15 comments on “Final Thoughts on Skip and the Cops

  1. This servile equivocating about what Dr. Gates should have done is frankly disgusting, not to mention hypocritical. President Obama’s apology was disgusting as well. This isn’t a personal problem between best buds that should be solved at a backyard barbecue. Professor Gates’ civil rights were violated. A uniformed officer broke the law. No American would accept being subject to arrest for the crime of being angry at home. No one would expect one of the most pre-eminent scholars in the nation to accept it if he weren’t Black. Dr. Gates in no way, shape or form shares blame for what happened to him. Once the officer ascertained that Dr. Gates was the owner of the home, it was time for him to leave. Period. Dr. Gates has the right to act any way he wants IN HIS OWN HOME. I don’t care if he was jumping up and down and howling while he was butt naked and insulted everybody in the officer’s family tree. If the officer didn’t like it, all he had to do was leave, because after all, he was IN SOMEBODY ELSE’S HOME WITHOUT CAUSE OR PERMISSION. We are not slaves to police authority (though many want us to be). We don’t have to bow and scrape and flash our teeth every time we see a badge. We don’t even have to be civil if we don’t want to. If I want to give the screw face to every cop I see, that’s my right. All any American is obligated to do is obey the law and the constitution. That’s doubly true for sworn officers of the law. The measure of personal respect that any officer should receive is directly proportional to their respect for the law that they’ve solemnly sworn to uphold, and in the case of officer Crowley and the Cambridge PD, that would be exactly none.

    • Hey Malik,
      As someone who was routinely harrassed by police himself, I understand where your anger is coming from. However, I think your coming awfully close to saying the police should bow and kneel to YOU. Who would want to be a cop in your neighborhood if your going to “give the screw face to every cop I see”? Are you then going to complain that there aren’t enough police keeping your streets safe when they all decide it’s simply not worth the pay to try to defend people who believe they “don’t even have to be civil if we don’t want to.”? I think mutual respect would be a better answer. When you say the police were in his home “without cause”, are you forgetting that someone CALLED the police and reported TWO suspects? If the police hadn’t followed up and looked in his house to make sure there wasn’t a suspect with a gun in it, would you have been equally upset that Dr.Gates didn’t receive the normal procedure if he ended up dead? I agree with you that there are a lot of examples of racist behavior by rouge cops, I just don’t think this is the right example to make your point. I’m sure there are a lot of better ones.

  2. Hey Dre,
    I’ve already stated my position earlier. But I wanted to comment on Barack’s involvement. I think it was a big mistake for him to get involved in such a divisive issue when he needs all the unity he can get on his policies, particularly health care reform. This just served as a big distraction. The fact that he didn’t, by his own admission, know all the facts in the case but still decided to condemn one side has lost Obama a little political capital that he couldn’t afford to lose right now. It would serve him better to stay focused on healthcare reform. A fight that he is now losing by the minute thanks to Republican “divide and conquer” tactics.

    • No argument there. With poll numbers slipping, a healthcare reform losing more traction by the day, and an ongoing economic crisis, the Prez would have been better off not responding to this story. His attempts at damage control won’t quell the rancor festering from his opponents…not to mention the criticism being dished out by some of his own supporters who are also pro-police.

  3. As someone who was routinely harrassed by police himself, I understand where your anger is coming from. However, I think your coming awfully close to saying the police should bow and kneel to YOU. Who would want to be a cop in your neighborhood if your going to “give the screw face to every cop I see”? Are you then going to complain that there aren’t enough police keeping your streets safe when they all decide it’s simply not worth the pay to try to defend people who believe they “don’t even have to be civil if we don’t want to.”?

    Frankly, if you’re empowered to make life or death decisions about other people’s lives and you can’t deal with incivility, I’m much safer if you decide to pursue some other line of work. It’s part of the job. Man up and deal with it.

    I think mutual respect would be a better answer.

    I do too. The key word there is “mutual”.

    When you say the police were in his home “without cause”, are you forgetting that someone CALLED the police and reported TWO suspects?

    Are you forgetting that Prof. Gates was arrested AFTER he showed the officer his ID. Read the police report for yourself. Even if you give credence to everything that was said about Dr. Gates’ reaction, you’ll note that he did in fact produce his ID.

    I just don’t think this is the right example to make your point. I’m sure there are a lot of better ones.

    You’re entitled to your opinion. It’s a free country, for some at least.

