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> Obama wades into racial Controversy in Cambridge Mass., Was this a smart move or a major gaff?
Ted
post Jul 24 2009, 02:24 AM
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Right here in my back yard Obama has chosen to step into a mess that he clearly should have stayed out of.

QUOTE
“The union representing the police sergeant who arrested a prominent black Harvard professor last week at his home in Cambridge, Mass., said it was standing behind the officer. The union, the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said in a statement that Sergeant James Crowley was a “highly respected veteran supervisor” who had its “full and unqualified support.” “His actions at the scene of this matter were consistent with his training, with the informed policies and practices of the department, and with applicable legal standards,” the statement said. The professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., has asked for an apology from Sergeant Crowley, who was investigating a report of a possible break-in at the Gates residence. He arrested Professor Gates on disorderly conduct charges, but the charges have since been dropped. Sergeant Crowley told The Associated Press that he had followed proper procedures and would not apologize.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/23/us/23brf...ACKSSE_BRF.html

WASHINGTON — President Obama bluntly accused the police of acting “stupidly” in arresting the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. last week after an officer had established that Mr. Gates had not broken into his own home in Cambridge, Mass.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/23/us/polit...23gates.html?hp


Questions for the debate

Was the Cambridge Cop right and doing his job or a racist arresting a minority? Why?

Was it smart for Obama to wade into this controversy without having all the facts?

Will this hurt race relations or is it a non issue?

Will it distract from the critical healthcare debate that is so important to Obama?
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 03:39 AM
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Was the Cambridge Cop right and doing his job or a racist arresting a minority? Why?

I don't know. I wasn't there at the time, so I don't know if this professor was treated differently than a Caucasian would have been for breaking into his own home.

Was it smart for Obama to wade into this controversy without having all the facts?

No. It can probably be attributed to Obama's loyalty and faith in his friend, Professor Gates. But he should not have given an opinion on it last night when he was trying to persuade people on the healthcare plan.

Will this hurt race relations or is it a non issue?

I don't think it will hurt race relations for most people. As to the people on the racist fringes of black and white, though, it will serve as some kind of justification for their prejudices.

Will it distract from the critical healthcare debate that is so important to Obama?

Yes, but to what degree I wouldn't hazard a guess. Probably not a lot, but it is a distraction nonetheless.
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turnea
post Jul 24 2009, 03:57 AM
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Was the Cambridge Cop right and doing his job or a racist arresting a minority? Why?
As Obama noted we don't know if race was an issue but the officer certainly wasn't right to arrest a man just because his pride was hurt.

Was it smart for Obama to wade into this controversy without having all the facts?
Very, it was refreshingly honest.

Obama didn't assume anything not in evidence.

He didn't say the cop was racist he said the police "acted stupidly."

I think that's as good a description as possible

Will this hurt race relations or is it a non issue?
Obama made another good point, racial profiling happens, the majority of black and Latino persons living in the US know this to be true.

As does Obama who studied these issues as state senator.

Whether this is an incident of it or not really changes nothing.

Will it distract from the critical healthcare debate that is so important to Obama?
As if the media droning on about it was helping? blink.gif

No chance, unless the GOP is stupid enough to make it an issue but they have a lot more to lose than Obama on this one.

This post has been edited by turnea: Jul 24 2009, 04:33 AM
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 04:03 AM
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Seems to me that cops can have a knack of handling things ham-handedly regardless of the race or gender of the person(s) they're dealing with, that's why I am not at all sure that there is a racial component to the way the professor was treated.

I think it was probably premature, though, for President Obama to say that these police acted "stupidly", except maybe for putting the man in cuffs and marching him out of his house that way. If that happened to me, I'd want an apology, too, but I wouldn't hold my breath until I got it. But then, Professor Gates might be important enough to get an apology.

Yes, Obama's remark was refreshing as in being unscripted and unrehearsed, but I don't think it fit into what he was doing at the moment. There was time to address it later on.

This post has been edited by Paladin Elspeth: Jul 24 2009, 04:04 AM
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Sleeper
post Jul 24 2009, 04:06 AM
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This is about as much an issue to me as the Birthers are in their Birth Certificate frenzy. Just another thing that distracts from real issues such as this very large Health Care Bill that is trying to be rushed through congress.

Plus the reporter asked the question so I don't see how Obama really waded into this.. He was pulled into it by the question. Now he could have declined to comment, but that would just be another non-story that would detract from real substantial issues that are more important.

One thing that does bug me about this incident is people will use this as another excuse to bash police officers.

