Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Racism, under color of law.





It took less than a day for the arrest of Henry Louis Gates to become racial lore. When one of America's most prominent Black intellectuals winds up in handcuffs, it's not just another episode of profiling — it's a signpost on the nation's bumpy road to equality.

The news was parsed and Tweeted, rued and debated. This was, after all Henry "Skip" Gates: Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale. MacArthur "genius grant" recipient. Acclaimed historian, Harvard professor and PBS documentarian. One of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997. Holder of 50 honorary degrees.

If this man can be taken away by police officers from the porch of his own home, what does it say about the treatment that average blacks can expect in 2009?

Earl Graves Jr., CEO of the company that publishes Black Enterprise magazine, was once stopped by police during his train commute to work, dressed in a suit and tie.

"My case took place back in 1995, and here we are 14 years later dealing with the same madness," he said Tuesday. "Barack Obama being the president has meant absolutely nothing to white law enforcement officers. Zero. So I have zero confidence that (Gates' case) will lead to any change whatsoever."

The 58-year-old professor had returned from a trip to China last Thursday afternoon and found the front door of his Cambridge, Mass., home stuck shut. Gates entered the back door, forced open the front door with help from a car service driver, and was on the phone with the Harvard leasing company when a white police sergeant arrived.

Gates and the sergeant gave differing accounts of what happened next. But for many people, that doesn't matter.

They don't care that Gates was charged not with breaking and entering, but with disorderly conduct after repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number. It doesn't matter whether Gates was yelling, or accused Sgt. James Crowley of being racist, or that all charges were dropped Tuesday.

All they see is pure, naked racial profiling.

"Under any account ... all of it is totally uncalled for," said Graves.

"It never would have happened — imagine a white professor, a distinguished white professor at Harvard, walking around with a cane, going into his own house, being harassed or stopped by the police. It would never happen."

Racial profiling became a national issue in the 1990s, when highway police on major drug delivery routes were accused of stopping drivers simply for being black. Lawsuits were filed, studies were commissioned, data was analyzed. "It is wrong, and we will end it in America," President George W. Bush said in 2001.

Yet for every study that concluded police disproportionately stop, search and arrest minorities, another expert came to a different conclusion. "That's always going to be the case," Greg Ridgeway, who has a Ph.D in statistics and studies racial profiling for the RAND research group, said on Monday. "You're never going to be able to (statistically) prove racial profiling. ... There's always a plausible explanation."

Federal legislation to ban racial profiling has languished since being introduced in 2007 by a dozen Democratic senators, including then-Sen. Barack Obama.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., said that was partly because "when you look at statistics, and you're trying to prove the extent, the information comes back that there's not nearly as much (profiling) as we continue to experience."

But Davis has no doubt that profiling is real: He says he was stopped while driving in Chicago in 2007 for no reason other than the fact he is Black. I would dare say more Blacks are pulled over by police for DWB than for DWI. (DWB, driving while Black)(It was not DWI, driving while intoxicated.) Police gave him a ticket for swerving over the center line; a judge said the ticket didn't make sense and dismissed it.

“You can be arrested for breathing while Black (BWB)

"Trying to reach this balance of equity, equal treatment, equal protection under the law, equal understanding, equal opportunity, is something that we will always be confronted with. We may as well be prepared for it," he said.

Amid the indignation over Gates' case, a few people pointed out that he may have violated the cardinal rule of avoiding arrest: Do not antagonize the cops.

The police report said that Gates yelled at the officer, refused to calm down and behaved in a "tumultuous" manner. Gates said he simply asked for the officer's identification, followed him into his porch when the information was not forthcoming, and was arrested for no reason. But something about being asked to prove that you live in your own home clearly struck a nerve — both for Gates and his defenders. At common law, a man's home was his castle.

"You feel violated, embarrassed, not sure what is taking place, especially when you haven't done anything," said Graves of his own experience, when police made him face the wall and frisked him in Grand Central Station in New York City. "You feel shocked, then you realize what's happening, and then you feel it's a violation of everything you stand for."

And that this should happen to "Skip" Gates — the unblemished embodiment of President Obama's recent admonition to Black America not to search for handouts or favors, but to "seize our own future, each and every day" — shook many people to the core.

Wrote Lawrence Bobo, Gates' Harvard colleague, who picked his friend up from jail: "Ain't nothing post-racial about the United States of America."
(J. Washington, AP)

WHEN A WHITE WOMAN CALLS THE POLICE TO REPORT TWO BLACK MEN, WATCH OUT.
HERE WE GO AGAIN. (see Two Black Men Kidnapped Me and My Daughter, in this Blog)

Prosecutors dropped a disorderly conduct charge Tuesday 22 Jul against prominent Black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested after forcing his way into his own house in what he and other Blacks say was an outrageous but all-too-common example of how police treat them.

The city of Cambridge called the arrest "regrettable and unfortunate," and police and Gates agreed that dropping the charge was a just resolution — though not one that quelled the anger of one of America's top academics.

"I'm outraged," Gates said in extensive comments made to TheRoot.com, a Web site he oversees. "I can't believe that an individual policeman on the Cambridge police force would treat any African-American male this way, and I am astonished that this happened to me; and more importantly I'm astonished that it could happen to any citizen of the United States, no matter what their race.

"There are 1 million black men in the prison system, and on Thursday I became one of them," he said. "I would sooner have believed the sky was going to fall from the heavens than I would have believed this could happen to me. It shouldn't have happened to me, and it shouldn't happen to anyone."

