Friday, July 24, 2009


Read the update, below, on what's happened since the unfortunate incident involving Harvard Professor Gates. I suppose it would be smug to post here that several hours ago, on my Facebook page, I used the exact same wording that the President himself eventually used, in his call to the white police officer who unfairly arrested Professor Gates. Go to my Facebook page, hit "Older Posts", and you'll see what I said....Okay, I'm officially smug.
I know the incident had elements of racism in it, because I know if Professor Gates had been white, he would never have been arrested.
I also know that President Obama should've used the words "over-reacted" or "acted impulsively" to describe the police officer's actions in this case.
I am extremely pleased that President Obama took the iniative to call this police officer, to clarify his(the President's) remarks.
I hope the police officer will apologize to Professor Gates, and that this sad chapter will be closed, for good.
Here's the update, from the Associated Press:
Obama phones white policeman who arrested scholar
5 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Trying to tamp down an uproar over race, President Barack Obama said Friday he used an unfortunate choice of words in commenting on the arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and could have "calibrated those words differently."

The president said he had telephoned the white policeman who arrested Gates, and he said the conversation confirmed his belief that the officer was a good man and an outstanding officer.

Obama said later that he had spoken to Gates as well, but he didn't say any more about that conversation.

The president caused a stir when he said at a prime-time news conference earlier this week that Cambridge, Mass., police had "acted stupidly" by arresting Gates, a Harvard scholar and friend of the president's, for disorderly conduct.

On Friday, Obama made an impromptu appearance at the daily White House briefing in an effort to contain the controversy. He said he continued to believe that both the officer, Sgt. James Crowley, and Gates had overreacted during the incident, but the president also faulted his own comments.

"This has been ratcheting up, and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up," he said. "I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could've calibrated those words differently."

The incident began when police went to Gates' home last week after a passer-by reported a potential break-in. It turned out that Gates had tried to jimmy open his own door, which was stuck, and there was no intruder. Gates protested the police actions and was arrested, although the charges have since been dropped.

Before Obama's appearance Friday, a multiracial group of police officers stood with Crowley in Massachusetts and asked Obama and the state's governor, Deval Patrick, to apologize for comments they called insulting. Patrick has said Gates' arrest was "every black man's nightmare."

Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said Obama's remarks were "misdirected" and the Cambridge police "deeply resent the implication" that race was a factor in the arrest.

Sgt. Leon Lashley, a black officer who was at Gates' home with Crowley at the time of the arrest, said he supported his fellow officer's action "100 percent."

Gates has said he returned from an overseas trip, found the door jammed and he and his driver attempted to force it open. Gates went through the back door and was inside the house when police arrived. Police say he flew into a verbal rage when Crowley asked him to show identification to prove he should be in the home. Police say Gates accused Crowley of racial bias, refused to calm down and was arrested.

Gates, 58, maintains he turned over identification when asked to do so. He says Crowley arrested him after the professor followed him to the porch, repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number because he was unhappy over his treatment.

Peace, kids. Peace.


J A Harnett-Hargrove said...

Thanks Lisa. Great post, great title. -Jayne

Anonymous said...

Obama has proven himself to be a typical pompous half-wit liberal who thinks he is smarter than everyone else ...mouthing off without even having all the facts. He should focus on doing his job, which he appears to be barely capable of.

Anonymous said...

I am white, and had I reacted to the police like the professor did I probably would also have beem arrested for disorderly conduct. Except I would not have been bailed out and had the charges dropped. I'd have to pay the consequence for my stupid actions.

Prince Frog said...

" Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, also took aim at Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who reportedly has characterized the arrest as "every black man's nightmare and a reality for many black men."

Echoing the words of Crowley, O'Connor said he was dismayed that the president and governor would opine on the issue without all the details.

"It's noteworthy that both qualified their statements by saying they did not have all the facts," O'Connor said as members of his and another police union stood behind him. "Usually, when one hears those words, one would expect the next words to be 'so I cannot comment.' Instead, both officials, both admitted friends of professor Gates, proceeded to insult the handling of this case."

He further said Cambridge police resent the implication they allowed race to dictate their actions in the situation. "

I sure hope Professor Gates apologizes to the officer, to the President, to Harvard University, to the entire USA for his obnoxious behavior........

....but I just don't think he's man enough to do it.........

Collin Kelley said...

The web site Gawker gives an impressive breakdown of the incident. Here's the link:

David said...

Gatesgate (I hope I've coined that term)is a sad affair. Though I dig Gates' work (LOOSE CANONS, etc.), he does seem to have a chip on his shoulder. In this case, it seems that he pounced on a golden opportunity to broadcast racial conflict.

I've known white folks who've thrown tantrums at cops and got into trouble - even jail time - over it. It's a matter of being a brat more than being black, I think.

Many other cases qualify as a "profiling" bias. But this cop? Don't get that vibe. (And I decry rampant police abuse rather regularly.)

I think Gates is a jerk. (Still like his scholarship, however.)

Though Obama spoke too soon, I think, I commend his reaching out.

Lisa Allender said...

