Cambridge Police May Release Tapes of 911 Call and Police Transmissions During Prof. Henry Louis Gates’ Arrest

From The Boston Herald:

Mounting pressure to get to the bottom of the controversial arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is centering on recorded police tapes that may offer a dose of reality amid all the media and political noise.

Cambridge police brass and lawyers are weighing making the tapes public, which could include the 911 call reporting a break-in at Gates’ home and radio transmissions by the cop who busted him July 16 for disorderly conduct.

“It’s powerful evidence because the (people involved) have not had a chance to reflect and you are getting their state of mind captured on tape,” said former prosecutor and New York City police officer Eugene O’Donnell, who is now a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said last night he has asked City Solicitor Donald Drisdell to review the 911 tape, which has the potential to either bolster or impugn Gates’ stance that he is a blameless victim of racial profiling at his own home.

Further, Sgt. James Crowley noted in his report that he radioed police headquarters to let them know he was with the person who appeared to be the home’s lawful resident, but who was “very uncooperative.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’d love to hear opinions from Myiq2xi and MABlue though. I hate to see this situation continue to escalate, but at the same time I don’t blame the Cambridge police for wanting to defend themselves. It could be helpful to the public discussion if we knew more about what really happened. Would the transmissions have caught the interaction inside Gates’ house though.

I’ll post more information if and when I get it.

UPDATE: From WMCB in comments: quotes from a witness

Witness: Gates ‘Agitated’ When Arrested At Home

Bill Carter, the man who snapped a photograph of Gates being led away in handcuffs, said police officers were calm and that Gates was “slightly out of control” and “agitated” when he was arrested.

“The officers around kind of calmed him down,” Carter said. “I heard him yelling — Mr. Gates yelling. I didn’t hear anything that he was saying so I couldn’t say that he was belligerent.”

UPDATE 2: Statement from President of Harvard University

“I am gratified that the charges against Professor Gates have been dropped and that all parties involved have recognized and reaffirmed his strong reputation and character. I feel privileged to consider Skip not just an esteemed colleague, but a friend. I have been in regular communication with him since Thursday and I was profoundly saddened to hear him describe what he experienced. I continue to be deeply troubled by the incident.

Legacies of racial injustice remain an unfortunate and painful part of the American experience, and inform our views, our actions, and their consequences. As President Obama has remarked, ours is an imperfect union, and while perfect justice may always elude us, we can and must do better.”

Digg!!! Share!!! Tweet!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Friday Morning at The Confluence

Is it just me or does it seem like the Professor and the Policeman story is getting more airplay than the Michael Jackson story did? Obama and Axelrod must be giggling and snickering right now. Talk about astroturf! The topic of the weekend was supposed to be health care, but just one planted question and now health care is on the back burner. It appears the vote that was so important to the President, is now off, and it’s no biggie.

“As long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable,” Obama told a crowd gathered in a high school gym for a town-hall styled meeting here today. “But I don’t want to delay just because of politics.”

Um…isn’t politics precisely the reason for the delay?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says there will be a vote in September. But will it happen? The New York Times reports that the White House has been negotiating madly with blue dog Dems to keep the bill alive.

The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, led a hastily called three-hour negotiating session at the Capitol with conservative Blue Dog Democrats, the group of fiscal hawks who have stalled action on the health care bill in the House.

But the wrangling over health care is pushing back other items on Obama’s agenda.

While Congress can resume its efforts in the fall, other major items on the president’s agenda, like climate change and rewriting financial regulation, have also been postponed, and are likely to be further delayed until the health care debate is resolved.

[....]

Democratic leaders fended off suggestions that health care legislation could lose momentum if there is no action until the fall. But the delay will give Republican opponents ample time to highlight what they say are the bill’s flaws, and will subject moderate lawmakers, many of whom are on the fence, to a barrage of questions, including whether the nation can afford the $1 trillion, 10-year price tag.

Oh well…who cares if thousands of Americans die for lack of health care? Now we have another media circus to distract us–the Prof. Skip Gates vs. Sgt. James Crowley road show. Both the cop and the prof. are milking this thing for all it’s worth–talking about the incident on every available media outlet. In a few months will these two guys be starring on a reality TV show?

I don’t mean to make light of a very serious issue–racial profiling–but I really thought this story morphed into an embarrassing spectacle today. Here are just two of the dueling media appearances made by Crowley and Gates.

Radio interview on WEEI, Boston Sports Radio with Sgt. James Crowley (both hosts are right-wingers)

Crowley sounds very reasonable, but I noted two interesting things. When talking about what happened inside the home, Crowley speaks in the passive voice. The rest of the description is in the active voice. That strikes me as odd. Crowley also says he told Gates to “calm down” and “lower his voice.” Saying “calm down” is almost never useful, and I wonder why such an experienced policeman wouldn’t know that.

