Monday, July 20, 2009

Did I just take a Quantum Leap back to 1942?

First its kids being banned at a swimming pool
then racist questioning from the Senate to Supreme court nominee Sotomayor
then Billy Graham going off about the rights of the white man (KKK much jerk?!)

For those of you that missed this, Prominent African American scholar Henry Louis Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct in his own home... HUH? Wait did I just type his own home, yes I certainly did. Here's the article for you to read:

Harvard professor Gates arrested at Cambridge home

July 20, 2009 05:55 PM

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates’s Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had "no idea who he was messing with,'' the report said.

Gates told the officer that he was being targeted because "I'm a black man in America.'' [To read a copy of the police report, click here]

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver’s license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. "It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,'' the officer wrote in the report.

Gates, 58, declined to comment today when reached by phone.

The arrest of such a prominent scholar under what some described as dubious circumstances shook some members of the black Harvard community.

“He and I both raised the question of if he had been a white professor, whether this kind of thing would have happened to him, that they arrested him without any corroborating evidence,” said S. Allen Counter, a Harvard Medical School professor who spoke with Gates about the incident Friday. “I am deeply concerned about the way he was treated, and called him to express my deepest sadness and sympathy.”

Counter, who had called Gates from the Nobel Institute in Sweden, where Counter is on sabbatical, said that Gates was “shaken” and “horrified” by his arrest.

Counter has faced a similar situation himself. The well-known neuroscience professor, who is also black, was stopped by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect as he crossed Harvard Yard. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

That incident was among several that ignited criticism from black students and faculty, highlighting the prejudices that many black students say they continue to face at Harvard.

“This is very disturbing that this could happen to anyone, and not just to a person of such distinction,” Counter said. “He was just shocked that this had happened, at 12:44 in the afternoon, in broad daylight. It brings up the question of whether black males are being targeted by Cambridge police for harassment.”

Cambridge police would not comment on the arrest, citing an investigation into the incident by Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. A spokesman for Leone said Gates is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 26 and said the office could not provide details on the arrest until that time.

Gates is being represented by Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, who has taken on previous cases with racial implications.

Is this what Post Racial America means? Because this seems more like the same America. When is it OK to arrest someone for being in their own homes, even if they are screaming (which I do not believe this man did) at you from their porch?

I'm not shocked that the Cambridge, MA police are racist, after all Boston has quite the reputation for racism. What I'm in awe of is treatment of this man when a blind man could see they were wrong. The police officer was called to investigate a possible robbery, when it came up not at all a robbery then why didn't the cop go on his merry way? Let me tell you why, because Black men in this country are Guilty until proven innocent. It didn't matter that this man has degrees out the wazoo, and that he holds one of the highest positions in academia, NOPE none of that mattered.... All he was at that point was a BLACK MAN, and he was therefore GUILTY! If for some bizarre reason Skip Gates did say he'd speak to the officers mama outside, why didn't he just write it off as a crazy old man, and just go on to worry about real criminal? BLACK MAN is the only answer I can give, guilty so lets take him in.

And this you say is Post-racial America? Seems like the same old Jim Crow America. I laugh in the face of this notion that because white people voted for Obama we no longer see race. As I posted a few weeks back, America is plagued with this cancer of racism. And until it is recognized and cut out we will continue to have these kind of incidents happen. So what do I suggest, I urge you my readers (black, white, yellow whatever color) to explain these things to your kids, nieces, nephews, next door neighbors. Racism does not just have a choke hold on the group that is oppressed it eventually oppresses us ALL.
It's time for us to raise our fist and raise kids that will lead the revolution and put in place the changes our President spoke so eloquently of. The physical chains are gone but the mental one still remain and its time for us all to be free.


Mizrepresent said...

Amen, and hallejuah...i'm with you on this sis!

Ms. Jones said...

Great post! My favorite blurb is when you said,"Black men in this country are Guilty until proven innocent. It didn't matter that this man has degrees out the wazoo, and that he holds one of the highest positions in academia, NOPE none of that mattered.... All he was at that point was a BLACK MAN, and he was therefore GUILTY!"

That in itself is so profound yet so mind boggling at the same time being that it's 2009! From another perspective I can see why things like this are still happening...when this story broke black America was more concerned with Chris Brown's apology. Shameful!!!!

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

On point, chica!

