white officers will act exactly like Crowley.  Surely he lied on his report and I to believe Dr. Gates.

Fiat_Lux
15005
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Fiat_Lux 07/23/09 - 07:47 pm
0
0
I'd go slow on that, Mike.

I'd go slow on that, Mike. For all we know, the cop may have tried his best to defuse the situation and back off, and Dr. Gates very well may have been insulting and condescending to a representative of the law. You can't get away with doing that for more than about two sentences, no matter who you are or where you live OR WHAT COLOR YOUR SKIN IS.

I have no problem believing Gates was [filtered word] at being questioned and having to prove who he was in his own home. I would be as well, but because I'm not looking to being discriminated against or profiled, I probably would tersely thank the cops for watching out for my safety and my property and bid them good night.

A person's expectation about other people's attitude toward them makes all the difference in how they respond, a point that needs to be emphasized loud and clear. If racism is what you expect or fear, then that's what you will perceive, even when it's not actually there. You don't see things accurately when you expect the worst of people, and sadly, plenty of us see each other through the distorting lenses of fear and mistrust.

Treating other people with respect, courtesy and kindness, no matter who they are or how we feel they are treating us, goes a long way toward neutralizing atavisms such as racism. It's hard to do that if you feel outraged, but mature adults generally manage it all the same.

s11wonder
0
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s11wonder 07/23/09 - 08:27 pm
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No, he was arrested because

No, he was arrested because he is stupid

Just My Opinion
5438
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Just My Opinion 07/23/09 - 08:46 pm
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Mike, as a black man, you

Mike, as a black man, you are too close to this situation to not be sensitive and prejudicial.  Now, when I said "black man", did that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end?  If so, that proves that black people nowadays are simply, and ridiculously, too sensitive to any hint of anything that can be twisted into a racist action.  Yeah, yeah...we all know about the slave days and the horrible atrocities that blacks had to painfully, and absolutely regrettably, endure in the past, but things have changed.  Of course, there are still instances of discrimination, but nowhere near what they once were.  This policeman was doing his job. He got a report of a possible break-in, and went to investigate.  There was a man in this residence, and this policeman had to check it out.  What?..just because he is black and claims to be the homeowner, does that mean that the policeman has to cower back and take this man's word for it without obtaining proof?  Is that what you want?  I disagree with you and see that YOU are giving Dr. Gates a free pass just because he is black. You are too quick to condemn the white policeman and too quick to support the black Dr. Gates.  Now, as far as the claim that Dr. Gates said "Why, because I'm a black man in America?"...I certainly have heard black people say similar phrases.  Like you, I would hear them and think how ridiculous they sounded! I see you rejecting this claim only because it goes against your antagonistic theme.  I used to really take pause when I heard other black people complain about matters such as these....now I just completely shut them out and give them no validity, and that's because of race-baiters like you and Dr. Gates.

0
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07/23/09 - 09:04 pm
0
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This incident was much more

This incident was much more about class than race.  Gates is an arrogant Harvard professor who acted the way many spoiled and privileged people do when challenged.  In the (only) photo, compare his body language with that of the cool and collected demeanor of the (black) peace officer in the foreground.  Mr. Wynn, can you say "hissy fit?"  Also, it happens that the Cambridge police had responded recently to another call to this same address when another apparent break-in was in progress.  Prof. Gates was out of the country then too, I believe.  Law enforcement is a thankless task which officer Crowley performs in an exemplary manner according to all of his superiors and colleagues. Perhaps Crowley's mother said it best: "We didn't TEACH tolerance, when my son was growing up, we LIVED it."  No doubt prof. Gates was tired and flustered after breaking into his own house following an endless flight from China.  Nevertheless, HE did make a fool of himself and the more he tries to revise this fact the more he appears to be milking it for publicity value.  He is not merely a little in stature.   Perhaps he missed the instructional video.  Here is a link to it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujOmtxXEGE8     

DaveMustaineRules
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DaveMustaineRules 07/23/09 - 09:17 pm
0
0
Sorry, but your assessment

Sorry, but your assessment of the situation is entirely wrong. Details about the case have emerged, and the deputy acted appropriately to secure his and the homeowner's safety. Professor Gates should be sitting in a jail cell and Obama should be impeached for attempting to interfer in this matter.

