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Nadra Kareem Nittle

Black Harvard Professor's Arrest Continues to Generate Controversy

By July 24, 2009

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President Obama is facing a backlash for saying Wednesday that "police acted stupidly" for arresting Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates. What I don't get is why.



On July 16, a woman in Gates' Cambridge neighborhood called authorities to report two black men attempting a home robbery. Turns out there was no robbery in progress. The black men were Harvard Professor Gates and his driver, and the home in question belonged to the noted academic. The duo resorted to jimmying the door open because it was stuck but managed to get inside through the back door. However, when police arrived on scene and found Gates there, they asked him to provide identification to prove that he was the homeowner.



After viewing his ID and confirming that Gates indeed lived in the home, Cambridge Police arrested Gates anyway, citing disorderly conduct on his part. After the charges against the professor became public, though, the police department dropped them, calling the arrest "unfortunate and regrettable."



Despite the department's decision to drop the charges, Obama is being criticized for characterizing the arresting officer's behavior (not the officer himself) as stupid. The President's critics argue that he shouldn't have spoken without knowing all of the facts. Well, I argue that Obama didn't need to know all the facts. By dropping the charges and calling Gates' arrest regrettable, the Cambridge Police Department is admitting to wrongdoing, or "acting stupidly," as Obama so bluntly put it.



It would be another matter if the police had not dropped the charges. But by doing so, they are admitting to bad behavior on their part, however slight. What remains in dispute is whether Cambridge Police committed the act of racial profiling when arresting Gates. They deny this charge. According to them, the officer who arrested Gates--Sgt. James Crowley--has even trained other officers to avoid racial profiling. As for Obama, he never directly accused Crowley of arresting Gates due to his race. His exact words were: "What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact."



I couldn't agree more. That said, I'm not accusing Crowley of racial profiling. The fact that he arrived at Gates' home after someone phoned the authorities puts that idea to bed for me. However, I don't doubt that race factored into Gates' arrest. This is because African Americans are routinely held to a different code of conduct than whites are. I know from personal experience that when African Americans are upset about something and show it, they are more likely to be labeled as having a chip on their shoulder or an attitude problem than whites who exhibit an equal amount of anger are. In fact, in my post on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, I mentioned how it was once commonplace for people of color in America to avoid making eye contact with whites, lest they appear "uppity." Given this, I wonder if Gates was really as belligerent as the arresting officer described him as being. Even if he was, would the white officer have arrested a white Harvard professor who became indignant after being accused of breaking into his own home? I tend to think not. I tend to think that Sgt. Crowley would have given Gates' white counterpart a break in this situation rather than arrest him. In the criminal justice system, whites are routinely given breaks that blacks aren't, including fewer convictions, reduced sentences and a lower likelihood of being sentenced to death.



For the record, Gates has disputed Cambridge Police's description of him, saying that he complied with all of Sgt. Crowley's requests. The fact that the department dropped the charges against the professor only serves to make him more credible. Yet, a vocal segment of the public continues to accuse Gates of wrongdoing. And, now, the President has been accused of wrongdoing for speaking out about the incident. Unfortunately, the critics and supporters of Gates are divided along racial lines, with blacks overwhelmingly supporting Gates. This paints a rather bleak picture of race relations, not to mention a familiar pattern of all but the most liberal whites refusing to empathize with an African American in a heated incident.

Comments

July 24, 2009 at 1:43 am
(1) gregniowa says:

A racist post by a guide for “race relations”? How contrdictory!

The divisive and factually false viewpoint of the author would have us believe that black people side with Gates and whites side with Crowley for racial reasons. But the facts are otherwise. Just go and read the comments on the web now that Crowley has had the opportunity to put forth his side of the story. With commenters that identify themselves as black, they are commonly critical of how Gates handled himself in the situation. It is far from the “divided on racial lines” national response that Nadra would have us buy into.