  4. @ Malik: What you call “servile equivocating”, I call a reasonable justification for Gates to use pacifistic judgement in avoiding unnecessary ass-whoppings or…worse yet…a couple of gunshots to the chest. Again, I don’t equate pacificism to kowtowing or “showin’ dem pearly whites for Masta Charlie.” I see it as a police officer responding to a call about a possible B & E and taking measures (excessive as they may have been) to ensure the homeowners’ safety. I don’t deny the racial element to this story. In fact, I urge the whites with whom I discuss this story not to blow it off. To some extent also, I can see the issue of civil rights violations (marginal as they were in this case). But a part of me keeps asking would any of this had been necessary if Gates’ maintained his composure.

    Then again, I always HAVE been accused of being an Uncle Tom.

  5. Then again, I always HAVE been accused of being an Uncle Tom

    C’mon dre. That’s not how I roll and you know it. Those words aren’t in my vocabulary. If I have to cut you, I cut with precision, not with debasing labels.

    To some extent also, I can see the issue of civil rights violations (marginal as they were in this case). But a part of me keeps asking would any of this had been necessary if Gates’ maintained his composure.

    To paraphrase a comment I read elsewhere, rights that depend on other folks generosity or tolerance aren’t rights at all. Those are sham rights. Those are Dred Scott rights. And I don’t think the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention is a marginal right. As you yourself note, violation of that right frequently leads to injury or death, for no cause.

  6. It seems to me that this was a matter of a misunderstanding combined with a lot of ego all around. The job of a policeman just lends itself to powertripping. Not all do, but way too many get caught up in their power. They know that most citizens don’t know their rights and won’t challenge them, and they know that laws are written so vaguely that they can charge you with all kinds of crap and can write that report in whatever way they so choose.

    Gates, like most, went into the situation with a “how dare you” attitude, like many of us would. Cops really believe in this thing called, “you do whatever I tell you to do. I run this show and you’re just a peon.” I’m not sure if racism was the issue.

    As far as Obama, he pretty much had no choice but to address the issue since it was asked at the press conference. He didn’t bring it up, the media did…

  7. Dre, I sat relatively quiet on this issue before. But now that I feel compelled to talk, I think you’re WRONG, WRONG, WRONG on this one!

    The police are out there to serve US…NOT the other way around. So when Dr. Gates produced the ID to prove his residency, that should have been it. But Dr. Gates was ALSO within his rights to demand a badge number, a name, or whatever other information he requested. Whether he “backtalked” or got loud is irrelevant. Gates was in HIS OWN HOME having his rights violated. Crwlely was only going after Gates because he wanted to shut him up. It may not have anything to do with race…as you suggested when you compared the story of the old white woman who were tasered. But this has EVERYTHING to do with improper conduct by the policeman. How you can see that is anybody’s guess.

    • Kenya,

      The police are out there to serve US…NOT the other way around.

      Just b/c they serve us, it doesn’t mean we have the license to treat them like s***. I suppose that’s the main reason I’m hesitant to toss the cop under the bus. As a person historically employed in customer service (even my current job at the University at its core is a support service), I’ve internalized this a bit. I find it farcical that people somewhow expect to beleaguer those who “serve” them, and not expect some form of retailation…as if that person’s position somehow shields them from their humanity.

      When I have faculty storm in my office trying to rile me up, most of the time I meet them with thick skin while maintaining my service-oriented approach. But even I have days where people have picked the wrong day to poke at me. It’s at those times where I don’t mind duking it out with them.

      I never said Gates should not have taken some kind of action if he was dissatisfied with the “service” rendered. I’m simply saying there were better ways to go about it.

      • Hey Dre,
        I completely agree with this statement by you. (Sorry Kenya) It makes me wonder how everyone who feels the police should be so subservient treats waitresses or store clerks.

    • Good try, Malik. But all this does for me is remove the breaking and entering suspicion. For me, this does nothing to cast doubt on the dude’s credibility.

  8. In cases like this, I think it’s important to get all the facts before making a claim either way (something out Commander-in-Chief apparently doesn’t do well.) The officer was wrong for arresting Dr. Gates for “disorderly conduct” even if he WAS in violation of the disorderly conduct law (but somebody will still have to describe that law to me. It’s so confusing you’d think George Bush wrote it or something). However…

    It was equally wrong for Dr. Gates to make this about racism and get huffy the moment the officer wanted to check ID. This was about protecting the homeowner from a possible B&E, not to arrest the first black man the cops saw.

    Oh yeah, and President Obama was wrong for opening his mouth. If he ever provided a red meat to his opponents, this would be the time.

  9. Pingback: Comply, or nah? | The Unmitigated Word

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