Gates, 58, is director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and is a documentary host. He was arrested upon his return home from China, where he working on his latest film. He said he's now inspired to work on a documentary about racial profiling.

The city of Cambridge, a Boston suburb, released a statement saying the situation "should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department."

Gates had just arrived from the airport when he realized his front door was jammed and he couldn't get into the tidy house with yellow clapboard that he rents from Harvard. He asked his driver for help.

Supporters say Gates was immediately considered a suspect because officers were summoned by a white female caller who said she saw "two black males with backpacks on the porch," one of whom was "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry," according to a police report.

When the officers arrived, Gates was already inside and on the phone with the real estate company that manages the property. He had come in through the back door and shut off the alarm, he said.

Police said Gates was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded that Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.

Gates' lawyer, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, said his client showed his driver's license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He followed the officer onto the front porch as he left his house and was arrested there.

Gates told The Root that the police handcuffed him behind his back but moved the cuffs to the front when he told them he walked with a cane. He noted that at least one of the officers in the group outside his house was Black.

He spoke of a "terrifying and humiliating" experience at the Cambridge jail, where he was booked, fingerprinted, photographed and questioned, then locked up in a tiny cell that made him claustrophobic.

He said that he doesn't know the white woman who called police, Lucia Whalen, and that "she was probably doing the right thing."

Gates said he harbors more anger toward the officer who arrested "the first Black man" he saw and arrested him on a "trumped-up charge."

He said he wants an apology from the officer, Sgt. James Crowley. He also said he planned to talk to his legal team about the next step.

Other prominent Blacks called the confrontation a clear example of racial profiling.

"Under any account ... all of it is totally uncalled for," said Earl Graves Jr., CEO of the company that publishes Black Enterprise magazine.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was unsatisfied with the resolution.

"The charges have been dropped, but the stain remains. ... Humiliation remains," Jackson said. "These incidents are so much of a national pattern on race."

Gates joined the Harvard faculty in 1991 and holds one of 20 prestigious "university professors" positions at the school. He also was host of "African American Lives," a PBS show about the family histories of prominent U.S. Blacks. In 1997, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans.
(M. Trujillo, AP)

The Christian Science Monitor, noted for its balanced reporting, reported it thus:


Prosecutors in Cambridge, Mass., on Tuesday 22 Jul dropped disorderly conduct charges against Henry Louis Gates, a prominent professor at Harvard University and author of multiple books about the black experience in America.

But Mr. Gates' arrest on the front porch of his own home last week became a moment of national reflection, with Gates insisting that the incident was evidence of the persistence of racial profiling – even in one of America's most liberal cities.

Gates has told The Washington Post that he now intends to do a documentary on racial profiling – an idea that had "never crossed his mind" before now. The "criminal justice system is rotten," he said.

Gates was returning from filming a TV project called "Faces of America" in China last Thursday. According to the police report, police received a call that two men Black were trying to break into Gates's house. In fact, the two men were Gates and his driver, who were trying to open the front door, which was jammed.

Both sides have suggested that the other was argumentative. The police report says Gates eventually became verbally abusive, accusing the officer of suspecting him simply because he was Black. He was arrested soon after and placed in jail for four hours.

Cambridge police officials claim that the incident was an unfortunate escalation of wills. "I think what went wrong is that you had two human beings that were reacting ... and cooler heads did not prevail," said Cambridge police spokeswoman Kelly Downes. "It wasn't Professor Gates's best moment, and it was not the Cambridge Police Department's best moment."

Law enforcement analysts are inclined to agree, suggesting that the incident may have been only a "tempest in a teapot."

"The best motto for a police officer is that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me," says George Kirkham, a former police officer and now a professor of criminology at Florida State University. "People wind up venting, and you have to let them vent."

Moreover, police officers should be particularly aware of historical injustices suffered by African Americans, he adds: "Blacks have had experiences with bullhorns and dogs in the South, and those wounds go deep – they're more sensitive and we need to realize that."

Commentators have taken both sides. Garrard McClendon, a black Chicago talk show host, called Gates's cries of racism "weak." But David Bernstein of the legal blog, the Volokh Conspiracy, writes: "Yelling at a cop isn't a crime."

Twenty-three states, including Massachusetts, have enacted legislation banning racial profiling. But such practices – stopping suspects on the basis of what they look like – are still prevalent, some say. A recent study showed that 89 percent of traffic stops in New York City involved non-whites.

"We are a country founded on Jeffersonian ideals, and people don't like government in their lives," says Professor Kirkham. "[Police] need to be aware of that."

Black leaders continued to condemn the actions of a Cambridge police sergeant who handcuffed the African-American professor outside his own home Thursday. Gates extended an unusual offer to the officer: in exchange for an apology, personal tutoring sessions on the history of racism in America.

Gates, still angry five days after his arrest, broke his silence yesterday to chastise Cambridge police for his treatment, dispute their assertion that he had made inflammatory remarks during the encounter, and seized upon his brief incarceration as a teaching moment on race relations, not only for Cambridge, but for the nation.

“I believe the police officer should apologize to me for what he knows he did that was wrong,’’ Gates said in a phone interview from Martha’s Vineyard. “If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling.

“That’s what I do for a living,’’ he added.

Yesterday various parties took stock of last week’s run-in between Gates and police Sergeant James Crowley, who is white, and its meaning remained the subject of a vigorous debate.



Gates, 58, the director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, gave his version of the events that disrupted the calm around his home on Ware Street, a tree-lined block near Harvard Square.

“The police report is full of this man’s broad imagination,’’ Gates said. “I said, ‘Are you not giving me your name and badge number because I’m a black man in America?’ . . . He treated my request with scorn.’’

