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July 27th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Police profiling: The lost lesson in this teachable moment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/27/gates.arrest/art.jim.crowley.wcvb.jpg]
Robert Zimmerman
AC360° Contributor and CNN Political Analyst

As I spent my rainy Sunday in New York watching all the well balanced, politically correct and diversified panels discuss the arrest of Professor Gates, I was struck by the glaring reality that no one on the panels that I observed was a member of or associated with the police profession.

Yes, there were political pundits, sociologists, media commentators, radio talk show hosts, the occasional academician and the inevitable author or two. Many sounded like they were reciting their favorite scenes from Law and Order as they tossed around phrases describing the arrest and their interpretation of why the charges were dropped. Almost all agreed that they did not know what specifically precipitated the arrest, the reasons for it or how race was a factor. However, there was a conclusion among many that race was a factor. This was a particularly stunning conclusion considering the exemplary career of Sergeant James Crowley. For five years Sgt. Crowley taught a class on racial profiling at the Lowell Police Academy. He was hand-picked for that assignment by former Police Commissioner Ron Watson, who is African-American. President Obama described Sgt. Crowley as an "outstanding police officer and a good man" and said that he has "a fine track record on racial sensitivity."

Racial profiling or biased policing is a well documented, shameful and tragic aspect of law enforcement history. It also exists in many other aspects of our nation's culture and society. In examining this issue, I took the daring initiative to actually speak to a respected member of the police profession on this matter. In fact, I spoke to one of our nation's most highly regarded and successful leaders in policing, Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton. In addition to his present position and serving as the President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, he formerly served as the New York City Police Commissioner and the Police Commissioner for the City of Boston.

Chief Bratton reviewed with me the extensive measures that police have aggressively taken to address the issue of racial profiling in the past 15 years. He pointed out that this issue is being confronted through changes in law that make racial profiling illegal and give the Federal government enforcement powers to combat it. In the selection process for new recruits, police are required and trained to look for signs of bias and prejudice. Additionally, new policies and procedures are continually being developed to strengthen supervision, documentation and the investigation of citizen complaints of racial profiling. Many police cars also now have video equipment to monitor police and their interactions with citizens. The police profession has been addressing the issues of race and bias more openly than American society as a whole.

The teachable moment from this experience should seek to raise awareness of racial profiling and bias policing, and the ways to address it. However, the lesson will be lost if we do not also address the dangers of police profiling- the automatic assumption that racial profiling is the issue when an encounter or arrest is made of a person of color by a white police officer.

soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. James Donachie

    To Angela:

    "When Professor Gates provided his driver’s license to Crowley that included his address. Why didn’t Crowley accept the fact that Professor Gates lived at the resident? And why did he continue to call for back up after he received this information. We all still wonder was it because he was Black, probable so."

    Maybe not because Professor Gates was black, but because he was being an A**hole, Angela.

    The fact that Gates was quick to whip put the race card shows who the REAL racist is, and that he doesn't have just a chip on his shoulder, but a massive boulder.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Seems to me that Gates saw the policeman and that he was white and assumed that all white policemen are racist and acted accordingly. Racism is a two way street.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  3. Al

    I would suggest that the professor and everyone else that might be inclined to scream "Racial profiling",,,,,perhaps if they spent a few nights riding with police officers, both white and black,,,,then they might better understand what types of situations they encounter on a daily basis. Being a police officer now days,,,whether black or white has got to be an extremely dangerous profession. I doubt if there are any police officers who are mind readers, and can tell immediately what type of person they are encountering at any given moment. If that were the case,,,,the daily news would not be telling about your neighbor police officer who died the night before while investigating a possible break in.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  4. Veronica Richardson

    I wish Crowley would make Obama apologize before he comes for this "beer". It was completely insane that Obama voiced an opinion before knowing the facts. He embarrasses our country with this nonsense. Gates is a racist moron that is using this moment to get his name in the spotlight.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  5. sarah

    The lesson here is how quick blacks jumped to the defense of Mr. Gates with limited information (including Barak Obama) and how fast the rest of us jumped to the defense of the man with the badge.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  6. Gilby-HI

