stigme, quoting from the police report: As he did so, I radioed on channel 1 that I was off in the residence with someone who appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative. I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end of his telephone call to “get the chief” and what’s the chief’s name?”. Gates was telling the person on the other end of the call that he was dealling with a racist police officer in his home. Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was “messing” with and that I had not heard the last of it. While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.
In other words, by Sergeant James Crowley’s own admission, even if you grant every element of his claims for the sake of argument, he no longer had any probable cause to suspect a crime or any legal reason to be there, long before he arrested Gates. “Surprising and confusing” a cop by getting upset with him is, of course, not a crime. So why didn’t Crowley just apologize for the trouble and leave?
grabe: Everywhere I’ve lived, if you raise your voice to cops when they had probable cause to suspect you of a crime, depending on their mood, they’ll raise their side of the conflict until either you back down or they slap the cuffs on you and take you ‘downtown’. It’ll happen to you regardless of color – I’ve seen it; lived it.
The cop’s own report makes clear that Crowley had no probable cause to suspect Gates of a crime once it became clear that he did in fact live in the house he was supposedly “burglarizing.” Crowley had concluded that it was Gates’s house by the time he radioed back; he had conclusive evidence when Gates gave him photo ID. So why didn’t he just leave, instead of leading Gates out to the front porch and then arresting him for hollering inside his own house, which is not a crime?
I do agree with you that police often take a domineering attitude and use the threat of arrest and jail to force people to submit to their arbitrary commands, even when it is clear that no crime has been committed. This is common when police deal with any non-police, whether black or white. But I think you’ll find that it is more common when cops deal with people who are members of certain demographic groups that are seen as being special problems for Law-n-Order — notably black people, Latinos, poor people, young people, and a few other commonly-targeted groups. And in any case, even if it has nothing to do with race at all, the fact that this sort of thing is common does not make it right. It is, in fact, a tyrannical abuse of power by legally privileged police against innocent victims who have committed no crime.
Yvonne Moultrie: both men had prejudices and chips on their shoulders. obama was right; the officers involved did act stupidly. but then again, so did dr. gates.
Maybe, maybe not, but even if this is true, only the stupidity of “the officers involved” resulted in an innocent man being rousted out of his home, handcuffed, humiliated in front of his neighbors, and thrown in jail on a bogus charge.
I’m not all that worried about foibles which, at worst, cause a man to toss off so insults which are possible unfair, at people who barged onto his property without his permission.
I tend to worry a lot more about the stupidity of people who have, and are willing to exercise, the power to jail me or shoot me even when I am neither threatening anyone’s safety nor violating anyone’s rights.