Monday, July 27, 2009

A Man's Home is His Castle

This is a Political Post

“I’m up with a gentleman, says he resides here, but was uncooperative, but keep the cars coming,” the sergeant said.

These are the words of Sgt. Crowley as recorded by the Cambridge police during his incident with Professor Gates, a controversy I tried my best not to write about because politics are really more my brother's bag than mine. But today a facebook friend of mine denied their was any racial profiling because the 911 call did not mention race. A black friend of mine. Time does change people.

When the white people are more upset at treatment towards you than you are, then I think you missed something.

At the point in the incident the officer spoke those words, I'm not sure if Prof. Gate had produced identification or not. But I do know that once the Professor had properly identified himself as the resident, and proved it was his house (as he did) the officer should have "switched modes" and gone from investigator/defender to public servant. If you don't know what that is, it's the point in the coversation where the "sirs" change hands, in the beginning you call the officer sir, at the end he should be calling you sir. In this case, that didn't happen. Shortly thereafter, the Harvard scholar was arrested for disorderly conduct, or as the supporters of the sargent say, the gentleman was being belligerent.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. - Harvard Scholar
Photo from Wall Street Journal

Only, you can't arrest someone for just being belligerent in Massachusetts. It doesnt' matter if the Gates went on a tirade and threatened at one point, "call the officer's mother". It doesnt' matter if Gates pulled the race card or not. In Cambridge, which is in Massachusetts, you can do that. It's called protected speech. In fact, the Massachusetts courts have made it clear that a person who berates an officer, even during an arrest, is not guilty of disorderly conduct.

So why was Gates arrested? What was the officer's rationale? The REAL question is whether the officer wants to be a racist or a abuser of power? I remember watching a video a long time ago where a person getting a ticket blessed out the police officer, and I marveled because the officer took it with a straight face, never taking it personally. But here, the officer suddenly felt there was an issue with a slight man who walked with a limp (I don't know if the cane was seen) to such a degree that he would ask that they "keep the cars coming"? Black or white in the original call at this point fades from the consciousness, as here the officer is on the scene and can see who his facing. In this case the officer, perhaps a little perturbed, arrested Prof. Gates in what was an obvious show of power.

Power. Respect.

The question of the day is: Was it a show of power over everyone, to respect the police? Or was is a show of power over this little nasty black fellow, to respect the police?

I dunno. But either case, it seems I'm gonna be siding with the little black fellow. Because he can be as nasty as he wanna be. That's what the law says. So the officer, was wrong.

Barkeep...I need something that will make me grit my teeth.


Chaotically Calm said...

So funny that I came to your page today...I wrote about this after trying not to for the first week or so. With that said I agree with you. If I take race out of the equation I still see the officer as wrong for the reasons you noted. Bottom line if Professor Gates proved he lived in the residence no one gets arrested, it's just that simple.

Do I think that Officer Crowley is racist (not sure) but I am sure he felt something under his collar because Gates wasn't showing him his "due respect."

mr. nichols said...

I'm working on a piece about this for my blog too, so I too was glad that I checked up on yours today. I definitely agree though. I think that many times, police want to make an example out of somebody and race does play a factor into that. I don't know exactly what went on in that house, but the point is, it was GATES' house. And I think the officer chose to arrest him in order to save face for being wrong and being scolded for being wrong.