Gates also said he was suffering from a bronchial infection and was physically unable to yell.

Furthermore, Gates said that as a man who is “half white,’’ who was married to a white woman for more than two decades, and whose children are part white, “I don’t walk around calling white people racist. . . . Nobody knows me as some lunatic black nationalist who’s walking around beating up on white people. This is just not my profile.’’

As news of Gates’s arrest spread around the globe and fueled accusations of racism, authorities scrambled to smooth things over. Leone summoned Cambridge police and Gates’s attorneys to a meeting yesterday morning to hash out a resolution.

During the meeting, the police agreed to drop the charge of disorderly conduct, and the parties drew up a conciliatory statement in which they called the incident “regrettable.’’

“This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department,’’ the statement said.

Gates, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale, elevated Harvard’s African and African American studies department, and became one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on race, said he plans to use his arrest and his four hours in jail as a springboard: He may make a documentary on racial profiling.

Gates said he has gone out of his way in the past to avoid run-ins with police. When he first arrived at Harvard in 1991, he moved into a large house in the mostly white suburb of Lexington and promptly visited the police station to introduce himself.

“I wanted them to see my black face,’’ Gates said. “I would be driving home late from Harvard. I had a Mercedes. I didn’t want to be stopped for ‘driving while black.’ . . . I should have done that with the Cambridge Police Department.’’

Gates said he is concerned about the “unconscious attitudes’’ that police can hold.

“Because of the capricious whim of one disturbed person . . . I am now a black man with a prison record,’’ Gates said. “You can look at my mug shot on the Internet.’’

Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, said in a written statement that while she is gratified that the charges have been dropped, she remains “deeply troubled by the incident.’’

“Legacies of racial injustice remain an unfortunate and painful part of the American experience,’’ Faust said. “As President Obama has remarked, ours is an imperfect union, and while perfect justice may always elude us, we can and must do better.’’

Civic, religious, and civil rights leaders also said the case shows that more needs to be done to improve race relations.

“On one hand, there is a black man who is a millionaire who occupies the White House, and on the other hand, you have one of the most distinguished racial bridge-builders in the country, a scholar intellectual, being arrested,’’ said Rev. Eugene Rivers III, a black leader in Boston.

“The reality is that it doesn’t make a difference how distinguished or exceptional a black person thinks he or she is or may in fact be,’’ Rivers said. “You can be arrested for breathing while Black (BWB) in your own house.’’

Mayor E. Denise Simmons, the first Black woman mayor of Cambridge, said the incident has reminded the city that people need to be vigilant about their own behavior and biases.

“Certain things just should not happen, to anyone, whether it’s Professor Gates, a renowned national figure, or a public works person,’’ Simmons said.

Two months ago, Cambridge held a public forum on race and class at City Hall. It will hold another dialogue on the topic in October with Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“Let’s not focus on the Police Department,’’ she said. “It’s all of our problem.’’




