Local leaders respond to arrest, Obama's remarks

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While the controversy over the arrest last week of black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. by a white police officer has raised the issue of racial profiling across the nation, state and local officials were restrained Thursday when talking about the incident.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. participates in a panel on CNN's live show 'Moment of Truth: Countdown to Black in America 2,' this past Wednesday.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. participates in a panel on CNN's live show 'Moment of Truth: Countdown to Black in America 2,' this past Wednesday.

But they showed less restraint when it came to their feelings on President Obama's remarks that the Cambridge, Mass., police acted "stupidly" in their handling of Mr. Gates' arrest.

"If you don't know all the facts, I think that statement was unwarranted and definitely one-sided," said Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength, who said he preferred not to comment on the incident because he had not read the officer's report and did not know all the details of the case.

The president, who admitted he was a close friend of Mr. Gates before making the statement, was responding to a reporter's question about the arrest during a prime-time news conference on health care reform.

Mr. Gates was arrested outside his home July 16 after an argument with a Cambridge police officer. Mr. Gates and a taxi driver were attempting to pry open his front door, which was stuck. According to the police report, a woman called police after she saw two black men trying to force their way into the home.

Accounts of what happened differ. It appears there was a disagreement between the officer and Mr. Gates that led to the professor's arrest on a disorderly conduct charge.

Frank Rotondo, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the law enforcement officials he had spoken with had mostly negative comments about the president's remarks.

"I've been in law enforcement 40 years, and I'm personally dismayed that an intelligent individual that serves as our country's chief administrator would say such a damning thing about a professional law enforcement unit," said Mr. Rotondo, whose group includes the leaders of 572 law enforcement agencies.

He said the incident was a "no-win" situation for the police department and the sergeant.

Charles Smith, the president of the Augusta Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that, based on media reports of the incident, he wondered whether it was necessary to arrest Mr. Gates if he had shown the deputy his ID and it was clear he lived in the house.

He said racial stereotyping was a concern across the country and that people should work together to get to the truth.

"Lets just let the investigation go on and see what the conclusion would be," Dr. Smith said. "I think both sides should apologize and move on for the betterment of America -- to unify America. But these type things definitely need to be looked into, and it should not happen."

Racial sensitivity training is a part of every deputy's training in Richmond County, sheriff's Col. Gary Powell said.

In an eight-hour block during basic training, deputies are taught to treat everyone "like you would want a member of your family to be treated," Col. Powell said.

Deputies must also complete a refresher course on racial sensitivity each year.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

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

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wildman
1185
Points
wildman 07/24/09 - 03:08 am
0
0
BO must be taking lessons

BO must be taking lessons from Biden. Open mouth and insert foot.

GACopperhead
6
Points
GACopperhead 07/24/09 - 03:10 am
0
0
Have to agree, unck.

Have to agree, unck.

justus4
109
Points
justus4 07/24/09 - 04:08 am
0
0
Racial Profiling is illegal!
Unpublished

Racial Profiling is illegal! Prof. Gates' Constitutional rights were violated and that officer will soon be terminated because laws do matter. His professional judgement is in question, along with his ability to honestly & accurately prepare a report. The charges were subsequently DROPPED! That speaks to his judgement! Bad! His loss of professionalism, by allowing words to cloud his oath-sworn decision-making process, and execute an unlawful detainment suggest hidden demons which will cost the city a huge amount, if sued. Additionally, the president exercised courage with his statement because "we" know what an investigation will say. No need to wait for that junk. He stated the obvious because this officer has tainted the city & Harvard and possibly cost untold amount of tax dollars, just because this ignorant officer thinks respect comes from a gun and badge. The president nailed it: The officer acted stupid.

GACopperhead
6
Points
GACopperhead 07/24/09 - 04:25 am
0
0
justus, how were his rights

justus, how were his rights violated when he was ACTUALLY being protected? He was seen attempting to break into a house, and he became unruly FIRST! Your words are exactly why prejudice still exists in the US, because you PROVE that you and your race want to use any excuse to continue to bleat "prejudice". When blacks cease committing the majority of crimes and using more of the prison space than any other race, whites will begin to look less warily at a solitary black man walking in their neighborhood. Please tell me what a black man is doing standing on Walton Way by the Argos Club at 3:30 in the morning? Whay are they walking and standing at the corners of Telfaair and Eve, or Telfair and Crawford at the same hour? I'm sure they are innocent guys, just hangin, right? Your race gives itself it's bad name, by acting badly, dressing badly and screaming race whenever they get caught committing a crime. By the way, I voted for Obama, so don't call me a racist. I'm not. It was Professor Gates who acted STUPID!

GACopperhead
6
Points
GACopperhead 07/24/09 - 05:28 am
0
0
Having read the report, I am

Having read the report, I am confirmed in my belief that Gates was arrested properly, and the charges should not have been dropped. This is another example of the race card being used to get a criminal's charges dropped. Mr. Gates is the racist in this particular case. Maybe he should move to Cherry Tree(or is it Hill) Crossing, where he will be in good company.

