My Opinion on the Gates Arrest

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Everybody in the USA has heard about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge, MA on July 16. He was arrested for disturbing the peace after a loud and unpleasant interraction between Dr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley of the Cambridge Police who came to his house to investigate a suspected burglary. It turned out that Dr. Gates has forced his way into his own house after his lock jammed. That's all I will say about that since the story is widely available.

    For starters, I think this was not a case a racial profiling. IMO, racial profiling occurs when a cop confronts a person based mainly on that persons race or ethnicity. In this case, the officer was responding to a specific address for a specific call. Second, as much as I respect Dr. Gates, any man, of any color, should have sense enough not to piss off a cop. Nothing good comes from egging on a man with a gun, cuffs, and the law on his side. I can't guarrantee how the officer would have acted if Dr. Gates had kept his irritation in check, but if the cop had arrested him, he would have been in much deeper trouble than he is now had Gates stayed calm. An example of the benefit of being calm is the situation last winter when the Texas cop detained the football player and his family, when they were trying to get to the hospital to see his wife's dying mother. That cop was fired for clearly being a jerk. Sgt. Crowley, however, is being supported by those who always take the side of law enforcement whenever there is a dust up between minorities and the law.

    Now that I have discussed Dr. Gates, I will give my opinion of Sgt. Crowley. From what I have read and heard, he has a very impressive record, and was recommended by a Black Officer to teach courses at the Police Academy on avoiding racial profiling. I think his background is important because he clearly does not have a record of abuse, racial or otherwise. I also read reports of him trying to save Reggie Lewis (NBA player,) but I don't think that proves anything, cops and emts try to save lives, that is their job, the color of the citizen is irrelevant.

    Despite his record, I think that ultimately Crowley handled the Gates situation poorly. Crowley had every right to ask Gates to identify himself and then ask a few more questions just make sure everything was okay (afterall, having ID to prove you are a resident doesn't automatically mean everything is cool, Gates could have been a spouse breaking in on an estranged wife for all Crowley knew.) My problem is that once it was established that Gates was the legal resident, and that there were no outstanding warrants or complaints against him, Crowley should have simply said, "sorry to trouble you Dr. Gates, have a great day, I hope you get some rest." He should have done this even if Gates was getting crabby because it is not against the law to be cranky or rude. Crowley eventually arrested Gates on his porch for disturbing the peace, and I'm sure that Gates was disturbing the peace, however, Crowley needed to ask himself, what is the source of the disturbance? IMO, the answer should have been the interaction between the officer and the professor. If the officer simply left, there is every reason to believe that he situation would have died down, and Officer Crowley could have filed a report, and noted Dr. Gates behavior.

    Instead, what I think happened was that Crowley couldn't resist serving Gates a bit of humble pie. He also might have wanted to cover himself in case Gates filed a complaint against him also. Gates could have avoided that by not asking for the officer's name and number. Gates is well connected anough that he could have easily found that out later while avoiding antagonizing Crowley directly.

    The bottom line is that I think this situation was more a case of two pretty big egos clashing instead of a directly racial confrontation. Now that it has gone national, both have been hurt to a certain extent.:(
  2. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Well-said, Dr. Cheese. I think you assessed that situation well. Both parties were at fault here, IMO, as you stated. Good job.
  3. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001

    In a lot of larger urban cities, that incident would have begun with him being ordered to the ground at gunpoint, handcuffed (for everybodys safety) and THEN questions being asked.

    Race doesn't really enter into it at the start of something like that. Every cop just want's to go home at the end of his shift. I'm OK with that. It's a TOUGH job.

    Personally, I'd be very appreciative if a cop hung it out on the line to look after my property. Even if it did mean I got mistakenly rousted a little.
  4. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I think that this is non-news. One man getting arrested for being difficult with a cop shouldn't be getting national coverage. As usual it's overshadowing much more important discussions that we should be having as society.

    But enough about my thoughts on the news media.

    I agree with you regarding the egos issue. Both men seemed like they had a chip on their shoulder and both men suffered because of it. I don't know the exact details, and while I think the cop leaned towards abusing his power by arresting him, Gates certainly gave him the incentive to do so.
  5. +1 to Dr. Cheese
  6. rcarraher


    Dec 21, 2008
    Good read on the situation. I think that the police offten get a little badge heavey and over step the bounds of there sworn duty. I recently had an officer threaten to arrest me because I didn't have my drivers license on my barn, in the middle of the day, up to my waders in horse....well, yu get the picture. The officer was there because he couldn't find an address, not because a complaint had been called in but because he couldn't find an address. I guess he thought my answer to his questions were a bit smart assed when he asked me for ID in my barn. As you point out in your post, its not against the law to be cranky, or for that matter sarcastic.
  7. Never "mouth off" to a police officer, it's not worth it, no matter how wrong you think they are for whatever it is that's going on.

    They have a gun, handcuffs, a police cruiser, and a jail cell to put you in, you got...yeah, nuttin'.

    Not saying EITHER was right or wrong here (IMO, BOTH were "wrong"), just that the end result of challenging a police officer in such a manner will never go well for you to start out with. Admittedly, it could end up badly for the officer, if he's out of line, and with all the tech being used in police vehicles these days, if he's out of line, chances are he'll get nailed for it.