Knee jerk support for either side without considering the facts and both sides of the story shows racist tendancies and/or an improper tendancy to support either law enforcement or claimed victims of law enforcement abuse.

In this case, in this article, the version of the event is given in the article entirely from Gates’s perspective, and the full facts are intentionally omitted to make anyone who might question Gates’s version because of other factual evidence out to be racist.

Inaccurate testimony of what happened during human conflicts is nothing new and its not limited to things like this. Just ask any mom who tries to ge the the bottom of what led up to a sibling spat.

Believe it or not, just because people do not blindly accept the version given by all accusers of law enforcement (or law enforcement) does not make them racist. They are just thinking people, black or white (or beige in my case).

July 24, 2009 at 2:40 am
(2) GeorgeFromSoCal says:

Probably race was a factor. I suspect a white professor wouldn’t have been arrested for displaying the exact same behavior. That isn’t the point, though. From the Boston Globe: “He [Crowley] tried to move away from the situation, and, when he wasn’t successful, he used arrest as a last resort,’’ Haas said at a packed news conference at police headquarters. “I do not believe his actions were in any way racially motivated.’’ How is it possible the officer was unable to successful move away? Could this middle-aged academic have been able to physically stop him? Ludicrous. Could there have been an element of pride involved? Perhaps after making such a stupid mistake, having the true situation brought forth publicly was more than he could bear? In the officers own words, “the amount of negative things that aren’t true that he was saying about me at least warranted a response…”, and so after accusing a man of breaking into his own home during the full light of noontime, his response was to arrest him on his own property. The offense was that he was vocally critical of the policeman’s actions. When a policeman makes such a mistake the policeman needs to apologize. This should be required, as part of his job description. The option to accept the apology or not, that is totally within the purview of the offended party. There is nothing sacred about wearing a badge. One can’t be accused of blasphemy for telling an officer off for making such a mistake. We are long past the days of “I can’t break the law, I am the law”. I’m a veteran. I looked at law enforcement and even took a couple semesters of Criminal Justice classes, and spoke to an FBI recruiter a couple of times. I say, the cop should have been apologetic all the way to his car, and left the scene. Attempts to deescalate the situation were obviously failing, and the officer’s continued presence would have been inflammatory even if he had been able to behave appropriately. Arresting the professor was totally inappropriate. I’d have to say the only thing stupider than the arrest has been trying to defend the actions after the fact. Police unions are doing themselves a world of PR damage right now. It is as though they want to be saying, “and we’d do it again!” If they really believe that, they need to be retrained, disciplined, or fired. In this economic climate there are a lot of *good* people who would be willing to take their jobs.

July 24, 2009 at 3:04 am
(3) Sylvester says:

if… you have the capacity …try to see it in reverse. Be honest… After confirming he was the homeowner, should the black officer have cuffed and arrested the white professor in his home…for yelling at or berating him?

July 24, 2009 at 3:47 am
(4) Nadra says:

Sylvester, no, if the cop had been black and the professor white, an arrest also would have been wrong. It’s not against the law for someone to be angry, especially in a situation like this when the “suspect” turned out to be innocent and, therefore, justified in being pissed off. Cops deal with rude, obnoxious people all the time and don’t arrest them for it.

Also, I want to include a link to an editorial Brent Staples wrote for the New York Times in June about black men and law enforcement to back my point about blacks being seen as more threatening than whites, even without cause. It’s called “Even Now, There’s Risk in ‘Driving While Black’”.

And, yes, Remo, I totally agree that news outlets should be giving Obama’s speech on health care reform more attention than his aside on Gates.

July 24, 2009 at 3:32 am
(5) remo says:

There are probably hundreds or even thousands of racial profiling incidents that occur each day in most countries, including the US. A Harvard professor emeritus that is an acquaintance of the president, is the only reason this has received national news. That, and the fact that the corporate news media would rather stir up a race debate rather than discussing Obama’s effort to reform corporate health industry’s sourge of death across the country.