    Unless you are there and have training in dealing with criminal
    behavior a bloger in not going to make a correct and safe comment to fit the fact that a man is screeming if all is really OK. There is a book with rules that dictates what an officer must do. Mr. Gates was removed for his own safety, his mental condition was the issue. Take a look at the picture of him on the cover of lots of media pages, Mr. Gates was out of control. If he was a professor of animal behavior giving a demo of mate call he could be excused

    July 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  7. suz

    Are police officers public servants or are they there to exert their authority in every situation? If police officers consider themselves as public servants then they should approach every situation with a mindset of rendering assistance; particularly, when some house is suspected to be burgalerized. The main question then becomes what officer Crowley offered in the way of assistance after it was established that Professor Gates was indeed the legal resident in that house? The police officers go through lots of training for public safety. Why Dr. gates was arrested if public safety was not threatened? What was the state of mind of the officer Crowley when he entered Dr. Gates’ house? The behaviour of officer Crowley is troubling for the safety of the public at large. Why do they not have public service in mind?

    Why officer Crowley is not being investigated for civil rights violations of Dr. Gates? Is it (USA) a “police state” that a police officer can arrest any body from his own house? I believe the whole police dept needs to be investigated if they are operating it like a police state.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  8. Peter

    Why did the POLICE DROP the CHARGES??? Because they did not have a CASE!

    July 27, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  9. Renee

    White people get arrested for disorderly conduct every day!!! It's not a race law and he does not get a free pass because he is black and the officer was white. Does anyone remember the stripper who accused the Duke players of rape? She was found to have lied. She ruined lives with that lie.I would say if the stripper was white they would have arrested her! People marched up and down the streets holding signs yelling Rapist and yet no one apologized to them!

    July 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  10. Darrell

    OK, I've not read where he gave the officer a drivers license. I thought he had given a harvard ID. Would that have given an address?
    Has it come out now that he gave the officer his drivers license BEFORE all this other stuff went down? If that's the case, that would change it somewhat, but still, there wasnt any reason to become enraged with an officer that's responding to a call that he had no idea what was going on. And as far as disorderly conduct being a 'catch all', well it can easily be dropped, as this was, and I would almost bet that it would have been dropped even if this didnt no national. I feel there should be something that an officer can apply if they feel an incident is getting a little too 'exciting'. Again, it can be dropped and taken off of the persons record when it's over. I just really think that folks forget that an officer going into a call where there is a possible break-in or any call for that matter, they HAVE to be in cop mode, and that will mean reacting to certain situations. If they dont question things, they could easily wind up dead. Everyone seems to forget there were TWO people 'breaking into' the house, not just an older person. No one really asks the 'what if' these 2 were actual breaking in, lured the officer in, and the officer believed their story, put his guard down, and they attacked or killed him?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  11. Eric

    I was not there, but I strongly suspect that Gates wrongly jumped to the conclusion that he was being questioned because of his race, as opposed to because there was a reported crime at his address.

    As far as the DC charge goes:

    Justice Brennan wrote, in in "City of Houston vs. Hill":
    “Contrary to the city’s contention, the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers,”
    -and-
    “The freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state,”

    On the other hand, there are numerous decisions that followed after the original Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire ruling that indicate that freedom of speech is *not* absolute.

    So ... what it comes down to, is "how far did Gates go in his conduct towards the arresting officer?"

    Gates may have been abusive towards the officer, though he may have been within his rights to have done so.

    Many of the relevant lower court decisions on this topic are vague or contradictory. I would have a hard time faulting the officer for making a judgement call on the DC charge.

    We don't want a society where "contempt of cop" is an offense ... on the other hand, there must be limits on how far one can go in heaping abuse on a peace officer before "enough is enough" and the offender can be hauled off to cool off.

    I was not there, you were not there ... but in my opinion, Gates made this a racial issue, not the arresting officer. The officer, on the other hand, could have walked away without arresting Gates, but chose not to ... so ... how far did Gates push, and was the officer's decision to arrest reasonable under the circumstances?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  12. Jag

    Bottom line is cops cannot believe that their egos and pride are more important than that of us "citizens". If a cop feels that he is being insulted, by virtue of being yelled at by a citizen, then professionalism must take precedence. if on the other hand Gates did not provide the necessary identification, then understandably so, he should have been picked up. Identity was established, but the cop still wanted to teach a lesson, an emotional response from someone trained to handle such situations logically. Then again, we all know our cops are not true professionals.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Ruth

    Like Angela, I have only one question about this issue: Why didn't the police just say the equivalent of "Oops, sorry about that" and leave the house after they saw Gates's ID?

