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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's not a black and white issue?

It's nice to know that Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley tried to save the life of Reggie Lewis and that his neighbors think he's a great guy.

But what if someone walking down his street saw Crowley dealing with a stuck door in broad daylight? Would that passerby have called the cops? Or tried to help him? And would those officers have persisted in questioning him after he produced two forms of identification, one proving he lived there? And would they have called the Cambridge Police Department to verify his employment?

I doubt it. And that's the heart of the problem and why Barack Obama, who assiduously avoided discussions of this sort on the campaign trail, weighed in during a nationally televised news conference.

Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in not backing down and not offering an apology. Crowley may be a swell guy and he may not be a racist but his department's policy (and those of many other local police departments) is stupid.

The circumstances sure smell of racial profiling. And the outright refusal of Crowley -- or more appropriately his department -- to acknowledge something went awry here is the ultimate in stupidity.

Once triggered, no one would dispute the events required police to respond and check it out. But it is the refusal to exhibit common sense in the face of the facts -- a 58-year man with a cane and multiple proofs of residency -- that raised this contretemps into an international stain.

Gates probably should have held his cool -- an easy thing for me to say knowing I probably would have reacted as he did if I was faced with the same situation. So in the interest of a false sense of balance, I'll call his reaction stupid too.

But would I have been arrested? Or simply given a verbal dressing down like the warning you get instead of a traffic ticket?

And I suppose we should acknowledge that Cambridge Police could have reacted differently too, as Obama noted:
“Here, I’d get shot,” Mr. Obama said, referring to his new address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The ultimate stupidity is the refusal to acknowledge that the whole thing is a phenomenal screw up that has embarrassed Cambridge and the greater Boston area and has stained Crowley (rightly or wrongly).

A mistake was made -- whether out of policy or innocent motives. What in heaven's name is wrong with admitting that mistake, apologizing and trying to figure out how to prevent it from happening again?

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30 Comments:

Blogger Chris Rich said...

This thing is churning like crazy in the slow news dog days of midsummer.

I think this might have been vindictive nonsense by the woman who called it in. She works at Harvard Magazine and oughta know:

1. Who Skip is.

2. That Senior Harvard faculty often live in the august homes on the edge of campus.

Also, despite it's size, Cambridge is sort of like Mayberry when it comes to general knowledge of its inhabitants among the various city workers. So the cop shop back pedaling is odd.

The comment streams over at Glob and Hairoil are interesting with a lot of Disgruntleds essentially braying about what an uppity negro that Gates fellow is while the Ditzes serve up civil liberty stews tarring the cops.

Every now and then a common sense nugget gleams in the muck.

The Grifters have no dog in this fight and no glimmer of easy money although maybe one can get a study done.

July 23, 2009 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Washington Cop said...

First of all we should all remember that NONE of us were there. Secondly, it is always easier to judge the police after the fact from the comfort of your plush office with a cup of coffee in hand. Being a dedicated cop myself I think we all need to wait and see the facts. I will be the first to admit that there are bad cops out there (just as there are bad eggs in all professions). But, by and large, the majority of police officers are doing their job for the right reason; to help people, keep order, and enforce the constitution. Isn't it possible that Mr Gates, offended about the intrusion into his home, may have been a little agitated and helped to precipitate the event? Is it possible the officers have never meant Mr Gates and have no idea who he is or that he belongs there? Was a mistake made? Possibly. Was this racially motivated? Possibly but probably not. Why is everyone so quick to pull the race card? In one town that I work the Hispanic population is 98%; therefore, 98% of the criminal and civil infractions are to Hispanics. In another town I work, the majority (80%)is white; and guess what??? 80% of the criminal and civil infractions are to whites! Lets all back off and let the facts come out before making judgements. President Obama had no right nor moral grounds to automatically assume this was racially motivated before knowing all the facts. And, if he does know the facts, maybe he should address that and let the rest of us in on his little secret. In closing, if the officers acted with malice due to racial prejudice, they should be fired. But, lets give them the due process EVERYONE is supposed to enjoy.