(BELOW IS THE POLICE REPORT)
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CAMBRIDGE PolicE DEPARTMENT
CAMBRIDGE, MA
Incident Report #9005127
Report Entered: 07/16/2009 13:21:34
Case Title
Date[Tlme Reported
0711612009 12:44:00
Incident Type/Offense
1.) DISORDERLY CONDUCT c272 S53 —
Reporting Officer
CROWLEY, JAMES (467)
Persons
Location
WARE ST
Date/Time Occurred
to
Approving Officer
WILSON III,JOSEPH (213)
Role Name
WITNESS WHALEN, LUCIA
Sex Race Age DOB
40 H
Phone Address
C MA
Offenders
Status Name Sex Race Age DOB Phone Address
DEFENDANT GATES, HENRY MALE BLACK 58- — f H LLJ I $WARE ST
C CAMBRIDGE, MA
VehiCles
Property
Class Description Make Model Serial # Value
Narrative
On Thursday Ju 16, 2009, Henry Gates, Jr. !I , of Ware Street, 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 officer who was present investigating a report of a crime in progress. These actions
on the behalf of Gates served no legitimate purpose and caused citizens passing by this location to stop and take
notice while appearing surprised and alarmed.
On the above time and date, I was on uniformed duty in an unmarked police cruiser assigned to the
Administration Section, working from 7:00 AM-3:30 PM. At approximately 12:44 PM, I was operating my cruiser
on Harvard Street near Ware Street. At that time, I overheard an ECC broadcast for a possible break in
progress at Ware Street. Due to my proximity, I responded.
When I arrived at* Ware Street I radioed ECC and asked that they have the caller meet me at the front door to
this residence. I was told that the caller was already outside. As I was getting this information, I climbed the porch
stairs toward the front door. As I reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I turned and looked in
the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified as Lucia Whalen. Whalen, who was
standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand and told me that it was she
who called. She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the
porch of 0 Ware Street. She told me that her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the
men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry. Since I was the only police officer on
location and had my back to the front door as I spoke with her, I asked that she wait for other responding officers
while I investigated further.
Apt/Unit #
http ://pd-rmsIQED//policepartner/common/crimeweb/incview/main.j sp?agencyCAM-PD... 7/20/2009
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As I turned and faced the door, I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of Ware Street. I made
this observation through the glass paned front door. As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I
asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied “no I will not”. He then demanded to know
who I was. I told him that I was “Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police” and that I was “investigating a report of a
break in progress” at the residence. While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and
exdaimed “why, because I’m a black man in America?”. I then asked Gates if there was anyone else in the
residence. While yelling, he told me that it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police
officer. I assured Gates that I was responding to a citizen’s call to the Cambridge Police and that the caller
was outside as we spoke. Gates seemed to ignore me and picked up a cordless telephone and dialed an unknown
telephone number. As he did so, I radioed on channel 1 that I was off in the residence with someone who
appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative. I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end
of his telephone call to “get the chier and “whaf s the chief’s name?”. Gates was telling the person on the
other end of the call that he was dealing with a racist police officer in his home. Gates then turned to me and told
me that I had no idea who I was “messing” with and that I had not heard the last of it. While I was led to believe
that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he hibited toward
me. I asked Gates to provide me with photo identification so that I could verify that he resided at Ware
Street and so that I could radio my findings to ECC. Gates initially refused, demanding that I show him identification
but then did supply me with a Harvard University identification card. Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with
Harvard, I radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University Police.
With the Harvard University identification in hand, I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared
to leave. Gates again asked for my name which I began to provide. Gates began to yell over my spoken words
by accusing me of being a racist police officer and leveling threats that he wasn’t someone to mess with. At some
point during this exchange, I became aware that Off. Carlos Figueroa was standing behind me. When Gates asked
a third time for my name, I explained to him that I had provided it at his request two separate times. Gates
continued to yell at me. I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and that if he had any other questions
regarding the matter, I would speak with him outside of the residence.
As I began walking through the foyer toward the front door, I could hear Gates again demanding my name.
again told Gates that I would speak with him outside. My reason for wanting to leave the residence was that
Gates was yelling very loud and the acoustics of the kitchen and foyer were making it difficult for me to
transmit pertinent information to ECC or other responding units. His reply was “ya, I’ll speak with your mama
outside”. When I left the residence, I noted that there were several Cambridge and Harvard University police
officers assembled on the sidewalk in front of the residence. Additionally, the caller, Ms. Walen and at least seven
unidentified passers-by were looking in the direction of Gates, who had followed me outside of the residence.
As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued
to tell me that I had not heard the last of him. Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence
as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that
he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both
the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates’s outburst. For a second time I
warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case.
Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was
under arrest. I then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates. Gates
initially resisted my attempt to handcuff him, yelling that he was “disabled” and would fall without his cane. After the
handcuffs were properly applied, Gates complained that they were too tight. I ordered Off. Ivey, who was
among the responding officers, to handcuff Gates with his arms in front of him for his comfort while I secured
a cane for Gates from within the residence. I then asked Gates if he would like an officer to take possession of
his house key and secure his front door, which he left wide open. Gates told me that the door was un securable
due to a previous break attempt at the residence. Shortly thereafter, a Harvard University maintenance
person arrived on scene and appeared familiar with Gates. I asked Gates if he was comfortable with this
Harvard University maintenance person securing his residence. He told me that he was.
After a brief consultation with Sgt. Lashley and upon Gates’s request, he was transported to 125 6th. Street in
a police cruiser (Carl, Off’s Graham and Ivey) where he was booked and processed by Off. J. P. Crowley.
bttrv I/nd-rn, vJflPfl//nnl n tnr/n nn/nipu,ph/intvipw/rnin i cn?i aencvfl A M-PD 7flfl/W)flQ
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CAMBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT
CAMBRIDGE, MA
Incident Supplement #9005127 - 1
Report Entered: 07/16/2009 13:52:50
Not For Public Release
Case Title
DISORDERLY CONDUCY
Date/Time Reported
0711612009 12:44:00
Incident TypelOffense
1.) DISORDERLY CONDUCT c272 S53 —
Reporting Officer
FIGUEROA, CARLOS (509)
Persons
Sex Race Age DOB
Location
Date/Time Occurred
to
Approving Officer
WILSON III,JOSEPH (213)
WHALEN, LUCIA 40 H
C —: MA
Narrative
On July 16, 2009 at approximately 12:44 PM, I Officer Figueroa#509 responded to an ECC broadcast for a possible
break at Ware St. When I arrived, I stepped into the residence and Sgt. Crowley had already entered and was
speaking to a black male.
As I stepped in, I heard Sgt. Crowley ask for the gentleman’s information which he stated “NO I WILL NOT!”.
The gentleman was shouting out to the Sgt. that the Sgt.. was a racist and yelled that “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS
TO BLACK MEN IN AMERICA!” As the Sgt. was trying to calm the gentleman, the gentleman shouted “ You don’t
know who your messing with!”
I stepped out to gather the information from the reporting person, WHALEN, LUCIA. Ms. Whalen stated to me that
she saw a man wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open. As I returned to the residence,
a group of onlookers were now on scene. The Sgt., along with the gentleman, were now on the porch of
Ware St. and again he was shouting, now to the onlookers (about seven) ,“THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO LACK
MEN IN AMERICA”! The gentleman refused to listen to as to why the Cambridge Police were there.
While on the porch, the gentleman refused to be cooperative and continued shouting that the Sgt, is racist police
officer.
Basic Information
[ Agency
Incident #
Report #
Date
Report Status
CAM-PD
9005127
1
07/16/2009
12:44:00
COMPLETED
Je Title/Victim
In
cident Type/Offense
Date/Time Printed: Mon )ul 20 13:58:11 EDT 2009 By: pcarterw
Apt/Unit #
Role Name
Phone
Address
Offenders
Status
Name Sex Race Age DOB
Phone
Address
Vehicles
Property
Class
Description
Make Model
Serial #
Value
http://pd-rms/QED//policepartner/common/crimeweb/incview/main.jsp?agency=CAM-PD... 7/20/2009

The Cambridge police commissioner says his department is "deeply pained" by President Barack Obama's statement that his officers "acted stupidly" when they arrested a renowned Black scholar in his home.