    Regardless of what Gates was reportedly shouting at them and in the absence of any threatening words or behavior, they should not have arrested him. Obama can say that he could have used different words, but, to me, the police did act STUPIDLY - or worse. If the arrest had been legitimate, the charges should not and would not have been dropped.

    I really don't think or care that race was a motive in the officers' behavior; I think that it's just a case of these specific police officers - not necessarily all police officers, Anderson!! - thinking that a person is committing a crime because that person dares to confront or question them, whether he/she does so quietly or loudly or whatever.

    So far, I don't think that that is considered a crime in the USA.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  14. Alex

    My hat is off to Robert Zimmerman! What a bold and daring action to take given the air of "political correctness," even when those throwing stones against the law enforcement community (including our President) were wrong. With over 31 yrs as a Police Officer, I was so very proud to see my African American Sister and Brother Officers step forward to decry a wrongful condemation of Sergeant Crowley and his agency. Years and years of a horribly infectious desease called "racism" has shown us terrible side effects that people of all races can learn from. What is in the past doesn't mean today that every action taken by Officers of a different ethnic background is based upon racism. There is so much hope AGAIN that our country can get past years of judging people by the color of their skin. That same respect has to be shown not only by White Offiicers in the performance of their duties, but by the Black Community who demands that same respect. Congratulations to Robert as this piece of work may have done more good for OUR nation than you'll ever know.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  15. Renee

    Angela they did accept the fact that is was his house. He followed them out the door screaming at them and was warned twice OUTSIDE the house. Get the facts right!

    July 27, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  16. Gloria English

    It shocks me that people refuse to believe that racial profiling exists of minorities exists. To keep repeating that Crowley "teaches this course," means nothing. I have been teaching school for 45 years. I know for a fact that "teaching" something is not the same as having the experience. Is it possible that Crowley needs a sensitivity class?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  17. Renee

    Everyone does understand the police were there to protect his property right? I mean give me a break they did not ask for ID because he was black they ask for ID because there was a report of a break-in and he was standing IN the house. How do you get racial profiling out of that? I'm just about burnt out on the racial profile comments. I have one word for all of you who want sympathy, DUKE!

    July 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  18. Don

    Valerie. Again read the police report (which all accounts back up).

    Crowley warned Gates multiple times (in the front yard) to calm down. A crowd gathered and Crowley finally arrested him. I think he showed a lot of restraint considering he had to walk outside to use the radio because Gates was yelling so loud and Gates talks about his mother. Gates went off for no reason and suffered the consequences.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  19. Philip

    One also has to keep in mind that this neighborhood had experienced over 20 home invasions this year. I think that also has contributed to the heightened awareness of the police. And dare we even speculate on the race of the people perpetrating the majority of these crimes in Cambridge? Not knowing any statistics myself, I won't comment. But this may be the 800 pound gorilla in the room. No one wants to talk about it, but a lot of people are thinking it.... guaranteed.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  20. lampe

    Let's get the story straight. Gate's showed an I.D. with no picture at first. So what was the officer to do? Just take his word? What if it wasn't Gates, and he was robbed? Whose fault would that have been?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  21. DA, Maryland

    Give the insight on the 911 call, I think Crowley covered up somethings once he found out who he arrested. It amazing how a report will all of a sudden fit the situation. So, now the questioin is who do you believe?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  22. Dennis

    A portion of the 911 call was just released–we can hear that the woman who called 911 doesn't say anything about the race of the two men until the 911 operator asks the caller about their race. If the 911 operator is going to ask the "race question"–why would it be wrong for the caller, if she had a good view of the men, to say at the beginning of her call that she believed they are 2 black men or 2 white men or 1 black man and 1 white man? If the caller doesn't offer this information-the 911 operator will ask. Why was there a big fuss about what the neighbor may or may not have said about their race?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  23. Matt

    To adress Angela's specific comment...the reason Mr. Gates arrested is because he continued to be confrontational after he was established as the resident. His arrest had less to do with the color of his skin than it did with his conduct. Hopefully he learned something from this.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  24. Robert

    Professor Gates expects to be treated innocent until proven guilty.
    shouldn't Officer Crowley receive the same treatment.