I don't believe the version of the story Gates tells. His alleged response is typical of a black man in America.

Pu239
284
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Pu239 07/23/09 - 09:26 pm
0
0
Mike, read the latest
Unpublished

Mike, read the latest account of this officer's background? I think you should. As another poster had stated, you appear too close to this issue. Did you notice Mr. Gates body language in this photo? It also seems that Mr. Obama is backing up from his original statement.

Doug E. Fresh
23
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Doug E. Fresh 07/23/09 - 09:42 pm
0
0
Mike, since none of us were

Mike, since none of us were there and this is all just opinion, none of it based on fact, the officer may have asked Gates to step out of his house to the porch or sidewalk not knowing if he was under duress.  If the office would have said, Okay, your the owner, I don't need any more investigation here, and left, than the next day you read in the news Gates is shot by intruder and robbed, you would have accused the officer of not doing his job.  You can't have it both ways.  I hope Gates pushes this to the courts, the witness' speak and than the applogy from Obama will be expected.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 07/23/09 - 09:54 pm
0
0
Considering what I've read

Considering what I've read and heard on the radio of the accounts of what happened, the professors comments were verbally abusive and racist in nature.  He right off the bat is implying the officer is a racist when he asked, "..is this because I'm a black man in America?"  and continued his ranting including telling the officer, when the officer asked him to step outside to talk to him, he said something along the lines of sure, I'll come out side and talk to your mother (I'm paraphrasing here, I don't have the exact quote.)  I would like to hear the exact quote.   I believe the officer, he teaches racial profiling and instructs his classes NOT to make judgments based on race.  Some of the media is allowing the public to get a different impression (the opposite) of what he is actually teaching, to suit their agenda.  Shame, shame.

sassygirl12
1
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sassygirl12 07/23/09 - 09:56 pm
0
0
its a shame that the race

its a shame that the race card has to be brought in everytime they want to whine. it seems to me that the cop was trying to help this stupid man..but what does he do he yells RACISM. if racism exits it exits towards white people..white people get crapped on all the time and you don't see us crying about it.

sassygirl12
1
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sassygirl12 07/23/09 - 10:00 pm
0
0
its a shame that the race

its a shame that the race card has to be brought in everytime they want to whine. it seems to me that the cop was trying to help this stupid man..but what does he do he yells RACISM. if racism exits it exits towards white people..white people get crapped on all the time and you don't see us crying about it.

reconga
0
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reconga 07/23/09 - 10:28 pm
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0
I simply can't help but

I simply can't help but comment.  There are only two people that know exactly what happend inside that house yet the President uses terminology such as "Stupidly" without any knowlege of the facts.  Then we have the world wide stupid factory, known as the media, jumping in with their wit taking sides.  Mike, I don't know you.  I'm sure your a fine gentleman; however, to write a column condeming someone without knowing all the facts is less than a professional behavior.  I can only wonder if you would have written the same comments if it were a white man being arrested by a black officer.

imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 07/23/09 - 10:38 pm
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0
Theonly details that have

Theonly details that have emerged are from opinions of people trying to protect the officer.  Even if Gates got loud with the office, it is his home.  How can you be arrested on a charge including the words, "public place" when you are not in a public place, but rather in your own home.  No one said this officer is a bad person, but that does not mean what he did that night was not bad.  Gates is a citizen, he has the right to overreact.  The officer is the one who is supposed to remain calm and defuse things.  When I worked in customer servicer I got cursed up and down, sometimes even when customers had broken things themselves, but I still had to mind my Ps and Qs and try to calm them down rather than attack them as I wanted.

hampster6
0
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hampster6 07/23/09 - 10:47 pm
0
0
The only person who acted

The only person who acted "stupidly" here was Dr. Gates. All he had to do was cooperate. But did he do that? No. The policeman acted appropriately for that situation. Obama had no reason to even comment on this domestic situation. You'd think the president would have more pressing matters to attend to like health care. How can he take care of presidential things when he's on television every day with his comments! All who voted for him, I hope you're satisfied...