NANF
4
Points
NANF 07/24/09 - 05:38 am
0
0
Racial profiling ? My aunt

Racial profiling ? My aunt fanny! Those people create their own problems. What's wrong with just saying thank you for watching out for my home and show his I D. Nope, that's too easy and he hadn't met his quota for his " poor me" list for the year yet. They need to get a life.

Barf Obama
0
Points
Barf Obama 07/24/09 - 05:52 am
0
0
George Custer was warned time

George Custer was warned time and again about harassing the Sioux Indians and after he ran up on them at Little Big Horn. Custer and all his men were killed. An old Sioux woman, carring a buffalo bone needle, walked out to the body of Custer, knelt down next to his body, inserted the needle in one of Custers ears and hammered it in, then she put the needle in his other ear and hammered it in. After doing this she talked into each ear saying "Can you hear now?" This reminds me of todays politicians, all of them, and the President.

pantherluvcik
628
Points
pantherluvcik 07/24/09 - 06:07 am
0
0
GaCopperhead it's people like

GaCopperhead it's people like you who make racial discrimination such a common issue in America. Maybe that black man standing on the corner was doing the same thing white people do when they stand on the corners. It's your narrowminded backwoods thought process that makes white officers harass him for standing on the corner. And that's why black people are outraged by the actions of the Police and law enforcement. He showed id why was he still arrested, no reason to take it that far? I think the situation was a bad one and both parties acted inappropriately, both should be men and apologize and move on.

GACopperhead
6
Points
GACopperhead 07/24/09 - 06:19 am
0
0
NO, panther, they are CRACK

NO, panther, they are CRACK dealers. Gates was arrested because he continued to YELL at a police officer. The same thing happens to unruly white people all the time. Police officers should be respected, and Gates started the whole incident by yelling at the officer from the get go. Whay aren't black people outraged at their own behavior? Why aren't they outraged at the reputation that their young men give them? It's the idolization of miscreants like OJ and Jacko the Perv that show the lack of respect that blacks should have for themselves, law enforcement and their country. It's the rappers cussing, disrespecting women and condoning the use of drugs and violence that that creates racism. It's the fact that blacks commit more crime in proportion to the size of their population that gives rise to "racial profiling". Gates deserves absolutely NO apology from law enforcement, but the police all over this country deserve an apology from both Gates AND OBAMA!

juantez
254
Points
juantez 07/24/09 - 07:08 am
0
0
The police report can say
Unpublished

The police report can say anything the officer want it to say so what's the big deal about reading a report.

starship10
0
Points
starship10 07/24/09 - 07:40 am
0
0
It be whitey's fault!

It be whitey's fault!

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 07/24/09 - 07:55 am
0
0
What is sad is that if this

What is sad is that if this police officer is justified in his actions (and it appears by reading the report that Mr. Gates was extremely out of control) all this controversy will just die down and go away. There will never be an appology given to this officer or his department and I feel that if the President can come on national TV and proclaim the department acted stupidly, then he needs to go on national TV and declare this officer was doing his job. I fail to see why Mr. Gates got so upset. When the officer told him why he was there you would think he would be happy that they responded and investigated. What happens when someone really does break into this man's house and the officers ignore the call thinking it's just the home owner trying to get into his residence again.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 07/24/09 - 08:27 am
0
0
This officer was wrong point

This officer was wrong point blank, if he showed his ID and was in his OWN house, on his OWN porch and the ID confirmed it, then the officer should left. He was on a I"M THE MAN trip. Most white officers have that mentality, dare I say some black as well.

toppergem
125
Points
toppergem 07/24/09 - 08:28 am
0
0
Read the report...and? The

Read the report...and? The arresting officer wrote the report and could he not have slated the report to show himself in a positive light? Professor Gates may have been yelling an the officer, does that not happen alot when people feel the police officers who are not listening, being unreasonable in their requests, determined to flex their muscles? There are two sides to every situation and alot of things go into the interpretations of the facts. Both bear responsibility for the way this situation played itself out. President Obama made his comments based on HIS OWN evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the arrest of his friend. He is human and he does have an opinion, doesn't he? Would we have acted any differently or have said anything thing so different if this had been our friend who we know is normally not one to display the type of behavior that has been suggested was displayed by Professor Gates. Let's all tell the truth and be real. I know I would have been reacted the same way as Obama. Not my friend...it had to have been the other person!

starship10
0
Points
starship10 07/24/09 - 08:31 am
0
0
jack, it's whitey's fault.

jack, it's whitey's fault. By the way, everything I have read says he REFUSED to show his ID! By the way again, according to statements of those there, gates went off the chain! Maybe someone will try to break in your house, a cop will see them and assume it is you, idiot!

cparker
83
Points
cparker 07/24/09 - 08:37 am
0
0
This is not racial

This is not racial profiling.. They both acted stupid in this case. The Professor should have just given his ID or opened the door when the police asked. The flip side is that the policeman truly could have left when he knew it was the homeowner at his own residence. Racial profiling is when the incident starts because you are black and ends foolishly because you are black. The neighbor saw two black men trying to wrest open a jammed door at night. had they known it was the homeowner they wouldn't have called the police. I want my neighbors to call the police if they see someone breaking into my house and when they realize it was me I would have have gave the police my driver license and asked him to help me get inside. This is just a silly incident, but nothing racial about it. I am not suggesting racial profiling doesn't not happen, but not in this case. President Obama probably should have said it a little better, but the news reported did ask his opinion and he gave it... His comments about the police were right, but he should have said something about the Professor not giving up his ID when asked to be fair...

