Boiling Down Gates

By now most of America, and probably the Civilized World, knows the basics of the altercation between Cambridge Police Officer, James Crowley and Black Activist and Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr. President Obama’s cronyism, stupidity, and racism assured that the incident would be headline news.

Still, there is a lot of divergent opinions on the matter and the underlying causes of it. This is to be expected, since there are many who would use such an incident, and it’s inappropriate addition to the national news, to further their own biased agendas.

So let’s boil down the situation that occurred between Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley:

Gates and Crowley - You Peckerwood Honkie
No! I won’t excuse You for being White and a Cop

On one side of the issue we have Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a professional racial activist who made his fame and fortune largely, though not exclusively, by capitalizing on the “plight of the Black man in America.”

Prof. Gates and his attorney, Charles Ogletree, released a statement – to The Root, a purely “Afrocentric” organ, of course – outlining Gate’s view of the incident.

On the other side of the issue we have Cambridge Cambridge Police Officer, James Crowley, an 11-year veteran of the police force. Officer Crowley, in addition to his regular duties, has for the past 5 years taught a class on avoiding racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy. He was hand-picked to teach the course by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is Black.

Officer gates, along with his partner, Officer Carlos Figueroa, who is Latino, filed their official police reports of the incident.

What happened? A professional Black Activist and a White police officer who teaches an anti-Racial Profiling course had a dispute during the course of investigating a burglary. Since the issue boils down to the character and probable motives, I’ll you all decide whose story is closer to the truth and who had a motivation and predilection for racial antagonism.

Barring further developments, I’m done with this farce, though I may comment futher on tangential issues.

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19 Responses to “Boiling Down Gates”

  1. zhann Says:

    Still, there is a lot of divergent opinions on the matter and the underlying causes of it. This is to be expected, since there are many who would use such an incident, and its inappropriate addition to the national news, to further their own biased agendas.

    … just curious, but why exactly is your post unbiased? It seems that you are fueling the same fires that you are criticising. No?

  2. jonolan Says:

    Oh yes, zhann; my opinions on the matter are, I think, quite clear in this post. That could certainly said to be a case of bias and “fueling the fire.” There are some differences though between this post – and blog in general – and a lot of what is presented though.

    1) The 1st is largely immaterial to your point, but I believe it bears stating. This post is counterpoint to a lot of what has been posted in blogspace and the MSM on the matter.

    2) I, along with my opinions on the matter, do present the objective data at hand and through the most direct links that I can find. This includes data, such as the presence of Officer Figueroa, that has been largely ignored by the other side of the issue.

    3) While my opinion and bias shows in my rhetoric – that is without doubt or argument – I do not draw a conclusion on the substance of the matter at hand.

    But, please, please please never mistake Reflections From A Murky Pond for a news outlet. As I have stated time and time again, the “kindest” description of this blog would be “Op-Ed.” And also, please do not, as so many do today, mistake Op-Ed pieces as news.

  3. zhann Says:

    My mistake. While I can’t consider you part of msm, news is what you make of it. Since mainstream media contorts the truth to fit their ends, blogs are a viable news source as long as you understand the ends that the blog is trying to reach. Knowing where you stand on issues, I always take that into account when forming an opinion on an article you wrote. This post simply criticized media bias, but then continued to be biased itself … so I just wanted to point that out. Since that was your intent, then my mistake.

  4. jonolan Says:

    Yeah, my bias was intentional counterpoint to President Obama’s, the MSM’s and the Liberals’ (mis)use of the incident to further the meme of racial oppression and racist cops, along with the philosophy that a Black has some magical privilege or right to say whatever he wants without consequence whereas a White must never do so lest they be decried as racist.

    It’s possible though, that in striving for interesting prose, my rhetoric may not have made my acknowledgment of my bias, nor the substance of my complaints about the media, clear enough.

  5. Paradigm Says:

    Would a Harvard professor, who by his own admission tried to avoid getting arrested, accuse the policeman in question of being a racist? It’s obvious that Gates wanted this.

  6. jonolan Says:

    Paradigm,

    It could very be that Gates had a specific agenda for accosting Officer Crowley as he did. Gates is educated, experienced, and probably fairly intelligent (despite the nature of his education); it’s certainly plausible that he saw a White police officer and took advantage of the situation to get himself some extra exposure and the activist version of “street cred.”

    I’m not completely sold on the theory though. To paraphrase Hanlon’s Razor:

    Never attribute to forethought that which can be adequately explained by a lack of thought.

    Gates had just got in from a 20ish hour plane flight and then couldn’t get his door open because it was jammed. From the police report it sounded like he realized his house had been broken into while he was gone. Then a White cop shows up and asked, in the correctly authoritarian manner that all police use when entering a possibly dangerous situation, for his ID.

    Did Gates instantly capitalize on the situation for his own gain? Did he, tired and frustrated make that cognitive leap? Or is Gates just a bitter, grievance-clinging racist who – being tired – let his prejudices get away from him?

