There is a disturbing trend emerging from the Gates travesty this past week. There are people actually defending the actions of the police officer in question. For the uninformed, Skip Gates is a Harvard Professor who came home from a trip and realized he did not have his keys to his home. He essentially broke into his own home and someone called the police to report someone breaking into the home. The police responded and confronted Professor Gates in his home. Up to this point everyone is to doing their due diligence. The neighbor called I assume out of genuine concern. The police responded as they are paid to do. The problem is what unfolded next.
Despite the contradictions between Officer Crowley and Professor Gates it seems apparent that AFTER Professor Gates had proved that he did indeed live in the home he was in, he was arrested for the unbelievable charge of disorderly conduct. The charge was of course dropped because it contained no merit to begin with. The differing details really do not change these facts. Supposedly the professor was irate and was challenging to the officer about why he was being accosted. Supposedly he was irate, yelling, screaming, and perhaps even cursing. None of these things bear any relevance to the fact that the police officer was 100% wrong in this case.
I have heard the silly refrain that somehow Skip Gates was wrong for daring to confront the police officer and I ask, why? The police are public servants. They work for the public; for us. The notion that somehow you cannot get upset with a police officer, in your own home, after you have proven he has no business being there is patently absurd. To be frank the truth in this case is simple. Both people were clearly upset with the exchange that occurred but only Professor Gates had the right to be. You can say that he was too sensitive to the possibility of racism but he has that right, once again in his own home. You can say that he has a short fuse but wouldn't you be upset if you had to explain to the police why you were in your own home? Sure, Gates could have been kind and cordial and just showed his ID and waited silently for the officer to leave but he does not have to! It was his house! Out of the two people involved only one of them was there in an official and professional capacity and that was Officer Crowley. Gates does not have to act professional, Crowley does. Period.
Let's be honest. This was a case of an abuse of power, plain and simple. Officer Crowley simply did not like being yelled at. His ego was wounded and instead of apologizing he abused his position of authority to punish Gates for having the temerity to not kiss his rear. Disorderly conduct? Who was at threat here? This was not in public. It was in a private home. A tax payer's home. But Officer Crowley is merely a microcosm of what is wrong with the condition of law enforcement in this country. Thirty years ago you could talk to a cop but no more. Look at the spike in uncalled-for tasering of citizens or other instances of alleged police misconduct. In nearly every instance there is this knee-jerk reaction to defend the indefensible. As if the police should hold some loftier position than they do. Nonsense. It is a systemic problem in how modern police approach their jobs. Our country is founded on the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty but the police work on the opposite premise. Everyone is a perp until proven innocent. And please, enough about how dangerous the job is. You took the job, do the job. If you don't want to do the job, then quit the job.
President Obama got dragged into this at the end of his press conference on Healthcare and because he told the truth, he has been backpedaling ever since. Obama stated that the police had acted "stupidly." Is there any question that the police acted stupidly? The charges were never upheld and dropped immediately. I am sure Cambridge did not want to try to prosecute disorderly conduct against a 58 year old man with a cane in his own home. Obama correctly outlined that everything was fine up to the point that the police officer decided to arrest Gates after he had established he was indeed in his own home. Can anyone truly make a cogent argument against this? The only reason the cops are there is to establish who is in the home. Once it is established to arrest Gates is not only beyond stupid it is criminal in and of itself. Officer Crowley should not have a badge.
Sounds harsh? Well look, if he had come out after and simply said, "Things got heated, maybe I shouldn't have arrested him, my bad" then I would probably say let this just go away quietly. But instead the officer stands by his stupidity and his bosses sidle up to his stupidity and actually support it. Then the bosses have the gall to chastise the President for telling the truth. The refrain now is that Obama insulted all cops. What garbage.
Quite candidly, race is the distraction in this case. As long as the debate is about race, Obama and Gates lose. Because ultimately you cannot prove the motives behind why Crowley was there or why he chose to arrest Gates. You cannot prove profiling. What you can do is talk about the unbelievably stupid decision to arrest a 58 year old man in his own home for disorderly conduct simply because he had the nerve to speak back to a police officer. Now Obama says that Crowley is an "outstanding police officer and a good man." Maybe he is but apparently even outstanding police officers can make stupid decisions. They apparently just cannot own up to the stupidity of those decisions.
Forget race, this is the time to have serious discussion about the rights of citizens to be protected from abuse of power. The debate should be about if we want to live in a police state, where cops have more rights than the citizens they allegedly are employed to protect.