July 24th, 2009
10:33 PM ET

The Henry Louis Gates teaching moment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/07/21/massachusetts.harvard.professor.arrested/art.gates.demotix.jpg caption="Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct."]
Boyce Watkins
Professor, Syracuse Univeristy

I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are infected with a disease. The disease that has infected you is called racism. The disease is a silent killer, not of our bodies, but of our society. It also deteriorates the brain and makes us delusional, as we sometimes see things that are not really there or refuse to see things that are actually right in front of us. What’s worse is that we know the disease is in the fabric of our institutions, but it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location. This leads to sloppy missteps, embarrassments and damaging accusations.

Henry Louis Gates, the Prominent Harvard University Professor who was arrested this week at his home by Cambridge Police Officer James Crawley, may have been a victim of the disease of racism. Even he has gotten to the point of stating that this story is no longer about race and his buddy, President Obama, has been back-peddling faster than a free safety in the NFL. In the midst of letting go of his allegations of racism against Sgt. Crawley (which I thought was a very good idea) Professor Gates has stated that we should use this situation as a “teaching moment.” It is also my hope that Dr. Gates understands that the first step toward being a good professor is to learn how to be a good student. As a professor myself, I am hopeful that he will allow me to teach the first class.

When I was first exposed to the case of Professor Henry Louis Gates vs. Sgt. James Crawley, I did not see a white officer arresting an innocent Black man. I didn’t know enough at the time to make that assertion. I also didn’t see an enraged Black man being detained by a pure and pristine police officer. Let’s be clear: police departments across America have a long way to go before they have the credibility that they would like to have and they can only blame themselves for this problem. Hundreds of years of falsely incarcerating and murdering Black men doesn’t exactly help your reputation. My father was in law enforcement for 25 years, so I had a chance to see the good, the bad and the dirty when it comes to police work. I learned that cops can be tempted to abuse their power, but that there are many good cops who are attacked by misleading and hurtful allegations.

Crawley and Gates were stuck in the middle of long standing war that was much bigger than the both of them. It is also quite plausible that the war was not bigger than their egos, which led to each side taking to the national airwaves to swear that they were right and the other party “acted stupidly.” After a great deal of back and forth that went as high as the White House, we’ve finally got what our nation needs: two men who realize that we need to resolve this situation by engaging in constructive dialog and moving our nation forward.

Let’s be honest: Professor Gates was wrong from the very beginning to claim that he could read the mind of the officer who arrested him. Rather, he would have been well-served to deal with the potential injustice itself, since most of us can understand the frustration of being arrested inside your own home. Yes, Gates was technically on the porch when the arrest took place, but it is a well-known tactic for police officers to lure the “suspect” outside before arresting them for disorderly conduct.

Secondly, Dr. Gates can learn a lesson about how to deal with the police. Even if an officer is abusing his authority, you do NOT deal with the situation at that moment. Instead, you deal with it at a later date. Sure, Professor Gates can argue that he wasn’t able to get the name and badge number of the officer in order to report him, but I imagine that the powerful professor has the contacts to get that information later.
Finally, given that Professor Gates was accused of telling the officer that he “doesn’t know who he’s messing with,” the truth is that Gates may not have known who he was “messing with” either. He was not “messing with” a rogue cop with a dirty past. He was dealing with a respected official with a stellar record who’d been chosen to teach classes on how to avoid racial profiling. I am sure he would not have been chosen for these courses had he been regularly accused of such abuses in the past.

Now that our “teaching moment” is over, Gates and Crawley can go have a beer with the president. For the rest of us, it’s time to start seriously addressing the real problem of racial profiling in America. I guarantee you this much: the problem doesn’t start at Harvard.

