Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Henry Louis Gates and Police Abuse of Power

Most of you by now have now heard of Henry Louis Gates, the black scholar in Cambridge MA who was arrested in his own home after someone mistakenly thought he was a burglar and called the police; he was arrested for disorderly conduct, despite the fact that he had established himself as the proper resident of the home.

I will admit to bias here, because, frankly, I don't really have very much respect for the police so much, I particularly don't care for how much of the culture--particularly the Christian community, for whatsoever reason--seems to go so far as to downright worship the police; they constantly call on us as citizens to be "good citizens" but they never call out police abuse-of-power, they never call out police people as being responsible and accountable for how they treat the population as a whole.

It gets tiring, and frankly at this writing I am looking for any sermons I hear regarding this to totally speak about citizens' responsibility to "not be rebellious" but to say nary a word regarding how there are cases of abuse of authority and how wrong it is.

This has been painted as a racism aspect, and I don't know that I view it that way, but as a possible police abuse of power, certainly yet another case of police arrogance and lack of respect. I think this articile5 and this article6 (even better) nails it.

I think the fact that all the police unions etc are backing this is more proof of this; all they can do is talk about how hard their job is, blah blah. Big deal. Life is hard for a lot of people, that doesn't make abuse of power an okay reaction, ever. An average citizen entering his own home ought to not have to deal with a bunch of bologney and be totally okay with it just because the police think their job is hard. Yeah, so your job is hard--what's new? Lots of people have hard jobs, they don't go arresting people just because they don't like their attitude.

I think that Crowley, the arresting officer, simply arrested Gates because Gates challenged his authority and the legitimacy of the investigation. Sorry, but I'm not brown-nosing the police on this one. I think it's completely reasonable that if someone has been falsely accused of breaking into his own home--no matter what behavior proceeded the investigation--to be upset and not particularly warm & fussy (if short of verbally abusive) with any police presence at that point. Once the police had established that the person he was speaking with was not a burglar but in fact the proper home owner, they have no right to expect such a person to respond in anyway but something along the lines of, respectfully as possible, "time to leave; you're not needed here at this point."

I am one that tends to think that a lot of racism complaints these days are illegitimate. I don't agree with reparations, I don't believe in affirmative action. I don't think Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need to go to every alleged racist incident and stir trouble up.

However, situations like Henry Louis Gates DO call for such "stirring up" if you will. It is outrageous that something like this would happen.

In a country that can elect a black man for president--granted, I don't like Obama because of his policies (I would have preferred someone like Walter Williams or Clarence Thomas), but I think it's great that the country is now at a point that a black man can be elected president--it is amazing we still deal with things like this. This is simply ridiculous. I don't think there was any racism element here, but certainly the police were arrogant. I agree with Barack Obama here (for the first-time--and maybe last-time--ever)--the Cambridge police did "act stupidly."

Thankfully all the charges have been dropped; that's as it should be, but more needs to be done. The police in this situation should be dressed-down for their behavior in the most strict manner. The message needs to be delivered--racism and police abuse-of-power is WRONG and will never be tolerated. Few things are more irritating than an arrogant policemen, and to behave this way in someone else's home is the most outrageous of all.


1Yahoo! Article
2Washington Post Article
3Wikipedia Article on the incident.
4Excellent opinion article on this topic.
5Obama Was Right About Gates Arrest
6Best Article About This, Talks About Police Abuse of Power & How Conservatives Are Too Prone to Siding with Police in Every Situation
7Video Clip at YouTube Explaining Why Arrest Was Wrong & Right-Wingers are Wrong About This
8Bill Maher's Comment, Around 6:25 Mark (YouTube Clip)
9Bill Maher's Comment, Clip #2, Around 1:03 Mark (YouTube Clip)

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