Washington Cop

July 23, 2009 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the police were doing their job by responding to the phone call from the neighbor (why the neighbor didn't recognize the resident in broad daylight is questionable). The resident was hostile and combative BEFORE producing his ID. The police did nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize about. If anyone needs to apologize, it's Obama for stupidly commenting on something that is none of his business. Is this the kind of bullshit we have to look forward to?

July 23, 2009 8:47 AM  
Anonymous mike said...

I'm not one to defend police. Their procedures mostly leave people feeling degraded, but they are procedures and that officer was simply responding to a call. This guy may be a Harvard professor, but he was acting like a punk. He followed those cops out onto the front lawn and was warned twice before he was placed under arrest. I just listened to an interview on WEEI with Sgt. Crowely. The professor was arressed for his behavior, not because he was black.

July 23, 2009 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone identified here freely offers they don't know all the facts. Maybe that's the issue here -- we as Americans-- exercise our freedom of speech too freely and without thinking (including the President I might add). First, the charge of disorderly conduct says Mr. Gates got a little too free and disrepectful in his speaking to the police. Secondly, everyone says the police followed the law...ergo, Mr. Gates' might also have been arrested if he were white. The President COULD HAVE been a hero if he had said what this blogger said, "...department's policy (and those of many other local police departments) is stupid." I say that very guardedly because I have no idea about the actual wording of the policy although I doubt it says anything about race or racial profiling. It may only be my opinion, however, but perhaps Mr. Gates should have shown a little less ego in turning this into a racial issue and more of what made him an imminent scholar in the first place -- his intelligence and restraint. In other words, THINK before you speak. It is my firm belief that when Officer Crowley refuses to apologize, he is probably again following "policy." Although I worked for the federal government for 32 years, I was NEVER authorized to speak publicly without prior approval...that's what they paid the public affairs people for....so that I would never have to apologize.

July 23, 2009 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See...to make my point...even in this arena, the Blog Owner must approve ....

July 23, 2009 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police RESPONDED to a call - they did not pull over gates (small g small man)in his car or accost him on the street. His typical race card baiting behavior got him into trouble NOT getting into his house. gates needs to apologize and so does obama for defaming the police. We will never get past the "poor ol'black joe" syndrone with liberals as yourself defending their every whine. "Send in the Clowns" jackson and sharpton will be here soon enough to further make this state the laughing stock of the country. Move on....

July 23, 2009 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the police came to my house once and asked me who i was. I asked them why they needed to know. at that point i was arrested for "interference with official acts". when i went to court the judge told me that i cannot ask police questions, only answer them. maybe it was just because im white.Mr.Gates is obviously the racist person here

July 23, 2009 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had enough with black folks crying racist every change they get. Obama is President. If racism existed, how the hell did he get elected? And how the hell did Gates get to become a prominent professor at Harvard? Yep, racism was there alright. But it was the kind of racism that benefited them (affirmative action et al) so they did not make a peep. Obama was doing not too well in school yet he got into Harvard. He had no experience, either in law--his studied field--or in politic or business yet he got elected. He ought to curl his tongue seven times before uttering the word racist. And although the media has pumped him and his wife up with praise of "smartest, most intellectual, brilliant", he has shown that he isn't too bright so he ought to quit the word "stupid" as well.

As for Gates, he broke into his own home. Where was his intellectual, bright Harvard trained mind? Did it not occur to him that if the door of his own home was bolted, which wasn't the way he left it when leaving for his trip, there might be problem--landlord locking it for unpaid rent perhaps or there's an intruder in the house, etc? No, nothing occurred to him. He simply broke in. Well, I am certain the nice neighbor would call the police if he were white, and the police would still treat the white him similarly. Yes, there's always a prejudice, stereo-typing, profiling. It happens in country where there is only one race. Look, it even happens in his ancestor's home land Africa. So Gates ought to shut the hell up.

July 23, 2009 12:07 PM  
Blogger Chris Rich said...

Looks like the Cop Union is hyperventilating. C'mon guys, get over yerselves.

This thing would'a blown over by now if you'd just man up and say..ooops.

The fabric of an orderly society is unlikely to shred if you occasionally come out and say oops..my bad.

