Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Liberal

Liberal
Woman

Saturday, July 25, 2009

BEING OBNOXIOUS IN ONE'S OWN HOME IS NOT A CRIME

if it were, most Americans would have a police record.

Being obnoxious isn’t a crime.

Maureen Dowd
July 25, 2009

As we reflect on the arc of civil rights dramas from Jim Crow to Jim Crowley, my friend John Timoney, the police chief of Miami, observes: “There’s a fine line between disorderly conduct and freedom of speech. It can get tough out there, but I tell my officers, ‘Don’t make matters worse by throwing handcuffs on someone. Bite your tongue and just leave.’ ”

As the daughter of a police detective, I always prefer to side with the police. But this time, I’m struggling.

No matter how odd or confrontational Henry Louis Gates Jr. was that afternoon, he should not have been arrested once Sergeant Crowley ascertained that the Harvard professor was in his own home.

President Obama was right the first time, that the encounter had a stupid ending, and the second time, that both Gates and Crowley overreacted. His soothing assessment that two good people got snared in a bad moment seems on target.

It escalated into a clash of egos — the hard-working white cop vs. the globe-trotting black scholar, the town vs. the gown, the Lowell Police Academy vs. the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Crowley told a Boston sports station that Gates “seemed very peculiar — even more so now that I know how educated he is.”

Gates told his daughter Elizabeth in The Daily Beast: “He should have gotten out of there and said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, good luck. Loved your PBS series — check with you later!’ ”

Gates told me Crowley was so “gruff” and unsolicitous “the hair on my neck stood up.” Crowley says Gates acted “put off” and “agitated.” But the strong guy with the gun has more control than the weak guy with the cane. An officer who teaches racial sensitivity should not have latched on to a technicality about neighbors — who seemed to be outnumbered by cops — getting “alarmed” by Gates’s “outburst.”

From Shakespeare to Hitchcock, mistaken identity makes for a powerful narrative.

A police officer who’s proud of his reputation for getting along with black officers, and for teaching cadets to avoid racial profiling, feels maligned to be cast as a racist white Boston cop.

A famous professor who studies identity and summers in Martha’s Vineyard feels maligned to be cast as a black burglar with backpack and crowbar.

Race, class and testosterone will always be a combustible brew. Our first African-American president will try to make the peace with Gates (who supported Hillary) and Crowley (whose father voted for Obama).

I tracked down Gates by phone at J.F.K. on Friday after he had talked to the president and agreed to go to the White House for a symbolic beer with the man he labeled “a rogue policeman.” Gates, coughing from a cold he picked up in China, said he wondered if perhaps “fate and history chose me for this event.” He was pleased with the thousands of empathetic e-mail notes he’s getting, material for a PBS documentary on racial profiling.

He says he’s ready for “marriage counseling” from the “Solomon” in the Oval, who wrote in his memoir that the police pulled him over “for no apparent reason.” “If Sgt. Crowley and the president and I meet, it’s clearly not going to be like Judge Joe Brown, OK? ‘You tell your side, you tell your side.’ We have to agree to disagree. But I would be surprised if somebody didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry you were arrested.’ ”

How can they ever reconcile their accounts? Crowley says he asked Gates to come outside and the professor replied, “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside.” Gates wryly suggests Crowley got the line from watching “Good Times” as a child.

“Does it sound logical that I would talk about the mother of a big white guy with a gun?” he asked. “I’m 5-7 and 150 pounds. I don’t walk on ice, much less (expletive) with some cop in my kitchen. I don’t want another hip replacement.”

I asked how he felt when he learned that Crowley was the one who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Reggie Lewis, the black Celtics basketball star, in a vain attempt to save his life after a heart attack in 1993. He replied: “I don’t stereotype. I never saw him as the head of the Ku Klux Klan. Maybe he was just having a bad day.”

And Gates says that if anyone thinks he’s a fiery black militant, they’ve got the wrong guy, considering he married a white woman, has mixed-race daughters and has white blood himself.

