Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cop Not Sorry in Arrest of Harvard's Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

From Fox News, "Officer Who Arrested Harvard Professor After Robbery Mix-Up Won't Apologize":

A white police sergeant accused of racism after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home insisted Wednesday he won't apologize for his treatment of the Harvard professor, but President Barack Obama said police had acted "stupidly."

Gates has demanded an apology from Sgt. James Crowley, who had responded to the home near Harvard University to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded the scholar show him identification. Police say the 58-year-old at first refused and then accused the officer of racism.

Gates said Crowley walked into his home without his permission and only arrested him as the professor followed him to the porch, repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number because he was unhappy over his treatment.
I wrote about the Gates case earlier. William Jacobson has a copy of the arrest report.

Also, John McWhorter, who is sympathetic to Gates, explains both Gates' problem during the altercation and, I think, the reasonable perceptions of cops working the inner-city streets:

One night at about one in the morning I was walking to a convenience store. I was in jeans, sneakers and a short-sleeved button-down shirt open over a T-shirt. I had a few days' worth of stubble. I crossed a two-lane street far from the traffic light or crosswalk, and when I saw a car coming at about 25 yards away I broke into a quick trot to get across before it got to where I was.

I hadn't realized that the car was a police car, and the officer quickly turned on the siren, made a screeching U-turn and pulled up to me on the other side of the street. The window rolled down, revealing a white man who would have been played by Danny Aiello if it had been a movie. "You always cross streets whenever you feel like it like that?" he sneered. "I'm sorry, officer," I said; "I wasn't thinking." "Even in front of a police car?" he growled threateningly. My stomach jumped, and I realized that at that moment, despite being a tenured professor at an elite university, to this man I was a black street thug, a "youth."

I simply cannot imagine him stopping like this if a white man of the same age in the same clothes with the same stubble had done the exact same thing; he was trawling through a neighborhood which, unfortunately, does sometimes harbor a certain amount of questionable behavior by young black men on that street at that time of night, and to him, the color of my skin rendered me a suspect.

I explained again as calmly as I could that I had meant no disrespect. I frankly suspect that the educated tone of my voice, so often an inconvenience in my life, was part of what made him pull off - "Not the type," he was probably thinking. But if I had answered in a black-inflected voice with the subtle mannerisms that distinguish one as "street," the encounter would quite possibly have gone on longer and maybe even gotten ugly. He pulled off, and left me shaken and violated.

This kind of thing - i.e. the larger "narrative" - is what informed Henry Louis Gates' response to the police questioning him for breaking into his own house. It's a real problem. There are things that would help us get past it, and training white officers in sensitivity is but one.
As I pointed out, in "Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and the Racial Cesspool at Harvard," my sense is that with Professor Gates' background and social circle, that kind "white sensitivity" is completely alien. "The Man" is always getting down on the black dude. But those dudes commit the most crimes, and profiling is perfectly legitimate as a crimefighting tool when the odds are that a certain demographic is prone to particular types of criminal activity. I frankly can understand the fears of people flying cross-continental airliners when they see Middle Eastern and Muslim passengers on board. Individuals from those groups have committed the most heinous crimes on Americans. Fear and worry when "profiling" people like that makes sense.

That may be politically incorrect. But take that away, and we're left with Henry Louis Gates' belligerence, which included the comeback, "I'll speak with your mama outside," when the policeman requested that Gates step outside.

See also, Ben Smith, "
Obama: Cambridge Police Acted 'Stupidly'." (Via Memeorandum.)

The President's a Harvard-trained radical, so that makes sense.

Photo Credit: Fox News.


The Counterfactualist said...

1. Why do you assume the police report is true? Police reports are always false and are inadmissible as evidence in court for that reason.

2. Drugs arrests are disproportionate by racial classification. But drug crimes are committed in proportion to percentage of the population.

3. Harvard Square is not a high crime area. The idea that an elderly professor with a cane "fits the profile" is ridiculous.

smitty1e said...

I think the point being missed here is that neither the POTUS nor HLG are assuming a conciliatory role in all this.
The concept of Matt 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." seems completely lost here.
The POTUS claims Christianity. Wikipedia lists nothing for Prof. Gates.
Leaven the lump with a little love.

Grizzly Mama said...

Police reports are not 'always' false. That's ridiculous - and in fact every police report that I've ever seen has been truthful and accurate.

The cop was trying to protect the guys residence - and he gets slapped in the face - shame on Gates for trying to play the race card.

Donald - off topic for this post. There is a guy who has a link to the HC Bill and is going through it page by page and putting it on his blog.

Go check it out! It's appalling.