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Rick

    You can see gates running his mouth in the picture. Gates is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Hes friends with Obama, so he thinks hes above the law and everyone else.Hes a idiot.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:10 pm |
  2. getoverit

    Get over the race factor. Move above it and talk about the people, the issues, not their color. That is when we will end the topic of race

    Issue is:

    1. Gates was in his home, this also happened to me and I am so , so very white. people, never step outside of your home. Stay inside and answer only what you feel is ok to answer. We all act in a different manner when in a situation like this, I don't want any innocent person to ever be in this situation like I was. Professor, you, got off easy, compared to me and my issue was even more inncocent and boring than his. they thought he was breaking in, as he was forcing himself into a home in an intown area, and all cities, regardless of uptown, downtown have high crime, so from a distance, it probably looked like a break in to the neighbor, regardless of color, as intown urban areas have lots of crime, but, let's face it, unless the professor just moved in, the neighbor is used to living in a neighborhood of many races, so I think the neighbor was more worried about a break in, than the color.

    The ofifcer should never have asked the Professor to step outside once he saw the id, that was not a good use of time, but I think it was an abuse, power trip more than race. I am white and had an African American officer arrest me from my own home because of a complaint about where I parked my car,( I parked on my own property, but have nosey neighbors that want to control parking, my officer should have been able to tell a threat from a mere stupid complaint about where I parked., such poor training, that is the issue, I offered to show my deed, title, as the street parking was closed due to construction, but the officer had an attitude from the minute he knocked on my door. He demanded I talk, and I was so shocked about, hey why are you here, that as sodon as I aske him why he was at my door, he said I can arrest you. Meanwhile he never read me my rights, slapped on the cuffs, pushed me around, meanwhile I live in an intown area, where 2 miles away as he drove me to the booking center, he passed about 100,. I counted drunks, druggies, etc, and he passed them while he took a very white, upper middle class, ( but not famous me ) to the slammer. I was his prize of the month and he was so, oh, focused on booking me while( I read the next day how many felonies were going on while he wasted tax dollars and time when his unit is down about 500 police officers to the budget number, so he booked me, a person with ZERO RECORD WHILE THE ILLEGALS AND DRUGGIES, DRUNKS, MURDERERS HAD A FREE RIDE, so don't talk about race, wierd stares, and this junk, the issue is abuse of power and rogue people that should not be an officer and the fact that this country wastes too much money in Iraq versus solving our crime and using our money to fix our problems, so the police are overworked and underpaid and they flip out when they are asked a question, like all I asked was, why can I not park on my own property and why don't you read my deed, this is my property ? I suffered such abuse and will never forget this until the day I die,. and I had to spend my hard earned money to solve this problem , defend my own property that I pay taxes on, and should be my castle, when Gates got off because of who he is and I did not have the Pres on my side, so Obama, I want my 36 hours back and my money and my deserved respect back from the abuse I suffered, and I am so very, very lily white, so stop people with the race, it is CALLED POLICE ABUSE AND COVERUP

    Never step outside your home and scream loudly for better pay and training for the police and spend money on kicking illegals out of this country, not those of us born here and paying high property taxes
    Call an attorney at once and never go outside unless they have a warrant and don't let themin without a warrant, know your rights
    You are not safe, the illegals are here with more right s than either i had or Professor Gates and that should be the issue, not race, but the right sof those that are here legally. Why should I, an innocent person be arrested in my own home without rights being read, withotu a warrant, and without any well thought out plan, for no reason and less than 1 mile from my home, you have 100 illegal people drinking, stumbling, harrassing people in broad daylight/

    This is a crime, we have lost our rights, regardless of color

    I never got an apology, I never got my money back, but I did prove I was innocent, at a very high cost, so sorry, Professor Gates, you are getting lots of press and hugs, so do the right thing and take on the cause I suggested above, not to dwell in the past and allow race issues to fester, step up and say, don't abuse power to anyone, especially those in their own home with ID

    July 24, 2009 at 8:10 pm |
  3. S. Powell

    Obama must remember that when he is talking to the media he can not use Harvard language.

    For example he stated that the police acted "stupidily" which mean "done without reason." This is true, they did.

    There should be a review of the police contact on all Universities comparing the arrest by type of incident between black and white students.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm |
  4. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    Thank you Professor Watkins! There is the good, the bad, and the ugly and I believe we may have seen it all in this nasty situation. I know I have learned a lot from it. I hope everyone has. Hopfully we can all move forward at this point and finally be able to say we've come a long way, baby! A united front, not a divided front, please!