    We have two versions of the same event, depending which version
    (if either) is completely true. one or both of these men over-reacted to the situation.

    until people know the facts they shouldn't rush to judgement but officer Crowley seems to be getting labeled as a racist by the public before he has a chance to present his side of the story.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  25. Don

    Get your facts straight Angela. Read the police report. After being presented ID Crowley had to go outside because Gates was being so loud to relay information back. Gates followed him outside and continued his tirade gathering a crowd of neighbors. Crowley warned him multiple times to calmo down and he didn't. This had nothing to do with race but with Gates being an idiot and racist himself. How easy is it to keep our calm and present id.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  26. Mike

    Robert,
    Your last line says it all. Gates was the one who assumed it was racial profiling. There was a black officer at the scene in the photos. It was not racial profiling.

    Angela – Gates never produced his driver's license. He only showed a school ID, which is not a valid ID with address. But, that misses the point. Gates instigated the scene. Gates was not arrested for breaking and entering. Gates was arrested for Disorderly Conduct.
    Next time, Gates should thank the officer for looking after his property instead of pulling out the race card. Or, maybe Gates orchestrated the whole thing just to sell more books.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  27. Joane

    I really wonder how many more changes are coming. Now the woman who called, not a white woman says she never mentioned race. She also said she never spoke with the officer before he went into the home. I don't know about that one. That's a new one on me. That it was reported she was on the scene. Unless you were there, inside, outside on the roof what ever. Everything is hear say. We will probably never know what actually happened.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  28. Mom4Change

    My brother used to be a cop. I cannot tell you the number of times he escaped a "routine" call without being killed or seriously injured. His partner was not so lucky and lost his life over a "routine" traffic stop. ANY call a policeman goes on has the potential to be life-threatening . Here are some possible scenarios: How did the police know that Gates wasn't breaking into the house to hurt his wife? Was he a woman-beater? Just because his drivers' license has that address on it, doesn't mean squat. There are millions of people driving with licenses with old addresses. And, in my opinion, if Gates was confident in his stature and success, and comfortable in his own skin (regardless of what color it is), there wouldn't be a story. So talk all you want about skin color, hair color, gender, big people, short people, but I can tell you based on my brother's experiences the police don't give a rat's ass what color the skin is - just that there is the potential for human tragedy. They are very cautious at the slightest provocation and they should be. There are definitely bad cops, but a vast majority are genuine and put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. So next time a policeman asks you for your driver's license, just give it to him and safe yourself a lot of grief.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  29. Mantrang - Chicago

    I think Mr. President should appologize the police because of saying "Act stupidly). The President should not open mouth with such words especially with duty people. When he proposes the Healthcare and tax on the Rich to help the Healcare bill or take care the bil or what so ever, this is called "stupid plan" from people's point of view, but no one speak out that way, they just don't agree because it is clearly unfair...So, to me, being President, every single word out of the mouth should be considered very careful, don't just throw words without thinking.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  30. Kim

    I do think that everyone here is missing the point. The fact is Officer Crowley wrote in his report that the perpertratorswere Black. The neighbor said she never said that, so it remains why did the Officer write that. If he wrote that in his report was that in his mind when he answered the call. HMN I guess we will never know that. It also is troubling why the officer did not try to de-escalate the situation instead of inflaming it. Police should be respected by all citizens but I believe they both should have searched for understanding. Mr. Gates as to the procedure for Mr Crowley when answering a possilbe break in progress and Mr. Crowley in calming the situation and explaining his responsibility and the law.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  31. Eric

    I wonder Sgt.James would carry on his further investigation after IDs been provided by a well dressed middle age caucasian female?
    In any case, it is better off to treat a law enforcement officer (any race)with respect rather than yelling and arguing to save yourself from further trouible as it is a two way street. Of course, if you are big on principal; which appears to be in this case, the outcome could be spectacular! (most of us cannot afford this type of hassle)
    Eric from Canada

    July 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  32. jeff

    I appreciate the authors point of view here. Let's calm down and give these police officers a break. There have been more than a small number of "outraged citizens" (black, white, young, old) who have erupted, pulled out a weapon or otherwise gone off the deep end.