There is an interesting blog post on Dissenting Justice about the notion that Crowley’s attempt to save Reggie Lewis’ life proves he harbors no racial bias at all.

CNN interview with Henry Louis Gates:

To me Gates comes off as more than a little over the top–calling Crowley a “rogue” police officer and mind-reading–claiming to know for sure that Crowley had a profile in his mind when he arrived at Gates’ house and then tried to fit Gates into that profile. I’d like to get MABlue’s take on this interview.

Later in the day Crowley was refusing to talk to the media. Was he told by his superiors to clam up?

NPR’s Talk of the Nation covered this story today. I found the show very interesting. You can listen to the broadcast here.

A few more stories on the prof.-cop story:

Cop who arrested black scholar is profiling expert

Bias, Racism, Being a Jerk, and Abuse of Power

Sergeant Who Arrested Professor Defends Actions

Obama stokes racial passions, police anger

GOP siezes on Obama cops remark

Other Stories of Interest (to me anyway)

Nation’s ENT Surgeons Respond to President Obama’s Press Briefing Remarks on Tonsillectomy Procedures

White House Response to CREW Suit for Health Care Execs Visitor Records Insufficient

New Yorker says he would have been suicide bomber

Michael Vick Could Be Reinstated by NFL

New Scientist: Enigma of the 23-year-old baby (Highly Recommended!)

Surgery ends the tale of the five-legged dog

When Legislators Attack: 10 Political Brawls Caught on Tape

Why does the soda taste different in a bottle than a can?

Please feel free to post links to stories you found interesting and/or important–or funny, we could use funny! It’s Friday, after all. TGIF!!

Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Overnight Open Thread: Professor vs. Policeman

The latest on the Prof. vs. Cop story:

The Police Side
The Boston Globe:

The Cambridge police commissioner, breaking his public silence yesterday amid an increasingly vitriolic debate, strongly defended the actions of the sergeant who arrested Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. At the same time, Commissioner Robert C. Haas announced that an independent panel will review the confrontation between the black professor and the white officer, an incident President Obama criticized for a second straight day.

Haas described Sergeant James M. Crowley as a “stellar member’’ of the department who had “tried to deescalate the situation’’ before he arrested Gates last week on the porch of Gates’s Cambridge house. Haas emphatically said that Gates’s arrest was not racially tinged.

“He [Crowley] tried to move away from the situation, and, when he wasn’t successful, he used arrest as a last resort,’’ Haas said at a packed news conference at police headquarters. “I do not believe his actions were in any way racially motivated.’’

Nonetheless, Haas said he will appoint a panel of law enforcement experts in the next few days to analyze how his department handled the incident and to receive comments from the community.

“I have long held the view that every interaction has the potential to teach us lessons in how we conduct ourselves both professionally and personally,’’ he said. “I certainly feel that way now.’’

——————————————————————————————-

CBS News: Responses from Cambridge police commissioner and Sgt. James Crowley

The Professor’s Side

Prof. Henry Louis Gates on the Gayle King Radio Show on the XM Oprah Channel (h/t Huffington Post)

Transcript from Huffpo

GAYLE KING: …did you happen to be watching the news conference when he said that?

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: …I was having dinner with a friend on the upper east side in a little private Italian restaurant and all of a sudden I thought my blackberry was going to explode. And the first call…it was from Angela…Angela DeLeon…[saying] Barack Obama just mentioned you in his news conference…

I said oh my goodness what did he say… ‘I have to wait for the facts…?’…and he said no he said ‘the Cambridge Police were stupid and that you were friends’…I went..my god. And then the emails…it was like a slot machine. I got 500 emails last night.

GAYLE KING: I was surprised by his choice of words..that he said the Cambridge Police acted ‘stupidly.’ I agree with him, but I was surprised that the President of the United States would use that particular phrase.

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR: I think that the circumstances are so egregious…that…it was the adjective that…logically popped into his head. I haven’t listened to a lot of the commentary but the people who want to protect the police and who are afraid of criminals like I’m afraid of criminals…are looking for something that I could have done to justify Sergeant Crowley’s actions. There’s nothing that I could have done to justify Sergeant Crowley’s action.

——————————————————————————————-

Some successful blacks find Gates episode all too familiar

A financial adviser at a leading wealth-management firm, Dan Rivers often identifies himself proudly but simply: “I’m a Dartmouth guy.’’ But thinking about the times he was scrutinized by security coming in and out of corporate events, about the less-than-welcoming glances he has received at a venerable men’s clothier, Rivers said he is sometimes seen by others in an entirely different way: as a black guy.