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    July 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  5. Adrian Cornist

    Look both were out of line. The Professor should have communicated calmly. The officer had no right under Mass. law to arrest him at his house. It's not against the law to scream, yell, or talk very badly to a any person including a Police officer as long as you are not threating violence, harm or causing a public nussiance.

    Look at the report, he asked the Professor to step out to talk with him because of the acoustics in your house. That was a set up to get him out the house. But even then he is still on his property and still can voice his opinion.

    What the Officer did is use the power of his badge to retaliate against the Professor for hurting heelings, or embarassing him and to get him to be quite.

    You guys need to watch CNN Wolf Blitzer, when he had a law professor and the Internal Assoc. Of Law Enforcement and they discussed the law in this case.

    Example: If call you out of your name, yelled, screamed, talked about your mother or told you were a racist and your reaction would be one or two things, 1) walk away, or 2) hit that person to get him to be quiet or hurt him back.

    Of course all law enforcement are going to back up his actions, thats what they do weather right or wrong sometimes. In this case the Officer was wrong. The Prosecutor said that when he dropped the case. He said "this was'nt a arrestable offence.

    Now look what has happened, the Professor is in the system with pictures, finger prints and a charge weather drop or not.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  6. JIM S

    I read the police report and Henry Louis Gates was wrong in his actions. This is typical of what I hear when it comes to law enforcement and the black community. They always claim the officer is a racist. I believe they do this to file a lawsuit against the agency for money. The black community should know by now that racism is almost non existent. The black coommunity even has tried to get reparations for slavery from white decendants. Give me a break. They decendants had nothing to do with slavery. They should be happy that affirmative action was passed in the 1960's. Many blacks got jobs where others were better qualified. Now that is discrimination!!!!!

    July 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  7. Jo Ann, Ohio

    @Betty, When I heard Obama try and back away from his remarks this morning I was reminded of the numerous times he backed away from the words of Reverend Wright. When are the American people going to see Obama for what he really is?

    July 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm |
  8. Jo Ann, Ohio

    @Annie Kate, I disagree. A phony charge of racism is as dangerous as racial profiling and should be punished just as severly.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm |
  9. Daniel

    While I applaud the reason and common sense exemplified in Professor Watkin's commentary, my preception is that when a dialogue on race is suggested, the foundational elements for the discussion a priori will be how whites are and contiue to be racists, and how whites continue to discriminate against blacks. Be honest, and answer this question: When was the last time, if ever, you saw a violent crime committed by a black person against a white person labeled as racist? Did you know that blacks are 8 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white person than the reverse? In my city, we had a situation where a group of 10-12 young balck males were violently robbing and mugging elderly whites. Yes, all the victims were white and all the perps were black. This crime was not labeled as racist nor was it reported in the national news. Can you imagine the national coverage and "dialogue" that would have resulted if it had been a group of white youths attacking elderly blacks? And yet, a black college professor is arrested by a white police officer, and it becomes national news and a national discussion, even drawing in the President of the US. My point is that if we are to have an honest dialogue about race in this nation, it needs to be be a true dialogue, not just a litany of accustions and defensive responses.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm |
  10. david winters

    So now we find out that Obama DID listen to those Rev Wright sermons!!!

    July 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm |
  11. Jo Ann, Ohio

    It is a teaching moment alright. It taught the non-black community that blacks will use the race card against you whenever it is convenient and that Obama is not a president that "transcends race," but one who will always govern through the eyes of a black man.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm |
  12. ken

    i knew they wouldnt post my last comment. why are we assuming that the police is truthful and gates is lying , racisim all in its self!

    July 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  13. ken

    read the police report!!!!! wrong is wrong and right is right! period!

    July 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  14. Kristen

    I figure this. If the officer was so justified in his arrest and he stands by it, why are the charges dropped?

    July 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  15. Betty

    Rev. Jeremiah Wright, he is a good teacher. I remmebered him when I hear our President talking about the "stupid acts" of the police.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:24 pm |
  16. frantz in NYC

    Darrell I believe that only Professor Gates and Officer Crawley know what really happened. People usually don't act the right way when they are in confronting situation. A police officer wears a badge with the # and name clearly printed. This is easy for us to think about it now. At the time could it be that Professor Gates was to upset to realize that? There is possibility that Professor Gates might have went outside trying to get the information that he needed. Both of them could have avoid the situation but I still think that as an Officer, Crawley should have known better than the professor. Officer Crawley was upset because he was called a racist. What would he do if someone try to spit on him just because he was walking in neigborhood that she thought he was not supposed to be in? One love!!