This post has been edited by Sleeper: Jul 24 2009, 04:08 AM
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turnea
post Jul 24 2009, 04:06 AM
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QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:03 PM) *
I think it was probably premature, though, for President Obama to say that these police acted "stupidly", except maybe for putting the man in cuffs and marching him out of his house that way. If that happened to me, I'd want an apology, too, but I wouldn't hold my breath until I got it. But then, Professor Gates might be important enough to get an apology.

Yes, Obama's remark was refreshing as in being unscripted and unrehearsed, but I don't think it fit into what he was doing at the moment. There was time to address it later on.

I think that's pretty important he was arrested and taken to jail after proving he was in his own home.

That's pretty stupid.
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 04:12 AM
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I have seen otherwise reasonable people have tantrums and generally make fools of themselves when I worked in Wally World, er, Walmart. Are you saying that there would be no possible thing the professor could say or do that would not count as disorderly conduct, albeit in his own home? What if he mooned the cop (just speaking hypothetically, of course)?

Not trying to necessarily defend the cop, but there is obviously more than one side to the story, and this police officer reportedly taught other cops about racial profiling and its problems.

We assume that the professor was acting in a mature, professorial manner. My prejudice about cops aside, can we assume that the cop was also acting in a professional manner?


QUOTE
I think that's pretty important he was arrested and taken to jail after proving he was in his own home.

That's pretty stupid.
But we don't know what went on in there.

This post has been edited by Paladin Elspeth: Jul 24 2009, 04:15 AM
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turnea
post Jul 24 2009, 04:16 AM
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QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:12 PM) *
I have seen otherwise reasonable people have tantrums and generally make fools of themselves when I worked in Wally World, er, Walmart. Are you saying that there would be no possible thing the professor could say or do that would not count as disorderly conduct, albeit in his own home? What if he mooned the cop (just speaking hypothetically, of course)?

Not trying to necessarily defend the cop, but there is obviously more than one side to the story, and this police officer reportedly taught other cops about racial profiling and its problems.

We assume that the professor was acting in a mature, professorial manner. My prejudice about cops aside, can we assume that the cop was also acting in a professional manner?

Disorderly conduct does not mean yelling "Get off my porch"

Having a tantrum is not illegal.

The charges were dropped precisely because they were so stupid.
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 04:22 AM
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Did he yell "get off my porch"? Is that when he was cuffed and led away? I don't know.

Did he tell the cops to "---- you" or "Get your ---- --- off my property"? I don't know.

What ticked off the cop? Just a modicum of scorn from the homeowner? I don't know.

Anything we can say here can only be assumptions at this point.

And again, it is a distraction, if only from the healthcare debate threads here. Just one more thing for the opposition to point to and say, "Yeah, I told you he was going to help his black buddies." Lame, I know, but that's what happens.
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turnea
post Jul 24 2009, 04:24 AM
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QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:22 PM) *
Did he yell "get off my porch"? Is that when he was cuffed and led away? I don't know.

Did he tell the cops to "---- you" or "Get your ---- --- off my property"? I don't know.

What ticked off the cop? Just a modicum of scorn from the homeowner? I don't know.

Anything we can say here can only be assumptions at this point.

..and not one of those assumptions constitutes grounds for arrest, that's really the point.
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 04:28 AM
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QUOTE
..and not one of those assumptions constitutes grounds for arrest, that's really the point.

There must have been a reason* why the man was arrested and taken to the station. Do you know for a fact that it was entirely unwarranted (pardon the pun)? And how do you know when there is no real testimony to read and compare?

I'm not a cop, so I don't know what it takes to be cuffed and led away. Some cops are on a power trip, but there are a lot of reasonable ones, too, who are on their best behavior.

I'm not assuming anything about either of these people. I am trying to keep an open mind.

*whether either of us would consider it justified or not
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turnea
post Jul 24 2009, 04:30 AM
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QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:28 PM) *
QUOTE
..and not one of those assumptions constitutes grounds for arrest, that's really the point.

There must have been a reason* why the man was arrested and taken to the station. Do you know for a fact that it was entirely unwarranted (pardon the pun)? And how do you know when there is no real testimony to read and compare?

Even the officer's own report lists nothing that justifies the arrest.

Yelling at a cop is not a crime in this country.
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 04:32 AM
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QUOTE(turnea @ Jul 24 2009, 12:30 AM) *
QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:28 PM) *
QUOTE
..and not one of those assumptions constitutes grounds for arrest, that's really the point.

There must have been a reason* why the man was arrested and taken to the station. Do you know for a fact that it was entirely unwarranted (pardon the pun)? And how do you know when there is no real testimony to read and compare?

Even the officer's own report lists nothing that justifies the arrest.

