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Top black academic arrested - Obama comments

(96 Posts)
kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 10:49:34


I am shocked & fascinated by this story.
I just can't see how the police can justify the arrest unless Gates was actually violent (as opposed to just angry) with the police officer, and there's no evidence he was.

And good for Obama in being willing to come out and say that the police acted 'stupidly', rather than saying something bland and trying to avoid the issue.

LeninGrad Fri 24-Jul-09 11:50:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 11:57:42

That's what I thought Lenin. I know very little about police but recently read this book and I think the Harvard cops could learn a lot from him....wink

I mean of course Gates is going to be pissed off, but it's not as if he was refusing to show ID, so surely it was the policeman's job to check the ID, apologise for disturbing him and get the hell out without inflaming things further, even if Gates does start ranting about racism.

mayorquimby Fri 24-Jul-09 12:35:52

i've heard it reported in completely different ways from different meida outlets so it's ifficult to know what actually happened. if he did indeed become abusive and disorderly he deserved to be arrested.

pseudoname Fri 24-Jul-09 12:47:07

not only do black men get stopped and searched more often, they are also arrested more often, found guilty more often and are more likely to get a custodial sentence and their sentences are longer than comparable circumstances for white men.

the stopping and searching is just the tip of the iceberg.

Nancy66 Fri 24-Jul-09 13:02:18

I don't think we will ever know the true story although I am more inclined to believe the prof than the cops.

I don't have any issue with the police turning up and questioning him - that was in response to a resident's call. But as soon as he was able to reveal that it was his home they should have driven off.

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 13:02:53

Really MayorQuimby? I've heard different opinions ('Gates shouldn't have got angry', 'He should have calmed the cop down') but no differences in the facts.
No-one is saying Gates stayed calm and polite - it's fairly clear he accused the officer of racism and no doubt raised his voice.

msled Fri 24-Jul-09 13:16:35

Good for Obama! A politician who is also a real person,what a shock.

pseudoname Fri 24-Jul-09 13:43:09

'He should have calmed the cop down' shockshock shock

a bone-head actually suggested that? goes to show the convoluted logic, doesn't it.

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 13:49:57

Yes, black people should behave more like Nelson Mandela apparently.

It's interesting - there is a lot of 'Oh well I went to Harvard and Gates is a jerk anyway, if he'd been polite to the cop instead of being a pompous ass it wouldn't have happened' on the blogosphere. I don't think anyone disputes that he lost his temper and was rude to the cop and accused him of racism, but I can't quite see how arresting him was in the public interest no matter how rude he was to the policeman. People do sometimes get arrested for being abusive to the police in all kinds of circumstances but a policeman has to make a judgement call as to whether it's better to slap the handcuffs on or judge that the person is unlikely to harm anyone and quietly withdraw.

ilovemydogandmrobama Fri 24-Jul-09 13:53:49

What do you mean, 'may not know the whole story?'

Of course we know the whole story. The Boston police are racist. How hard is that? hmm hmm

mayorquimby Fri 24-Jul-09 14:16:53

sorry yes, didn't mean different facts. but different perspectives,is how i more likely should have phrased it, as to how abusive the prof was and how irate he became.

i don't think this instantly means that the cops where racist, i think wether the arrest was the right decision or not rests upon how abusive or disorderly the professor became.
i don't think immediately accusing the cops of racism points towards him being a saint and it could be argued that it points to some inherent racism in himself.

as i said, without seeing a transcript or video of the altercation i don't think i could judge if it was the right decision, but immediately pointing to racism doesn't help matters imho, as i don't think it's clear wether or not race was a deciding factor.

similarly in the case of the criticisms of the surgeon general in the last week people were making out as though it was a racial issue when it's not (although i think it may well be a sexist issue).

i'm also not sure it's wise for the president to comment on cases where a)he admits he doesn't know the full facts and b) may well result in a civil suit

spokette Fri 24-Jul-09 14:22:49

My parents came from Jamaica in the 1960s and they worked and saved for three years in order to have enough for a deposit on a house.

When they got the keys for the house, they struggled to open the door. The white neighbours called the police (did not occur to the bigots to offer help). My father had to prove that the house belonged to him and my mother and that he was not a burglar.

Forty years on and black people are still having to put up with this crass type of stereotyping, even though we are suppose to live in more enlightened and tolerant timeshmm.

The professor should be thankful that he was not driving a nice car because the police would have clubbed him first and then asked questions later.

dittany Fri 24-Jul-09 14:23:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mayorquimby Fri 24-Jul-09 14:25:50

what's the car/clubbing reference? has there been a racist police brutality case recently? horrible if there was

dittany Fri 24-Jul-09 14:26:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

msled Fri 24-Jul-09 14:34:57

I think people have a right to be 'disorderly' in their own lawfully occupied living room, actually. The policeman was not a guest. Yes he was doing his job when called, but he should have left immediately he was shown identification, while apologising profusely.

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 14:38:57

shock that Dittany can't stand Obama!

MayorQuimby - ok I agree that in any individual case like this one we can't know for sure that the cop was being racist. He may have not had the slightest problem accepting that a black man could be a prof and live in a big house, and might have just been not good at defusing confrontation and have been rubbed up the wrong way by Gates's 'do you know who I am?' reaction.
However, given the wider context of racism against black people in the States and by the police in particular, it's not an entirely unreasonable conclusion for Gates to jump to and I think saying actually he was the one that was being racist there (as some bloggers have said, can't be bothered linking as it will only encourage them!) would be a bit rich, given that he's accusing the cop of racism because of the situation and how he's behaving rather than just the colour of his skin. ie effectively, not just 'you're a racist because you have white skin' but 'you're a racist because you have white skin and you're acting typically of a racist police force in finding it hard to believe I, a black man, can be a Harvard prof and own this expensive house.'
(apologies for convoluted sentence!)

spokette Fri 24-Jul-09 14:39:52

Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the wind"
"How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?"

Well for many white police officers, it does not matter how educated or hardworking or law-abiding a black man is because he will always be black first and a man second.


mayorquimby Fri 24-Jul-09 14:40:00

while i may agree with you that upon being shown identification he should have left it at that and left, i don't see why there would be a need for apologising profusely.

Nancy66 Fri 24-Jul-09 14:40:10

Ilovemydog - the only people that know the full story are the professor and the police. ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 14:40:53

sorry, last sentence should have been 'appearing to find it hard to believe....'
[makes convoluted sentence even more so!]

msled Fri 24-Jul-09 14:40:55

Because they should apologise for being in his house and being in the wrong. It's normal courtesy. The police are public servants.

mayorquimby Fri 24-Jul-09 14:42:26

it's not really a "fact" though is it?it's an opinion.

it's like me saying no matter what a police officer does, even if it is carrying out his job properly, if it involves a black suspect or questioning a black man everyone will cry racism.

even though once again that is plainly not a fact, it is an opinion.

kathyis6incheshigh Fri 24-Jul-09 14:43:07

But I don't see anywhere that the prof's account and the policeman's are disagreeing. That's an interesting things about this incident really - AFAIK the policeman isn't saying 'and then he tried to hit me' and the prof isn't denying he ranted at the cop. The argument is more over what is reasonable behaviour under the circumstances and to some degree about motivation, rather than about who did or said what.

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