July 23, 2009 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fisrt off, I am not a cop. Although I have many friend who are. Nor am I black. But again I have many friends who are. I even have a couple friends who are black cops. So far. All who I have talked to, be they black, white,hispanic, cop or citizen agree. We are really tired of every time some one who is condidered a racial minority gets into trouble, especially by their own actions, pulls out the race card BS. There are good and bad amoung us all, no matter what race we are. It seems the only reason the NAACP, Al Sharpton and Rev. Jackson are even around now a days is to promote reacial dis-harmony by crying "the poor black man" song and dance. It escalates the situation insted of defusing it. President Obama followed his usual M.O. That is opening his mouth an talking about things he does not have all the facts about. I still ask what is his agenda? I dont care about the color of your skin. Friends can attest to that. I dont care if you are black, white hispanic, asian, etc.....If you rob me, attact me, rape me or whatever is against the law. Then when confronted by the police, you should at least put on your big boy/girl panties and deal with it. We where not there. We as a whole do not know the complete situation. I find it disturbing the a Harvard Professor is acting and reacting in such a way. If I was in his shoes and it was a black cop, I still would have shown some decorum and not gotten so agressive, yelling at the cop. I actually would be happy that the where there to do their job. It seems that if anyone was doing any racial profiling, it was the white lady who called the cops. Seems to me, and remember I do not have all the details and was not there, but the Cop in question. Was doing nothing more than his job. And if you have not walked a mile in a cops shoes. You have no idea what they go through at work. It is a travesty, that people who have no idea what being a police officer entails, are so quick to judge them in such a dark light.

July 23, 2009 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that our President should not of commented so quickly on this. I agree with what the police officers did. Maybe he should of called the police to help him gain entry into the house if he had to work so hard at getting in the door in the first place! Problem solved. Great neighborhood watch though.

July 23, 2009 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With one statement our President has just set back 50 years all of our country's advances in overcoming racism. Vote for chaos and hatred in 2012, re-elect Obama and Biden.

July 23, 2009 12:42 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

President Obama had no business offering his opinion on this one. Just because Professor Gates is black the police acted stupidly?! It sounds to me like the police officer was merely doing his job. Fact is that there have been numerous break-ins in Professor Gates's neighborhood, and the suspect gained access by forcing open the front door. The police received a report of a man trying to enter a home by forcing open the front door. Should the police have ignored the report because the man was black? I believe they should, and would, have investigated whether the man was black, white or purple. In other words, race was irrelevant. How about supporting our public servants? I expect that Professor Gates was understandably annoyed at being questioned about trying to gain entry into his own home. It seems, though, that he let his Harvard ego get the better of him in disparaging the officer and condescending, "You don't know who you're messing with," instead of remaining calm and cooperating from the start. An intelligent individual, Professor Gates should know that no one benefits from disrespecting the police, no matter what color you are.

I agree with Kelly Downes's statement that both parties are human beings and neither acted at his best. Let it go.

July 23, 2009 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me. The actual people here that are racist are, President Obama for calling the police stupid. And Professor Gates for acting in the agressive manor he did, there by excalating the situation. And then calling it a racial incedent. President Obama, what is you experience as a police officer to where you can call another police officer stupid for his actions? Professor Gates. if you are truly one of the intellectual greats, where was your thought process when the police first confronted you and why then did you act in such a disruptive manor escalting the incident? Both of these people hold high positions in the community. It is a shame that these people who seem to be so inteligent can react so stupidly.

July 23, 2009 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that anytime a black or hispanic person gets arrested, etc., it's "racial profiling"? This is becoming so rediculous. It's their way out! Of what? Of trying to justify themselves of wrongdoing. If you broke the law, man (or woman) up to it! Stop using the "I got arrested because I'm black!" excuse. You never hear a white person calling there arrest "racial proviling because I'm white"!!! As far as Obama...he's only president because he's "black".

July 23, 2009 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares? If this Gates yahoo wasn't Obama's buddy who cares?

BTW I think Obama acted stupidly trying to shove his stupid health reform socialist take over pkg down our throats.

July 23, 2009 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's give the blacks an all black only state see if the average crime rate goes down and they live with no lock or guns all black police force to and obama too!

