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This is what we call racial profiling

July 21, 2009

Henry Louis Gates Jr.Last Thursday, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a preeminent African-American scholar, was arrested in his own home for loud and disorderly conduct. Returning from a trip to China, Gates realized he was locked out of his own home and forced the door open, prompting a neighbor who suspected burglary to call the police. When they arrived, they were not satisfied that Gates was the owner of the home, even after he produced his Massachusetts license and Harvard identification card. Angry at the police’s apparent racial profiling, Gates yelled at the officer and was arrested.

One of the most troubling parts about this incident is that the officer asked Gates to step outside, because “the acoustics of the kitchen and the foyer were making it difficult for me to transmit pertinent information” over his radio.  Obviously, inside his home, expressing anger at the officer could not justify arrest, but outside the home, he was arrested for causing “loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to the police report.

The discrepancies between the police’s account and Gates’ lawyer’s statement are striking. Here’s how Gates tells the story:

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’ request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’ home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

As if institutionalized racism isn’t enough, here’s what some enlightened Boston Globe readers had to say about the incident:

Enough of throwing down the race card … we have a Black President now, so that tired old ship has sailed.

sure. EVERY minority who has to deal w/ the police, merited or not, is the victim of…what was that again? racial profiling? oooh that sounds bad, the cops r badd peeple!

Typical ludicrous racism against whites for imaginary misdeeds of prejudice and discrimination. Barack Obama succeeded in winning the White House simply because no one is allowed to criticize any black man unless he is a racist, which left Obama unassailable and beyond any reproach. Who would be so foolish as to criticize a black man’s policies when it is almost certain he would be branded a rednecked racist for doing so?

Gates’ arraignment is scheduled for August 26, and the Rev. Al Sharpton has pledged to be there.

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