    How would the Professor have felt if he had been robbed blind or mugged in his yard and a white police officer had driven past, afraid to stop and interfere because he was hesitant to be cast as a "racial profiler"?

    More restraint from the finger pointing would be great. Let's use some common sense here!

    July 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  33. marcus magice

    Yeah Gates is the racist everybody go tell his white wife this and his white parent that he hates part of himself and secretly hates his wife.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  34. Valerie

    Trace, the man just came from a trip, his door is jammed the police questioned him, he shows his id...Ok gates could be nice but it didn't have to..and once again being rude to a policeman in your own house when u show u lived there is not a reason to be arrested..

    July 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  35. Sam

    Why did the police officer argue, I have see a video of white man yell and screaming at a cop who pulled him for speeding on the highway, the officer in that case maintained professionalism and gave him a ticket and let him go. I am sure many of you have seen this, its been widely shown in the media.

    In this case the officer should have shown professionalism instead of getting into ego tuscle with the professor. We just should wonder how things would have played out if this professor was a white guy who would have reacted in the same way. I think the officer was trying to teach a lesson to the professor which is clearly not professional behavior. I yell and scream in my house too, its no ones businness unless I am disturbing my neighbours and they complain.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  36. Bob Houston TX

    What you have is the perfect example of a black man with a typically low IQ getting all uppity.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  37. Cinnamon

    I agree with commenter 'Chuck' above (3:25pm). The issue is "Disorderly Conduct as a sucker law." On July 16, 2009 a man in Cambridge, MA was arrested in his own home, without a warrant .

    To me, the 'teachable moment' here is "do American citizens understand what the 4th amendment says, what means, and why it was such an important matter that is in our 'Bill of Rights?"

    The 4th Amendment guarantees that we citizens have the right to be secure in our homes, and that we cannot be arrested without cause. Since Pres Obama was once a lecturer in "the Constitution' you would think he would have noticed this right away. Race discrimination is just a red-herring issue in this matter.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  38. Joane

    Then he should have left. Period. Per my brother-in-law to whom this has happened any number of time but from his alarm going off. Guess what, he is a cop. He told me, verify address, leave. Nothing else is warranted.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  39. Jacob

    You missed the point, it is not racial, but police duty, it is to protect people, not to demonstrate that police officers are always right, no matter they are wrong sometimes, like in this case. Yesterday I found in The Miami Herald a quote that summarized this case:
    " If Gates was loud and agitated, common sense says Crowley should've simply removed the source of the agitation -himself. Problem solved."

    July 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  40. James

    What's wrong with profiling the police. We profile polilticians all the time. Police are the ones with the badge and the gun. We have no power over them. They are the ones who should be held to a higher standard. They volunteered for the job.

    I was a US soldier. One thinig I remember is no matter how good of a soldier a person was, you still had to answer for bad decisions. Your butt was chewed or even worse, at the slighest of screw-ups.
    Police need to be held to a similar standard rather than just always being given the benefit of the doubt just because they are police.

    Chuck, you are 100% correct.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  41. Dillard

    Quote from Gates’ Yale U application:

    “As always, whitey now sits in judgment of me, preparing to cast my fate. It is your decision either to let me blow with the wind as a nonentity or to encourage the development of self. Allow me to prove myself.”

    July 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  42. Scott

    Seems to me that asking a black man for his ID in his own house and not accepting it as proof that he belongs there is parallel to asking the President Of the United States for his birth certificate.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  43. Rhonda

    I think the biggest problem we have here is that Gates shouldnt have been beligerent to the office in the first place. And then to involve the president because they are friends. Come On People!!!!! I would think the president if he was the doing the job he promised to do would be to busy to get involved with something so ridiculous to begin with. There are some who are quick to use the racial game when they know they are wrong in the first place. I dont care if you are a friend of the pope, or queen of England. Act like a human being and quick playing mind games with race etc.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  44. Lauree

    For those who wonder why after an ID was presented did the officer still ask professor Gates to step outside: The answer is simple. The officer wanted to act in a manner that was the safest for both himself, his partner and Professor Gates.