    July 24, 2009 at 7:23 pm |
  17. Don

    Well said sir. Racism exists on both sides. We can be aware that there is sensitive history, but we do not need to relive it in every new situation forever. Professor Gates sounds like a gentleman who spends a lot of time contemplating race relations. Not that it's not a commendable course of study, indeed a necessary one for us all, but perhaps he's a little too close to the situation. Not having been there myself I cannot say, but it seems like he jumped to the conclusion that he was being victimized so fast that his logic centers shut down and he went into rant mode. It also seems that he had a sense of entitlement, expecting the police to know of his academic reputation and thinking for some reason that he could treat this officer like a subordinate. The bottom line in the world is this: no matter who you are, black/white, educated/not, rich/poor, if a police officer comes to your door for any reason, and even if he is mistaken, AND even if his behavior does not meet your personal standards for "public servants", YOU DO NOT RAISE YOUR VOICE OR LECTURE THEM. Dont tell them you know your rights or that your taxes pay their salaries. THAT is just stupid. Remember they operate on the principle that when people react to them in a crazy way, it means they are probably hiding something criminal. Anyone can see that they need to have a 'sense' in a situation or else their lives would be at risk every day. When they sense you are having a meltdown for reasons that are not apparent, they will be suspicious of you. You may tell yourself that they work for you, and you may resent feeling that they see you as a potential criminal instead of a citizen they are protecting, but NEVER EVER EVER do you get mouthy with an on-duty police officer. If you want to know his badge number and he wont tell you, don't fret: it will be on the police report which will be available to you at a date in the very near future.
    I think a more subtle part of this goes beyond race: I think there's also a fear of police in America (and everywhere probably) not only because they can and sometimes do abuse their power, but because 95% of the time they will stand by one another unconditionally. So you can get the fear that they are going to abuse you and then get away with it because their colleagues will cover for them. When you combine that with the fear minorities have of the police because they feel profiled, you get situations like this where smart people who know better people cry racism before they have a chance to think.
    The President, though I love him and support him is guilty of this too. He should not have commented at all. (Same for Gov. Patrick) That's the reciprocal action to the police solidarity, where african americans unconditionally tend to favor the notion that police in a contentious situation crossed the line. We live in a thick stew of paranoia, people... These officers are people too, and a mix of all races. It's not just about race. These issues will always pervade a society of more than one person.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  18. Tim Gibson

    Let's face it, racism is not a simple matter, nor is it one that is one sided. Racism knows no color.

    Yet, I cannot feel in my heart that this issue has anything to do with race, other than when Mr. Gates turned it into a boy cried wolf story of racial abuse by the hands of law enforcement.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  19. Larry

    No white police officer should ever have anything to do with african americans; its just asking for trouble.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  20. Otis Moore

    I think white Americans think we are stupid every leader I have known that supports minorities have been mistreated or murdered enough is enough I know many soldiers such as myself who has been harrassed by the police and you act like it doesn't exist. I'm sorry it does.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  21. Chris

    Dr. Watkins... thank you for your enlightening and thoughtfully written article. Too bad the rest of the nation couldn't be as in tuned as you.... and too bad, there aren't more professors like you.

    Well written and excellent ending!

    @ Fred R. Andree... you are a prime example of stereotyping. Not all blacks have chip on their shoulder, just as not all whites think of themselves as supreme, not all latin people jump the boarder, not all asians do laundry, etc., etc. BUT, I believe that you believe that it is true. Shame on you for even suggesting that... perhaps you need to reread the article.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  22. Deborah

    Is the first amendment (non threatening speech) no longer applicable within your home?
    Did President Obama say the behaviour of the officers was "stupid" relative to race or rather unjustified despite race as Dr. Gates proved he was the home owner?
    If we are post-racial now, why has the media/society turned Mr. Obama's assessment racial? Wouldn't Mr. Obama have also called the arrest "stupid" if everyone involved were purple?
    Was Dr. Gates arrested because he threatened the officer(s)?
    Why would the officer not give the requested badge #/supervisor information?

