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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. David

    It took me a good 30 minutes to read all of the interesting opinions about this situation. My guess is Mr Gates didn't wake up that morning and think how he would mess with the police today or Mr Crowley didn't decide to anger a prominent professor when he woke up. Personally, I think we should stop talking about it and start talking about our economy, or the jobless rate, or any one of a million more important things we could be focusing on. I think there is blame on all sides as there usually is. And how about the media driving another topic into the ground till we can't stand it.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  2. hypocrites_are_everywhere

    As disclosure, I'm not black or Hispanic; and I'm not associated with Harvard!

    July 27, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  3. Luke

    I had the Police show up at my door one day. It seems the very last number a very cheap wireless phone dials is 911. This is what happened in my case. The Police Officer told me the law required him to come in the house and look around. I cooperated. If I had tried to act stupidly, with a bad attitude or emotion, then other laws would have come into play. See how simple it is.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  4. iseecar

    Apparently the driver, whom I believe is the second person seen entering the home with Gates, didn't get belligerent and cry "racial profiling" because it hasn't been mentioned that he was taken away in cuffs. Thanks for bringing up the fact that all of the media is speculating on what a law enforcement person's job duties are without asking law enforcement. I was wondering what that was all about and why it is happening. They keep pulling things out of the air...

    July 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  5. Chris Lewis

    The lesson here, whether you are black, white or green, is NEVER mouth off to a cop.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  6. TX Democrat

    So, it was Officer Crowley who inserted race all the while. It was Officer Crowley who lied in his official report. What else did he make up. Better yet, how many of his supporters will admit that they have supported a person who's embellished (lied) to anyone with a microphone? In my opinion, Professor Gates and President O'bama are owed apologies from the Cambridge PD.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  7. Tim

    Only two things happened here: 1) Gates ran his mouth, 2) Crowley let it get to him.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  8. John

    Angela,

    You are totally off are your assumptions. Before you place the race cards get the facts straight. Professor Gates never provided proper ID. He only showed the officer his Harvard ID card. Not a drivers license or other appropriate form of identification. Officer Gate called the Harvard police department to come and verify that Gates was who he was and the legal reisident of the house that he rents from Harvard univerisity. Back up is automatic in a 911 call until it is called off. It was not called off because Gates continued to be non compliant. These are facts backed up by multiple police reports, eye witnesses and radio transmissions.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  9. HRPufnstuf

    Professor Gates. Now this is the guy who, as a teenager applying for admission to college, wrote on his application "now once again, whitey controls my future."

    The man has been an unrepennent racist all his life. Makes no apology for finding something racial in EVERY situation involving himself and white people.

    Meanwhile, Sgt. Crowley, who WAS trying to leave, was followed out on the porch by an out of control racist, screaming at him, demanding his name, even though the Sgt. had already provided it, twice.

    One man's freedom ends where another one's begins. By creating a disturbance in public, scaring the passers by, even after being warned TWICE by police to calm down, finally got himself arrested. Same thing if he had been blasting a stereo from within his house. If it disturbs the neighbors, and he won't turn it down, he can be arrested for disturbing the peace, even though the noise originates in his house. It's when it disturbs others, unreasonably, that his "rights" cease.

    Why were the charges dropped?? Same reason the black female mayor called Gates personally to apologize. Pure Politics. Same reason the black Governor weighed in to support Gates. Pure Politics, and racism by the black racists.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Steve

    Okay, so the good professor just flew in from China, right? Perhaps he was a bit tired and agitated. Crowley? Who knows? Maybe the same? End of shift? Worked a private detail in his off hours? Maybe, just maybe these two guys were tired and irritable – things just didn't go right... Two grown men that just crossed paths at the wrong time.. No racism on either side; just stress, exhaustion and bad timing.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  11. Raj Khatri

    Is this a case of reverse discrimination? Minority can get away with anything in the name of claiming to be racism that majority needs to prove not be the case. I am not a white nor a black by color. However, I feel that when President Obama got picked, he should have very well known that he could not have been there without the support of majority. He clearly lost his mind. Still, I feel like that it is in his heart and mind that racism is there whenever something goes wrong with African American. I say that because he mentioned the following day explaining that he could have calibrated his words better! I thought this was the begining for President to bridge the gap. However, it seems like that the deep roots within his own mind are too deep to kill. Racism does exist but not every case one should jump to conclusion without facts. This president has some serious work to do on this front. I think that is more important for the unity of this country than any other issue including health care!

