Comments: Nation's pre-eminent black scholar arrested, claims racism

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There are multiple problems with this issue. One is that upon receiving the call, the police automatically had access to the name of the person who owned the home via reverse directory. So they already knew--or should have known--that one of Cambridge's most famous black residents lived in the house.

The second is that the police report pretty clearly states that Gates--however angrily--refused to come out of his home to speak with the police officer (which he had no legal requirement to do); that Gates refused to provide ID only until the officer himself provided identification (Which is perfectly legal); that the officer at least in part arrested Gates for disorderly conduct within his residence (because Gates was angry that the officer just did not leave once he had provided ID); and that the officer basically arrested Gates because he was emabarrassed by the crowd growing outside on the street.

The use of the word "tumultuous" is misleading: there is no assertion by the officer that at any point in the confrontation did Gates ever offer or threaten physical violence, that Gates ever physically resisted; that Gates did anything other than berate the officer and attempt to place a phone call to the chief of police.

You may believe Gates reaction was poor judgment or the reaction of a man spoiling for a fight over perceived racism. Perhaps. But show me where in the entire incident Dr. Gates actually did anything illegal. At the point at which the officer determined that Gates was the legal resident he should have apologized and left.

One more note: the officer repeatedly asked Gates to leave residence, which Gates quite legally refused because to do so would have placed him at greater risk; in your own home you have rights that you do not have on the street. Once the officer got Gates out on the street he would have been far more free to detain him.

The issue is not so much racism (at least to me) as it is the issue of (a) the police officer's failure to leave the home after the identification had been provided (notice he did not return Gates' ID to him and instead carried it out into the street, forcing Gates to follow if he wanted it back); (b) why the Harvard U Police was called at all [Gates' residence is not on Harvard property and they have no jurisdiction there]; and (c) why being impolite to a police officer without offering the slightest physical provocation [and after having provided your ID] suddenly rises to the level of chargeable behavior.

Posted by steve Newton at July 21, 2009 11:33 AM

1) Even if they did know it was Gates' house, how did they know (initially) that it was Gates (and his friend) IN there?

2) You're obviously of the "other" category based on my third update -- Jonah Goldberg's thoughts on the matter. What you say -- legally -- may indeed be accurate; however, if Gates was cooperative from the onset the whole matter would have been discharged w/no hassle. And what if the cops were seemingly uncaring about the situation? Would Gates have still charged them w/racism -- for not giving import to a possible break-in at a [famous] black man's house?

3) I've already conceded that the cops, once seeing Gates' ID(s), should have vamoosed.

4) I've gotten out of more "cop situations" than I can remember by being viscously polite to the officers involved, mostly speeding tickets.

Posted by Hube at July 21, 2009 11:43 AM


A) Gates leases the property from Harvard. It doesn't makeit any less his home but it does make it more difficult for Officer on the scene to make that determination.

B) calling the University police to the scene is a common curtisy/cooperation in college towns.

C) the article you linked to on your site was basically a press release from Gates Lawyer.

Posted by anoni at July 21, 2009 11:50 AM

lets review what we know (or atleast what we think we know)

The next door neighbor calls police after seeing two black men wearing backpacks trying to force the front door.

According to Gates's lawyer those two men were Gates and a friend.

No News Report mentions the friend

The police report makes no mention of the friend

any further speculation on who the friend is and why he hid and how that explains Gates bizzare behavior would unkind and not politically correct.

the guilty flee (or in this cased rant and rave) when none presue.

Posted by anoni at July 21, 2009 12:07 PM