    Have your baser natures – whatever they may be – ever snapped to the forefront, seemingly all on their own, when you were already tired and pissed and one last thing happened?

    Mine have.

  7. Paradigm Says:

    It’s very hard to tell. I suspect he could have had both motives in varying degrees, although in my experience academics are a shrewd bunch.

    Do I snap? No, but not because I’m morally superior. I just shut down, stop talking, walk away. It’s a question of temperament I guess.

  8. jonolan Says:

    As I said, your assertion is quite plausible; I’m just not completely sold on it.

    My – sadly too extensive – experiences with academics is that, while they are certainly shrewd and often quite cunning, they have largely led protected lives and do not respond with such shrewdness or cunning in rapidly evolving situations such as a sudden police encounter like Gates experienced.

    My guess – and a guess is all that it is – is that Gates responded emotionally, showing his underlying prejudices during the encounter. Afterward I think his shrewdness and cunning reasserted themselves and he realized both that he could capitalize on the event and how he could do so.

    Again though, that’s just my guess.

  9. Ben Says:

    I personally wouldn’t be surprised that once Crowley threatened Gates, Gates saw an opportunity as is suggested above.

    That being said, and with all respect to the risk police officers take for publoic safety, mouthing off on your own front porch is NOT against the law.

  10. jonolan Says:

    Ben,

    Firstly, when, pray tell, did Officer Crowley threaten Prof. Gates?

    Secondly, while mouthing off on your own front porch is NOT against the law, creating a public disturbance and generally being belligerent with the police is against the law, specifically it is Disorderly Conduct.

    Referring to the oddity that is the relevant Massachusetts statute (G. L. c. 272, 53):

    Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment

    As you can – or should be able to – see, this truly archaic statute that has almost no valid meaning in modern society, yet it is the law. Fortunately for everyone, MA decided that it was just a another way of stating the relavent statutes in the Model Penal Code.

    Model Penal Code s. 250.2: “(1) Disorderly Conduct. Offense Defined. A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:

    (a) engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or

    (b) makes unreasonable noise or offensively coarse utterance, gesture or display, or addresses abusive language to any person present; or

    (c) creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

    ‘Public’ means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

    Massachusetts’ case law, in the form of Commonwealth v. Joseph Mulvey supports the claim that Prof. Gates’ behavior was Disorderly Conduct under both G. L. c. 272, 53 and Model Penal Code s. 250.2.

    Sorry, Ben. The law is the law as it is written and clarified via legal precedence. If people find it inappropriate, they should to talk to their respective Legislatures.

  11. Josh Brandt Says:

    Paradigm, Your theory is interesting. On another blog I visit, someone made a similar assertion. He provided some backround information on the nature of Gates’ recent activity that gives credence to this idea. I will provide the link below:

    http://ecarson.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/gates/#comments

    The comment was made by Patrick Ryan. This comment was longer than the original original post so he put ideas under headings. The point I am referring to is under (3). I have put my own comments on this article if anyone would like to read my theory on Gates’ reaction

    jonolan, you have been to this site before, so I hope I don’t offend you by linking to another blog.

  12. Ben Says:

    By threatened, I meant with arrest–“warned” in the police report; not anything terribly sinister.

    Lawyers would have had a field day if Gate’s case had gone to court. To quote the case law you cite:

    “As recognized in the commentaries to the Model Penal Code, behavior that has an impact only upon members of the police force is significantly different from that affecting other citizens in at least two respects: it is an unfortunate but inherent part of a police officer’s job to be in the presence of distraught individuals; and, to the extent that the theory behind criminalizing disorderly conduct rests on the tendency of the actor’s conduct to provoke violence in others, “one must suppose that [police officers], employed and trained to maintain order, would be least likely to be provoked to disorderly responses.” Model Penal Code 250.2 comment 7, at 350. Accordingly, police presence in and of itself does not turn an otherwise purely private outburst into disorderly conduct.(9) [Crowley’s case would have depended entirely on the distubance to Whalen and the “seven bystanders.”]

    … In sum, on the facts presented, the defendant’s conduct could not be found to have created the substantial and unjustifiable risk of public nuisance that is the sine qua non of the offense.

    3. Disposition. As the defendant was entitled to an acquittal under his motion for a required finding of not guilty, the judgment of conviction is reversed, the verdict is set aside, and judgment is to be entered for the defendant.”
    did

    I seriously doubt Gates would have been convicted; it’s remotely possible under a strict interpretation, but not likely. Or did I miss something else??

  13. jonolan Says:

    Incorrect, Ben. It could easily be decided that Gates’ conduct could be found to have created the substantial and unjustifiable risk of public nuisance because of it’s potential impact on those aforementioned bystanders.

    You’re right though that it wouldn’t be Disorderly Conduct without those bystanders being present.

    Of course it would NEVER go to court in the 1st place, irrespective of race, age, or social status. Disorderly Conduct, in the absence of other real or assumed malfeasance, is something that will get you arrested but not something that will take you to court. Once you cool down, you’re released.

