Although President Barack Obama has not made police profiling a key part of his public program, the arrest of Harvard Black Studies Department Director Louis Gates drew President Obama out on the issue. He called the Cambridge Polcie's arrest Professor Louis Gates stupid, because the professor was entering his own home at the time and showed documents proving as much. Gates was arrested anyway, because he demanded to know the name and badge number of a policeman who came into his home, which is information that Gates had a right to request and receive. Instead, Cambridge police arrested Gates in retaliation for insisting on receiving that information.
President Obama called the arrest "stupid" and said the United States has a long history of targeting Blacks for investigation, arrest and prosecution.
(Effectively, Blacks have no rights that a police officer is bound to respect, or the vindication of which may be pursued effectively through a formal complaint to a police department.)
Black Americans, including President Obama, and many whites, are furious and disgusted that Black scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested on the porch of his own home in Massachusetts, after a neighbor called and told police that two Black men were trying to enter a home. In fact, Dr. Gates was trying to enter his own home, where the lock was giving him difficulty when the police arrived.
Harvard Professor Gates showed his Harvard and personal identification to prove that he was in his own home. Then Professor Gates did something that no Black person in America has a right to do without being arrested. He insisted on knowing the officer's name and badge number.
Of course, by regulation or law, police are supposed to wear badges that identify them by last name and badge number, but police regularly ignore this requirement, engage in behavior that may well violate the rights of the public, and then refuse to identify themselves, which frustrates any attempt at police accountability.
This is precisely what happened at the home of Black Harvard University scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. And when the professor insisted on receiving information which police are obliged to provide, the officer instead responded with a retaliatory arrest and held Professor Gates for four hours, obliging his friends to come and rescue him from the police department, and then pressing no charges because, in reality and as police have acknowledged, the professor did nothing for which anyone should have been arrested.
From the African American Political Pundit blog, here is the statement from Professor Gates' attorney, Charles Ogletree, who is an internationally known professsor in his own right and has taught and provided guidance to President Obama:
Statement on Behalf of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. -- by Charles Ogletree
This brief statement is being submitted on behalf of my client, friend, and colleague, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home [in] Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled “Faces of America.” Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’ luggage into his home.
Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there. The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard. Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’ photograph, and the license includes his address.
Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’ request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’ home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.
Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates’ counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.
African American Political Pundit further says,
Dr. Gates he asked for the officer's name and badge number, which is something that, as a practical matter, Black people are not allowed to do in the United States of America. If they do, they may be beaten, arrested, and charged with "assaulting an officer." Their lives will be turned upside down for a day, a week a year or even for arrest and conviction letters that follow them throughout their lives, preventing them from gaining employment and branding them as criminals.
Read the police report here.
Check out the blog African American Political Pundit for more information.AAPP: I'm surprised he was not Tasered While Black
Like African American Political Pundit, I, too am surprised that Dr. Gates was not shocked with the 50,000 volt mechanisms that police carry, and which often result in electrocution.
There's an old adage that says,
Question: What do you call an 'N-word' with a million dollars?Police officers, regardless of their skin color, are trained to perceive people with brown skin not as citizens, but as "N-words". It's a terrible reality about the United States, but even being a well-known acquaintance of the President of the United States and being director of a department at Harvard University did not prevent Professor Gates from being treated like a "N-word" (a person with brown or black skin who has no rights which the police are bound to respect).
Answer: An 'N-word'.
The unfortunate truth is that if President Obama himself jogged through any mall in America, he might be tackled by mall security before his Secret Service detail could intervene.