July 24, 2009 at 4:12 am
(6) Matt M says:

I am completely shocked by the controversy with this arrest. Reverse the situation and of course the the white prof is arrested. You can not disobey a police officer investigating a potential crime scene. You cannot yell and scream at a police officer and interfer with him trying to do his job. Gates acted like a jerk. He could have politly came out and cooperated with the officer as I would have done and this would not have been an issue. Unfortunately he saw the whole thing as an opportunity to sue, and he was ready for it. This is going to set race relations back a long ways.

July 24, 2009 at 7:08 am
(7) Sobeit says:

The Harvard professor is part of the african-american elite created by affirmative action and appointed to tenured positions in liberal schools. They “study” crimes against black people to make a lucrative living. Obama is showing himself as one of this elite. Anyone living in a neighborhood threatened by break-ins knows that a policeman risks his life by investigating such occurances. The Harvard professor makes a great living off of trumpeting racial profiling. Our president, a lawyer at that, should have kept his thoughts to himself until all facts were in. Because he did not, OBAMA clearly was the one acting stupidly. Not a good sign for the country.

July 24, 2009 at 8:52 am
(8) Matt says:

Wow, what a biased article. The charges were dropped because he’s got money, not because the police were admitting fault. The fact he has money is what led to his defiant attitude toward the police….”You don’t know who you’re messing with” Gates was quoted as saying. White, black, or other…Elitists make my stomach turn.

July 24, 2009 at 9:34 am
(9) AlphaGriot06 says:

This article was right on point. Nice Job, Ms. Kareem.

The arrest of Professor Gates was racist. Plain and simple. A white professor or tenant would not have been arrested. Period. I don’t care how annoying Professor Gates became.

I am amused by some of the commentary.

The charges of elitism and reverse racism are cute and funny. The man was in his own home, minding his own business. The police investigated a call. And they found out that the person they were talking to was the homeowner. That should have been the end of the story, regardless of Gates’ behavior.

When Gates sues the department, much of this will become clear. Nothing in the official police report warrants (pun intended) an arrest. Ogaltree will move to establish the long history of differential treatment towards minorities on Harvard’s campus. Harvard will settle…because the situation is indefensible. Just as you said in the article, the action was clearly wrong.

For those folks who are upset by Black “elites” (LOL) calling out racism…well…get used to it. Not every Negro fits into the stereotypes. Some actually are well aware of their rights…and quite capable of demanding and obtaining justice.

July 24, 2009 at 9:46 am
(10) jim says:

You seem to think they dropped the case because the police higher ups thought it was a bad case.
How about this , the black mayor who knows gates personally took the police to drop it. How about the Black Governor who also knows gates personally told the police to drop it. The police were told to drop it, not because it was bad case. There was political pressure to make this go away. And the mayor put a gag order on the police not to “talk about this”. That is why we are getting “off the record comments”. These smells funny. Like favoritism and the this is “racist” behavior , but racism against “whites”. Just like with white firefighters case, the other shoe is dropping, and I hope it drops hard and fast.

July 24, 2009 at 9:55 am
(11) jim says:

The police should do investigation of whether the mayor or governor was called on phone and told to drop this case. Also, the DA’s office should be investigated as to if they were “told” to drop case for political reasons. Hopefully if there is good reporters out there, ask the mayor and governor if they made phone calls to DA and police to drop the case. And if they “knew” gates and if they were interfering in police matters and DA office. Talk about abuse of power, how about the abuse of BLACK POWER. Even the Black President put in his 2 cents and he personally knows gates too.

July 24, 2009 at 11:10 am
(12) Ahmed says:

he should have just given them his damn ID when they first asked for it.
He was trying to break a door in and it did look like a robbery.
just prove them wrong instead of acting like a big baby and THEN giving up and showing your ID

July 24, 2009 at 11:20 am
(13) Shorty says:

From what I’ve read, I feel both were in the wrong; the professor for yelling at the officer and refusing to step outside and the officer for getting upset when asked for his name and badge number.
I do feel that President Obama was out of line with his remarks, there are other ways he could have expressed his dismay at the situation

July 24, 2009 at 11:24 am
(14) Chris Whitlock says:

Unbelievably biased article. Guilty of everything you charge the police officer of doing, but with a platform to reach millions.