Mike Barnicle warns that the next time Gates needs 911, he should call the Harvard faculty lounge instead. But Gates ripostes, “I have a feeling the Cambridge police will be especially attentive to my needs.” He said that, as he was packing for China, he got a call from the Cambridge police soliciting a donation and told them to try back in two weeks.

“I haven’t quite decided,” he said between coughs, “if I’m up to that right now.”

44 comments:

Gordon said...

So the black police sergeant who was at the scene must be a bad cop, too. He says Gates should have been arrested.

Link here.

"Gates, coughing from a cold he picked up in China, said he wondered if perhaps “fate and history chose me for this event.” He was pleased with the thousands of empathetic e-mail notes he’s getting, material for a PBS documentary on racial profiling."

Mm-hmm. Oh no, Gates had no motivation at all for escalating the incident.

Paging the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson!

Shaw Kenawe said...

Gordon,

How did you make that leap?

Who said any of the people involved were "bad?"

And Gates is thinking of making a documentary AS A RESULT of his experience of being arrested in his own home.

By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. has spent much of his life studying the complex history of race and culture in America, but until last week he had never had the experience that has left so many black men questioning the criminal justice system.

Gates was arrested outside his house in Cambridge, Mass., after a neighbor reported seeing two black men in the middle-class, predominantly white area pushing against the front door.

"I studied the history of racism. I know every incident in the history of racism from slavery to Jim Crow segregation," Gates told The Washington Post on Tuesday in his first interview about the episode. "I haven't even come close to being arrested. I would have said it was impossible."

Instead, in a country where one in nine young black men are in prison, where racial profiling is still practiced, the arrest of a renowned scholar on a charge of disorderly conduct in front of his house last Thursday has fueled an ongoing debate about race in America in the age of its first black president.

The charge against him was dropped Tuesday, but Gates said he plans to use the attention and turn his intellectual heft and stature to the issue of racial profiling. He now wants to create a documentary on the criminal justice system, informed by the experience of being arrested not as a famous academic but as an unrecognized black man.

Ruth said...

Seems as if teh 'good cop, bad cop' line is all those of us not immediately connected with police know about practicing police work. Some fail to understand that it's an act, for the purpose of getting a suspect to tell all. Prof. Gates wasn't hiding anything, didn't need the treatment. Having been called to check out a presumed breakin seems to have confused things, and the proof that he was in his own home instead of ending the matter, frustrated a policeman who then acted inappropriately. (Nothing I do or say in my own home is inappropriate.) Prof. Gates is correct, his position makes this a perfect opportunity for an object lesson.

Christopher said...

"Crowley told a Boston sports station that Gates “seemed very peculiar — even more so now that I know how educated he is.”"

So? So what? When did it become a criminal offense to act "peculiar?"

George W. Bush has acted peculiar for 62 years and he became president.

The message in 2009 in Murika if you're African-American is clear: be afraid, very afraid, if you try to enter your own home because you can and will be arrested by the Stasi who will then go on to play the victim card and claim it's your fault for acting "peculiar."

alan "the terrible" said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shaw Kenawe said...

to the troll "alan the terrible"

You've been deleted and will continue to be deleted so long as you come here and attack another commenter with vile names.

Kevin Cassidy said...

What many of the commenters have missed is that Mr. Gates was not arrested because the officer thought he was robbing the house or refused to prove that he was the occupant. He was arrested because the officer did not like his attitude. This occurs fairly often and if you happen to be black the chance of it happening to you is much greater. Calling an officer a profane name or asking for his badge or being irritated about being accused of robbing your own house are not arrestable offenses, but in this country we have given the police such leeway that they can often just arrest you because they don’t like your attitude . The charges will often be dropped, but by then you’ve spent a couple hours or days in jail. In this case the guy they happened to throw the bogus charge at was obviously not some anonymous nobody, but someone who has stature in the community and beyond. Race is a part of the story here, but the rest of the story is about the level of power difference between the police and private citizens. This could just as easily have happened to a “white” citizen who was angry about who he was being treated. The police in this country generally demand total submission. That is the part of this story that will get much less attention than the “race” angle.