    July 24, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  23. Allan Nkoba Boston MA

    Racism still prevails in America. Its rather disturbing that the police does fall in this category. black men are always categorized as always carrying guns, alcohol and drugs. Mark my words I have been pulled over by various Officers and The first thing they always ask " do you have any fire arms, drugs or alcohol in the car," and then they always proceed to ask for my license and registration. I do believe speech is silver and silence is golden and i have gotten out of such situations by keeping quiet and just following the officers requests.
    Its a disturbing reality being a black man but oh well my taxes pay their salaries.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  24. Annie Kate

    I think this whole affair was much ado about nothing. The police officer tried to do his job by the book. The professor was irritated and acted poorly and not in a way you would expect a professional Harvard professor to act. If the next four years are going to be about racism in every story that is reported with Obama's commentary on each and every one, then nothing will get done on our economic and jobs problems much less on health care. Can we move on from this story now?

    July 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  25. Alish

    I was ready to retweet and facebook this "teaching moment"... NOT!!Sorry,, you are so off base AND biased in this article.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  26. dina

    There is so much microscopic hyperbole going on right now that we are missing the essential element. "If you walk into my home, I demand to know who YOU are before you question who I am". The other lesson here is "I can get as upset as I want to do, as long as you do your job and I don't put my hands on you, LEGALLY" Both parties were wrong! I don't need CNN reposting dissertations on race right now. I don't think this situation begets that. The STUPID (using the Presidents original words) officer should have just showed his credentials. It was STUPID, STUPID, STUPID of him not to do so. STUPID. VERY STUPID.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  27. charmichael

    Read the police report.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  28. terryh

    More and more, these 'teachable moments ' consist of black folks getting offended at some perceived racist attitude or behavior which has been whipped up in the media, whether it existed in fact or not, and then the rest of us white folks have to shut up and listen, looking all downcast and repentant, while the black community gets all up in arms and shakes their collective fingers at us, remonstrating at how evil we who are lightly complected all are. Al Sharpton drags out those old tired tits and stands on the steps of some church or courthouse or warehouse or wherever media vampires gather waiting for the cameras, and whips the faithful into a further frenzy.
    Well, Old Al is not Doctor King. He divides, doesn't unite. There is no dialogue here just , proselytizing and posturing.
    This is reverse racism and I'm tired of it.

    The cop is being victimized for doing his job. CNN's own reporters interviewed the neighbors who attested that Gates was ranting and abusive, and played the ' do you know who I am? 'role. Why is it that CNN's own bloggers fail to mention this? This is the very definition of 'Disorderly Conduct', and the poor , downtrodden, victim of societal racism, friend of the President should STILL be in jail, if only for this kind of classist, AND racist attitude. He does a disservice to the rest of the black community who still have to deal with racism on a daily basis.
    and of course, the other side of the coin: If the cops hadn't shown up in the case of a REAL burglary, then they would be victimizing the poor professor by not providing adequate police service.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  29. Steve Danser

    Prof Gates was breaking into his home. Officer Crawley approached and claimed he was investigating a breakin. That was the defining moment. Had the officer explained he was responding to a 911 call Prof Gates would have reacted in an entirely different manner. Prof Gates had every right to believe the officer had simply seen him from the street and responded to what he saw. Of course, Prof Gates assumed he was targeted because of his race and he had every right to be loud and abusive.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  30. wouldchuk