Ashtray
0
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Ashtray 07/23/09 - 10:55 pm
0
0
He was arrested because he

He was arrested because he broke into his own house and then would not co operate. How can we move forward with people like you holding us back. Read the whole story next time before spouting your venom.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 07/23/09 - 11:05 pm
0
0
Walked a mile in someone

Walked a mile in someone elses shoes...how about walking in the shoes of a police officer.  The officer responded to the call, he did not seek it out.  The officer observed a black male inside the home that had just been broken into (witness on scene informed police upon arrival as well as 911), Officer attempts to secure the scene and control the environment, per his training, etc. and this guy gets [filtered word] off, pulls the race card, etc. (by his own admission, he continued to berate the officer, follow him outside, demanding his name, etc.) even after being warned to calm down or face arrest.  He should have been thankful but instead he was beligerant and acted irrationally.  He took the situation to far and then when being loud in view of the public who had gathered outside, continued to berate the officer - NO OFFICER WILL ALLOW OR TOLLERAT THAT IN PUBLIC NOR SHOULD THEY - and yes, this was in public as over 8 witnesses have verified thus far.  Could the officer have used undue and unnecessary restraint, allowed Gates to berate him and call him racist and talk about his mom without arresting him, yes, he could.  But if police start allowing the public to react in such a manner, that is all they will ever be dealing with.  These officers have enough to deal with without some idiot being disorderly and since he was warned, he knew what was coming.  Frankly, although just an obesrvation, I believe he got exactly what he wanted - he wanted to be arrested to call it racism and take it from there....

missaugusta07
9
Points
missaugusta07 07/23/09 - 11:40 pm
0
0
I don't agree with

I don't agree with Dr.Gates there have been incidents where blacks have been targeted but to pulled that card everytime something happens is getting a little outdated,it's like shouting WOLF and there is no wolf in the yard.When there problems such as this it sometimes ignored,he's suppose to be an intelligent man,I think he lost his common sense when all this happen.All he had to do was to show ID and it would've been over with.But he had to make a mountain out of a mole hill,My Father always told me, people can have book smarts but not have common sense!If someone was actually breaking in his house he would want a neighbor to call the authorities black, white ,blue, green or purple,just as long as they were to save his home.As I was looking at the article there is also a black officer out there too,so I guess he's a racist too.All I'm saying is just stop YELLING WOLF WHEN THERE IS NO REASON TOO,WAIT TILL THERE IS A WOLF THEN YELL PEOPLE,THAT GOES FOR ALL RACES.Oh and by the way I am a black woman.How about that???    

Fiat_Lux
15005
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/23/09 - 11:44 pm
0
0
I wonder if "Skip" Gates'

I wonder if "Skip" Gates' star is no longer in ascendancy over at Harvard and it needed a little boost in the form of public outrage. You gotta wonder why a smart guy like that would do something so lame and so easily avoided if it wasn't with a purpose in mind, unless of course he's just totally eaten up with racial hatred himself.

missaugusta07
9
Points
missaugusta07 07/23/09 - 11:45 pm
0
0
I don't agree with

I don't agree with Dr.Gates there have been incidents where blacks have been targeted but to pulled that card everytime something happens is getting a little outdated,it's like shouting WOLF and there is no wolf in the yard.When there problems such as this it sometimes ignored,he's suppose to be an intelligent man,I think he lost his common sense when all this happen.All he had to do was to show ID and it would've been over with.But he had to make a mountain out of a mole hill,My Father always told me, people can have book smarts but not have common sense!If someone was actually breaking in his house he would want a neighbor to call the authorities black, white ,blue, green or purple,just as long as they were to save his home.As I was looking at the article there is also a black officer out there too,so I guess he's a racist too.All I'm saying is just stop YELLING WOLF WHEN THERE IS NO REASON TOO,WAIT TILL THERE IS A WOLF THEN YELL PEOPLE,THAT GOES FOR ALL RACES.Oh and by the way I am a black woman.How about that???    

RogueKnight
210
Points
RogueKnight 07/24/09 - 01:35 am
0
0
I know of Dr. Gates from his

I know of Dr. Gates from his genealogy programs. I admire his work in searching black celebrities' genealogical roots. Having said that....

 Being confrontational with the law, no matter WHO you are, will get you in trouble, every time. I find kissing the [filtered word] that's wearing the badge will get you more lee way in the long run. Not that I like it, but it got me out of a potential DUI one night. Still....it's a two edge blade. Profiling....it definitely happens. I believe that. Hoping it all washes out and they part ways without prosecution.  It's an unfortunate situation.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/24/09 - 07:58 am
0
0
The 911 tapes are about to

The 911 tapes are about to be released...Mike, make sure you come back and comment after that happens.