Matt Rose said...

I can't stand people demogoguing cops from the comfort of their living rooms or work cubicles.

To constantly blame the Buse administration is high-test hooey
The wild spending actually began during the Clinton years and continued during the Bush years. You can criticize Bush and co. for not seeing the problem earlier, but they DID try to increase regulation and avert a crisis back in 2005. What happened? Our friend Barney Frank and co. Shut them down.
I guess that better advisers would have seen this coming farther off, and could have mitigated much of the damages sooner.
But using debt, upon debt, for the purchasing of even more debt. Is ludicrous.

Matt Rose said...

"BEING OBNOXIOUS IN ONE'S OWN HOME IS NOT A CRIME"

Why are you defending this man when he was so obviously wrong.
His being obnoxious was only a very small part of it.
He disobeyed a Law Officer and that my friend is enough right there to be arrested. And even Barack Obama knows that. That is why he is now side-stepping this.

Arthurstone said...

If Gates was so deserving of being arrested the charges wouldn't have been dropped quite so quickly.

The cops f**ked up. All the officer had to do after establishing Gates bona fides was hand him his business card, say 'have a nice day' and leave.

Gates may well be an asshole for all any of us know.

So what?

That's what homes are for.

I Ain't Got No Blog said...

Arthurstone said...

If Gates was so deserving of being arrested the charges wouldn't have been dropped quite so quickly.
The cops f**ked up. All the officer had to do after establishing Gates bona fides was hand him his business card, say 'have a nice day' and leave.

Gates may well be an asshole for all any of us know.
So what? That's what homes are for"


The response of a Moron, a Idiot, a Liberal, or all of the above!

I Ain't Got No Blog said...

Arthurstone said...

If Gates was so deserving of being arrested the charges wouldn't have been dropped quite so quickly.

The cops f**ked up. All the officer had to do after establishing Gates bona fides was hand him his business card, say 'have a nice day' and leave.


All the Moron Professor had to do was to respond to the Law officer like the law requires he should do,like anyone else and answer the few reasonable question and HE would have been on HIS way!

Christopher said...

It's so interesting reading the lemmings say "disobeying an cop is reason to be arrested."

I'm reminded of the police officer in Manhattan who "admitted to investigators that his partner raped a drunken woman and that he himself stood by after they escorted the defenseless victim into her East Village apartment."

According to the numerous media reports including the NY Post, NY Daily News and the Village Voice, the victim was ordered to "disrobe and lay down," when she resisted the Stasi's orders, one of them proceeded to rape the woman.

This is but one story of many involving lawless, evil and crooked cops who prey on the American public.

Lynne said...

My son was stopped at midnight, presumably because the officer was bored, ordered out of his car, car was searched because the officer claimed that what was on the floor of my son's car were marijuana seeds (turned out to be gravel) and he proceeded to treat him like a murderer, calling him a scumbag, handcuffing him and throwing him into the back of the police car, telling my son that he was going to be charged for "intent to cultivate" because he must have been intending to grow it since he had so many seeds. Not seeds, gravel, asshole. He was an asshole. Sadly, most of the cops in my area are arrogant assholes. I'm not happy to admit that.

Ann L. said...

Years ago, in Massachusetts, when cops were allowed to stop cars for NO probable cause in order to catch drunk drivers, my husband, two children and I were stopped, after coming back from having dinner in Provincetown. The police directed their bright flashlights into the back seat, where my two little girls were sitting, and then proceeded to ask my husband questions about where we had been and what we had done.

We were polite and told them the truth, that we had had dinner and were on our way back to our motel.

Nothing bad happened, but as we drove away from the road block I became angrier and angrier.

I felt I had somehow been transported to a police state where innocent men, women and children were stopped and asked questions for no reason.

How did we come to allow armed police to stop Americans without probable cause, shine bright lights at frightened children, and ask probing questions of those same Americans going about their lawful, legal business.