Actions have consequences, but Dr Gates does not want to acknoeldege that. I am sure he was tired and frustrated. That is not a license to be a jerk and rant against the officer’s mother, etc.

If he only had the class you might hope for in a highly edicated man.

July 24, 2009 at 11:40 am
(15) Frieda says:

If accusing a homeowner of breaking into his own house and then arresting him is not stupid, then what is? That police officer should have been apologizing for what was inherently a stupid situation. The fact that the innocent homeowner ended up getting arrested does not speak well for the policeman.

July 24, 2009 at 11:44 am
(16) ms betty says:

I don’t think the professor should have been arrested in his own home. I don’t think any policeman who perceives he is being spoken to in a disrespectful manner should have the right to arrest someone, and I don’t care if the policeman is green and the citizen is purple.

July 24, 2009 at 11:48 am
(17) Frieda says:

Sorry – I forgot to include this in my comment above. Gates says that the police report is inaccurate. I want to add that a few years ago, my husband an I were in a very bad accident on the NJ Turnpike. When we read the police report afterward, we were shocked to see that it was practically fiction (even some of the facts that could not be argued — such as my husband’s injuries that required surgery — were totally wrong on the police report). Since then, I am very sympathetic to people who say that police reports are inaccurate.

July 24, 2009 at 1:33 pm
(18) Nancy says:

Worth reading: http://tr.im/tSK2

July 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm
(19) Bryan Brouhard says:

Ok. There was a verbal exchange between the officer and the professor and it appears the professor was difficult to work with regarding his tone and demeanor. But it appears the officer was handling the situation appropriate right up to the point where he arrested him. These officers are trained to deal with difficult citizens and have the disgretion to arrest or not. In this case, the officer should have simply apologized for having to investigate and just moved on. The officer let his aggresive emotions take over and the officer decided to solve the poor behavior of the citizen, who never broke any laws, by arresting him. This is a clear case of a need to provide ongoing training to deal with the emotions that take over officers when confronted with these type of situations. More training.

July 24, 2009 at 1:52 pm
(20) JOHNNYDEPPLOVER says:

He should be grateful that the police were trying to protect his property. They were doing there jobs!!!!! Instead, Gates the ass, Mr. big professor, who thinks he’s above the law starts screaming racial profiling. Come on!! And the president is defending him!! What is happining here? Ass Jesse Jackson will get in to this as well and that Rev. Sharpton with his big mouth!!!! Throw all their asses in jail. The racial b_______s themselves!!!!! Come on here. The apology should come from Gates!!!!!

July 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm
(21) TOMCAT says:

This story is nothing but a bunch of HOGWASH!! Gates was out of control with a big FAT ego……. nothing more to say to this because GATES acted ridiculous and acted “to good and tooo educated” to even be confronted by an officer – an officer that was trying to do his job which was protecting HIS property. I just don’t get this!!!!!!!

July 24, 2009 at 3:37 pm
(22) Nero says:

Several months ago I returned home at 11:30 pm and discovered I had lost my key. As I was attempting to climb up to my 2nd level patio to gain entrance a police cruiser passed by and officers ordered me to come down. I was asked to identify myself and prove this was indeed my residence. Upon doing so, the officers not only assisted me (I am 64 and Black)in climbing up to the patio but apologized for the inconvenience.
I have no doubt that Gates, instead of showing his ID when the officer requested it went into his ‘You don’t know who I am, give me your badge number’ mode. I think his arrest was justified.
I also believe (and I voted for him) President Obama’s remarks were unfortunately and error on his part.

July 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm
(23) PJ5 says:

Why can’t we all just ALL get along??? A police officer was risking his life to protect a person’s property. Then the person who owns the property is pissed.