    The Gates arrest was more personality style clash than race. But we see race, so it is too easy to jump to conclusions. The DISC style analysis comes from the book Emotions Of Normal People, by Dr. William Marston. D-I-S-C Gates is a “D” Dominant style, officer an “I” Interactive style, Gates the natural “commander” the officer the natural “comedian.” In the Myers-Briggs system, Gates is ENTJ, officer ESFJ, Gates and officer naturally clash on the ENT – ESF qualities. Gates is most like a general at the Pentagon, officer most like a commander of a military base. Gates’ style is a “task-oriented” style, serious and demanding, officer is more social, a “people-oriented” style, like a coach on the sideline. Gates’ is a Vin Diesel “type” where the officer is a “Bill Cosby” type. Both are equally “extroverted” and thus very verbally powerful. Both were in a situation where “flash-point” Gates’ the king of his castle was challenged by officer’s authority being exercised “flash-point” in front of two other officers! VERY ironically, both men, are “experts” in the same field of “racial” issues in their respective professions. A greater “coincidence” rarely happens. The nation can now spin into a fury about race, or come to a higher realization that this kind of personality clash happens all the time, in organizations every where, every day–we see race, but “feel” personality style differences. From this thing, we ought to learn how to have greater respect for one another rather than contempt. The best outcome would be if Gates and the officer could reconcile the “real” differences based on what both men truly believe AND TEACH AND PREACH in their professional lives, shake hands, laugh and be filmed swapping ideas over a beer down at the neighborhood watering hole.
    Make sense? 7/24/2009 05:46am More convo, 214-796-3197

    July 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  31. mike

    Please allow me one more comment.

    I believe the problem is not pointing out someone's fault or even addressing problems in the country, but pointing them out like someone who does not share in it or has experienced it. In other words, someone who speaks about perfect things as if they themselves are perfect. America is just as passionate about Capitalism as much as the Muslims are about their hatred for the Jews and Americans alike. Even though Capitalism breeds greed and selfishness, Americans will not acknowledge there may be some things wrong in how they exercise Capitalism. But are really quick to slam other countries for doing things they do not understand or agree with.This is a solid case of that arrogance put in force. George Bush demonstrated it as well did his cronies. This is not new news.

    Pride goes before a fall.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  32. Bob

    If each of these men had shown the other some respect and courtesy, instead of making demands of each other, this incident would never have happened.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  33. kevin harper

    Growup, professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sounds like he had a long day, and was not in the mood to deal with the police, and the police were still working on info that was misleading. I have had the same thing almost (except I'm white) happen to me, and I quite yelling at the officer when I realized he was doing he's job and than gave him the right information, at that time he thanked me and left. This is not a race issue and niether of these man are mind readers, they're human. President Obama is a friend of Henry and he showed me he is also human. Pick you battles, and thank you for the lesson, " were more the same than different and these things happen to black, white, brown... What I do not want to happen from this is the police do not showup and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. or some other person is hurt.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  34. mike

    The officer arrested him, SandraWI, because of American pride. Like the anonymous police officer said, "The arrest of Professor Gates is what we in law enforcement call an “attitude arrest”, meaning that if it was not for his attitude, he would have been let go...". This arrogance is not a personal matter, but a national matter. The attitude this officer displayed is a clear example of the attitude of Americans in general...."how dare you oppose me" type of attitude.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  35. mike

    Let me put forth another fact: Where you find Capitalism, you also find greed and selfishness. Friend, there are many things wrong in America. And the country needs to address each one as they surface, not hurl the same regurgitated accusations. Americans need to do some serious self-examination. For, I believe, it will be these attitudes that bring America down to her knees. But the brunt of all this falls squarely on the US's leaders and those in authority of years past. They have arranged the laws of the land to protect the wealthy, but deliver the laws in such a way as to fool the masses that the laws are for them.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  36. Fred R. Andree

    The only racism I see here is from an angry black man directed at a group of the police officers just doing their jobs.
    Blacks in this country need to take a good look in the mirror and they will see a big chip on their shoulders. Time to let it go. Whites are tired of hearing the race card played all the time.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  37. frantz in NYC

    Dear Professor Watkins,
    I wish everyone could have talked about racism the way you did. The disease that you mentioned is very hard to cure, it infected our hearts. Why can we deal with everyone as we would like them to deal with us? Is that so difficult?

