During Barack Obama’s Wednesday evening press conference that was supposed to be yet another one of his lame attempts to push his government takeover of our healthcare system into the faces of Americans, who are overwhelmingly not interested in the plan since they are happy with theirs, he was asked a final and completely off topic but certainly pre-arranged question about the arrest of his good friend Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates.
While there are naturally a few disputes between the police and Gates about exactly what happened the basics are these according to various news accounts I have read over the last several days.
On Thursday July 16 Gates had returned to the Harvard University owned residence he had recently moved into, a residence that showed signs of a previous break-in attempt about a month or so earlier, after a trip to China and was having difficulty opening the front door even with the assistance of the man who had driven him to the apartment.
A neighbor, Harvard magazine fund-raiser Lucia Whalen, noticed the men attempting to gain entry into the home at about 12:45 in the afternoon and thought something was amiss so she called police telling them that someone was breaking in through the front door of a nearby residence.
In the meantime Gates had gone around to the rear of the house and gained access through the back door. He then turned off the alarm system, exited the back door and made his way back around to the front. He and the driver eventually managed to get the front door open and Gates then entered the residence and the driver left.
About that time Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department arrived to investigate the report of a possible break in and approached the front door of the home where he encountered Gates inside.
Soon one Hispanic and one black officer showed up on the scene to assist Crowley who was asking Gates for identification which he refused to provide telling the officer, “No I will not!” Gates then began to call Crowley a “racist cop” for asking a black man for ID when he is simply standing inside his own home warning him, “you don’t know who you are messing with!”. Crowley explained the reason he was there was to investigate a report of a possible break-in to which Gates responded, “Why, because I’m a black man?”
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The officer then asked Gates to come out onto the front porch and talk with him and the professor was reported to have said, “No, I will not!” and, “I’ll speak with your mama outside!” At some point Gates eventually provided a Harvard University ID card and then stepped out onto the front porch and began to shout to the accumulating crowd, “This is what happens to black men in America!”
Satisfied that Gates was indeed a resident at the address the officers began to leave but the 5′-7″ 150 pound professor wasn’t done. Outraged that police officers had the audacity to question him just because it looked like someone was trying to break into the apartment that he had just moved into and infuriated he was asked to provide identification when the police should have just assumed he was the legitimate resident of the home because he was standing inside, he continued to berate the officers hurling racial accusations as they walked away.
Refusing requests to pipe down and ease up on the belligerence Gates was then placed in handcuffs and arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
Refuse to provide identification when asked, become verbally abusive and act in a completely uncooperative manner when the police show up to lawfully investigate a report of an attempted break in and chances are virtually certain you too will be arrested and hauled off to the pokey…no matter the color of your skin.
The cops had no idea how quickly this legitimate arrest was going to unravel.
You see Gates had a get out of jail free card in his wallet in the form of a good friendship with president Obama, the black mayor of Cambridge E. Denise Simmons who said she was “outraged” over the arrest and has forbidden the police from talking to the media about the incident and the black governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick. How’s that for one helluva trifecta?
When asked about the arrest of the Harvard professor after his healthcare dog and pony show Obama opined thusly,
“I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”
Obama said that he, too, would likely be stopped by police if, like Gates, he was seen forcibly entering his home. But the president, standing in the East Room of the White House, laughed at his own hypothetical example and said that since the White House is now his home, if he were forcibly entering it, “I would be shot.”
Saying that while African-Americans and Hispanics are more frequently stopped by police, Obama said, “That doesn’t lessen the incredible progress we’ve made. I’m standing here as testimony to that. And yet the fact of the matter is it still haunts us.”
As seems the case more often than not with Obama he had his facts on the case completely screwed up. Gates was not arrested because he was a black man. Gates was not arrested because he was suspected of breaking into his own home. He wasn’t arrested for not providing ID when lawfully required to. He was arrested for yelling, screaming and causing a scene in front of his house while berating law enforcement officers in front of a crowd making for a potentially dangerous situation for the officers who were just there to do their jobs. This behavior is commonly referred to as “disorderly conduct.”
Had Gates simply provided an ID and explained what was going on without insulting the officer with racial taunts and making a big scene while threatening them with going over their heads we wouldn’t have heard a thing about this particular law enforcement contact with this professor.
Any reasonable person can see what happened in this case and as much as I hate to say it these kinds of situations are certain to increase as time goes by.
Maybe this article will help explain why.
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