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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama Says Police "Acted Stupidly" in Harvard Professor Arrest Despite Not Having All the Facts - Video 7/22/09


The video above shows President Obama at his press conference last night slamming the Cambridge, Massachusetts police for "acting stupidly" in arresting a Harvard Professor at his home after he had to break into his own house because he had locked himself outside. Someone called in a possible burglary, and when the police responded, they reportedly asked to see his identification. Obama says the professor showed his identification, but other reports seem to say he refused and then accused the officer of racism.

The video below shows the arresting officer refusing to get into the details of the case, but at the end of the video he emphatically said that he would not apologize for what he did. The Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has demanded an apology from Sgt. James Crowley, whom you see in the video below.



UPDATE: 9:51 am cdt: Here is the Police Report on the incident - Hat Tip: Walmartian at Free Republic.

Obama repeatedly said in his statement above that "he did not have all the facts." That should have been end of story. Obama has no business accusing police officers of "acting stupidly" when, by his own admission, he does not have all the facts! But it was too good a chance for him to play the race card, and stick it to law enforcement who are putting their lives on the line every day to keep citizens safe.

It is Obama who should apologize, to every police officer in America. He has shown he will not presume they have done their job well until he has all the facts that lead him to believe differently.

2 comments:

Diogenes July 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM  

You know, I initially had the same reaction, that Obama probably shouldn't have commented without knowing all the facts. But, after reading the police report, it's pretty clear that you had a police officer that was throwing his weight around, possibly for racial reasons.

Crowley asked Gates if anyone else was in the house, and Gates said "It's none of your business." Gates is right, although Crowley was right to ask, since he was investigating a potential break-in. No harm, no foul.

Gates -- possibly after some argumentative discussion -- provided Crowley with his Harvard ID, and Crowley says, at that point, he was convinced he was dealing with the rightful occupant of the premises. But Crowley STILL called the Harvard police to the scene. WHY?

Gates says that Crowley repeatedly and loudly asked for his name and badge number. Crowley says he gave it, and Gates didn't hear him. Gates says he never gave it. But Crowley THEN asked Gates to "come outside" supposedly because the acoustics in the house made it difficult to hear? Oh, come on! It's easier to hear a conversation OUTSIDE a house than it is INSIDE? That doesn't pass the smell test. But why else would Crowley ask Gates to come outside? Well, look at what he charged Gates with: disorderly conduct. Whatever Gates had done INSIDE HIS OWN HOUSE would not constitute "disorderly conduct" -- but, once he was outside the residence, on public property, it might constitute disorderly conduct. Crowley suckered him: come on outside here, so I can arrest your butt, you SOB. How dare you question ME.

Was it racially motivated? Only Crowley knows for sure. Gates can't be blamed for believing it's racially motivated, but if Crowley says it wasn't -- and if there isn't any other evidence -- then we can take him at his word. But it is pretty clearly a case of a cop showing some schmuck who's boss: you yell at me and call me a racist, you jerk, I'll haul your butt down to the local jail. That ought to teach you a lesson.!

Crowley may not be a racist, but he did, in fact, act stupidly. And he owes Gates an apology for abusing his authority... not that it'll happen.

And yes, police officers deserve our thanks for doing a very difficult and dangerous job. That doesn't mean they get a "free pass" when they screw up. We all screw up; we're human.

Inspector Clouseau July 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM  

We have three observations about the Harvard professor incident:

1. We find it interesting that the fact that this was the professor's home was evidently not established early on way before the dispute escalated;

2. We find it fascinating that the versions of two members of society, who most would ordinarily view as responsible and honest citizens (this obviously does not include politicians), would vary so dramatically from a factual point of view.

3. Finally, considering that the reading and viewing public were not present at the scene (and thus have no first hand knowledge), and that there is no video tape to our knowledge of the sequence of events and what was said, how so many have formed conclusions, and made assumptions, about who did what and who was wrong.

There are some things which Professor Gates might have considered upon the arrival of the police, no matter how incensed he may have been.

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