Those who think cops should be given free rein to act in any way they see fit and who think the cops are always in the right will someday have a rude awakening about giving away their freedom for a bit of security.

Im Here To Say It said...

Lynne you are Soooo full of crap, how can anyone believe anything that you say!

If you post something that p[people agree with then you take credit for it. If you post some thing that people don't like then you say, "it wasn't me, someone is posting using my name" Boo Hoo, Hoo.
Will the real you please stand up! Because I think both you and your (so called) impostor are both full of shit!
By the way, anything you say is irreverent anyway.

Shaw Kenawe said...

IHTSI,

Sometimes Lynne IS irreverent. But I enjoy a bit of satire now and then. And I see that you do too.

Restless Native said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Advocatus_Diaboli said...

One of the questions that seems to have been lost in the Gates/Crowley debate is whether Sgt. Crowley's actions constituted an appropriate use of police power with respect to the economics of policing. Taken at face value, Sgt. Crowley's report does provide probable cause for a police officer to make a charge of disorderly conduct. However, what has not been considered is whether it might have made more sense, economically, to issue a citation to Dr. Gates than to arrest and book Dr. Gates.

We have decided as a society to submit ourselves to police powers which, it is our hope, protect both the rich and the vulnerable. To that end, I think it's fair to say that we all expect the policing power to treat us with equal respect and deference. If we think of the policing power as a limited resource, which it surely is, then I think that as a society we'd all prefer to see that limited resource be used to combat crimes that affect all of us (e.g., theft, murder, rape) than used to combat slights to a police officer's ego.

I've yet to see any evidence that Dr. Gates posed a greater threat that could lead to civil unrest, etc. Acting as an asshole though he may have been, he was not, and Sgt. Crowley's report clearly demonstrates that, disorderly conduct was the thinnest of veneers on which to retaliate against a pompous ass.

So,it seems pretty clear to me that the end discussion will be whether Gates acted like an asshole. Unfortunately, I think the bigger question is whether police are using their nearly unstoppable powers to settle petty differences instead of using those resources to defend indefensible arrests.

Let me be clear: Dr. Gates' arrest did not in any way further the interest of the citizens of Cambridge; and Sgt. Crowley's actions did nothing to protect or serve the society he allegedly serves.

Yavin4 said...

I am truly alarmed at the mindset of some of the commenters re the Gates incident.

Leave alone the race angle, which is in itself a whole thread, the very idea that some are equivocating over the arrest of someone in their own home after showing ID is simply unbelievable.

Do some of you even know anything about Constitutional law at all? Are you so paranoid about crime that you're willing to live in a goddamn police state?

Once Gates showed his ID, the cops should have left that man alone in his house. The police report even acknowledges that the cop saw the ID. Anything beyond that is a complete infringement of the man's constitutional rights.

READ AMENDMENT 4 to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Thin Blue Line said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Thin Blue Line said...

Lynne said...

My son was stopped at midnight, presumably because the officer was bored, ordered out of his car, car was searched because the officer claimed that what was on the floor of my son's car were marijuana seeds (turned out to be gravel) and he proceeded to treat him like a murderer, calling him a scumbag, handcuffing him and throwing him into the back of the police car, telling my son that he was going to be charged for "intent to cultivate" because he must have been intending to grow it since he had so many seeds. Not seeds, gravel, asshole. He was an asshole. Sadly, most of the cops in my area are arrogant assholes. I'm not happy to admit that.


Oh yeah right, it's always the Cop that’s at fault, never the perpetrator. I would bet dollars to donuts that your poor innocent son was as guilty as sin.
And that he was the "scumbag" and not the officer that arrested him. Cops don put people in handcuffs and arrest them for nothing. They know the difference between "gravel" and marijuana seeds. Don't be so naive and so gullible and so fast to blame the police officer when your son is mostly to be a lying druggie.!
When kids get into trouble there isn't anything they wouldn't say to get out of it. Most children lie so that they could avoid severe punishment. And I have no doubt that this was so in this case.
You know Cops don’t just go around and try to bust people for no reason. We want to help people not arrest them because they have blue eyes, or black skin. For what it's worth, the most important thing you can do is find out who you son is hanging around with and what he is doing in his spare time. Not run off your mouth about Cops the way you do.