    July 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  12. Indiana Jen

    I am SO sick of black people pulling the race card when confronted. Gates refused to give him ID. Therefore acting as if he had something to hide. And since the cop was there on a burglary charge, he starts to think maybe he doesn't belong there. Gates was clearly out of line. And how dare Obama get involved because he's black. He is dividing the world into color. Would he have gotten involved if the races/roles were switched. I think not. I'm sure this has happened before, and I didn't see Bush, or Clinton or any other president get involved with a simple arrest. This is rediculous, African-Americans need to really get over themselves. It's 2009, that's a long time to hold a grudge, against DEAD ancestors of white people. If Gates is as good as everyone says he is, then this should not put "shame" on him, so get over it. If anything this should let people know, everyone is human and subject to the same rules as everyone else. Get lippy with an officer, make a race scene, get hauled away. What gives Gates the right to bring the cops mother into the situation. What if the cop would have said that to him? He probably would have been fired, reprimanded, or even retaliated against. Gates doesn't seem the least bit affected by his actions, and thats the worse part of it all, he's a professor.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  13. jim

    Chuck – Keep in mind that police need the respect of the public to keep you and your family safe. If they are to maintain that respect they can not recieve public abuse and ridicule. If it happens in a location without the public being around police will have more patience.

    But when it happens in public that insults the police and reduces their respect. If they allow that to happen they are more of a target, more at risk. So for their long term safety actions like Gates took must be quickly solved.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  14. Christobál

    I suspect Gates is a reprobate lowlife making hay out of being a jerk to a police officer. You screw with the cops, you act like an idiot – chances are you're getting arrested. Academic accolades or not, presidential friendship or not. That's what it means to be American in America, not just black.

    The problem as I see it with black people who say, "You just don't know what it's like to be black in America," is simply this: black people don't know what it's like to be not-black in America. So what?

    Most of us non-blacks in America (we are all, by default, "white" by virtue of not being black, apparently) are exhausted with the barrage of poor-me attitudes from Black America, and are fed-up with the "protected class" status of American blacks while every other ethnic group (and their history) is overlooked.

    Slavery was a problem? Compared to what the Jews suffered throughout history, the history of black slavery in America is but a vanishingly brief moment in time. Are the Jews knocking on Egypt's door demanding reparations?

    Here's a hint: GET OVER IT

    The rest of us have.

    And if that's racism, so be it – we've been desensitized by decades of endless haranguing and it's lost its gas.

    Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton: How about getting real jobs? Non-Black (default white) America pretty much hates you guys – not because you're black, but because you've managed to keep the flames of hate alive long after Dr. King would have extinguished them.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  15. momplantingberries

    WHEN CROWLEY ARRIVED AT THE HOUSE & saw Gates on the phone and with a cane – DID GATES TRY TO ESCAPE AS SOON AS HE SAW THE COP? (real burglars do unless they're stupid) – if it was in fact "the" alleged burglar as reported ...the cop should KNOW! unfortunately Crowley didn't get a chance to THINK, ASSESS & realize the situation because Gates already blurted out 'racial profiling' innuendos! thus, Crowley equally got defensive of being accused of committing it when in fact he even teaches about the subject. Both ignited each other's egos. I'd still say it was Crowley's job to be the peace maker. Gates is old, pretty grumpy after a 24 hour trip from China, plus couldn't get into his own house. (what luck) I'm glad the president stepped in to keep the peace. I hope they can just both laugh about it and move on. This incident happened for a reason. To teach and to heal us.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  16. William Russell

    I am in total agreement with Mr. Zimmerman's commentary. I have a hypothetical situation for those who don't think that this unfortunate situation contains some element of racial profiling.
    Imagine this exact same situation, the hyperbolic reaction, the world-wide attention unchanged except for one circumstance. That circumstance being that the renowned and respected Harvard professor was white and the arresting officer was black.
    Would those who defended the officer's actions be so adamant that he was justified? Would those who feel so strongly that the professor was totally right be so sure?
    Everyone needs to take a step back and look into their own hearts. Ask themselves honestly if their opinions are so right.
    For me, this is the teachable moment the President alluded to.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  17. felix

    Racial profiling in this case is nonsense-the officer didn't choose his" victim", he was summoned to the site. What's interesting is Mr. Gates' way to deal with those below him, socially. A gentleman would'b be especially polite toward someone who is way below him on the achievement ladder. I'd understand if the good professor referred to the mama of his peer, not in good taste, but acceptable among the boys. In terms of manners Mr. Gates was way below reproach. One can expect more civility from a Harward professor, can't one? Maybe a teachable moment is there?