Likewise, Colette A.M. Phillips, chief executive of a Boston marketing firm, recalled the fellow business traveler in the American Airlines Admirals Club at Logan International Airport who presumed she was the help and asked for coffee.

There are legions of others who can share similar stories, affluent, accomplished, and academically distinguished African-Americans in Greater Boston who have suffered indignities that they doubt would befall their similarly successful white peers. It demonstrates, they said, that racism cannot be escaped by climbing the ladder.

Sometimes the slights are stark, other times subtle, and occasionally they fall into a gray area that leaves them wondering whether they are real or perceived. Rarely do they make local headlines, much less global news, or end with them in handcuffs on the doorstep of their homes, as was the case with the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the renowned Harvard scholar, in Cambridge last week.

Use this thread to continue discussing the Gates-Crowley battle or talk about other topics.

UPDATE: Here’s a bonus for any late-night readers/commenters. It’s from a right-wing source, but it’s funny, so shoot me.

Please Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Open Thread: “The Cambridge Police Acted Stupidly”

Will Obama regret saying that? Personally, I think he’s right, but how will the Cambridge police react? Will there be pushback from law enforcement generally?

Sgt. James Crowley

Sgt. James Crowley

The arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley (who lives in Natick) says “I’m not apologizing.”

The Cambridge cop who arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. told the Herald tonight he will never apologize.

“I know I’m not apologizing. It’s not that I’m digging in my heels, I just have nothing to apologize for,” said Sgt. James Crowley.

The 42-year-old officer spoke to the Herald on the porch of his suburban home. He said he feels bad about the fallout from last week’s arrest, but he’s not going to give Gates an apology.

This could get interesting.

UPDATE 1: There is a very good piece at John McWhorter’s blog at The New Republic about the Gates episode. According to McWhorter (a self-described “black conservative,” Gates is no “rabble-rouser,” and has been “assailed as an accomodationist” by more radical black writers.

And meanwhile, the idea that he should have exhibited “deference to the police” ignores the totemic status that black men’s encounters with the police have in the way countless people process being black and what it means. There’s a reason Gates told the Washington Post Tuesday that what happened to him was part of a “racial narrative,” and that awareness surely informed his angry conduct.

The relationship between black men and police forces is, in fact, the main thing keeping America from becoming “post-racial” in any sense.

Here is where many will object with statistics about residential segregation, disparities in car loans and health care, and most recently, the dumping of subprime mortgages in black communities.

These, however, are more news stories than things felt on a visceral level among ordinary people as evidence that racism is still virulent in this country, a defining experience of being black. As Newsweek’s Ellis Cose put it in his widely read The Rage of a Privileged Class, “in the real world such statistics are almost irrelevant, for rage does not flow from dry numerical analyses of discrimination or from professional prospects projected on a statistician’s screen.”

What creates the true rub is unpleasant live social encounters, and none have such potent effect as ones with the cops.

UPDATE 2: The police report on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates has been removed from The Boston Globe’s website. Interesting….

Please Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

This is NOT racial profiling

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

From the Boston Globe:

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates’s Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had “no idea who he was messing with,” the report said.

Gates told the officer that he was being targeted because “I’m a black man in America.” [To read a copy of the police report, click here]

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver’s license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. “It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,” the officer wrote in the report.

This was not profiling. The cop got a call that two men were seen breaking into a house and he was investigating. Based on Gates’ later statement about the door not closing properly it can be inferred that he opened it in a way that could look to a passer-by like he was breaking in.  The cop’s actions seem perfectly reasonable.

Gates was out of line, but should not have been arrested just for yelling. The cop should have simply left the scene. (Caveat: We haven’t heard Gates’ side of the story, I’m basing my opinion on the officer’s report)

I had a similar thing happen to me once. I accidentally locked my keys inside my apartment and was trying to jimmy a window when a cop passing by stopped me. Even though it was broad daylight and I wasn’t trying to be sneaky or anything I cooperated with the officer, showed him ID and soon he was on his way. In fact, after he verified I lived there he helped boost me through the window.

I would have thought he was a total dumbass if he just took my word for it that it was my place and drove off. I would have been furious if I came home and found out my home was burglarized and that the cops had seen the burglar in the act but had taken his word for it that it was his house.


UPDATE:

Here is a picture of Gates being arrested:

PH2009072101803

Gates appears to be yelling and at least one of the cops at the scene is black. All the cops are in uniform and appear to have badges and name tags visible.

If a cop’s name and badge number are right in front of you, why do you need to keep asking for it?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 470 other followers