The fallout from from Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates’s arrest is taking an ugly turn. Police union officials appeared at a Cambridge hotel today calling on President Barack Obama and Governor Deval Patrick to reconsider their “misguided” comments in the arrest of a Harvard scholar and issue an apology. There should be apologies on all sides, not just from the president and governor. To add insult to injury, during a White House press conference earlier today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I think the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed McCain,” referring to Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2008 election. “If I’m not mistaken.” He dismissed a suggestion that the backlash from police groups could be distressing to the White House, considering the fact that the president has enjoyed a positive relationship with law enforcement. He was then reminded that the president had won the support of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, then he conceded: “We got some.” This cannot help President Obama’s position and the fact that he wishes this would go away. He should not have openly criticized the Cambridge Police Department. Clearly, this had nothing to do with the White House and he should have found a way to stay out of this dogfight.
“I deeply resent the suggestion” cops acted improperly in the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., said Dennis O’Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association. Members of city and Bay State cop unions called on President Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick to apologize to officer Sgt. James Crowley.
Crowley arrested Gates July 16 on the porch of the professor’s Harvard Square home. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct. That charge has since been dropped, but the charges of racial profiling swirling around the arrest have yet to soften. The president said at a primetime press conference Wednesday that Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates.
The governor called the arrest of Gates “every black man’s nightmare” and said Gates should have been able to raise his voice in his own house. Both the president and governor, however, admitted they don’t know all the facts in the case. O’Connor said he hopes Patrick and Obama – both “admitted friends” of Gates – will “reflect upon their past comments” and apologize to Cambridge police.
“President Obama said that the actions of the CPD were stupid and linked the event to a history of racial profiling in America. … The president used the right adjective but directed it to the wrong party,” he said. “His remarks were obviously misdirected but made worse yet by its suggestion that somehow, this case should remind us of a history of racial abuse by law enforcement.”
He said Cambridge police “deeply resent the implication and reject any suggestion that in this case, or any other case, that they have allowed a person’s race to direct their activities. “We hope that they they will reflect upon their past comments and apologize to the men and women of the Cambridge police department,” he added. Source: Boston Herald
For what it is worth, if anything, this has brought the issue of racial profiling front and center. I was very reluctant to label this police officer as a racist and I still stand by that reluctance, since it has not been substantiated. I am sure that Professor Gates “mouthed off” to the cops, but did that arise to the level of disorderly conduct, since he was in his own home. Why was he lured to the porch, where he could have been arrested? This is an unfortunate situation and I am deeply troubled that President Obama got involved in this matter, but was aloof and not very forthcoming about the Jena Six case, which was clearly racially motivated.
All the parties involved need to take a step back and revisit the situation. Sgt. Crowley needs to apologize if he made Professor Gates feel threatened and denigrated. Professor Gates needs to apologize for pulling the race card so readily and President Obama needs to end his involvement in this controversy by saying he spoke too quickly or he did not mean to infer that the CPD “acted stupidly” in the arrest of Mr. Gates. This is clearly not the way for us to engage in constructive dialog about racial profiling. This case is pitting black against white for all the wrong reasons. President Obama needs to worry about the health care overhaul that seems to be hanging on by a thread. He needs to focus on the ailing economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, Honduras, the failing education system in America, the rising foreclosure rates, etc.
The fallout continues to develop. More to follow…..