12kyle said...

great post! can you imagine what would have happened if skip gates was 24 yrs old...pants fallin off his ass...lookin like a rapper? he might have been his own house.

i would say that this story shocks me but it doesn't just anutha reminder that it doesn't matter if your name is skip gates, barack obama, or some...we're just a color.

michael said...

I think that reality of the situation is that the police where there because someone made a call, and they had to respond to the call. That is there job. Now the person who called may or may not have racial profiled. I defy any of you to determine the thoughts inside of someone else's head, from thousands of miles away and from reading about it in a newspaper article.

What happened afterwards between the police and Dr. Gates is a mystery. Two sides of the conversation can often hold two truths. However, the cops were only there because they were called.

Jim Bob said...

This is a huge over-reaction by people who want to see racism when there is none. It doesn't matter how distinguished the professor is, he is still a private citizen and should co-operate with the police. I would think he should be grateful the police were there, since he had break-ins previously. Read the police report. There are two sides to every story. Those who say a white professor would not have been treated this way, you are correct, because no white professor would behave this way toward police who were only trying to do their job.

Anonymous said...

The officers were attempting to respond to a possible Burglary at the home of Prof. Gates. They were trying to help and were only greeted with a pompous attitude. The Prof. was calmly asked to cease and desist his badgering three times or he could face arrest for DC...he would not do so. This comes from someone very leery of authority. Great career move for the esteemed Prof. though. He can parlay this event into many projects.

johnrj08 said...

This whole story is a lot of crap. A neighbor called the police when they thought they saw someone breaking into the professor's home. The caller did not say the alleged intruder was black or white. The police responded to the call and, when questioned by officers, Dr. Gates became abusive and belligerent to the officers who had come there to protect his property. Gates turned what should only have been a misunderstanding into a racial incident and he has no one to blame but himself. Is there still racism in America. You bet. But professor Gates was a victim of his own dysfunction.

Nathan Weyer said...

Just because the homeowner is black and the police officer is white does NOT have the homeowner a blank check to be hostile in a situation where the officer can reasonably assume the person is not the actual home owner.

I also have a hard time with the 'this never happens to white people!' meme going on here. Have any of the people saying this ever watched COPS?

ShellyShell said...

@johnrj08 First of all the neighbor did call 911 and say that there were two black males with backpacks on breaking into the house. Read the story!
Last I checked it's ok to be beligerent in your own home! He showed him his id and wanted the officer's name and badge number. Why wasn't the officer cooperating with him? At this point the officer was in Professor Gates's home!

@Jimbob You said"Those who say a white professor would not have been treated this way, you are correct, because no white professor would behave this way toward police who were only trying to do their job." Try being a black man for a day! You wouldn't last. Try being an educated well dressed black man who can't hail a cab because the cab driver thinks he may have to go to a not so nice part of the city. Even our own President said he's had a problem hailing cabs! I'm an educated black woman who has been in Saks and Bloomingdales and have had the sales people looking at me. Little do they know I can afford quite a bit in their stores. As I stated above Professor Gates can act however he wants in HIS HOME! He wasn't a threat to the cop. Ohh wait he was. Why? BECAUSE HE'S BLACK! He asked the cop for his name and badge number but the cop said nothing. WE AS CITIZENS PAY THE COPS SALARY. JUST AS THE COP ASKED FOR GATES ID. WHEN GATES ASKED HIM FOR HIS HE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN HIM THE INFORMATION.
There's plenty of just don't see it or understand it!

Smarty Jones said...

PREACH Shelly!
OK, several things here. Michael you are correct, the police did go after someone made the call. The someone who made the call should be able to recognize her own damn neighbor regardless of what he looks like. And if this were the case, why didn't someone call the police when someone was really trying to break in his home which is why he couldn't get the damn door open in the first place.

