So news has it that Skip Gates, Dude from Harvard was arrested for disorderly conduct. Sounds bad doesn't it. To read the local twits on the matter you'd think he was unfairly accosted in the manner that Wise Intelligent or Paradise Grey was. But no, that's not apparently the case.
According to the Google report on the matter:
Cambridge police were called to the home Thursday afternoon after a woman reported seeing a man "wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open," according to a police report.
An officer ordered the man to identify himself, and Gates refused, according to the report. Gates began calling the officer a racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America."
Officers said they tried to calm down the 58-year-old academic, who responded, "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.
Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance and arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.
Let me put this in perspective for a minute. Long ago I had a 1995 Dodge Neon. Unfortunately I was able to lock the car door without removing the keys from the ignition. And so I was locked out. It took me a while to realize that I could actually get into the vehicle without breaking the glass as that model did not have fill door frames and one could pull the glass outwards and slip a clothes hangar into the window and pull on the door handle to open the door. It did bother me that here I was in broad day light committing a class 2 felony and nobody cared. I suppose that if I was a thief, I would have had a nice night.
So going back to Gates, would you actually like to have the police NOT respond to a call from a citizen who believes that your property is being broken into? Strains of PE's 911 is a joke, go through my head. Particularly the part about 911 not showing up. Now I think Mr. Gates suffered here from big head syndrome. As if he was supposed to be recognized on sight by police. But then again, I don't know the area. For all I know there are very few people who live in that area, negroes and all known on sight and the police have been instructed on how to recognize them on sight. Sure.
In my opinion, Gates should have thanked the officers for looking out for his property, explained that his ID was in the house (assuming it was) and that he's gladly show it to them when he got in his house. In the meanwhile, I'm sure that one or more of his neighbors were home and he could have walked over to one of them and had them tell the officer that he did in fact live at that location.
I don't know about you but I like the idea of police (or other emergency service people) showing up promptly when an emergency call is placed.
Now if anything Gates ought to have a potential problem with the woman who called in on him. Did she live in the area? Perhaps she was motivated by seeing an "African-American" breaking into a house. Or maybe Gates was seriously looking like a person doing a home invasion.
One can suppose that the police ought not to have arrested Mr. Gates. But then again that assumes that the police ought not investigate potential felonies when called, ought not try to establish the identity of the home owner. You'll note that there is no mention of abusive language by the officers. I'm sure Gates would have mentioned that. No racial slurs. No Sean Bell type, shoot first investigate after. Seems to be police procedure vs. large ego. Which was clearly not the case with Wise Intelligence or Paradise Grey.
According to the NY Times
He forced the door open with the help of his cab driver, Professor Ogletree said, and had been inside for a few minutes when Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department appeared at his door and asked him to step outside...
According to his lawyer, Prof. Gates told the sergeant that he lived there and showed his Massachusetts driver’s license and his Harvard identification card but Sergeant Crowley still did not seem to believe that Professor Gates lived in the home, a few blocks from Harvard Square. At that point, his lawyer, Professor Gates grew frustrated and asked for the officer’s name and badge number.
Ogletree is giving hearsay so his story isn't admissible. But it doesn't square with the original story on Google, where there is a refusal to ID first and no mention of ID being produced. Oddly, Gates, having returned from China, ought to have had his passport with him, Odd that he isn't reported to have offered that as ID as well (Not that he should have had to). Is it unreasonable for an officer who gets a report of 3 men looking like they are breaking in to a house to ask the person who is in the house to step outside?
[update2] Charges dropped against Gates. Expected: Story still in flux:
Police said the 58-year-old Gates was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.
I suppose we'll never know whether the accusation of bias happened before or after the demand for ID and production of ID which is the pivot point here.