In his first statement since the arrest, Commissioner Robert Haas commended the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley. Haas said Crowley's actions were in no way motivated by racism.

Crowley, who is white, has been criticized for arresting Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. last week. Police say Gates flew into a verbal rage when officers asked him for identification while investigating a report of a break-in.

On Wednesday 22 July, President Obama said officers "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates. On Thursday, he said cooler heads should have prevailed.

— The white police sergeant criticized by President Barack Obama for arresting Black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his Massachusetts home is a police academy expert on understanding racial profiling.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class about racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is Black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming said on Thursday 23 July.

The course, called "Racial Profiling," teaches about different cultures that officers could encounter in their community "and how you don't want to single people out because of their ethnic background or the culture they come from," Fleming said. The academy trains cadets for cities across the region.

President Obama has said the Cambridge officers "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates last week when they responded to his house after a white woman reported a suspected break-in.

Crowley, 42, has maintained he did nothing wrong and has refused to apologize, as Dr. Gates has demanded.

Crowley responded to Prof. Gates' home near Harvard University last week to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded Gates show him identification. Police say Gates at first refused, flew into a rage and accused the officer of racism.

Dr. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct. The charge was dropped.

Prof. Gates' supporters maintain his arrest was a case of racial profiling. Officers were called to the home by a white woman who said she saw "two Black males with backpacks" trying to break in the front door. Dr. Gates has said he arrived home from an overseas trip and the door was jammed.

President Obama was asked about the arrest of Gates, who is his friend, at the end of a nationally televised news conference on health care Wednesday night 23 July.

"I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry," Obama said. "No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3 — what I think we know separate and apart from this incident — is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that's just a fact."

"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.
"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president said. "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."
Although Obama has been vocal on past civil rights issues, he largely avoided race during the presidential campaign except for a singular speech he gave on the issue after his pastor was found to have made anti-American statements.
Some say the president was right to bring up this discussion in a primetime speech.

"Have some people wanted him to bring this up sooner?" asked civil rights activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton. "Of course, we have. But the timing had to be right. He had the courage to take a position at a time when he knows some people will disagree."

"No one wants to talk about race," said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and ABC News consultant. "He [Obama] does not inject race into the conversation regularly because it clears the room. There are designated times, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or when we have a large gathering of black folks, like at the NAACP recently, but that's about it."
In this case, he was asked a question directly, and he answered it honestly," she added.
"Obama is the president for all American not just black Americans," said Democratic political strategist and ABC News consultant Donna Brazile. "He has enough on his plate as commander in chief – two wars, an economy in the tank – that he should not necessarily become the healer in chief."

Sgt. Crowley made it clear he is not apologizing. He told Boston's WEEI Radio that he regrets putting the city and police department "in a position where they now have to defend something like this," but he stood behind his claim that he simply tried to resolve the situation.

"I just have nothing to apologize for," he said. "It will never happen."

In radio interviews Thursday morning, Crowley maintained he followed procedure.

"I support the president of the United States 110 percent. I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts as he himself stated before he made that comment," Crowley told WBZ-AM. "I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too."

Prof. Gates has said he was "outraged" by the arrest. He said the white officer 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.

"This isn't about me; this is about the vulnerability of Black men in America," Dr. Gates said.

He said the incident made him realize how vulnerable poor people and minorities are "to capricious forces like a rogue policeman, and this man clearly was a rogue policeman."

The President of the United States said federal officials need to continue working with local law enforcement "to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias."

Fellow officers, Black and white, say Crowley is well-liked and respected on the force. Crowley was a campus police officer at Brandeis University in July 1993 when he administered CPR trying to save the life of former Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis. Lewis, who was Black, collapsed and died during an off-season workout.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black, said he was troubled and upset over the incident. Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, who also is Black, has said she spoke with Dr. Gates and apologized on behalf of the city, and a statement from the city called the July 16 incident "regrettable and unfortunate."

The mayor refused Thursday to comment on President Obama's remarks.

On Thursday, the White House moderated President Obama's comments by saying The President was not calling the officer stupid. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said The President felt that "at a certain point the situation got far out of hand" at Dr. Gates' home last week.

Police supporters charge that Gates, director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, was responsible for his own arrest by overreacting. This sounds very much like the police officers who beat Rodney King in Los Angeles on a video shown around the world. Even at their second trial they testified that Rodney King was completely in control of the beating situation. They alleged that Rodney King was responsible because he would not obey the officers and lay down on the freeway. He just kept getting up on his knees, so they just kept on beating him. Rodney King, they alleged, could have stopped the ferocious beating at any time. All he had to do was obey the police.

Black students and professors at Harvard have complained for years about racial profiling by Cambridge and campus police. Harvard commissioned an independent committee last year to examine the university's race relations after campus police confronted a young Black man who was using tools to remove a bike lock. The man worked at Harvard and owned the bike.

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. says he is ready to move on from his arrest by a white police officer, hoping to use the encounter to improve fairness in the criminal justice system and saying "in the end, this is not about me at all."

After a phone call from President Barack Obama urging calm in the aftermath of his arrest last week, the Black professor said he would accept Obama's invitation to the White House for a beer with him and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley.

In a statement posted Friday on The Root, a Web site Gates oversees, the scholar said he told Obama he'd be happy to meet with Crowley, whom Gates had accused of racial profiling.

"I told the president that my principal regret was that all of the attention paid to his deeply supportive remarks during his press conference had distracted attention from his health care initiative," Gates said. "I am pleased that he, too, is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment, and if meeting Sgt. Crowley for a beer with the President will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige."

