Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why is THIS Even a Story?.....

A guy comes home.

He can’t get into the front door of his own home, apparently because of some previous damage.

He and the driver of his taxi try to force the front door open and then wind up forcing their way into a rear door.

A neighbor calls the police reporting a suspected break-in.

The police arrive and do what police everywhere are required to do – check for ID to make sure that the person in the house does indeed live there.

By all accounts, the homeowner becomes irate and initially refuses to produce ID, then accuses the police of racism, racial profiling and follows the officer out onto his front porch to continue the harangue.

The police try and calm the homeowner down and then warn him that if he continues his verbal abuse he’ll be arrested for disturbing the peace.

The homeowner continues his harangue and is arrested by the police and the charge of disturbing the peace (a relatively minor offense) are dropped.

End of “story”...or it SHOULD be.

So why’d the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates warrant so much media attention and a jump to the conclusion that he was “right” and the police “wrong”?

In FACT, Professor Gates was treated no better or worse than any other citizen, which is what he deserved, his Harvard professorship notwithstanding.

Police have a DUTY to respond to calls of suspected criminal activity.

The police have a duty to protect Mr. Gates’ home by asking for ID from the occupant, which COULD HAVE BEEN an intruder, for all they knew.

If Mr. Gates felt mistreated there’s a venue for that – the local Civilian Complaint Review Board, the local Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the local courts.

The street is NOT the proper venue for such complaints.

A driver irate over being stopped for speeding has no right to argue that ticket with the officer on-scene.

I presume that the reason Mr. Gates did not proceed along that route was because he KNEW that the cops were actually protecting his property by demanding ID after a neighbor reported a possible break-in at Mr. Gates’ home.

Mr. Gates had no reason, nor any right to challenge those officers.

If he had ANY legitimate grievance, it was with his neighbor who reported the suspected break-in to the police.

I can only guess why the diminutive Mr. Gates chose not to confront his neighbor, as that could’ve resulted in him getting his lights punched out rather than merely being taken down town and booked for disturbing the peace.

The only irony in this story I that far from illustrating “the nightmare of being a black man in America”, the Gates encounter with the Cambridge Police illustrates just how privileged the lives of the likes of Henry Louis Gates are!


namaste said...

louis is an opportunist that jumped at the chance to have his 15 minutes of fame. msm saw their opportunity to bring this ridiculous issue to the novice president's doorstep.

JMK said...

Here's the thing about this incident Maria....while I can understand Professor Gates outrage over being ID'd in his own house, I also understand that the police were actually doing that to protect Professor Gates' property rights!

If they'd left without checking his ID, they'd have been doing BOTH Mr. Gates AND his neighbors a severe dis-service.

By the accounts of all the officers on-scene, both black and white, Mr Gates was warned three times that his public haranguing of the cops was crossing the line a misdemeanor - disturbing the peace.

It's the same with ANY motorist....when given a ticket, THAT'S the WRONG time and the wrong venue to argue the facts of the case. Hundreds of motorists (both black and white) are arrested every year for doing just that.

What's more, even if they're technically right about their not speeding, they're still wrong for arguing the efficacy of the ticket in the street.

The ONLY venue for that is traffic court.

There's so much most of us don't understand about the law. I once was naive enough to believe that only actively resisting (physically struggling with an arresting officer) was "resisting arrest, NOT SO, that's charged as "assaulting a police officer", merely not cooperating fast enough can be charged as "resisting arrest".

Like I said, I can understand Mr Gates' outrage and I can also understand President Obama's supporting a friend, but I also think it was unfortunate that President Obama didn't choose his words a little more carefully, especially after noting that he "didn't have all the facts of the case."

P.S. I can't seem to your blog. can you help me with that? I do love your writing, Maria.

namaste said...

sorry for my oversight. i just sent you an invite.

Dan O. said...

A simple solution: Give police dispatchers a "do not respond" notice for Gates' address. He obviously doesn't want them checking up on someone breaking into his home.

Roadhouse said...

I've worked with guys like Gates. There are plenty of them here in the blogosphere as well.
They see racism everywhere. They wake up in the morning and see the KKK in their cereal bowl. They blame every bad decision, every accident or stroke of bad luck on the color of their skin. They use racism as a "get away with anything" card. They can't wrap their minds around the concept that people dislike them because they're just jerks...not because of their melanin levels.

Obama's reaction to this is just more evidence of his disrespect (if not contempt) for the office, his own racist personality, and his total lack of both class and experience.

JMK said...

YHANKS Maria! I've been working so much lately (182 hours over the past 12 days, including 96 over a six day period) that I haven't been online too much lately.

I'll be by as soon as this Summer manpower crisis subsides, which I hope is soon.

JMK said...

That would be one solution Dan O, but then I'm sure some judge would consider that kind of action "discriminatory" against people who don't want the police making sure they are the owners of their own homes, when a neighbor calls about a suspected break-in.

The law really is "an ass" least a LOT of the time.

JMK said...

I don't think Barack Obama is much different than most Liberals Roady. He buys into the "America is an unfair society" and that "the rich (ie higher income earners) are oppressing the poor" and nonsense like that.

Skunkfeathers said...

Gates is working on a PBS special about being black in America; I reckon he played an opportunity to add fuel to his 'chip on his shoulder' fire.

And getting his friend in the White House to throw more fuel on the fire was priceless to Gate's effort to go Al Sharpton.

The guy's a real cheeseball. The Cambridge Police followed procedure to a tee, and have nothing to apologize for. NOTHING. A Jeremiah-Wrightish professor and a president, on the other hand, HAVE some apologizing to do.

JMK said...

You're right about the incident having NOTHING to do with "racial profiling" SF. Prof Gates was NOT profiled, NOT by the call, NOR the cops.

I worked about 20 years in the South Bronx and we often had calls for "lockout with food-on-the-stove" which was shorthand for someone locked out of their apartment looking to get back in without having to call a locksmith.

We often went in, either through a window, or in some dire situations, forcing the door, and we ALWAYS HAD to get ID.

In those rare cases when people refused to show ID, we had the PD called to the scene. Ironically enough, many then were willing to show us ID, but were told, "It's too late for that now, show it to the police when they arrive, they'll be here shortly."

There IS a venue for dealing with perceived unjust or inappropriate treatment from police, firefighters, etc., but that venue is NOT in the street.

In the street you DO NOT have "the right" to argue a ticket, or explain your way out of a bad situation...that's what all those delightful people in the court system are for, and if the cops do their jobs for them out on the streets, then all those people working in the court system will have to be fired.

Not that would be such a tragedy, if we had a more vibrant private sector, but cops aren't arbitration specialists, they're paid to ENFORCE statutes and respond to complaints, the court are paid to deliberate and negotiate settlements.

People remain unaware of that tidbit at their own peril. I predict very low ratings (even by PBS standings) for the Gates series.

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