The facts, ma'am, nothing but the facts

More thoughts on the Gates arrest, prompted by the ongoing news and comments by the loquacious BWaters over here.

This particular commenter voiced about the facts, quoted a line or two from the police report and reminded me to read what the witnesses had to say. Interestingly, however, BWaters failed to include Dr. Gates' own account as a possible source of information about this case. I therefore suggest you read them both - here's the police report, and here's Dr. Gates' account.

As for the eyewitness accounts: Just google the Gates case and read them at your own risk. As pretty much everyone (except apparently BWaters) knows, eyewitness accounts are not always reliable and have contributed to wrongful arrests and convictions.

This case definitely has me thinking - about what happened to Dr. Gates, about people's reactions to it, and about where the dialog might take us. I'm going to be dead honest with you: it's depressing to read how many people refuse to see race as a factor in this situation, or argue that racism exists at all. It's frankly shocking (and an example of white privilege at its finest) to see comments that ignore the history of police mistreatment of people of color, suggest that a black man wouldn't react differently to the presence of the police on his doorstep than a white man would, and confuse obnoxiousness with criminal behavior.

It's just plain ridiculous that someone would believe that giving Reggie Lewis CPR proves anything related to this event at all.

Also, a couple of clarifications:

As the title of my first post indicated, I believe racism is at the root of what happened to Dr. Gates. However, readers and commenters beware: I say nowhere in that post, nor do I believe, that Sgt. Crowley's personal attitudes toward race are the issue, and comments here that make that accusation will be deleted. Racism can become so institutionalized that, in spite of protestations to the contrary, we are all capable of racist behaviors. I believe the set of circumstances that led to Dr. Gates arrest triggered just such an outcome.

I'm not sure "racial profiling" is the correct term to describe it, however, although Dr. Gates does in his account.

Comments

Heather said…
"I'm going to be dead honest with you: it's depressing to read how many people refuse to see race as a factor in this situation..." Hear, hear! I've been disheartened by this as well. Not sure it's entirely relevant to your point but I found an editorial that I thought you might find intriguing... http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/07/is-this-the-instance-of-police-misconduct-to-obsess-about.html.
blackbelt said…
I was quick to judge it as a racist incident, but I had to rethink it after hearing/reading the various reports.

I've been listening to some commentary by veteran police officers turned commentators. There's plenty of blame to go around. But let's start with whoever reported the"burglary." I wonder if they would have reported a small, elderly. bespectacled "professor type" as breaking into the place. And the disorderly conduct? What if it were an obnoxious WHITE professor mouthing off? Would there have been an arrest? After all, as the commentators said, police are trained to de-escalate an escalating situation.

And as one commentator said, race is always a factor in any interaction.
osolomama said…
Totally. I weep for your country at times, the country my parents loved so. The failure to see systemic racism makes me crazy. Glad I don't live there.

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