July 23, 2009 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soon the tandem of jackasses will arrive in Massachusetts preaching the race card. Jackson and Sharpton are already practicing the speech. Why is this a national news item? Why are we making such a big deal over routine procedure by the police department. He acted like a donkey and got treated like one. He was not arrested due to the color of his skin. He was arrested because of his lack of self control and restraint towards law enforcement.

July 23, 2009 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel Obama is too loose. He is not as professional as I expect. He is too cool.I feel he should run the White House more respectfully, not wearing jeans, acting like this is a City or County job, he is running our Country, I have lost alot of respect for Obama. His advisors need to give him a lesson in formality. I will not vote for him a second time.

July 23, 2009 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole problem here is attitude. Almost every Black cops an attitude when they are confronted by authority figures. This probably is hardwired into them due to all their lives being told how victimized by the Whites they are. All he, or any other person, white,black brown or green, needs to do, and should do, is be polite and provide whatever explanation is needed. Screaming and yelling at the police gets you nowhere. And any possible break you may have gotten is gone when you act like an ignorant street punk. If Gates had any class, he would realize this, not acted the way he did.
As far as racial profiling goes; it probably is at least 80% effective. The percentage of minorities stopped and checked, that end up in jail wouldn't be so high if they weren't guilty of something. Contrary to Black lore, the Police do NOT plant evidence of unsuspecting, innocent minorities. Get over it and admit YOU are your own worst enemies by your actions and attitudes.

July 23, 2009 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gates should have thanked the police for protecting his house instead of crying racial profiling. The police officer acting as he should have because there was a call of a possible breakin. Cops fear for their life on these calls and must take precautions like demanding ids and telling folks to back down. That is not racial profiling. Gates knows that because he is a Harvard professor. I guess he needs some publicity.

The arrest seems a bit strange. However, according to a witness, Gates was yelling this racial profiling bullshit and following and intimidating the cop. I am white and would have been arrested if i acted that way. Instead of having a big ego, Gates should keep his mouth shut, show his id, show some respect, and thank the police officer for protecting his house. I voted for Obama and he just needs to focus on doing his job. Thats all.

July 23, 2009 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This so very old..Anytime someone says or does anything with an "African American" it is called racial,bigot,prejudice,profiling...folks, get over it! There is a reverse prejudice going on in this country and the only people crying THE I'VE BEEN TREATED WRONGLY BLUES OR I HAVE BEEN CALLED A DEROGATORY NAME THAT THEY THEMSELVES USE ALL THE TIME are "THE AFRICAN AMERICANS". WHA,WHA,WHA!

July 23, 2009 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a racial thing. Only someone that will not look at facts will say different. But this notion that everyone has to "worship" police is crazy. The police are not GOD and I should not have to "watch what I say to police" If I'm not a physical threat to police, then I can say what I like, especially in my own home.
I like what Serpico (a real HONEST cop) said about police corruption, 10% of police are completely honest, 10% are completely corrupt,and the other 80% want to be honest.

July 23, 2009 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One comment by Obama and I feel I've learned more about the man than through all his campaigning. And not in a good way. I thought he was intelligent, but the word "stupid" will always come to mind when I think of him now. It will take a lot, ( if ever) to win my confidence again. Even if he had all the facts, he should have let the opposing sides work it out. Had not Gates been his friend, would he have become involved so quickly?

July 23, 2009 3:28 PM  
Anonymous mellaneous said...

I find the comments on this blog absolutely astounding, especially the comment that implies that complaining about racism is the problem rather than racism itself.

Whats particular disturbing is the obvious attempt to ignore the real life complaints of Black folks living in this country and their experiences with law enforcement. There has been more than enough "real" and not anedotal evidence to point out that racial profiling is real and that it is a part of the American fabric.

I am also surprised by the obvious lack of empathy shown by most of the responders who clearly aren't trying to see where black folks are coming from but are more interested in condemning them because they refuse to believe that racism still exists. I expected more from folks in a state with such a high level of educational achievement.

I guess most of you are like Skip Gates-- who obviously should have restrained himself even if he thought he had been wronged-- education does not guide your conduct.

July 23, 2009 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Akhi99 said...

I have pleaded with President Obama in the past to take the issue of minority racism seriously.