Lynne said...

I'm Here to Spew It: Nobody ever agrees with anything I say and I challenge you to find any place where I "took credit" for something. I'm just here giving my opinion. The story I told is true, sorry, you don't get to disagree with something that happened to MY family, you can't possibly have an argument with something you know nothing about.

Secondly, people do post as me, although I'm not sure if they still are; I haven't been to any "conservative" blogs of late (except for RIR's and I've even stopped going there), I don't need the aggravation; life is too short.

Lynne said...

The Thin Blue Line: The story is true, the shit was gravel and the charges were dropped. But thanks for your concern. My son is not a druggie, he's a great kid who lives at home, goes to college, works and helps me tremendously around the house. He was respectful and was treated like dirt. Sorry, you don't win this one.

The Thin Blue Line said...

Lynne, I'm not trying to "WIN" anything, he's your kid! Your problem, not mine.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Lynne said...
The Thin Blue Line: The story is true, the shit was gravel and the charges were dropped. But thanks for your concern. My son is not a druggie, he's a great kid who lives at home, goes to college, works and helps me tremendously around the house. He was respectful and was treated like dirt. Sorry, you don't win this one.

July 26, 2009 6:31 PM"


"The Thin Blue Line said...
Lynne, I'm not trying to "WIN" anything, he's your kid! Your problem, not mine."

This nasty response to Lynne and your rude dismissal of her personal story [which you know nothing about]proves my and other's points about belligerence on the part of SOME policemen.

You seem to have a chip on your shoulder.

And that's exactly how Sgt. Crowley characterized Prof. Gates.

Curious, isn't it?

The Thin Blue Line said...

You see what Obama caused! He has worms like Lynne coming out of the woodwork calling Police Officers Scumbags, because her little innocent baby drug addict tried to put one over on a Police Officer who goes out there every day to protect lice like her.

The Thin Blue Line said...

Oh yeah right Prof. Gates was a Goodie Two shoes also!.

The Thin Blue Line said...

Shaw said...The Thin Blue Line said...
Lynne, I'm not trying to "WIN" anything, he's your kid! Your problem, not mine."

This nasty response to Lynne and your rude dismissal of her personal story [which you know nothing about]proves my and other's points about belligerence on the part of SOME policemen.

You seem to have a chip on your shoulder.



No chip on my shoulder, I just don't believe her.. Number One

And Number two, I resent her calling Police Offices Scumbags.

The Thin Blue Line said...

It's the same old Al Sharpton tactic, the hoodlum is always right and the Police are always wrong.
Sickening.

Shaw Kenawe said...

" The Thin Blue Line said...
You see what Obama caused! He has worms like Lynne coming out of the woodwork calling Police Officers Scumbags, because her little innocent baby drug addict tried to put one over on a Police Officer who goes out there every day to protect lice like her.

July 26, 2009 6:45 PM


The Thin Blue Line said...
Oh yeah right Prof. Gates was a Goodie Two shoes also!."

TTBL,

You got it wrong. Lynne did not call anyone a scumbag. She reported that was what THE POLICEMAN CALLED HER SON.

Then you go on to insert your opinion in a case you know nothing about, you call Lynne's son a drug addict and call her "lice."

If you really are a policeman, [anyone can assume any identity on the internet, and no one has any way of knowing if it is authentic or just BS to make a point] you've disgraced yourself with your outrageous behavior here in these comments.

No police officer I know of {and I personally know a state cop and a detective) would be as outrageous as you are here in these comments.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Thin Blue Line: This is what Lynne typed and what YOU MISREAD:


My son was stopped at midnight, presumably because the officer was bored, ordered out of his car, car was searched because the officer claimed that what was on the floor of my son's car were marijuana seeds (turned out to be gravel) and he proceeded to treat him like a murderer, calling him a scumbag, handcuffing him and throwing him into the back of the police car,...