Am I missing something here????? Can’t a COLLEGE PROFESSOR and a PRESIDENT figure this one out?????

July 24, 2009 at 4:45 pm
(24) Danny C. says:

I can’t believe this. It’s ridiculous in today’s society that race has to be brought into this at all. It is also very sad that Professor Gates acted the way that he did considering that he is a scholarly professor who studies in African American Curriculum. But above all here is the main issue… Gates is looking for a way to blame race as the motivator, however the police were simply trying to protect his property, they were simply doing their jobs. It is as if Gates wished they had not shown up at all. Which if this had been an actual break-in Gates’ property would have been stolen had the police not shown up… chances are he would have blamed the cops for not showing up because he is an African American… Either way you spin this he is simply stuck up and unfair by holding the police to a double standard. People like Gates are just the low lives in society who happen to make it to a respectable position in society. I bet he is a great man, but he is only making racial tension get worse… not better…

July 24, 2009 at 5:25 pm
(25) holdak says:

I did not hear Obama saying who was wrong or right, all I say the police was wrong.

July 24, 2009 at 5:57 pm
(26) Mark says:

Nadra Kareem writes, “After viewing his ID and confirming that Gates indeed lived in the home, Cambridge Police arrested Gates anyway.” According to published accounts, this did not occur.

Gates tried to use his Harvard teacher’s ID to prove he lives at the house. While that proves who he is, there is no address on the ID and (at least according to the stories in NY Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe) Gates became abrasive in his conduct after Crowley refused to accept the Harvard ID as proof that the professor lived there.

While entitled to your opinions, please don’t change key facts to support them. Regardless of whether readers agree with you, it’s disingenuous to use a faulty premise as a springboard for your story.

July 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm
(27) Nadra says:

There is dispute about which forms of ID Gates showed Sgt. Crowley. Gates says that he showed both his Harvard ID and Mass. driver’s license to the cop. Regardless of whether or not he showed just the Harvard ID, Sgt. Crowley stated that, from the outset, he never thought of Gates as a burglar, so I am not changing facts to support my argument. My argument was that if the cop was satisfied that Gates was who he said he was, which Crowley admitted, then he should not have arrested Gates simply because the professor behaved obnoxiously. Moreover, there are several inconsistencies in the police report, which the website Gawker points out here. Gawker essentially did a line by line analysis of the police report, a move no major newspaper that I’m aware of has.

July 24, 2009 at 7:00 pm
(28) RUDY says:

Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, now Professor Gates – a bunch of Hypocrites!

July 24, 2009 at 7:21 pm
(29) J says:

My question to the author: What the heck are you talking about when you state blacks don’t make eye contact with whites for fear of appearing uppity? Are you living in 1930s Alabama or something?

July 24, 2009 at 9:01 pm
(30) docdorn says:

I think it is sad when people place their opinion on such a small amount of evidence they have. Here you have a police officer who responded to a call of a home being broke into. The officer does not know the home-owner is the one doing it. The officer arrives on scene and notices someone in the house. At this point the officer does not know who the man is. All that officer knows is that some one is in this house and there could be a life threatning problem. Cops are cautious for a reason, they don’t like getting shot. Now when the officer makes contact with the person in the home, the person refuses to comply with the officers request, that is a violation of law and is arrestable. The officer, in this case, followed the letter of the law. I believe that this person should of been arrested no matter what his color of skin was and I believe that the media is making this out to be a racial thing. I swear, the media does not want racial issues to go away because it draws ratings. Harvard Prof or not, what he did was wrong and shame on him for acting in this manner. I feel bad for the cop that is dealing with the backlash for his legal actions.

July 24, 2009 at 9:34 pm
(31) stellaluna says:

I locked myself and my partner out of our house about a month ago and was not into spending the money to call a locksmith.

We went all around the house looking for a window that was open enough to enter; not finding one, we went to a back door and spent some time fiddling with the doorknob and a broken lock until we were able to figure out how to get the door open.

