Well, why not? Everyone else is throwing in their two cents — adjusted for inflation — on this Cambridge police officer and the Harvard professor and the president:
1) Burglars break into homes. They do! No kidding. Some are white, some black, Hispanic and so on. It’s well-documented. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics will fill you in.
2) Police work is sometime dangerous.
3) Unfortunately, crooks don’t wear signs on their backs saying “Burglar” or “Violent Criminal” and so on.
4) You might be taken back on this next point: There are times when people lie to the cops. Yes, it happens everywhere except Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
Henry Louis Gates is a prominent Harvard professor. He didn’t know the officer and the officer, Sgt. Joseph Crowley, didn’t know Gates. Crowley saw a man working on the front door.
What do you do? Assume? No, no, no, no. Assumptions will make a fool of you. And make them enough, you’ll get killed in this business.
The sergeant did what he should. He checks the guy out. Here’s where everything went south. The professor is at his own house. So when he’s challenged, he’s not happy. In fact, he’s mad.
By the time he shows his I.D., I will bet you he has already let the sergeant know how unhappy he is. And I don’t think for a moment he considered Numbers 1 through 4, above.
Most of the time the cops will let you vent for a while. But push it far enough and you pass the point of no return.
Tuesday night – late, very late, as in 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning – my son got very sick. It started at 1 a.m. and, by 3 a.m., I headed to the driveway to move cars around so I could get my son in the car and on the way to the hospital.
We have to move cars around since we have five. It’s a pain. I move my son’s truck to the curb, run back, move my work car. About that time a sheriff’s car drives through the neighborhood, and the officer sees me running to the garage from a truck. The deputy stopped and asked what I was doing.
I was at my house, in a mild state of urgency, and with not too much time to spare. About the second question, I realized the deputy wasn’t sure who I was and if believed I lived there or was lying after being caught doing a no-no.
The deputy was an African-American female. I don’t think she profiled me. She was acting on what she saw and took Numbers 1 through 4 into account. She probably took them into account based on experience. As much as this was my house and my rather bad situation, the deputy didn’t know me. Asking for I.D. and a couple of questions were perfectly legitimate.
Had I shot my mouth off, I would have landed in the same mess that Professor Gates did.
I don’t believe for a minute that Gates was questioned because he was African-American. The circumstances were suspicious and the officer did what officers do: investigate and ask questions. It is what they are supposed to do.
Now that being what it is, let’s add the fact that Gates knows President Barrack Obama, so a call is made to the president and the rookie president accuses the Cambridge police of “acting stupidly.”
Great! You’re the president and now you’ve just alienated the police with a blanket statement, essentially accusing all of them as discriminating and engaging in profiling. You can hear the spin doctors groaning as they run to their computers. What a mess.
Someone needs to give the rookie president some good advice. Don’t pop off until you do your homework. You’re not helping — at all!