When the police show up at your home responding to burglary IN PROGRESS, neither whites nor blacks get to ignore their requests for identification.

The only racist aspect of this situation is the way the professor refused to respect the police while doing their job. Police regularly DIE on the job with minor mistakes (like taking the word of burglars who claim to live where they are burglarizing when the police show up).

Two years ago, a neighbor called the fire department on me when I had a fire in my fireplace. I was home and the fire was in the fireplace. I did not try to refuse the FOUR firefighters insisted on inspecting my fireplace since I knew I could get in trouble for refusing their requests. I had told them that the fire was in the fireplace, and yet they still insisted on seeing for themselves.

I did not understand it at the time, but i guess I could have been burning the house down on purpose and they were just trying to make sure.

I did not bother to mention to them that they did not need four firefighters to inspect the fire in my fireplace. And I did not bother to ask them to remove their shoes in my home even though I ask most people to do so.

It was very disappointing to see the president make up a LIE about this incident. The professor originally REFUSED to offer identification when asked and THAT is why he was arrested.

All burglars have to do in the future is just claim they are the owners of the home when the police show up. It might not work for white burglars, but black burglars should be able to get away with their crime by just pretending to be a professor at Harvard.

From what I have observed, the Harvard professor in this case demonstrated that he is the racist, not the police officer who was doing his job. And the president himself seems to have demonstrated that he, too, is a racist.

Cambridge, Massachusetts is such a liberal city, we used to call it the people's republic of Cambridge.

I attended the college the police sergeant worked at (Brandeis university 1984-1987) and I lived in and around Boston for 15 years. Everything about this case smells of minority racism, including and especially the dropping of charges against the racist Harvard professor who refuse to show his id and was rude and histrionic to police.

July 23, 2009 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was pulled over for speeding. The insurance card in my car was old. The officer arrested me for no insurance even after I asked him to call and verify that I had insurance. I was handcuffed behind my back, even after telling the officer I suffered from panic attacks and taken to the Atlanta jail where it took me 8 hours to post bail. At no time did I raise my voice to the officer. I am a father of 3 children with no criminal record. I was latter exonerated in court but my bond money, impound expenses and the two days I lost of work were not refunded. I am white. I did not have a president or even a congressman to speak for me.
I am so sick of both problems in this story. Over zealous police officers and blacks always playing the race card. I've got to believe most of white America is beginning to feel the same. I liked the idea of one of the other posters, "Can't the blacks just return to their now Black run Africa and "get it right". Wouldn't all there problems go away if not for Whitey? Then Whitey could take care of the "pieces of s**t in blue left behind. And if you lovers of diversity what to follow the brothers down - that's more than OK by me.

July 23, 2009 9:49 PM  
Blogger tnrenters_choice said...

I didnt hear Pres. say anything about this incident being motivated by race. He first said the copper did the right thing up to a point. Now, I have seen on "cop" shows about offensive drivers taht scream, yell and even rip up a ticket in the presence of an officer and they werent arrested or even cited. This man was in his home for god's sake. I truly beleive both men had a long day with short fuses. The flatfoot has a stressful job, remember it is his job, and Prof. had a long trip, traffic home, door stuck and to top it off someone who probably knew who he was called the cops, then feeling denegrated like" what are you doing in this neighborhood" attitude? One last point. Yes, we are all glad that we have law enforcement officers, but please remember they are NOT volunteers they get paid a decent wage so they are not 'hero's' they are PAID public SERVANTS not God's as some would believe.

July 23, 2009 9:49 PM  
Blogger Marc L. said...

Well that is what you get on a Massachusetts blog. It is amazing that so many people on this blog find it ok for a police officer (reguardless of race) to give someone the business that is trying to get in thier own home. The problem here is not the police or Mr. Gates but rather the lady who did'nt know her neighborhood. Do not kid yourselves. She saw a black man attempting to break in someones home. When you live down south this kind of stuff goes on like business as usual. I would be livid if I lost my keys and a police officer white, black, hispanic or asian/other approached me with that hey suspect language(some of yall know)I'd be upset too!!

Marc
Colorado Springs

July 24, 2009 11:06 AM  

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