@Jim Bob, I agree that he is a private citizen, but the fact of the matter is had Dr. Gates been a white professor, he would not have been asked to ID himself in such a situation. As for the "behaving himself in that way," I say that obviously you have yet to be stereotyped because of the way you look or thought to be belligerent just because your skin is of a darker hue than others. And that comment in and of itself is laced with some pent up racism that you won't admit. In that comment, you have all but said that black professors act differently than white professors. Are you not generalizing based on race? Next ...
@Anonymous, I don't see how he was being pompous. Even in the police report, which has magically disappeared, the officer's account of what happened is beyond unbelievable. Really? "I'll talk to your mama outside?" Who believes that? Nobody over the age of 12 says that.
@JohnJr, the police even said they were responding to a possible break-in in progress by two black males. Go back and re-read the stories, hon!
Now to all of you, this whole thing is a case of entrapment. I said it, I believe it and if you read what actually happened, that's what it points to. In the police report, he said he asked Professor Gates to step outside. Professor Gates admitted that it was against his better judgement but he did it to COOPERATE!
Once outside, he probably became irate, and rightfully so, but once he was outside, he was on public property therefore earning him a disorderly conduct charge.
While he was in his house, he could have said whatever he wanted as long as he did not touch the officer in anyway. The officer lured him outside to put him on public property to make an example of him. This happens everyday when people "disrespect" the police. My concern is why weren't all these officers somewhere solving real crimes instead of picking on a 5'7, 150 pound black man on a cane!
I can not expect WASP males to ID with blatant descrimination and racial profiling because it has never happened to them. So please, spare me this whole, "finding racism where it's not" bullshit because you're blind to it.

The Jaded NYer said...

damn... what can I add that Smarty & Shelly haven't already touched upon?

Gentlemen (who responded prior to Shelly's comment) I think the theme of the responses here, and the point of all the outrage over this arrest is that no matter who is in the white house, what degree you have or the amount of money in the bank at your disposal, being Black, especially in America with its bloody history of race relations, is a precise and deliberate choreography called "don't get shot by the cops" and maybe you can't understand that. How many stories do we have to read of Black men being mistreated, hurt or shot at the hands of over-zealous law-enforcement before you get it? You see a police officer and feel safe. We- especially Black men- see a police officer and fear for our (their) lives.

Do I think it justifies any "disorderly conduct" on the professor's behalf? Listen, I've met my fair share of pompous university figureheads, so who knows what really went down inside both Gates' & the arresting officer's mind, all I'm saying is you need to understand this isn't an isolated incident that we are blowing out of proportion. This is but another in a huge trough of incidents that are so incredibly frustrating in ways I can't even articulate.

Does that help clarify any questions you might have? If not let me know; we're more than open to an intelligent dialogue on the matter over here.

Dee said...

Ok, first of all, for those who say "read the police report," ummm, it's drafted....wait for it....BY THE POLICE! A bit one sided-no? In case you didn't know, police reports are often biased and/or incorrect. Therefore, it has little value in a court of law and is not the end-all-be-all piece of evidence many think. How do I know? I work in the legal system. But even if I did not, common sense would say it’s biased.

Second - no one it faulting the police for doing their job. However, said job ended when Prof. Gates' ID was verified. HOWEVER: Why call Harvard to make sure Gates worked there, after the man produced a Harvard ID? Would this have happened to a white person? Doubtful. Hint of racism # 1.

Third – the officer should not have remained in Gates’ home without permission and/or warrant after he ascertained that Gates lived there. Privacy in one’s home is a CONSTITUTIONAL right, and is put in place to prevent the cops from runnin’ up in your crib willy-nilly. Even in the case, hypothetically speaking, where it is clear that a person is selling drugs out in his house, or running a prostitution right, etc., a warrant is STILL required. Hint of police misconduct # 1.

Fourth – Yes, both sides acted a bit irrationally. Both were riled up at this point, which is understandable, and words were exchanged. However, Gates mouthing off did nothing to harm the officer such that the officer could arrest him. Yet the officer LURES Gates out of his house just so that he could arrest him on some bogus charges (which were dropped, I might add). I’m sure the officer really could not accept this “boy” talking to him any old way. Hint of racism and police misconduct # 2.

What everyone is so angry about is that police are supposed to be trained professionals. A trained professional would have diffused the situation by leaving when it was clear no crime had been committed, not escalate it into the mess we have today. This cop acted on emotions…the same emotions which causes them to whip out their 9MMS and shot largely men of color dead. These emotions stem from strained relations between the races. That is what this all boils down to. For this who cannot understand this, please, wake up.

Dee said...

@ Nathan - I'm glad you brought up COPS. Surely you have seen, then, many instances of white people mouthing off at the cops and not being arrested. So your point is....?

@ JimBob - I think its a fair assumption that a person of any race, after returning from a trip to China, you're sick, and cannot get into your own home, would be thoroughly ticked, when you finally do get inside your home, are being asked by police for ID. If they would not be, God bless 'em, we need more folks like that in the world.

Honestly, I'm glad this has happened...let's keep this race discussion going, it's about time, America.

Anonymous said...