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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….

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