Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is Sgt. James Crowley A Profiler Or Is He Being Profiled As A Stereotypical White Police Officer?


Sometimes, it is best to remember the advice of Abraham Lincoln who once said: "it is better to be silent and to be thought dumb, then to speak and remove all doubt." This may be good advice for everyone involved in the Henry Louis Gates Jr. matter. Admittedly without knowing all the facts, President Obama said that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "acted stupidly" in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor last week at the man's home. For those who have been in a coma for the last week, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was questioned and arrested for disorderly conduct at his home in Cambridge when the arresting officer thought he was not cooperating. President Obama admitted, "I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played." (Mr. President, great leaders lead by example and not by words. Show the nation that opinions should be based on facts not assumptions.)


What Gates did was not a crime. Consequently, Prosecutors have dropped the disorderly conduct charges against Henry Louis Gates Jr. Yet the complete facts of the incident are still developing. Was the arresting officer convinced that Gates had given him enough proof that he was not a burglar in the home? While too often in the past African-Americans and Latinos have been stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, it would be a stereotype to assume that happened in this case. Contrary to our President's qu0te that this shows "how race remains a factor in this society," the public may simply be jumping to erroneous conclusions concerning what the officer was thinking. Investigate first. Then form opinions based on fact. President's address of the incident. Even the Cambridge mayor might want to do some investigation before jumping to conclusions. Mayor's plans to handle the situation .

Even though charges have been dropped, Gates plans to keep the issue alive. Gates said he'd be prepared to forgive the arresting officer "if he told the truth" about what the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research said were "fabrications" in the police report. Arrest of a black scholar But just what part of the police report is untrue? Police report of incident

The officer, Sgt. James Crowley, told WCVB that he offers no apology for his thought process in detaining Gates. While Gates said the mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mayor E. Denise Simmons, did apologize, Crowley has not. So why is Crowley so insistent in offering no apology? Neighbors apparently called in a potential burglary. When Crowley arrived he apparently saw Gates. Crowley wrote in his report that Gates refused to step outside to speak with him. According to Crowley, when he told Gates that he was investigating a possible break-in, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Profiling? According to Crowley's report, he asked Gates for identification and he initially refused. Gates asked for the officers identification which Crowley claims he was willing to provide. Gates eventually produced a Harvard identification card, prompting Crowley to radio for Harvard University Police. Crowley apparently claims to be puzzled by Gate's inconsistent behavior.


"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," Crowley reported. At some point, Gates was arrested for "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space. " Gates was released after spending four hours at the police station and the media frenzy began. Gates and his lawyers are apparently considering further actions.

While not all the fact are out, one thing is clear. It is wrong to profile suspects in such cases. But it is equally wrong to jump to the conclusion that the reason the officer detained Gates was just because he was a black man. Stereotypes work both ways. In both cases, it is wrong to judge an individual based on past stereotypes instead of upon the facts.
Update 7-24-09: "I believe that Sgt. [James] Crowley acted in a way that is consistent with his training at the department, and consistent with national standards of law enforcement protocol," Commissioner Robert Haas said.
"I do not believe his actions in any way were racially motivated," Haas added.
Our President made a mistake in assuming this police officer used racial profiling. Immediately after the incident, the police union and fellow officers, black and white, rallied around Crowley. Crowley is a decorated officer who in 1993 attempted lifesaving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Reggie Lewis, a black Boston Celtics player who had collapsed. Crowley, 42, had even been selected to be a police academy instructor on how to avoid racial profiling. A multiracial group of officers (some of who read Legal Pub) and union officials stood with Crowley on Friday to show support and to ask our President and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to apologize for their comments. (Patrick had called Gates' arrest "every black man's nightmare.")
Update 7-25-09: President Obama may indeed be a better facilitator and a better leader than first thought. At the suggestion of Crowley, Crowley, Our President and Gates will meet at the White House and have a few beers to discuss the incident. Just think if more conflicts could be resolved in such a fashion.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I get what u are sayin. If the cop profiled that is bad because its prejudice. But if we assume he was just profiling without facts, we too are being prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Nah. It was a black man in a white neighborhood and it was just assumed that the prof was a bad cat.

Anonymous said...

Keep logic out of this one. Its more fun hatin on people for hatin on people.

Besides, the cops had no right to arrest a man at his own home just because he raised his voice and did not answer questions the way the cop wanted them answered.

Legal Pub said...

Update 7-24-09: "I believe that Sgt. [James] Crowley acted in a way that is consistent with his training at the department, and consistent with national standards of law enforcement protocol," Commissioner Robert Haas said.
"I do not believe his actions in any way were racially motivated," Haas added.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to jump to the race card without realizing that in your accusation you may be basing your opinion on a stereotype of "white cops."


T.J.

Anonymous said...

This is what was sent to the White House:

Regarding the arrest of Gates, I would have expected a better response from a fellow lawyer and one who is the President. You spoke foolishly, in haste, and as a friend, not as someone who has the best interests of this County in mind.

Mr. Gates could have simply and politely thanked the officer for his diligence in attempting to protect his property, identified himself by appropriate ID, and the matter would have been closed. That’s how reasonable, polite, educated, and/or proper people deal with each other. But Mr. Gates choose not to.

Instead, he obstructed the officer, both by aggressive act and vulgar word, acted in such a rude and hostile manner that the investigation was materially impeded, and refused to even show common decency, much less fulfill his duties under law.