It was a marked change in tone. In the days following his arrest gathered up his legal team and said he was contemplating a lawsuit. He even vowed to make a documentary on his arrest to tie into a larger project about racial profiling.

In an e-mail to the Boston Globe late Friday 24 July, he said: "It is time for all of us to move on, and to assess what we can learn from this experience."

(7/29/2009-BOSTON)White Police Officer Calls Prof Henry Gates a jungle monkey.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis placed Police Officer Justin Barrett, 36, on administrative leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing.

"Commissioner Davis was made aware of a correspondence with racist remarks and removed the officer of his gun and badge."

The email describes Harvard Professor Doctor Henry Luis Gates, who was arrested and briefly detained earlier this month at Harvard, near Boston, as a "banana-eating jungle monkey" .

The city's mayor, Tom Menino, was quoted referring to Barrett as a "cancer in the department" and calling on him to be fired.

Gates became the center of a national debate on racism when he was charged with disorderly conduct after arguing with police sent to investigate a suspected burglary at his home near Harvard University.

President Barack Obama became embroiled in the uproar when he said police acted "stupidly."

But the email has reignited the controversy and dealt Boston's police a severe image blow just when they and the White House were hoping to calm tensions.

The email allegedly written by Barrett lambasts Gates for getting into an altercation with police.

"I am not a racist, but I am prejudice towards people who are stupid," reads the alleged diatribe -- containing frequent grammatical and spelling errors -- against Gates and local newspaper the Boston Globe.

"He has indeed transcended back to a bumbling jungle monkey."

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham supported Gates' actions, asking readers, "Would you stand for this kind of treatment, in your own home, by a police officer who by now clearly has no right to be there?"

In Barrett's e-mail, which was posted on a Boston television station's Web site, he declared that if he had "been the officer he verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC (oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray) deserving of his belligerent non-compliance."

Barrett used the "jungle monkey" phrase four times, three times referring to Gates and once referring to Abraham's writing as "jungle monkey gibberish."

He also declared that he was "not a racist but I am prejudice [sic] towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they say is freedom but it is merely attention because you do not get enough of it in your little fear-dwelling circle of on-the-bandwagon followers."

Barrett's comments were taken out of context, said his attorney, Peter Marano.

Officer Barrett did not call professor Gates a jungle monkey or malign him racially," Marano said. "He said his behavior was like that of one. It was a characterization of the actions of that man."

According to a statement from Boston police, Commissioner Edward Davis took action immediately on learning of Barrett's remarks, stripping the officer of his gun and badge.
I NEVER SAID HE WAS BLACK!
Lucia Whalen, the 911 Caller in the Prof Henry Louis Gates arrest case, said she thought one of the men might be Hispanic.
The woman whose 911 call set in motion the events that led to the arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates did not tell police during the call that the two men she saw forcing their way into a house were Black.
Her account of the incident, provided by her attorney, differs from a report written by the Police officer Crowley who arrested Gates. Officer Crowley's report said the witness told him at the scene the men were Black. The woman's lawyer denies that.

In a recording of the 911 call released Monday 28 July by police in Cambridge, Mass., Lucia Whalen said she could not see the men clearly. She said one man might be Hispanic.


According to the 911 call, Whalen wasn't sure a crime was taking place. She told a dispatcher she saw suitcases and didn't know whether the men lived in the house.

"I don't know what's happening," Whalen said. Several times during the 21/2-minute call, she said she made the call for an older woman who lives in the neighborhood and was worried when she saw two men trying to barge into the house.

Whalen, who works near Gates' home and was on her way to lunch when the incident occurred, spoke about it Monday through her lawyer, Wendy Murphy. According to Murphy, Whalen said officers did not interview her at the scene, she never said the men at the house were Black, and the only thing she told Crowley was that she was the 911 caller.

The release of the tape and a recording of subsequent police radio transmissions provided more details about the incident that has ignited a debate about race and racial profiling by police. The tapes do not explain how a routine call about a possible burglary led to Gates' arrest at home on a charge of disorderly conduct.

17 comments:

ichbinalj said...

rcmpglynn said: I studied race prejudice for 40 years. I know of no empirical findings that suggest it is not alive and well even as it has declined and adapted to changing conditions.

ichbinalj said...

jeelliott said: "Gates Gate" is an unfortunate diversion for many reasons, not the least of which is the ammunition it grants Black American academics to affirm that racism is alive and well, irrespective of empirical findings, even at the most empyrean reaches of the profession. The underlying problem is complex. Black Studies has staked its academic legitimacy on the advocacy of historically disadvantaged minority groups from the supremely advantaged position of academic privilege. This triggers the need for a common narrative of discrimination. Where that commonality does not exist, it must be coaxed into being through the staged politics of outrage. That is what has happened here.

Tara said...

If you ask me, Gates sounds like a fucking idiot with a mountain-sized chip on his shoulder.

Personally, i would have tasered the fucking asshole.

buildmax11 said...

CNN - What a waste of time making this out as a big story. This story really ticks me off and thats why I signed up for this FIXX site because I had to respond to this idiot who was not able to have a civilized conversation with the police officer that was there to help him.

I really don't like cops to much (mostly because of traffic tickets), but if they are coming to my house to make sure theives are not stealing my junk then I am thankful.

This guy obviously walks around with a chip on this shoulder...