    July 27, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  18. Mike

    What a pathetic example set by Professor Gates. He had a bad moment after 20 hours of travel. He acted disorderly and was arrested. Instead of accepting responsiblity for his actions, he played the race (excuse) card. Clearly, with all of the witnesses, including a black officer stating that the arrest was warranted, how does Professor Gates look in the mirror? Easy, he doesn't. He hides behind the race card, which was not applicable in THIS case but is in many, and refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. Harvard should be proud that this pathetic individual can teach his doctrine of hate!

    July 27, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  19. KC

    I think Gates got a little over excited and started ranting and raving immediatley that the cops were racist, when all they were doing was their jobs and couldn't have cared less if he was white, black or alien.

    He was was uncooperative and unruly and deserved to be led away in handcuffs, He thinks he's above the law, afterall he's a noted professor and a good friend of the President.

    To bad they dropped the charges. I believe he was guilty as charged.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  20. Nancy

    just comply with law enforcement, and all matters will be resolved quickly and efficiently.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  21. Jesse Winslow

    I am an educated black man (in my late 40's) and a police officer for 22 years. I think Professor Gate's disrespectful mouth leading to his rowdy public behavior, is what got him arrested. His insensitivity toward the white officer and his lack of respect for authority was his choice and his mistake resulting in him "acting stupidly". The lesson to be learned here is when a police officer asks you for information in the course of investigating a dispatched call to a felony in process you should be polite and answer the questions, not rant and rave and spurt racial remarks toward the officer. Professor Gates acted like a criminal and was treated accordingly.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  22. Scott

    Lots of you are forgetting his I.D. didn't have his address on it. Why didn't he just show a driver's license or whatever? The author of this piece makes a good point. When one assumes they know what another person might say, think, or do, based on a generalization, that is called 'profiling' ... and I read so many of you claiming to 'know' Crowley based on his profession. You have in your mind an image associated with 'policeman' as much as you claim he had one in his mind associated with 'black people'.
    And at any rate a policemen once asked me what I was doing when I was trying to get in my locked car. The very 1st thing I did was show him I.D. and told him I'd show him the registration as soon as we got in the thing.
    It was perfectly normal for him to ask me and if I'd shown him my student I.D., for instance, with no address on it, then berated the man for failing to believe my story ... especially when my claim that he should simply leave me alone and be on his way was based on the pretty thin reason that our skins were different colors ... I'd probably get arrested too, by a cop of any color.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  23. Mike O'Brien

    I find the 'profiler' to be the professor. Mike in Montana

    July 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  24. Tom

    This was never a racial issue. The press made it a racial issue. I am caucasian. If the police continued to question me after I clearly presented the evidence that I was the home owner, I would considered this additional questioning to be harassment. Secondly, some of us believe that homeowners have the right to get angry in their own homes, particularly with intruders. The second Professor Gates established his identity, the police became unwanted intruders and should have gracefully left the premises. Arresting Professor Gates for disorderly conduct in his own home is charge that most likely would have not been upheld by jury in a trial, because most people believe a home is their castle. Thus, this was a stupid arrest.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm |
  25. Tim

    Jon – Dr .Gates wasn't arrested for disorderly conduct in his own home. According to the officer's own report he told Gates that if he wanted to continue their conversation then he would have to come outside. And then once Gates goes outside and continues the conversation he arrests him because now he is out in public.

    I'm not a lawyer but I do wonder if this was a case of entrapment. The officer can't arrest him for anything in his house so he convinces the person to go outside where it could be considered a crime.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
  26. turthbetold

    There are a lot of generalizations being thrown around on this board as well. People assume that all blacks and all minorities use the "race card" at inappropriate times, but we don't. Most people can recognize racism because it is usually more obvious than something as ridiculous as this. There is no way to know really what was going on in either of these men's minds, but both have quite a temper it appears. I don't tend to minimize unless I can verify, because I have had some f- upped stuff happen between cops and myself (never any arrests) and I am pretty sure it wasn't race related, perhaps just a normally good cop having a bad day. Some of the stuff was out of hand, and no matter how compliant I was it kept going down hill until usually another officer stepped in. Cops have stressful jobs, but they have a habit of making enemies within the community as well sometimes. I don't see police as friendly. I don't see them as a bad either, but I am wary of them because of past encounters.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  27. FreedomOfSpeech

    I fail to understand why the police officer arrested the professor.

