Monday, July 20, 2009

Here it is again

For all who think that racial profiling is a thing of the past, here it is again.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., renowned author and Harvard professor, was arrested in his home for suspected burgularly. Story here

It is sad to think that even a well known, 59 year old black man has to deal with profiling by the police. The next thing we will be reading in the newspaper is that Barack Obama was arrested for being in the White House.

What a sad commentary on the state of our country. I know that racial profiling happens every day on the west side of Chicago where I live. Young men being stopped and harassed for the crime of walking down the street while young and black. This is an everyday occurance in long forgotten neighborhoods like ours. But to hear about profiling in Cambridge of all places is even more discouraging.

What will it take for people to see everyone as a part of the same human race?

Why do police so easily get away with this type of treatment of those that they are to "serve and protect"?

5 comments:

Kindra said...

Did you read some of the comments? that's as troubling to me as the actual situation, which is awful.

I saw Gates on a few PBS specials recently and I've really enjoyed them. What a sad commentary on our society.

KG said...

I did start to read the comments and then decided to just stop because it was making me angry.

I have read a few of Gates' books. He is a great mind of our time, but that matters little to those who are stuck in a mindset.

Anonymous said...

Is this really racial profiling? It sounds like the police responded because of a specific call from a neighbor. To me it sounds more like the abuse of power by police, but not necessarily sparked by racism. If Gates had been white the police still would have shown up, although the outcome may have been different. As a side note, it appears that at least one of the policmen involved was also black.

When Gates showed them his ID the police should have apologized for the confusion and left. While the "Do you know who you're messing with?" routine comes across as arrogant (like a celebrity demanding special treatment), Gates was justifiable upset about being accosted in his own home and should never have been arrested for being upset.

Eric said...

Kevin,

I find a few things interesting about this...

1) Why didn't these neighbors know each other?

2) There were reports that the 911 call said that a "black man" was breaking into the house next door. This was not the case, the 911 call said "someone is breaking in next door." This goes back to #1...Why didn't the neighbors know each other?

3) I read that when asked for an ID he presented his Harvard ID, demanding that this was enough. I would hope that the police would pry beyond an work ID in a situation like this.

I guess all in all it is more of a case of knowing people and making yourself known. Something we have really gotten away from today.

Do you think he made a big deal out of it to prove a point???

(I am a secret blog reader of yours...good to hear your thoughts.)

Eric R.

KG said...

Eric,
Glad to have you jump in. I knew that there were other readers in hiding.

Obviously, a lot more info has come out since the original post. So perspectives change with more info.

I would say this: I do believe that Dr. Gates jumped quickly to conclusions about the situation. That being said, I still do not understand why they chose to arrest him.

He had been traveling and came home to be greeted by police officers accusing him of breaking into his own home. He was upset. This is normal. He overreacted.

But I don't understand arresting him for getting upset or even yelling at the police. Once the police realized that he was a Harvard professor and lived there, they should have left. There was no reason for them to engage any furthur.

So is it a crime to yell at a police officer. Their is no report of him even suggesting any physical threat to them. It seems that their pride was insulted and they used their "power and authority" to pay him back.

I will admit to being a bit biased against police abusing their power (especially against minorities, but not solely) since I have seen it so often. With authority comes a great responsibility.