thoga
0
Points
thoga 07/24/09 - 08:41 am
0
0
I read in one article that

I read in one article that the professor at first would not show ID and only when the arrest was pending did he produce ID but by that time he had an attitude. You have to be careful with the attitude towards police. I know someone who waved at a pass police officer and the officer turned around and pull him over and said he was a smarta--. Both were white and in Richmond County.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
10092
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/24/09 - 08:42 am
0
0
Obamulous should have kept

Obamulous should have kept his mouth shut and said " I don't have all the facts on this so therefore I cannot comment on it." Now he has created another excuse for riots and more problems. Time to replace all them old tv's with the new digital models!

KSL
139475
Points
KSL 07/24/09 - 08:43 am
0
0
Why couldn't Gates have just

Why couldn't Gates have just behaved himself? Panther, he was not arrested for breaking into his own house. He was arrested for his demeanor with the policeman. He should have known better.

john
1143
Points
john 07/24/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
Gates should have appreciated

Gates should have appreciated that his neighbors and law enformement were trying to protect his property, but no, he had to show his azz and be a race bully. And I guess we see that our Prez really did pay attention in church all these years. I dont know what happened beyond what has been released, but im impressed that the cop is standing up for himself and not being politically correct and kissing Gates' butt because his is yelling racism. Our Pres should have stayed above it especially after acknowleging he wasnt aware of the facts. He could express concern but let the investigation proceed. He might as well grab a bullhorn and a sign and join big Al on the protest line. Who cares what the facts are....

Honest Broker
0
Points
Honest Broker 07/24/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
Former Richmond County

Former Richmond County Sheriff Deputy Powell proved by accident when he left his auto recorder on that some people with authority will abuse others if given a chance.

He was not fired but allowed to resign and carryon race profiling in another agency if he wishes to do so.

apex24
0
Points
apex24 07/24/09 - 08:47 am
0
0
Cparker, outstanding and

Cparker, outstanding and astonishing!!!!!!! I take back everything I said about you. For now!!

marandan
24
Points
marandan 07/24/09 - 08:48 am
0
0
Can you imagine if the cops

Can you imagine if the cops had not come in time and someone was really robbing his house(Gates). Then he(Gates would have old Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson, calling for a media assault to complain the Police ineptness, probably due to RACISM. Oh, and dont forget, Barry is his friend. He put his 2 cents in about it last night, something he had no business even talking about, I am surprised he didnt say it was higher than his paygrade. So now, anyone in law enforcement, must always hesitate when dealing with anyone black. Noone else just blacks, who seem to take every occassion to scream racial profiling, when they are caught in the wrong. Why is it that the asians, dont scream racism all the time? Because, ONLY some Blacks are using their skin color to protect themselves, whenever the opportunities arise. They cant handle competitiveness of a civil society, and they don't want to do the hard work that everyone else does to excel in their life. They would rather play the race card. It amazes me how many successful blacks, continually BITE the affirmative hand that fed them into the best schools, that so many whites never were given the chance to have, because they were white.

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 07/24/09 - 08:49 am
0
0
starship, I have no idea WHAT

starship, I have no idea WHAT you're reading, but he showed TWO FORM of identification. Maybe you should swear off the fringe sites for a day or two.

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 07/24/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
Yeah, KSL, why don't those

Yeah, KSL, why don't those uppity blacks just "behave" themselves...? I wonder if they've thought of that? Hmmmm.

john
1143
Points
john 07/24/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
honest, if I remember, he

honest, if I remember, he wasnt abusing anyone, but talking smack to a friend. even if you have predjudice, and most people do to some extent, you can still act professionally. Powell was a dumba.. and clearly had no problem using the n word and its good he is gone. If the SGT in Cambridge is found to be in the wrong, he will be diciplined.

teharper428
2
Points
teharper428 07/24/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
The account I read was that

The account I read was that the professor's front door was jammed, so he went around and let himself in through the back door. The driver and Prof. Gates were able to get the front door open. The professor was in the house when the police officer came up onto the front porch saying he had a report of a possible break in. The professor at first didn't think he should have to prove he lived in the house but did go back to the kitchen to retrieve his ID. He did show it the officer and then kept asking for the officer's name and badge number. I think the professor was [filtered word] off about his door and the policeman's questioning his ownership of the house, couple that with the police officer in turn getting [filtered word] at the professor for his hounding for his identification. Both of them should have just chilled out, but you know how men are....(lol)

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 07/24/09 - 08:54 am
0
0
I don't care if the fascist

I don't care if the fascist Powers That Be remove this comment, you guys are incapable of empathy, impervious to reason, and ignorant of history. You also choose to get your "news" from totally biased networks and websites. Obviously, an exchange of ideas is beyond you. Um....I think Rush is calling. Best hustle on back to your transistor radio.

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