This was in broad daylight, in an average residential neighborhood where neighbors don’t spend time with each other. We don’t really know anyone around us, and I don’t thinkk they know who we are either.

I fully expected the police to show up at any point because it was so obvious that we were trying to “break in” to the house, and it did take some time. Yet apparently either nobody noticed or nobody cared. I had to wonder what would have happened had it actually been a robbery.

I guess two middle-aged white women aren’t terribly suspcious, but I can’t help but feel that had we been young black men, we would never have gone unnoticed.

All the righteous indignation over this whole incident is ridiculous. Of course there are still race problems, and anyone who says there aren’t is just deluding themselves. We can’t expect these attitutes so many of us grew up with to go away overnight — it took us far too many years to get to where we are.

We would do far better to admit to this and to learn from each of our mistakes than we would to just act like it isn’t happening. That is the only way we will really begin to change. I sure hope the next generation does a better job of it than we are doing now.

I think this article is a good way of looking at the story from just one of many viewpoints. Thank you to Nadra Kareem for giving us some food for thought.

July 26, 2009 at 7:43 am
(32) Don says:

I am an 80 year old white man who has a job where I work with unemployed people and I deal with people of color all of the time. Generally, people who have lost their job and/or have no means of support are stressed, but over the past 10 years at my job I recall only a few cases of people being belligerent and in those cases they happened to be white. I don’t think black people are inherently confrontational. I think this Gates situation developed for different reasons.

In the Gates case I think this was a case of a self-impressed Harvard professor emeritus who felt that he was above having to show proof of home ownership because of his Harvard position and that he knew the president. I understand he said, “You don’t know who you’re messing with,” and he made it clear with that statement. The race issue came into play because he felt it was an excellent point he could throw in to win his case.

I understand that the arresting officer taught classes on how to effectively deal with the situation he found himself in. Since he didn’t just take a class in XXXXXXXXX, he taught it, over and over again, and how could he all of a sudden forget everything he knew.

President Obama made a mistake by involving himself in this racial fiasco. I listened to a commentator on a major TV channel the other night and he pointed out that the president has, since the beginning of his election campaign, portrayed himself as a “President,” not a “Black President.” I voted for him and have been happy to see him be wise enough to maintain that image because it would be very poor politics to introduce race into his platform. The black population didn’t elect him president, the white population did because they liked his platform, his attitude, and thought he was the right man.

And how sad was the statement by AlphaGriot06: “ For those folks who are upset by Black “elites” (LOL) calling out racism…well…get used to it. Not every Negro fits into the stereotypes.” AlphaGriot06, I am upset by any elitist, regardless of his color, who thinks he is above the law or what the rest of us are beholden to. You and your attitude are the problem, not the solution.

The fact is that none of us know the actual circumstances and what happened during the confrontation. It has simply been blown into a wonderful item for the media.

July 26, 2009 at 7:38 pm
(33) S says:

For a self-professed journalist, this is an extremely biased story. I would have liked to see more facts to justify a position. In this case, there are a lot of questions, since the author was not present when this all occurred.

July 26, 2009 at 11:13 pm
(34) Mike E. says:

Many of you are missing the point by focusing on Officer Crowley being at Gates’ home to investigate a possible crime. If you read Officer Crowley’s report, signed under oath, he was leaving Gate’s home, satisfied that Gates was the resident and no crime had been committed. END OF INVESTIGATION! Now Crowley goads Gates into following him outside and stays on for primarily personal reasons. Then Crowley arrests Gates on his own porch for disorderly conduct. An officer cannot arrest a citizen for a bad attitude or bad language. This officer’s job was done and he should have left once he was satisfied no crime was committed. This arrest was purely for “contempt of Cop. It is unprofessional for an officer to engage a citizen in an ongoing confrontation then arrest him for disorderly. Gates might have acted poorly, but since when is acting like a jerk on your own porch illegal?

