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
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.”
“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.”