I understand questioning the disorderly conduct charge...I personally believe the Constitution allows you to act like a damn fool on your own property.  And you better believe Gates acted like a damn fool.  

Mike...don't judge the cop until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

 

 

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 07/24/09 - 08:57 am
0
0
Wynn is a lunatic just like

Wynn is a lunatic just like the Harvard professor.  The professor not only walks with a crutch, but he uses an accusation of racism as a crutch to gain sympathy for his "stupid" actions. 

business owner again
0
Points
business owner again 07/24/09 - 09:23 am
0
0
I am a white, middle aged,

I am a white, middle aged, non-violent, conservative, peaceful homeowner in National Hills. I was once arrested in my own home on a Sunday morning, dragged to a police car and thrown into a smelly jail and charged with obstruction of an officer in a very similar incident right here in Augusta. Was it racist? Hell no. It was a poorly-trained, poorly supervised, stressed out hot and tired Richmond County Sheriff's Deputy screwing up.

Taharqa
0
Points
Taharqa 07/24/09 - 09:54 am
0
0
I DONT THINK IT WAS RACIST ,

I DONT THINK IT WAS RACIST , BUT AT THE SAME TIME , POLICE BLACK OR WHITE , SEEM TO ABUSE THEIR AUTHORITY, AND SOME POLICE SADLY ARE TAUGHT TO THINK THAT MOST BLACKS HAVE A CRIMINAL MENTALITY , SO THEY ALREADY HAVE A PRECONCIEVED NOTION ABOUT INDIVIDUALS BEFORE THEY EVEN MEET THEM.  I THINK MORE BLACKS WOULD TRUST POLICE , IF THEY SEEN MORE POLICEMAN IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS DOING SOMETHING BESIDES TRYING TO TAKE SOME ONE TO JAIL.  I HAVE NEVER SEEN A POLICE OFFICER EVEN WALK AN OLD BLACK LADY ACROSS THE STREET. NOT TO SAY THERE AREN'T ANY GOOD POLICE OFFICERS OUT THERE, BUT I THINK THE POLICE FORCE NATIONALLY JUST HAS A CERTAIN TYPE OF VIEW OF BLACK PEOPLE WHEN IT COMES TO CRIMES AND THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT, I DONT THINK THIS OFFICER IN PARTICULAR MEANT ANY HARM , BUT I AGREE WITH THE COLUMNIST IN THAT HE GOT TEED OFF WHEN THE PROFESSOR ASKED FOR HIS BADGE NUMBER.

Erayzer
4
Points
Erayzer 07/24/09 - 10:44 am
0
0
In the words of NWA.

In the words of NWA. "FDP"!!!! This is racial!  No question.  White people don't comment because you JUST DON'T Understand!!!!  The "smart" thing to do was once the officer found out Gates was the homeowner and NO crime had been committed..Crowley should've left!  This is all about POWER first..race 2nd.  Crowley wanted to "put" Gates in what "he" thought was his place!  Skip wasn't having it!!!  When ALL is said and done.. another DUMB [filtered word] thing a corrupt justice system has screwed up. 

Erayzer
4
Points
Erayzer 07/24/09 - 10:47 am
0
0
In the words of NWA.

In the words of NWA. "FDP"!!!! This is racial!  No question.  White people don't comment because you JUST DON'T Understand!!!!  The "smart" thing to do was once the officer found out Gates was the homeowner and NO crime had been committed..Crowley should've left!  This is all about POWER first..race 2nd.  Crowley wanted to "put" Gates in what "he" thought was his place!  Skip wasn't having it!!!  When ALL is said and done.. another DUMB [filtered word] thing a corrupt justice system has screwed up. 

Rob Pavey
551
Points
Rob Pavey 07/24/09 - 11:31 am
0
0
when a police officer

when a police officer asks to verify your ID, you simply show it to them - regardless of either party's color.

Holdem
1
Points
Holdem 07/24/09 - 12:08 pm
0
0
  The Jackson family is

  The Jackson family is glad to see this so Jesse and Al have something else to do besides talk about Michael..........................

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