As an example, If I am at the company picnic serving the food with Mr Gates in the buffet line. (I am in charge of passing out the fried and baked chicken) If I ask each person which they prefer ("fried or baked") I am sure Mr Gates would respond " Why did you ask me if I wanted fried chicken before you asked me about the baked, YOU ARE A RACIST"

Mr Gates, You have _ _ _ _ for brains.

nada said...

It isn't racism, it is culturalism with an unfortunate bias towards race. Ask anyone: who is more likely to go to prison: someone (black, white or other) raised in a culture of crime, brutality, thugism, gangs, pimps and hos or someone raised in a culture of ethics, responsibility and citizenship? Now ask yourself honestly: which culture do you think most black people fit into? Think there is a chance that most black people in prison belong there? Do all of them belong there? I am sorry for all the black people I know that have more courage, honor and integrity than I do and are dragged down by their culture. Where is Gates to confront his own culture? (I haven't read his books so if he does, I wouldn't actually know) But where are the other "leaders" like Jesse Jackson, Mayor Barry, and Al Sharpton. I think all black leaders do is sit around surfing the internet looking for a public cause to get their name in the paper. American racism sucks but as a friend from the Caribbean once told me: Self Pity will kill you quicker than anything else in life.

Scott said...

I agree that everything that occurred up to the verification of Prof. Gates ID was the police’s job. What occurred after was not racism, it was just plain old police harassment. It is still inexcusable, but it’s not racism.

I know of many people, including friends and family, who have been harassed by cops with attitude problems or authority complexes. It happens all the time, regardless of race. When I was a teenager, my friends and I were walking through a suburb neighborhood at night on our way home. The police got a call that kids were running around shooting paint balls at houses. A patrol car investigating the call stopped us, already they had the assumption we were the vandals even though we had no paint ball guns, or anything incriminating. One of the cops had an attitude and starting grilling my friend with questions, and my friend, being pissed off, was slightly sarcastic with the cop. Well, needless to say, just because my friend had “an attitude problem” the cop through cuffs on him and arrested him. He was let go the next day, charges were dropped but the family had to pay a fine to get him out.

Now, is that racism?

It can’t be, because my friend was white and so was the cop. No, it was not racism. It was a classic example of police harassment, and even though it may be wrong, everyone knows you don’t talk back to cops! Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble. But, as with many cases nowadays, if the same harassment happens to a black person, or African-American, it is called "racism".

The only reason Prof. Gates played the race-card is because he’s embarrassed that, a) one of his neighbors actually called the cops on him, and b) that he acted like a jerk and vented his frustration on a policeman who was, initially, just doing his job. If anything, the one thing in this case that could be debated to have the ugly mark of racism is the neighbor who made the call of a robbery. Personally, I think race did pay a factor in why that neighbor felt compelled to call the cops. However, Prof. Gates, for crying foul at the request to show his ID and for verbally attacking the officer, and the police officer, for not keeping his cool and bogusly arresting the Professor, BOTH of them are at fault.

Those who try to insinuate racism into the debate about the arrest of Prof. Gates by the Cambridge Police are shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire. This act of ‘crying wolf’ does not help us to progress as a society. Instead, it only holds us back, detracting from the serious importance of other issues in which race truly is a factor, it detracts from those issues which truly require all of our focus and attention.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ed said...

It's really too bad that GENUINE black intellectuals (not black pseudo-intellectuals and "pop professors" like that loudmouthed nincompoop Dyson) are busy doing real academic work and therefore don't have time for this stuff. It would be great if the black neuroscientists, physicists, philosophers, anthropologists, linguists and others would say what they think. But they are too busy teaching and in research. Gates is brilliant, to be sure, but the reality is that he is just another Sharpton, looking for every opportunity to "stick it to the white man," and trying to make a living just from being a black man. I'm African American, but I am ashamed of Gates. What good does all of his supposed smartness do if he can't let something like this roll off his back, and laugh at it. He made this trouble, not the police.

JohnRJ08 said...

The area where this incident happened is a fairly liberal, upscale area. I find it difficult to believe that this is a case of two racist, rogue cops harassing another black man here. It makes a lot more sense that Professor Gates was tired and cranky after his long trip, and he took it out on the police officers who had been sent to investigate a possible burglary. If a potential suspect, be they black or white, gets in the face of an officer, he's going to get arrested, no matter who he has proven himself to be. This is a case of an angry man who felt inconvenienced and put upon by officers who were just doing their job, so he decided to turn it into a racial incident in order to get at them.

K.I.B.V. Incorporated said...

I simply think Mr Gates is the biggot here. He did nothing but scream and holler to make the neighbour know that he had a problem with nobody in particular.

Maybe he was upset from his previous break in. Maybe he and Ms. Whalen should have had a cup of tea so they would know what each other looks like.

Maybe he is just some AHole who can't keep it to himself...

Scott's comment of harasment is wrong too. If someone said "Hey Scott I am here to investigate a call of a robbery at your house."

You start bouncing off the walls like some kook - anybody would get arrested for disorderly conduct.
The comments and underlying threats that are explained by two totally differing police departments as consistent in Mr. Gates yelling - he should be more surprised for having not been arrested for slanderous comments, or for threatening an officer of the law. I have seen white and black and just about anything else get arrested for idle threats and get jail time for comments like he mentioned to the officer.

Mr. Gates should learn his true value is teaching all of us what an idiot really looks like.

Claudette said...