Yelling at a cop is not a crime in this country.

It depends on what you say.

The professor phoned someone at the police department, as I recall. I suspect that the police department dismissed the charge because they wanted no part of the trouble they were going to get into because of the professor's status.

This post has been edited by Paladin Elspeth: Jul 24 2009, 04:35 AM
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turnea
post Jul 24 2009, 04:36 AM
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QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:32 PM) *
It depends on what you say.

Not at all.

That's simply not the law.

We don't have a FCC for people and there is no combination of vitriol that is, of itself, illegal
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Aquilla
post Jul 24 2009, 04:37 AM
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I would urge the participants here to read this article
in the Boston Globe about the police officer involved and his history. This is a man who administered CPR to a black NBA athlete when Reggie Lewis was dying of a heart attack. This is the act of a racist? I think not. Anyone who makes a claim to the contrary is quite frankly an idiot, even if they post on this message board. Enough for now on that, moving on to the questions.....


Was the Cambridge Cop right and doing his job or a racist arresting a minority? Why?

He was doing his job, investigating a report of a crime. The fact that this "friend of Obama" decided he was being profiled says more about the esteemed professor than it does for the police officer involved.



Was it smart for Obama to wade into this controversy without having all the facts?
NO1 It was STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. Obama, as President of the United States had no business weighing in on this since as he admitted he didn't know the facts. I know people here like to call Bush a moron, but this one is beyond moron. Obama owes this police officer a personal apology. Stupid, racist remark on Obama's part. Really, really stupid. His teleprompter should be ashamed of itself.



Will this hurt race relations or is it a non issue?

I think it does hurt race relations. Here we have a black President who admits he doesn't have the facts bashing a white police officer for questioning a black man based on a call for a potential robbery. Obama didn't know what happened, and he should have said so and left it at that. But NO, he had to weigh in on it on national television anyway. Idiot. Or, maybe that's where he's at. I'm hoping he's just stupid and not a racist. Time will tell.



Will it distract from the critical healthcare debate that is so important to Obama?


I hope so. Obamacare is a disaster, just like the rest of his presidency has been. Anything stupid that he says that detracts from his agenda is okay by me. The worst thing a flim-flam man can do is over-reach and Obama has done that. Sure didn't take him long.


Aquilla
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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 04:42 AM
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I know there used to be a law that dealt with "fighting words". Do you mean to say that regardless of what the professor might have said to the police officer, that none of it could be construed as disorderly conduct?

I see how the professor felt justified in whatever he did within his own home. I would like to feel that way, too. However, I know that I could be hauled in if the police officer really wanted to haul me in. But then, I'm nobody important.

I still think that President Obama should have refrained from commenting on it right after a major policy speech.

This post has been edited by Paladin Elspeth: Jul 24 2009, 04:44 AM
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Aquilla
post Jul 24 2009, 04:56 AM
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QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Jul 23 2009, 11:42 PM) *
I know there used to be a law that dealt with "fighting words". Do you mean to say that regardless of what the professor might have said to the police officer, that none of it could be construed as disorderly conduct?

I see how the professor felt justified in whatever he did within his own home. I would like to feel that way, too. However, I know that I could be hauled in if the police officer really wanted to haul me in. But then, I'm nobody important.

I still think that President Obama should have refrained from commenting on it right after a major policy speech.



All the police officer was trying to do was resolve a potential crime that had been reported. The police officer didn't enter the home, he asked the "friend of Obama" to step outside and answer some questions. I've had that happen to me where a crime has been committed in my neighborhood and my reaction has been to invite the police officer into my home so we could at least sit down and talk about what I've seen over a cup of coffee. What's wrong with that? Sorry, this professor was way out of bounds here, and so was Obama with his stupid comments on the case. I demand an apology from him to this police officer, but I'm not holding my breath. The Messiah doesn't do things like that unless he's over-seas and apologizing for what he sees as Americas' flaws.


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Paladin Elspeth
post Jul 24 2009, 05:03 AM
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Perhaps I misunderstood the purpose of this thread. If it was clear that this was to be an opportunity to put down Obama, then I probably wouldn't have participated in this.

I don't think Obama should have answered that question after his policy speech. He should have at least waited until more information came to light. But having said that, I am not passing judgment, not here, regarding his healthcare proposal or foreign diplomacy.