    It seemed that it was because the professor called him racist and was loud. Don't we all have freedom of speech? Why should the professor be arrested because he voiced his opinion?

    Do we have laws and constitutions? The professor might be wrong in categorizing this as racially biased. However, as a citizen, he has his right to express his opinion. The police officer should respect that basic human right. But instead, he put handcuffs around the professors' arms.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  28. matt

    people of all races and creeds need to check their attitudes at the door
    when dealing with police of any racial background, regardless of the
    situation. Most police are very respectful when they are treated with
    respect.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm |
  29. K.L.

    I just don't see why blacks expect "special treatment" when they choose not to follow the law. If a cop, black, white, hispanic, asian or whatever race, came to my door, you can bet i would keep my mouth shut, right or wrong.

    Gates asked for what he got, he should have kept his stupid mouth shut. That's the problem now, we have a mutt for a president and now blacks think they can do whatever they want including disrespecting law enforcement.

    The lack of respect is black people's problem and they are the ones who need to change their attitudes toward ALL authority figures or go to Africa where you don't have to.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  30. jim

    Keep in mind that police are killed every day when they let their guard down. They are there to serve but they serve in the most difficult of situations where to defuse possible violent situations the must take control. People seem to forget that police are called to situations of uncertain nature and that for every call there is risk.

    Two men, one old, wandering around in a house who won't provide proof of residence and begin yelling about racist cops while causing a public disturbance is one of rising tension. Couple that with the fact that Gates continued to rant as he left the house posed a risk of a greater public distrubance and rising risk.

    Crowleys fellow officers backed his choice 100%, one of which is black.

    What I am reading in these posts is a whole lot of people not actually interested in the facts but choosing sides up by preference. Blacks automatically assuming that the white officer would not have done what he did with a white person and only over reacted because Gates was black.

    That is in fact racist stereotyping no less destructive than whites believing all blacks are criminals.

    The point of the article was simple – BOTH sides need to address their deeply seated racist beliefs if anything is going to change.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  31. jeff

    I read the piece twice and nowhere is the "racial profiling" issue as it relates to the actual incident revealed. The police we now know responded to a woman reporting what she thought was a break-in by two men. She never mentioned of what race until pressed by the dispacher. She then said she thought one might be an Hispanic. Where is the profiling? Are we redefining the term,now, to deal with actual racial profiling that does indeed occur? The columnist failed in his job of presenting the truth and using an irrelevant event to cover a very relevant problem: racial profiling. But racism or rather an extreme reaction to another race was more clearly seen in the rediculously over the top reaction by Gates to being asked toshow some identification. His belligerance was exhibited at the onset of the event. The just needed to shut the F... up and cooperate without all the attitude.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  32. Chuck

    Facts

    Officer responds to possible burgarly

    Gentleman at residence becomes unrully since he thinks he being profilled.(doesn't matter if he just got off a trip you can control what you say and how you act)

    Arrested for unrully conduct.

    Gentleman says it was cause he was black.

    Fact is that officer acted within his duties nuff said, take you punishment like a man.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  33. Gerald

    Here the real story line
    Gates= owes an apology
    Obama= owes an apology
    Until Gates + Obama happens the issue will live to be his down fall as president ,the poll numbers will be in a death spiral. We all know the next step , lets see who mans up.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  34. Bradley

    There are problems with both party's stories. However, teasing a cop and testing his authority is never wise. Yes, the professor was in his house, he knew it was his house. However, the cop was not presented with proper ID and kept questioning the guy. The professor was irritated and instead of falling back on his education he resorted to street ranting and raving.

    I believe the professor caused this entire national discussion...good or bad. There was an undertone of racism, but it was on Mr. Gates side. I'm not stating he is a racist, just that his distrust of authority, especially of a Caucasian, put him into a less than intelligent state of mind to deal with the situation.

    I'm am broken-hearted that the President I voted for chose to weigh in on this situation before having all the facts. Now he's having some beersummit to smooth things over...not cool. I've lost some respect because this has an overtone of "it's because he's black."