Harnett-Hargrove--Thank you. Yeah, I deliberately refuse to use the officer's name.
Anonymous--Name-calling appears to be your only response.
And re. your comment on President Obama's job:
"...barely capable of."
I frankly believe President Obama is doing quite well on-the-job. And apparently, even though his popularity has slipped a tiny bit, he still enjoys the highest approval ratings of any President since Reagan's first term.
Anonymous--Don't take this the wrong way, but I would know immediately you're white, given what followed your announcement of that fact.
Prince Frog--As I understand it, the arrest came about because Professor Gates asked for the police officer's badge number, and the police officer then decided he needed to handcuff the Professor, and charge him with "disorderly conduct". The fact that the charges were dropped, shows how impulsive the response by the officer was. Professor Gates does not owe anyone an apology, for having been handcuffed after having been asked for, and showing his identification, in his own home.
Collin Kelley--Thank you for this link. Unfortunately, I was only able to access a small part of it, but I will try again!
David--I disagree on your assessment that this is not an example of racial bias. I think it was, definitely. However, you sound balanced in your other comments.
Thanks to all of you who've posted so far.
For the two Anonymous posters:
I always feel more respect when the commenters can back up their sentiments, by signing their name.
While I try not to disrespect anyone, you'll get more respect here(and at other blogs, too) when you can take responsibility for your words, kids.

an average patriot said...

This was a teachable moment and an important lesson was learned but it had nothing to do with race relations.Keep your mouth shut. A cop is always right. Walk away! Right or wrong I learned as a kid give him any lip and he will at the very least arrest you!
As important as health care reform is it has taken a back seat because of what happened in Cambridge between the exemplary cop the exemplary Professor and the exemplary President.
What happened was not even about race but it was made about race as even the President showed "temporarily" that he was incapable of setting aside his learned experiences. You are supposed to look at a situation and evaluate it as it is without injecting you and your thoughts into it.

Lisa Allender said...

Average Patriot--weeeeeel, I don't agree I havta "walk away, no lip" to a police officer, or anyone in authority. While I am very respectful, if I felt betrayed, or not "heard", I would stand up for myself--even if it meant disagreeing with a law, or an officer of the law(see also: civil disobedience, protesting, etc.)
I DO think this was a race-thing, but you know what? There were other elements in here: distrust of authority(and who can blame any minority for feeling fearful, given the unfortunate history of authority vs. minority?)

christine said...

The beer idea is the best one I've heard so far. I hope they can smooth things out. I wish President Obama hadn't used the word 'stupidly,' but he's only human. Prof. Gates is his friend, isn't he? We can't expect perfection from Obama. And he's doing an outstanding job.

We're fooling ourselves if we think race relations don't still need healing. I say, have the beer, and make peace!

an average patriot said...

I agree Lisa but even if you say your piece you lose. When we were kids my sister was a street fighter too. She gave one of my friends lip who was a Salem coy. Today one of her eye brows is spread out above eye.

Michelle said...

This one I think has been blown our of proportion. The Police don't like it when people give them a hard time. Black or white.

Dave Dubya said...

Did you hear the black officer admit that the incident would not have happened if he was the responding officer?

Crowley was unprofessional and allowed this to escalate out of proportion. His job was finished when he ascertained Gates resided there.

Although he should not have spoken about it, Obama was correct. By not leaving, Crowley acted stupidly. People get killed when cops allow themselves to become emotionally involved and try to assert authority for authority's sake.

Lisa Allender said...

Christine--Thank you for stopping in!(btw, I LOVED that poem at your blog, about the Virgin Mary talking about her son)
Average Patriot--Your sister was street-fighter? I do hope she's alright; that's horrifying, hearing she got hurt!
Michelle--It got larger and larger, partly because the President weighed-in on it. Face it, kids, if President Obama even weighed in on which popcorn he eats, it would be news. So of course, this will make news.
Dave Dubya--This does not surprise me. This WAS racially-biased, and it also got way outta hand, for all the reasons I listed, and that my dear "regulars" and newbies to this blog--pointed out.

David said...

There's an angle I hadn't considered until now, since acquiescence is such a knee-jerk reaction when faced with authority: The problematic, statutory stuff about being arrested for annoying a cop.

Hard to draw the line between civil and disruptive.

Whether this involved racial bias or not, and though being called a racist can cause someone to become very agitated and threatened, I do think that indignation shouldn't be arrest-worthy. Good points from all the folks who've commented!

J A Harnett-Hargrove said...

Hi again,
Hot topic!
I saw this on another comment page...'This blog does not allow anonymous comments'... thought you may be able to find the function.

oh, funny word ver is SWOON,

Lisa Allender said...

David--Thank you for your comments. DO come visit again soon!
Jayne of Harnett-Hargrove--Hi, yeah, I know I could enable the "no anonymous comments" function, but so far, I've left it open to people to post anonymously.
Peace, yo.

Anonymous said...

I seem to keep finding blogs I love, and then the entries that I would like to link to within my own blog, very much late. But I want to say, Lisa, that I completely agree with you. Bravo! I may still link to this yet.

I am now a follower. Hahaha

Lisa Allender said...

Keith Wilson--Thank you for visiting. I would love to "follow" your blog, but could not find the button.
Also checked out your friend's piece on William Shatner/Sarah Palin/Poetry. ;)