"Obama Says Cambridge Police ‘Acted Stupidly’ in Arresting Gates"

Before you read what President Obama said on all this, you might want to listen to an interview with Stg. James Crowley, Cambridge Police. It is available here. A copy of the arrest report is available here. Obama has some pretty strong views on this and it is pretty clear that he was wrong to get involved.

President Barack Obama said police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “acted stupidly” in arresting Harvard University African American studies professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home after responding to reports of a burglary.

Disorderly conduct charges against Gates, 58, who had just returned home after a trip to China, have been dropped. The Cambridge police department called the arrest “regrettable and unfortunate.”

“The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home,” Obama said at a White House press conference, adding that he didn’t know what role race played in the incident. . . . .

President Obama raised the issue that race played a role in the incident. "There is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately," Obama said. Here is how the Boston Globe describes the police report:

The Cambridge police report describes a chaotic scene in which the police sergeant stood at Gates's door, demanded identification, and radioed for assistance from Harvard University police when Gates presented him with a Harvard ID. A visibly upset Gates responded to the officer's assertion that he was responding to a report of a break-in with, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?''
"Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was 'messing' with and that I had not heard the last of it,'' the report said. "While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.''
When the officer repeatedly told Gates he would speak with him outside, the normally mild-mannered professor shouted, "Ya, I'll speak with your mama outside,'' according to the report.
Gates was arrested after "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior'' toward the officer who questioned him, the report said.

I find it so expected the way that the professor said to the police officer that he had no idea who he was messing with.

Fox News has this: "Officer Who Arrested Harvard Scholar Not Sorry."

Bill Cosby was less than happy about the President's remarks:

“I’ve heard about five different reports [on the details of the arrest],” Cosby said on Boston’s WZLX. “If I’m the president of the United States, I don’t care how much pressure people want to put on it about race, I’m keeping my mouth shut.”

“I was shocked to hear the president making this kind of statement,” Cosby said referring to the president’s remarks during last night’s press conference. . . .

Obama defends his comments and gets his facts wrong:

"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Terry Moran to air on "Nightline" tonight, Obama said it doesn't make sense to him that the situation escalated to the point that Gates was arrested.

"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president told Moran. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."

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Blogger David said...

Ok, let's see.

Gates gets home, can't get in the front, enters the back door, then he and the driver break the front door in, and call the property manager to report the broken door.

An officer is dispatched to investigate a reported break in. When he gets to the house, the front door is broken and encounters a person who acts angrily toward him. The man is resistant to providing ID. After identifying the man, he still acts angry and seems to provoke the officer with racial comments.

I would think Gates would have been pleased that his neighbors cared enough to call the police and happy that the police arrived in a reasonable time to investigate. I would probably have laughed and thanked the officer for making sure things were in order.

It sounds to me like Gates is the racist here not the officer. Seriously, if it was a black officer would Gates have pushed the "just another cop harassing a black man" thing. He flat out accused the cop of being racist because he is white. Isn't that like accusing Gates of being a criminal because he is black?

7/23/2009 9:57 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

This had nothing to do with race. It was 2 individuals, both Gates and the cop that arrested him, acting as badly as they possibly could.

Gates following the cop out the door and yelling at him isn't technically illegal, even though it's quite rude.

Arresting a person who has not committed a crime is equally inane.

7/23/2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger Ken Mott said...

Sure seems like Gates is the racist.

7/23/2009 12:30 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Ken Mott:

Please provide me with any evidence that the officer is racist.

Dear Angela:

The ID that was offered did not have his address on it. If you listen to the interview, Gates was abusive and unresponsive to questions. Police need to have people answer basic questions if they are going to do their jobs properly. If you have the time to listen to the interview, you will see that the officer gave Gates at least three verbal warnings. This officer appears to have shown great patience.

7/23/2009 1:30 PM  

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