    Not the case...it's because he was belligerent towards the cop and reckless in the situation. Tossing that card out there was reckless on the Presidents part and was poorly worded response to the situation at best.

    2 cents...nothing more...nothing less

    July 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  35. Mike

    Last year I had set off the alarm in my house, while I was turning the alarm off ADT called my cell phone to check on the house. I didn't have my cell phone with me so within ten minutes a Chicago Police Officer was at my front door.
    The officer explained to me why she was at my house and asked me to step outside to show her some ID. I did, however the address on my license was from my prior address. She asked me for some further proof as well as some other basic questions. I was able to prove to her that yes, this was my house, I thanked her and that was it.
    By and large a MAJORITY of police officers are doing a great job. The lesson to be learned here is that if you cooperate with police and if you're not doing anything wrong you shouldn't have a problem. If you choose not to cooperate then you risk being arrested. What bothers me about Professor Gates is he was unwilling to cooperate on a very basic level. I hope he will eventually understand his wrong doing.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm |
  36. VB

    People of color! Why don't you recall the O.J.'s trial where a murderer get off through the accusation that white police officer falcified the evidence. Majority of African Americans applauded theat shameful decision. That clearly proves that they are racists themselves. Truce does not matter to them, what matters is that one of them seem to have been offended.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  37. Conrad

    Could it be possible there are two wrongs here?

    July 27, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  38. Diaa

    FINALLY!

    I was wondering when someone was going to point that out.

    Don't make assumptions about a white police officer just cuz' he's white!

    July 27, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  39. rosher32

    I am a Male Hispanic who has lived in USA 3/4 of my life. Never been on welfare, never been arrested for any crimes. Maybe a driving ticket here and theres. In the few situations (traffic stops) that I have dealt with Police officer – I have really been DISrespected as a human being. I use to tell myself – Once they get thru a few questions – The officer will realize I am just another law abiding citizen (yes – Citizen). 30 yrs later – I am still waiting for that one Police officer that treats me with respect. The Majority put me thru the ringer. I resist myself and take the approach of " kill them with Kindness". Knowing he can say anything to try to justify an arrest. They will more often than not receive the benefit of the doubt. Turn the page to 2009. Its hard to believe this Police officer could not have verified the validity of Mr. Gates ID without having to humilate him by arresting him Now a days most Squads carry workstation that give you up to date info on subject within minutes. He could have also have contacted his dispatcher to check ID. I know this things because I was 911 dispatcher for 3 yrs.

    If u an I come into the station and falsify a police report. We are breaking the Law. So if the officer brought Mr. Gates in to the station under the pretense of an offense and this offense did not stick – Should Officer suffer consequences for not knowing when a true offense has taken place and not one his EGO felt necessary to show Mr. Gates who he was dealing with ? Ummm

    July 27, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  40. Dan

    I've seen many news reports where a white police officer has arrested a black suspect, and automatically the black suspect yells racism. Automatically, the black suspect claims that he has been profiled before as the reason for not cooperating with the police officer. That is really sickening. Oh, the cop is white so I will yell racial profiling. I seriously doubt the posting earlier that ALL African Americans have been racially profiled. If so, prove it. Just saying it happened to hopefully evoke some sort of emotion within the community and maybe get the charges dropped is just not believable.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  41. Marlene

    I was disgusted that our President got involved in this. He needs to stay at his office and do what we are paying him to, which is, running our country, and not police officers.

    As for the arrest, I can't say if it was racial profiling. I do know, however, that where I live, the police will always get your attention when you're found breaking into a house.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  42. RichS

    When people are beligerent with the police the results are predicable, regardless of race, color or creed. Better to cooperate and things will go much better. To resist because you feel you have been wronged, places officers in a position requiring an arrest so that you can explain your case to the court.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  43. Jeramy

    Okay as one whom has been both rightfully and wrongfully detained by the police i know that as often as not there are mistakes made. HOWEVER, I also know that lately more and more people want to make race issues even when there isn't. Honestly, i think both people probably had an improper attitude and this situation more then likely resulted from someone irritated after a long trip to find he couldn't get into his house and more then likey acted in an irritated way toward the police. This probably irritated the policmen and one thing most people don't know is that the police can take someone into custody on suspcison in these circumstances even if you have valid ID. People are looking for a reason to call race lately which is sad. If you start seeing racisim everywhere, even where it isn't your going to make something an issue that alot of progress has been made on.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  44. Nick