I am a 60 year old white woman. The unarmed man, no matter what his color, was in his own home where there was no evidence of breaking and entering. This is supposed to be his sacred space. How can he ever feel safe again? He was charged based on "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space." This was not a public space. It was HIS private home. He had to ask for the Officer's name and badge number 4 times. We have a right to know the name of ANY officer any time. Why would he want to hide that info? This was a well dressed older gentleman. That profile should have indicated to the police that it was not some hoodlum, and they should have acted accordingly. Finally, after respectfully ascertaining that he lived their they should have apologized, but that they were simply acting on a call, at which point I'm sure that Mr. Gates would have said "Thank you, I know that you were just doing your job." That is not what happened, and that officer should not be allowed to continue until he is retrained appropriately. We do have rights. It is close to a police state, but it's not a police state yet.

Marcia said...

Everyday we read about domestic incidents where an estranged husband has done harm to the people in his own home. If the police are called by neighbors because they are concerned, the police have an OBLIGATION to investigate. Being screamed at and demanding the badge number of the officer does not sound like a reason for the officer to shirk his duty and ensure the safety of everyone.

j2y2k3 said...

I recently attended a graduation party, a black party. There were about 20 people, everyone over the age of 21.
At about 3 am, the cops came by, told everyone they were making noise and that they're had been a call. While the host was being arrested, her male friend came by to argue with the cop, apparently they had brought some backup and the boy had closed the door on one of the cops and his fo. The boy was arrested, had a bail of $300, and could be on the verge of spending 6 months in jail, for what the police are calling assault.
I have been to several frat parties in that area. I had never seen a cop shut down a frat party in that area, neither have I seen more than one police car at a party to come shut it down.

This my friends is why we scream racism, because if we don't the issue pushed aside as police officers doing their job. However, blacks have a history of receiving different from police officers.And the same way ppl are saying this is not racism, is the same way cops spraying fire hoses at kids in Alabama during the 60's was not racism.

ichbinalj said...

jabsApartimecop said: Ever since Obama became President, more racial issues have been in the media and in the forefront. People are expressing their views more now instead of hiding them and keeping them to themselves. Racism has become more blatant and in your face in the past few months. But referring to this particular case, I'm not going to get into the neighbor who called the cops when she saw two black men with backpacks because that's a whole other story, but once the Gates established his residency by showing his ID, that should have been it. The cop should have apologized for the inconvenience and kept it moving. According to the cop, he said that Gates kept mumbling under his breath and he escalated the events. My view is that, as a cop you are a public servant. You are going to have some very respectful citizens and others that are very disrespectful, but you keep your composure and deal with the situation in a professional manner. This cop probably thought "this uppity nigger thinks he's better than me because he has a few degrees, so I'll show him who the real boss is." I find it very hard to believe that the cop didn't know who he was, or even that the police department was not aware of his presence in their city. It is already a predominently white area, they know how many blacks are at a income level to be able to afford to live there. Gates has done so many documentaries, spoken at Harvard, done research for the Oprah show, etc. He is basically a celebrity. You can't tell me they don't know who Denzel Washington is or that the cops in his town don't know where his house is. They know who he was. It's a shame that this is going on still, especially at a time when we have our first black President. For so long they have been trying to hold black people back with inferior living standards, double standards, poor eduation and yet we still prevailed. Here you have a black boy who came from the bottom, despite all the odds against him, did everything they told him to do (and excelled at it), and made it to the nation's highest office. That in itself is a great achievement, but it's not enough. There were no expectations for Bush. He was a C student and ran the nation's government and economy into the ground. The bar is set so high for Obama, yet he still manages to impress. They want things to happen overnight, but any great upheaval, or change in policies, takes time. I believe that all of these racial instances in the media are just distractions to keep us occupied and worried about trivial things. There has always been racism, and there will always be racism. We, as black people, need to rise above all of the distractions and continue to excel by using the rules that are given to us to our advantage. Black college enrollment is at an all-time high since Obama won. The momentum can't be stopped.

ichbinalj said...

Gates failed to cooperate as a black man should, as Sidney Poitier’s character did when he was arrested in The Heat of the Night, showing respect and deference. If this hadn’t been the most pre-eminent scholar of African-American Studies in the country, we never would have known about this incident—but that was partly Gates’s point. Absent his notoriety, a middle-aged black man would have been taken from his own home for no other offense than claiming his right to be where he was—and saying so in a tone to which tone Crowley took offense. No law was broken. But a cop took umbrage. Yet we’re more inclined, even eager, to believe the word of a unknown cop than that of a respected professor.

ichbinalj said...

Well, well, well … another “racial incident”. The uproar over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates (Black) by Sgt. James Crowley (white) for disorderly conduct after a heated argument about whether Gates had broken into his own house in Cambridge, Mass. Incidents like this should be an excuse to have a nuanced discussion about race in America. It's an excellent opportunity for people to hear about why Black men feel so threatened by police. Here is just a taste of the famous incidents that have seared a distrust of the police into African-Americans, for better or for worse. Let's start with the use of high-pressure water hoses and dogs on children in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, and continue through the high-profile murders of Black folks, such as Emmett Till, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Medgar Evers, to name a few, by people who were not convicted but who confessed to the crime in Life magazine. Maybe it could mention that of the 240 postconviction DNA exonerations in the U.S., 142 have been of African-Americans. And though it may be controversial, perhaps throw in the exoneration of four white officers in Los Angeles for the beating of Rodney King in 1992. And after two trials the police still insisted that Rodney King was in control of the situation; and, that he could have stopped the beating, if only he had obeyed the police and laid down on the pavement instead of getting up on his knees.

ichbinalj said...

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Black friend of Prof Henry Louis Gates' who had called the arrest "every Black man's nightmare," said Monday that he won't apologize for his remarks. A multiracial group of police officers supporting Crowley has demanded an apology.