The truth is that regardless of Obama's opinion on this incident involving Professor Gates, we have bigger fish to fry and yes, this is a distraction from the healthcare debate. Obama would not have wanted such a distraction, so it was unwise for him to comment on Gates versus the police officer.
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metropolitical
post Jul 24 2009, 05:58 AM
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Was the Cambridge Cop right and doing his job or a racist arresting a minority? Why?
The only action which could have precipitated such an arrest would be if Gates had physically threatened the officer(s) in some way. But given Gates is an aged Harvard professor, it is quite a stretch of the imagination that the officer actually had just cause in such an arrest. Technically, in Massachusetts, disorderly conduct is defined as unruly behavior likely to set off wider unrest, and reserved for physical threat mostly. So, according to Slate, it is practically unheard of for a conviction of such behavior on one's own front porch.

Moreover, the First Amendment protects your right to be a verbally annoying jerk, especially if one is alleging racial bias, as Gates was doing, or even protesting arrest, since such diatribes represent core political speech. So, given what is known, it is pretty safe to say the police officer acted stupidly, and one can make that conclusion with with good confidence since it has been agreed there was no threat of violence, - at least all the stories I have read have no mention of such behavior.

Was it smart for Obama to wade into this controversy without having all the facts?
Obama at least would have had Gate's story, since Obama mentioned Gates was a friend, and therefore probably had sufficient knowledge to know if his account of events was likely to be truthful. Moreover as President, I am sure Obama has plenty of administrative elves out there digging up the facts on any potential political embarassment, so I bet he had several of the other officers' stories to analyze as well. Moreover, Obama went to Harvard Law School and probably knows exactly what the law is there, and even if his memory of it was faded, undoubtedly has lawyer friends who would have immediately kibitzed him about the legal standing of such an arrest.

Will this hurt race relations or is it a non issue?
Non-issue, as far as general race relations go. However, it will raise new issues about the legitimacy of racial profiling again. Gates was probably acting arrogantly indignant and the officer likely responded in kind. When police get indignant though, they will probably arrest someone in retaliation. Unfortunately placing spite before rational thought makes for a poor just cause. The arrest was unjustified. I also find it interesting that the arresting officer in fact turned out to be an "expert" in profiling in police academy. Given the long-standing controversy about the racial and ethnic profiling, and police sensitivity and wariness about public perception of it, the officer's experience might provide a basis for his motivation: a sore spot that Gates was poking unknowingly. ...just as the officer's unexpected intrusion prodded Gate's sore spot: racial paranoia about police bias.

Although the police officer did say he gave his name, a requirement of Massachusetts law, Gates was also entitled to his badge number which he did not give, but asked for. Nor did the officer provide the other usual legally required information after the arrest, - no Miranda rights were given, and so on. So it appears to be a case of a hot-headed cop who let a brow-beating professor get his goat.

Will it distract from the critical healthcare debate that is so important to Obama?
That depends on whether Gates keeps it high profile or not. The ball is in his court. If he keeps adding logs of commentary to the fire, the media is sure to listen and fan the flames. Gates did say he was going to make a documentary about profiling... maybe a talk-show tour as well to promote his outrage?

This post has been edited by metropolitical: Jul 24 2009, 06:08 AM
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Curmudgeon
post Jul 24 2009, 06:18 AM
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Questions for the debate

Was the Cambridge Cop right and doing his job or a racist arresting a minority? Why?


I once had an African-American co-worker who locked himself out of his house. He opened a window and climbed in. Police were called because "a (racist description) was breaking into a house." He was arrested, and not allowed to show any identification until he was at the police station. A follow-up investigation determined that the neighbor "didn't know we had any of those people living in this city." When he tried to hire an attorney, there were no longer any records of the arrest to be found...

Then again, two policemen once held me at gunpoint for over an hour, blocking off a bridge that was one of only a few major roads leading into that city. The question that I couldn't answer to their satisfaction was, "Is that umbrella loaded?" They were unwilling to examine the umbrella because they had never been trained to deal with umbrella guns. (There is one, I believe, in London's black Museum) I was written up for being late to work, and I tried to get a copy of the police report regarding the incident. I was told that I had never been stopped, or "the policemen involved would have filed a report."

The policeman was likely doing his job, but his police department may decide that he did not represent the department well. He may face a long period of time with no hope for promotions, teasing from co-workers, and perhaps be laid off out of order in a future cut-back. In the end, the policeman involved may decide that he did act stupidly, he filed a report of the incident...

Was Obama foolish to answer the question without having all the facts? He has a law degree, and he perhaps should have recognized that this question fell into the category of, "When did you stop beating your wife?" Even if he did know all the facts of the case, the purpose of the press conference was to deal with Health Care issues, and perhaps he should have simply gone on to the next question...

Perhaps the re[orter was the one who acted stupidly. If I were Obama. I would rremember the name of the reporter who asked the question, and he would not be called upon again until at least the next Presidential administration.
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