You've proved the point of many others who believe policemen can misinterpret situations and that policemen have chips on THEIR shoulders about perceived insults to their egos.

Lynne NEVER CALLED ANY POLICEMAN A SCUMBAG.

YOU MISREAD HER COMMENTS.

Jesus!

Lynne said...

Thanks Shaw. That certainly escalated didn't it? I guess that sometimes happens when police are involved.

It is curious that a cop (he's certainly no detective) could misread and totally twist what I said.

libhom said...

Gates wasn't even being obnoxious. He was being quite restrained, given the circumstances.

libhom said...

Advocatus_Diaboli: No one should ever take police reports at face value, especially in cases of police abuse.

dmarks said...

Gates was being obnoxious. Making racist statements like he did is pretty obnoxious. He brought race into the issue where it did not exist (outside of his imagination).

There's a better than 60% chance that Lynne and her son are white. Based on basic American demographics. And her anecdote is a perfect example of how cops also do things to white people. White people who don't have the opportunity to do racist things like Gates did and play the race card against white cops.

The Thin Blue Line said...

Shaw said.... "You got it wrong. Lynne did not call anyone a scumbag. She reported that was what THE POLICEMAN CALLED HER SON"



Pardon me you are right...she didn't call the Officer a "scumbag"
SHE CALLED HIM AN "ASS-HOLE"

Is there really a big difference? Is a scumbag worse than an ass-hole.
Is a "Scumbag" worse than a "Asshole"? Or visa verses?
Hum, what a dilemma.
In any case, I apologize for my error. I guess in your eyes my error was worse than HER comment!

Lynne said...

Thin Blue Line: It's ok for you to call me lice though. Oh ok.

Sorry he acted like an asshole. That's what I said and that's what I meant. He's actually got a reputation in our town as an arrogant guy so it's not just me.

But, if you want to think all cops are perfect, that's your delusion. I prefer reality.

Erics Eyes said...

Lynne said...

Thin Blue Line: It's ok for you to call me lice though. Oh ok.

Sorry he acted like an asshole. That's what I said and that's what I meant. He's actually got a reputation in our town as an arrogant guy so it's not just me.

But, if you want to think all cops are perfect, that's your delusion. I prefer reality.



I'll take that question Lynne..
No, I don't think that all cops are perfect. And I'm sure that Thin Blue Line would agree, BUT! NOT all Kids, Professors, Politicians, and Mothers are either.
I would trust a Cop over any of the above anytime.
And for YOU to call a Policeman an ass-hole is beyond disgraceful. That goes to show you what I said about "Mothers"

Lynne said...

Eric's Eyes: Why? Because he's a "police officer"? So nobody can ever think or say anything bad about a cop even if they do or say something wrong? But it's perfectly legitimate for them to say whatever they want about us (lice). Oh I get it. Thanks for clarifying that. That makes (no) sense.

Guess what? You'd feel the same way if were your kid.

Erics Eyes said...

Ya know Lynne, from that last post of yours and from what I've been reading about you on other blog's, I'm beginning to think that maybe the Policeman is right and that YOU ARE like LICE!

As for your "KID" oh yes I bet he's an Angel, just like his Mom!

Does he call cops ass-holes also?

Lynne said...

I'm not on other blogs.

Never said my kid was an angel. But after the way he was treated, I'm sure he has a different view of the police.

Nice chatting with you.

Erics Eyes said...

Lynne said...

I'm not on other blogs.

Never said my kid was an angel. But after the way he was treated, I'm sure he has a different view of the police.

Nice chatting with you.
*********************************

The pleasure was all YOURS!

A New York Guy's View said...

*

PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THIS ADVICE
If you are innocent, then just do what the Police Officer asks and you'll be fine.
That goes for your son and for the High and Mighty Professor as well.
They have a tough job to do and for the most part they do it very well. Especially in New York City

Don't answer back like a wise Guy, Don't run away, Never Resist Arrest.
Are you listening Mr. Sharpton?