Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gates' arrest not adding up

I don't know. The more I read about this story, the less it makes sense to me. I don't know if we'll ever find out the truth, but I suspect that this is what happened.

Despite the fact that Gates is trying to make it a "racial profiling" case, he didn't get arrested for being caught looking like he was breaking into a house. He got arrested for being combative and verbally abusing the officer. That does not look like a case of "racial profiling". I am guessing that this guy has a major chip on his shoulder (whether deserved or not is a different story). He went off on the cop, refused to produce ID, and was provoking him verbally. And he got arrested.

For a balanced view of this story, here is the Cambridge police point of view...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gates may have over-reacted (he was tired after a long trip) BUT, the police had already determined it was his house and there was no crime. He was arrested for being obnoxious to/yelling at a police officer on his own property. He was not making any physical threats. I don't understand how being obnoxious or even yelling at a cop at your own home is grounds for arrest in America.

July 22, 2009 5:41 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>I don't understand how being obnoxious or even yelling at a cop at your own home is grounds for arrest in America.

I am not a lawyer, so I can't really address the legal aspect of it, but it doesn't take a Harvard professor to realize that if you keep mouthing off to a cop, you're gonna get arrested.

Imagine if you got stopped by a traffic cop and he asks for your license and registration and you start screaming that he is a racist and you did nothing wrong...

July 22, 2009 6:56 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I...this feels horrible to say, but I feel as though Gates somewhat distorted the situation to fit into the paradigm that he was expecting. I don't know what ID he showed and when in the process, but he clearly thought that the very request that he show ID was racist and defined the situation as "black man being hassled by the cops" and reacted accordingly. And I think that at the first stage, that simply wasn't the case. But after he started playing it that way, the situation played out exactly as his conduct made likely (maybe not demanded legally or necessitated, but still caused). This particular case seems to say more about the mentality of the African-American community and their distrust for the police than about police action.

July 23, 2009 1:36 AM  
Blogger Theophrastus said...

I know Gates pretty well (we are not close friends, but we chat), and I've seen the Cambridge police department (which is famously corrupt) in action. Once, when I was with an African-American friend, I saw how they treated me and him completely differently.

I sympathize entirely with Gates. Really -- a disabled middle-aged African-American professor is a threat to a policeman? The problem is that he was a black guy in a white neighborhood.

July 23, 2009 9:41 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


It very well may be that the PD has problems. I don't know, I don't live there...

But the story is (I don't think this is disputed by either side) - someone sees a couple of guys break into a house and calls the police. The officer shows up and asks this guy for ID. This guy starts screaming that the cop is racist.

Does that make sense?

July 23, 2009 10:19 AM  

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