    As for the warning – that was delivered after Gates’ conduct had already – according to the police report – interfered with Officer Crowley carrying out his duties and reporting to the station.

    As a final note: in some jurisdictions, thankfully not MA, cursing at a cop is assault on a LEO.

  14. Ben Says:

    You got to love American public discourse where the first word out of our mouths is “incorrect.” “Easily” is a matter of opinion that we could debate till the cows come home. We’ll never know because the charges got “dropped.” Surprise, surprise.

  15. jonolan Says:

    Ben,

    Yes, sorry about that. I’m afraid I’m, like so many others, often guilty of conversational shortcuts that completely bypass courtesy. 🙁

    “Easily,” “Field Day” – yeah. Each of us looks at something and sees “the answer” and assumes that is the answer that “any sane person” would arrive at.

    As for the charges being dropped though – that likely had nothing to do with the worth of those charges or Gates’ race and/or status and fame. It’s just SOP.

    You behave as Gates did and the police will likely run you in. Later, once you’ve had a chance to cool off, or have been inconvenienced / punished enough – take your pick based on your outlook – the charges get dropped.

    In the absence of other malfeasance, the DA normally has no desire to deal with Disorderly Conduct charges.

  16. Ben Says:

    That’s why we have to keep talking openly to people who see the world differently than we do. I get especially interested in the “why”, and that can go a lot of different directions.

    Thanks; peace.

    PS – I love your 5 minutes to edit feature; I’ve never seen that before.

  17. Rob Rahlf Says:

    An Editorial Opinion,

    This case against Professor Gates isn’t about a racial issue. I’m a middle aged white male & the same thing would have happen to me as well. Thanks to the cops being an arrogant, my way or the highway mentality, combined with authority issues!!!!

    This arrest is about out of control police officers throughout the country. Once it was established that this house was Professor Gates residence this Officer Crowley should’ve had enough sense to leave IMMEDIATELY, PERIOD. This is just another example of rogue cops and how they don’t follow the law!!!! A judge would’ve have thrown this case out of court and in favor of Professor Gates.

    The only exception would be if an verbal or physical threat was imminent.(which was NOT THE CASE).

    This case is however about our “Constituitonal rights” under the first ammendment and “freedom of speech”. You have the right to voice anything you desire except verbally saying fire in a crowed building where there is NO FIRE, & telling a judge to F _ _ _ off or even a police officer.

    Anything short of that is our God given rights provided by our founding fathers and our CONSTITUITION. NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

    My sincere hope is that Professor Gates sues this police force because that is the ONLY WAY to stop this CONTINUOUS BAD BEHAVIOR!!!

    This last paragraph is for the moderators of this website. Thanks for erasing my previous post. It’s another indication that you are just like the cops and don’t believe in free speech. What a fine example of the right to speak freely. So go ahead and do EXACTLY what the cops do and DENY ME MY CONSTITUTIONAL rights!

  18. jonolan Says:

    I’ll, as the owner of this blog, address your last point first, Mr. Rahlf.

    I do not make a habit of deleting any comments on this blog other than spam, most of which is handled automatically by my filters. I do not, in fact, remember deleting any post by you. When did you post it? Was it on this article? Did it ever appear on this blog at all?

    Now to the substance, such as there is of it, of your rant – for rant is the only way and can describe your communique.

    No. A judge would most likely not have thrown the case out of court if it had come before the bench. Any prosecutor, even one fresh out of law school, could prove the prima facie case against Gates on the charge of Disorderly Conduct.

    Gates’ behavior met the standard for the charge. It did as soon as the officer left Gates’ dwelling and Gates followed him outside to continue his rant in front of the neighborhood.

    Revisiting the functional statute:

    Model Penal Code s. 250.2: (1) Disorderly Conduct. Offense Defined. A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:

    (a) engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or

    (b) makes unreasonable noise or offensively coarse utterance, gesture or display, or addresses abusive language to any person present; or

    (c) creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

    Public means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

    It’s a pretty clear statute. Even the case law and ruling cited by Ben and myself to defend offending positions, don’t interfere with the arrest since it occurred after Gates followed Officer Crowley outside.

    Mr. Rahlf, you seem, from this admittedly very limited sample of your thought, to have some serious psychological issue that manifest themselves as an extreme fear and hatred of authority in any form.

    You also, sadly, come across as a fool and a particularly privileged and whiny sort of one at that. You have unfortunately stepped into the middle of a conversion between two men, myself and Ben, who have both spent a number of years in countries where the police truly abuse their authority, an authority that was already far greater than America has ever experienced.

    You might consider deescalating your vitriol if there’s some point other “Fuck the pigs!” that you wish to make. That’s your choice though, and your Constitutional right; it just won’t get you very far here since I have the habit of responding to such rantings in the same fashion they were delivered, if with more panache and style.

  19. Boiling Down Gates | Mizozo Says:

    […] Originally on Reflections From a Murky Pond […]

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