    As long as cops use this "Disorderly conduct" as a catch-all law whenever they feel slighted, it is going to happen again and again. This is not racial issue but a police misconduct issue under the cloak of "Disorderly conduct". The police officer didn't have one ounce of reason to arrest the guy except for being a "jerk". If cops can do that, there are plenty to go around.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  45. Rob

    This article brings up many points that have not been addressed by the so called experts on TV. If Mr. Gates' house was broken into while he was on vacation and this incident was indeed an attempted burglary the police department would be praised. Instead because some one, of any race, creed or nationality, had to be questioned by an authority figure it becomes a national scandal. Sure, with 20/20 hindsight this affair could have been handled in a different manner without an arrest. It is not, however, an isolated incident. People are asked for identification for their safety in countless places across the country. As you enter military establishments, airports, etc you are asked for appropriate identification even if you know the security forces. The authority figures here are not chastised, instead they are praised for conviction to provide safety to the masses. The real question is about the constant call to seek out racism and our lack of national pride. Racism will never die in this country until we as a group can unite as one. Why must we identify ourselves as "Jewish" Americans, "Latin" Americans, "African" Americans. Despite our supposed desire to stand as one, we daily seperate ourselves from one another. Yes, I voted for President Obama as one to make a change, but even he disappoints me in this endeavor. I voted for Mr. Obama because he is an "American." Even Professor Gates, a distinguished scholar, continues to diservice us by always putting a qualification on himself. He is not the teacher of "American" studies, but of "African-American" studies. Nowhere else in the world do we see this. We do not hear of the Black Irish or the Latin German or the Jewish English person.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  46. mitch 47

    I don't know how it is in your town but we have had numerous home invasions where the owners and even their children have been tied up and robbed in broad daylight. Cops around here want proof your suppose to be in a home. The robber could be answering the door and lying. Robbers lie!

    I am so sick of the race card. In the past 2 years we have fallen backwards 10 years. If you don't agree with someone or something they do you are a racist! Martin Luther King wanted us to be judged by the content of our character not the color of our skin or what sex we are. Judge the person!

    Instead of being better safe then sorry what we will learn from the Gates/Obama is that the police may wait till they see someone carrying TV's and small appliances out of a persons house just to make sure they don't get called racist.

    Dr. Gates is probably more sensitive due to the fact that is teaches and lectures every day on how horrible the white man has been to the black man. President Obama spent 20 years listening to Rev Wright giving the white man hell in his "church." So here we are. Old wounds are now fresh again. 10 steps backward.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  47. Larry

    The scary part of what we are learning is that race relations in Cambridge and across the nation have regressed.

    Today’s release of 2 carefully produced tapes with carefully selected sliced and diced sound bites that was represented to be the 911 call.

    What the public needs to hear is the full real-time audio transcription of KEF716 Cambridge Police Primary Channel 1 Simulcast on 470.31250 MHz, unedited with ALL radio traffic 15 minutes before and continuous until 15 minutes after the last responding unit cleared the run after completing paperwork.

    Additionally the public should be provided with all radio transmissions on Police channel 2 to hear the entire verbal car to car and car to data and records operator communication. I am also curious why the media is not aggressively seeking the MDT police car laptop computer message transcripts.

    In my opinion will be a learning experience of what not to do in a controversial case where credibility is king.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:48 pm |
  48. Charles Stewart Jr.

    I am not sure what role, if any, that race played in the arrest of Prof. Gates. However, based on what I read I do believe that his arrest was improper. There is nothing illegal about being rude to an officer (though I wouldn't recommend it). Especially, if you are on your own property...you are free to talk. Officers are given badges, guns, and salaries to put up with other people's crap, its part of the job. I believe that Officer Crowley was offended and upset by comments that Prof. Gates made and decide to "teach" him a lesson- you maybe a big shot professor but I can arrest you. Disorderly conduct charges are almost always left up to the officers discretion. Once Officer Crowley determined that it was Prof. Gates home his investigation was over, he should have simply left the premises.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:48 pm |
  49. Jack

    I am most concerned about our President jumping in without facts and making a judgment that the officer acted stupidly. I hope he takes a little more time before casting judgment on other topics in which he has no facts. And why is this dialogue about racial profiling? It could also be a dialogue about a bias against white police officers or arrogant college professors.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  50. Gary Spencer

    I totally agree. The discrimination here is against the police officer.

    July 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
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