    July 24, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  38. Big Dog

    the real racist is the professor - what you have to be white to be a racist - lately I have seen more racist comments from blacks , mexicans etc--it is not the color of skin but what is inside that makes you a racist-–if I was that police offier I would have maced him thrown him in the car and locked him up-–I am glad when I call and the police respond-–again the racist here is the professor--and OBAMA

    P.S. I am a minority-

    July 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  39. Vince

    Moving apart from the incident in itself and for the moment acting as an observer to the actual discussions on racial profiling as a national issue, it appaers that the public discussions on the subject are imbalanced in that one group is engaging in the discussions in relating their experiences; while "'it takes two to tango"as it said. What about the experiences of the other groups on whether they think that they are being pre-judged for racial profiling or whether they have had experiences where they witnessed such an act and considers the matter to be a national issue as well? Or is it then onesided?
    It is only fair to say that progress can only be made if all the people groups who are engaged one way or the other in those situtaions; can honestly and openingly admit their shortcomings. Perhaps this is the time to start and this incident is just can opportunity to begin the conversation.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  40. Martina Ilstad Germany

    @Donnie Edwards i agree with you,how can President Obama explain everything,bevor he knows facts.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  41. SandraWI

    I'm glad President Obama answered the question that got him involved in this in the first place for those of you who didn't realize a reported asked the President his opinion on this matter and that's how he came to make a statement. We still have a long way to go to stop racial profiling and now this conversation is in the forefront again and I for one am glad because I am tired of it happening, yes I have had it happend to me too. The officer could have just gave him his badge number, his name and told him to have a good day and left. He didn't need to arrest a elderly, homeowner, with a cane, in his proven home. Enough said.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  42. Maria Giordano

    I think the legal system has gone way out of control.....Henery Louis Gates was trying to get into his OWN home..the place he lives in...the place you come home to...I am appaulled at the behavior of the policeforce...and to me Barack Obama is right..they are stupid.....and I have to say Barack OBama is one of the most awesome Presidents..he is a real person......

    July 24, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  43. Martina Ilstad Germany

    There is a low and order in the country.No matter who you are,or what you personly think about it,you have to exept it .Even when a policeoffice isabusing your authortity,its no good time to doubt about that.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  44. Chris

    Mr. Watkins, Thank you – Thank you – Thank You – you are a voice of reason. You need your own TV show. Racism is just as much about perception as it is intention of the act or person. Thank you again!

    July 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  45. Darrell

    Thank you.
    My only input would be that the police officer wears a badge with the # clearly printed, as well as a name tag. He also gave that info to Professor Gates when asked.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  46. raven jones

    i think that if the do find out that Officer James Crawley is races that he should be tried in court lose his job and say im sorry to Mr. Gates

    July 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  47. Dwyian Davis

    The recent reactions to statements made by Sonia Sotomayor prior to her confirmation hearing and by President Obama concerning the arrest of Henry Gates highlight the accuracy of the statement made earlier this year by Attorney General Eric Holder:
    "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards".
    Sonia Sotomayor: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who has not lived that life”. My Comment: She said it, probably meant it. What should she have said: ‘I will more often reach the same conclusion as the other whites males on the bench.
    President Obama: "Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof he was in own home”. My Comment: ‘Stupid is as stupid does’.
    When it comes to race relations in America it is what it is, let’s deal with it: I still walk through my predominantly white neighborhood and only 50% of my neighbors acknowledge when I speak.

    July 24, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  48. Anonymous police officer

    This is an excellent example of the code of silence in the law enforcement profession. Arresting a black male because he had a attitude problem/issue....The arrest of Professor Gates is what we in law enforcement call an “attitude arrest”, meaning that if it was not for his attitude, he would have been let go and noting would have happen to him. The problem with the Sergeants Crawley story is this, the officer admitted that he was walking out of the house and when Gates followed him out into the public area (outside of his house) the officer arrested him. It is oblivious that the officer was satisfied with the information given to him and believe that Gates did in fact live there at the home, that is why the officer turned his back and walked away (officer safety, never turn your back to a suspect).

    July 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  49. Donnie Edwards

    It seems that with what is going on in the U.S. Obama could keep his nose out of police affairs

    July 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm |

    I think Obama did the right thing to come out and explain everything, It was true that both the police and Gates may have got a bit huffy. Gates should be glad that the police got on the ball, when they saw someone climbing in a window. Also when they found it was his house, and he showed them his ID, that should have been the end of it.

    July 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
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