    I realize I am not an obvious minority (I'm part Seminole Indian, but it's not OBVIOUS), but I've had a run in myself as a teenager with a police officer trying to bait/goad me into a mistake, and it's a pretty awful feeling, to say the least. Luckily, my father was in the car with me (hard to see him, or the officer wouldn't have pulled the stunt he did, I'm sure), and even more unluckily for the officer in question, the Chief of Police in our town was his best friend. THAT was a fun meeting in the COP's office the next morning. ;)

    There are better ways to "correct" a police officer's errant attitude than arguing with him - get the goods on him, witnesses, his own video recording from the patrol car, etc - and call him down in front of his boss. Be polite and respectful to his face, he won't even begin to expect it, and you will typically not get cuffed and perpwalked.

    Don't get mad.

    Don't get even.

    Get ahead. :smug:
  8. DeluxeRed


    Jun 2, 2009
    I think, in the long run, it is MUCH more important for the police to know their place than for them to "stop" a burglary. The Framers certainly knew that, too. Freedom is much to important to give up for "safety".

    I don't believe in the "lock 'em all up cuz they might be crooks" mentality, either, that treats everyone like a threat. Yes, cops face threats, more so than I. Too bad; they chose the job. I'm not willing to give up my rights or freedoms to insure their safety.

    One of the standards that applies in many legal cases is "Who had the last chance to prevent the incident?" Clearly the cop could have prevented it. All he had to do was walk away. Gates was in his own home and commited no crime; if that's not our "safe place", what is?
  9. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    Curious response by Gates. I would be appreciative to the police for coming out to check that my house was not being broken into.
  10. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    A well written letter to an Police officers supervisor detailing a complaint about poor public relations can have a pretty big impact on that officers day.

    Provided of course, you weren't a butthead during the encounter.

    By the same token, if an officer does you a solid and is professional and courteous, writing THAT letter can be a very good thing to do as well.
  11. I dont think it was profiling, but I mean you have to look at Gates side and HIS background (if you can). Hes no young buck. Hes old and walks with a cane. Hes a man that not only has dealt with heavy segregation in his youth, but worked diligently to make himself successful as a Havard Scholar. One can only imagine the racism hes seen that we havent. Then on top of all this, Im gettin hemmed up in my own house?? Then arrested after you KNOW its me?? In the words of Chris Rock, "I aint sayin hes right (for going this far with it), but I understand" LOL.

    I can understand alot of cats saying he should have "just shut up and let it go", but as a man who has had quite a bit of profiling over his life, sometimes it gets to a point where youre really tired of it. I agree though, I dont think the cop was racist or anything like that. Just a bad job.
  12. Good point...
  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    To state the obvious, we weren't there. We don't know how Crowley approached or talked to Gates.
  14. THand


    Jun 9, 2008
    I agree with Dr. Cheese. I don't understand why it isn't this obvious to everyone. I almost didn't click on this thread after reading the way people are behaving in other forums on this topic.

    Maybe as bass players, we are more skilled/experienced at holding things together, staying calm & cool, and not needing to be the center or prove that we are right about everything. Just a thought.
  15. THand


    Jun 9, 2008
    That reminds me...

    What's up with the media's need to qualify all their statements about this with "we weren't there"???

    I seriously doubt they were actually there for 99% of ANYTHING they report.
  16. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Now that is an excellent point.:D
  17. Gates didn't show a drivers license or any other legally recognized ID with an address IIRC. I believe Gates showed a Harvard ID, with no address.

    When I was a kid, I would go to Times Square, check out a strip show [times were different then] and buy myself a college ID, with the school of my choice [the drinking age was 18]. There were scores of schools to choose from, and these things looked good. School IDs aren't worth much IMO, especially when it's the officer's job to verify residence.

    The SMV "Spanish shakedown" was an injustice, but so far, the cop's story here seems OK. So far.
  18. Agreed, but neither were we there to see how Gates approached or talked to Crowley.


    That is a knife that cuts both ways, isn't it?

    Again, I'm not on any side here, just saying that it appears to be exactly what you called it in your first post, two egos that couldn't back off. My point is that Gates should have provided proof positive he belonged where he was, then just smiled and moved on, no matter how obnoxious Crowley was. If Crowley was out of line, go to his supervisor, or with the swing Gates should have in that town, just jump the line and go to the Chief.

    Don't get mad.

    Don't get even.

    Get ahead.
  19. WRBass


    Dec 10, 2006
    Houston, Tx.
    I agree with everything the Dr. said. I will add that I think this story should be over and that it's the media blowing this all out of proportion.

    I may not understand your post and maybe I'm taking it too literally. By "framers" I'm assuming your talking about the constitution. No, the police are supposed to stop burglaries. I'm not aware of anything in the constitution that says otherwise. Laws concerning this are at the state level.

    Have you ever had anyone break in to your house and take your things? I have. When it happened to me, I wasn't worried about the burglars' freedom or safety. When someone breaks into your house when you are not there, it's a strange feeling that's hard to describe. It's more than just loosing some stuff. It's like you have been personally violated and disrespected. That's why in some states you have the right to use deadly force to protect your property.
  20. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA

    Dr. Cheese does have a good assessment of the situation.

    Note to self... :D

    1. Fix front door
    2. Get to know neighbors