    911 call said 2 men forcing entry. He was in the home and didn't see the 2nd person. This is a security issue for him. Prof. Gates was so busy being angry that some facts were not clear. The caller said there were 2 men who forced themselves into the home. How is this officer to know if the homeowner is or is not aware of 2 other individuals? He isn't answering questions that could have cleared it up and all the officer wanted to do was to remove the element of surprise attack from hidden parts of the home by getting outside to talk where his partner was.

    Although Gates showed an ID, that does not mean to the officer that he knows who the 2 men mentioned in the 911 call are. It only shows that this man lives there.

    Bottom line: Policemen like to go home at night safely to their own homes once the job is done. If they aren't sure that all avenues of potential danger have been explored, they should not relax their guard just to make some angry man feel better.

    As a citizen if an officer asks us to present an ID and move to a different location we should do it. Its very simple request and although we may not be aware of all the times things can go wrong and someone get hurt ... the officers are. They put their lives on the line to take care of us and our property. The least we can do for them and their families is not make it harder or possibly increase the chances they can't get home after their shift is to cooperate. What if there had been someone else there Professor Gates wasn't aware of? I know in this instance we now know that wasn't the case but the officers driving onto the scene had no idea.

    I would venture to say more times than not, color of skin is the last thing on a policeman's mind when he is trying to make sure a situation is or is not safe.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  45. Mick

    The only person that used racial profiling was Professor Gates. He saw a white police officer and assumed they were there to harass him. There wasn't a problem until Professor Gates created a problem. Sgt. Crowley was just doing his job, but now will be branded as a racist for life for nothing.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  46. Paul

    The picture has 1000 of words. Without this picture, I don't know where prof. Gates could have been.
    Hand cuff someone because of so called VERBAL misconduct...? Do you want to tell me that the policeman didn't know prof.Gates? If so, about the black and happy policeman who wants to be promoted. He, also, didn't know prof. Gates? Let's forget about prof. Gates. Can you knock prof. Henry Kissenger's door, hand cuff him because he asked you the reason why you are there?

    July 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  47. Roy Norwood (Roy from Texas)

    Obama is the racist. He didn't know the facts but publically opined that the officers actions were stupid. Seems he was racially profiling the policeman. He still hasn't apologized. He's just trying to make it go away because he can offer beer at the White House. He shouldn't get away with it so easily.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  48. B

    Angela – Or was it because the officer recoginized that someone else might also be in the house? Perhaps professor Gates arrived home to interrupt a burglary in-progress and the burglar was hiding in his house? It seems prudent to me to ask the man who appeared to be the legal resident to step outside so that the officer could do his job of ensuring everything was in order. Imagine the headlines if the police simply left with no further questions and professor Gates was attacked and injured or killed by a person who broke into his home. Then the headlines would that the police failed to do due diligence because of race! This is simply maddening.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  49. Joane

    I agree with this column but as a 60 yr old black woman I cannot dismiss, out of hand, when someone of color perceives racism. I would like to ask any cop out there, I already have an answer from my brother-in-law who is one, why shouldn't my son get upset when he is profiled? When he is asked for ID 2 doors down from the home he and his wife owns and have owned for over 10 yrs or even when he would back out of his drive. It's easy to tell people what to do. if you never walked in their shoes, you cannot make an informed decision. As for 'so called mouthing off', the one thing everyone seems to forget, the Supreme Court ruled it as freedom of speech. I can't remember what year but this very issue was taken up by the Supreme Court.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  50. Kim B

    Angela – the first ID Professor Gates provided was his Harvard University ID, which does not include a home address. Officer Crowley called for the Harvard University police to identify Professor Gates as he refused to provide anything else to show he legally resided there at that point. The Harvard University police told Officer Crowley it was in fact him. That is when Officer Crowley headed toward his vehicle (outside) and Professor Gates followed him out there.

    Considering there were multiple break-ins in that very neighborhood recently, one would think Professor Gates would appreciate the fact the officer was just trying to do his job. The simple thing to do would've been to just show the officer an ID with an address first. Something most of us would do without hesitation.

    I look forward to hearing the tapes, which I'm sure will tell more of both sides of the story.

    July 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
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