July 27, 2009 at 5:34 am
(35) D says:

Great blog post, Nadra!

I had a very telling experience about 10 years ago. My husband and I are both Asian. We were pulled over for having a headlight out, and we waited the usual minute or so while the police ran our license plate, before they approached the car. The officer then asked for my license, registration and insurance. While I was digging through my glove box, he shone his flashlight all over the interior of our car, and asked if the can of iced tea in the cupholder was “an open container.” I told him it was iced tea, and handed the can to him. He sniffed it and handed it back to me. As I was working to produce all of this documentation another car drove by with a headlight out. Inside was a white couple. The cop motioned for them to pull over, told them, “You’ve got a headlight out. Get it fixed” and with a friendly pat on the roof of their car, let them go. No request for license, registration, or ID. No check on their license plate. It wasn’t until I was able to produce all three documents that he finally let us go. No friendly pat on the roof of our car.

The disparate treatment of the other couple and us was so blatant and stunning. It couldn’t have been a more perfect test of how people of color are treated differently by the police, for the same exact “offense.”

Granted, we were not arrested or beaten up. We weren’t even given a ticket. And the officer probably wasn’t even aware of what he had just done. But it’s another example of the subtle racism and racial profiling that half of America experiences, and the other half denies.

July 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm
(36) Orville says:

I could not share religion with these racist bastard. By the way, I am not a christian.

July 28, 2009 at 1:54 am
(37) Blkgrl says:

See, this is getting WAAAAY too much attention!! Get back to healthcare, O!! The media’s have a field day distracting the sheeple with this mess.

Okay, in light of the current controversy, I have to share this. True story, though I have to emphasize true b/c it was unbelievably too perfect and fitting.

Black guy

The other morning I was in the front of the grocery store and a Black man walks through the front door sensors with a huge box of pampers and the buzzer goes off. He just keeps walking like ain’t nothing happened and the greeter in the front calls out to him. Black man holds arms out and says, “What, you think I’m trying to steal something??” The greeter starts to say something, but waves the man on. (Guess he figured it was too early or he don’t get paid enough to argue with an angry person.)

White guy

The very next morning, I was back in the grocery store and a white guy passes through the sensors with the same type of box of pampers and the sensors go off. White guy stops in his tracks BETWEEN THE SENSORS so that it continues to go off. (He at least could’ve moved to stop that annoying sound.) No greeter is at the door b/c they are putting up the weekly special display, so he stands there until someone comes to him. The employee explains to him that it’s probably the pampers, but asks to see his receipt anyway. He complies, says thank you, and goes on his merry way.

It isn’t always about race, but about attitudes. YES, YES, and YES racial profiling is a reality in this country and people of color have a reason to be sensitive. I, myself, have been a victim. However, I don’t think that was the case in this situation. Emotions were running high and things just escalated.

August 1, 2009 at 1:57 am
(38) Tom says:

(35) D – Your conclusion looks mistaken. You described the cop stopping the other car while involved with resolving your situation. As a general rule cops stick to one situation at a time. Had the other folks become belligerent you can bet the cop would have abandoned you and gone after them. I can attest to that. Since it happened to me.

August 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm
(39) Carl Beekman, Ph.D. says:

I am very tired of this topic — the professor developed an attitude and Obama should never have gotten involved.

December 14, 2009 at 6:02 am
(40) MirandaMelk says:

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December 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm
(42) Marie says:

Wow this is truly sad! Although none of us know what happened exactly, I do believe Gates shouldn’t have been arrested. After the officer realized it was not a burglary he should’ve left the premises. Just because a person acts obnoxious or rude does not give the police the right to arrest them. People are rude to each other evreyday, but we can’t go around arresting all of them now can we! Racial profiling is very much prevalent in the world today. Many of the people who say racial profiling does not exist today are simply ignorant or must not be a person of color. I do think it was wrong for Gates to become angry and rude, but if he did not physically act on this angry, their was no need to arrest him.

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