Often times (it is my experience as a cop at least) it is ACTIONS that result in arrest, not skin color. Mr. Gates showed perfectly how to obstruct and impede the lawful duties of an officer, disturb the peace, and act the fool. What, he's not supposed to be arrested because he’s black?

I voted for you (first time ever for a Democrat) and still support you in the main, but you MESSED UP big here. You’ve created a divide between law enforcement and the black community that was being healed. You need to take action to fix this.

You need to address that fact that you spoke in haste as a friend, without knowing all the facts. That, regardless of skin color, actions do speak volumes and your friend behaved in a manner inconsistent with law. He was rude, crude, aggressive, non-compliant, and obstructive.

And that under those facts, anybody should go to jail, even a black man. To allow it to exist otherwise indicates that such actions are appropriate and proper. Do you wish any segment of American society to believe that they should/may act so? Perhaps this might be a contributing factor in why certain segments of our society end up arrested more than others.

I will teach my kids to treat law enforcement differently and they will not get arrested. Others will not teach their kids how to act towards law enforcement and they will get arrested. It's not color, it behavior.

Speak up, break the cycle. Condemn what he did. Don’t encourage another generation of youth to grow up not knowing how to act and ending up arrested because of it.

L.S.

Anonymous said...

L.S.

Right on target. Attitude was the reason for the arrest. Race had nothing to do with it.

The President needs to admit he made a mistake and he will have a lot more respect.

Anonymous said...

Funny when you look at stereotypes from the other side of the equation.

Anonymous said...

Attitude should not get you arrested in your own home. Sgt. Crowley was wrong to arrest Gates, and he should not have taken Gates' actions personally. If, as the President said, Crowley had acted professionally, after he learned that Gates was in the house lawfully, he should have left. End of story.

Ed said...

I first wrote about this on Tues and basically said that Gates was a jack arse.
Now Obama opens his uninformed mouth and inserts his foot in it.
Gates said that Crowley didn't know who he was messing with.
Perhaps Gates is the one who didn't know who he was messing with.
Check out my take on it and the link to my Tue post. Also, please stick around for more good content.
http://libertarianhumor.com/2009/07/24/gates-2/

Anonymous said...

Some controvery brewing on this one...

What if it had been a burgalar and he presented gates stolen id...

Not hard to be in a house and also steal identity.

Legal Pub said...

Update 7-25-09: President Obama may indeed be a better facilitator and a better leader than first thought. At the suggestion of Crowley, Crowley, Our President and Gates will meet at the White House and have a few beers to discuss the incident. Just think if more conflicts could be resolved in such a fashion.

T.C. said...

President Barack Obama admits his statement that that a white police officer "acted stupidly" were ill-chosen. But, while he invited both men to visit him at the White House, Obama stopped short of publicly apologizing. The president personally telephoned Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley. Trying to lighten the situation, the President even joked with Crowley about reporters being on their lawns.

Anonymous said...

Obama exhibited his prejudice when he assumed the worse instead of getting the facts.

B.M. said...

The President recognizes now that the cop did not treat Gates differently because he was black, Crowley treated him like he would have treated any other minority!


B.M.

G.h. said...

We stand 100% behind Jim on this one. He did nothing wrong!

G.h.

Anonymous said...

Jim, we got your back!

Secrets said...

Anon is right....he had no right to arrest him in his own home after he proved it was his house.

Of course he was profiling. The police wouldnt have even been called if he was white!!!

And yes Crowley acted in a way that is consistent with his training. They are trained to profile NON WHITES!!!

Be black and live in this country...then you can really make an informed comment! Unless you've been through it...you dont have a clue!!

Historically...as legal pointed out...police officers African-Americans and Latinos are stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. If a cop came to my house questioning me about ownership after I've lived there for years and I showed him my ID...I'd be pissed off too. His neighbor that called the police is an idiot too!!

Bottom line...if he was a white man with the same credentials, he wouldnt have been arrested!!!

Crowley was dead wrong!!

Secrets said...

Boston cop Justin Barrett suspended for calling Henry Louis Gates a 'jungle monkey'

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2009/07/30/2009-07-30_boston_cop_jason_barrett_suspended_for_calling_henry_louis_gates_a_jungle_monkey.html

Now tell me why a black person should blindly trust the police?

Secrets said...

oops...the sentence should read...

Historically...as legal pointed out...African-Americans and Latinos are stopped by law enforcement disproportionately

Anonymous said...

Secrets, I agree with the suspension of the cop who made a derogatory comment. But I disagree that Gates arrest was improper. Gates was not cooperating with an investigation. As a cop I must assume that something is not matching. Homeowner whose house is being investigated for a burglary who won't show Id or cooperate. It warrants increased scrutiny. I agree with the dept not filing charges. I also think Jim and Gates and Obama getting together was all a step in the right direction.

And Secrets, I am a minority and proud of it. But I can recognize its just as wrong to stereotype a white guy as it is any minority.

Secrets said...

Clearly, you're not black.

Anonymous said...

Secrets:

Sorry, all my life momma. But I have educated myself to the point that I got a pretty good handle on who is jumping to conclusions. On this one, My man, our president, jumped the gun.

T.J.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I would have arrested Gates too. And I also would have approved 100% with his release at the station.

T.J.

Sarg said...

CaTCH AND RELEASE. tHAT TOO WOULD HAVE BEEN MY STRATEGY


Sarg