Thursday, July 23, 2009

Giant Gates FAQ

Are you a lawyer?

Hahahaha. No.

Can you give me unofficial legal advice?

Hahahaha. No.

Can you give me unofficial regular advice?


Unless you’re Stephen L. Carter, be nice to the cops anytime you interact with them.

But I am Stephen L. Carter.


*Blush* Will you sign my very dog-eared copy of “The Emperor of Ocean Park?” I love that book.

OK, moving on, what do you think happened between Gates and Officer Crowley?

I think Gates was rude to Officer Crowley, and that pissed Crowley off and Crowley arrested him illegally.

Let’s unpack that. Why do you think Gates was rude to Crowley?

Because even in Gates’ own account he sounds like he was at least snippy. Also because I think most people are pretty cranky after flights from China to Boston.

How long does it take to fly from China to Boston?


It averages 19 hours. Dude was probably exhausted and sore and jetlagged.

Do you think Gates’ perception of racism caused him to act in a more rude way?

I’m sure his knowledge about how black men are often treated by the police upset him even more, but I doubt that was the only factor.

Do you believe that Gates initially refused to show them ID?


Even the police report said that he showed it to them fairly quickly. So if he refused once and agreed a minute later, I don’t see how that should matter.

So you think that Crowley was annoyed because Gates was rude?


Yes.

Do you think Crowley was a racist?


Officer Crowley once gave a black guy mouth-to-mouth. Though there is no definitive proof in this world that somebody ISN’T a racist, I’d say that’s about as close as one can get.

Can one be a non-racist, but still be an arrogant jerk?


Yep.

Why did Gates come outside?

Because the officer asked him to.

When?

Both before he knew Gates was a Harvard professor AND afterwards according to the police report.

Was it OK for the officer to ask him to come outside before he knew he was the legal resident of the house?

I guess so, though I don't see the point. But I don't have a problem with it.

But he also asked Gates to come outside after he knew he was the legal resident of the house, and when Gates had lost his temper?.

Yup

So the officer DID go outside and try to remove himself from the situation?

Sort of. He did go outside, but he doesn't mention having given Gates his Harvard ID back, and he does mention that Gates was still asking for his name and badge number and that he wasn't going to talk to Gates anymore unless Gates followed.

So the officer carried Gates' Harvard ID outside?

Crowley mentions taking it in the report, but not giving it back. I think he took it outside with him for the following reasons:

a. Crowley said he was transmitting information from the ID in his radio call and that he was unable to make his radio call in the house. Unless Crowley memorized the ID, he would still need that to transmit the information that by his own words he was trying to transmit. The simpler explanation is that he took the ID with him.

b. Crowley would likely have written that he handed the ID back to Gates in his report as he is trying to get across the idea that Gates was acting crazily and he was acting reasonably. Taking away a man's Harvard ID and not handing it back is the sort of behavior that provokes people. Crowley does everything he can in the entire rest of the report to emphasize that he wasn't provoking Gates. So the simplest explanation is that if he'd handed the ID back, he would have written it in the report.

Given that, I think what Gates did, follow him outside, is what just about anyone in the situation might have done.

If Crowley gave Gates the ID back and Gates followed him outside for some other reason, how would that change the situation?

Crowley probably would have written about that in his report. But it doesn't change anything legally, it just makes everyone's actions make slightly less sense.

Why did Crowley say that he wanted Gates to step outside the house?

He said that Gates was making so much noise that he couldn’t hear his radio.

How bad could the acoustics in Gates’ house possibly be?


If it is a fancy house with a lot of marble, pretty bad I guess, though the police report makes it sound like the kitchen is right off the front door, which is not typically the design of truly fancy houses.

Shouldn’t Crowley have gone ahead and stepped outside if he knew Gates was living in the house and Crowley wanted to hear his radio?

He sort of did, I just tend to think he just took Gates' ID with him. But his report says he knew other cops were around at that time so he could have turned around and told one of the cops standing in the doorway to radio in and focused on calming Mr. Gates down and apologizing.

Apologizing?

Well, that would be the polite thing to do given the circumstances and how upset Gates was. If this wasn't a false accusation in words, it was one in deeds.

/
Did the officer have any good reason for wanting Gates to come outside after he knew Gates was the legal resident of the house?


Not that I’ve seen in any account of the incident.

But he told Professor Gates that he should come out on the porch if he wanted to continue the conversation anyway?

Yes.

Why would Professor Gates want to continue the conversation?

Because he had asked the officer for his name and badge number and the officer said he wouldn't give them to Gates unless Gates came out on the porch. He claims that he had already given them to Gates twice, but that was still a strange thing to say if he didn't want Gates to come out on the porch.

If Gates was yelling, how was Crowley supposed to give him his name and badge number?

All Massachusetts police are required to carry cards with their names and badge number for just this situation. Crowley apparently chose not to use his.



So what was the effect of Mr. Gates going out on the porch?


It gave the officers a chance to decide he was making a ruckus in a public space and arrest him.

Is it legal to arrest a man for making a ruckus in his own house?


Not usually. If he’s threatening anyone, maybe. If it’s the middle of the night, that’s usually a ticket, not an arrest.

So if Gates had never left the house, they couldn’t have arrested him?

Certainly not legally, and I can’t even think of any trumped-up charges that would have sounded remotely plausible . The usual trumped-up charges for pissing off a police officer are either resisting arrest or disorderly conduct. Someone who isn’t getting arrested and is in his own house really obviously doesn’t qualify for either.

Can one get charged for disorderly conduct for something one does on one's own front porch?

There’s no case law that is perfectly on point. The closest I can find from Massachusetts is that you CAN get charged for it in a public street in the city and you CAN’T in your front yard if your front yard is hidden from the street by a fence. But the basic idea behind disorderly conduct is that it is the sort of behavior that is troublesome or disturbing to the general public.

Were there members of the general public around?


There were half a dozen people watching, including the lady who called in the burglary and the neighbor who gave/sold that photo of Gates to news organizations. My guess is that the folks there were effectively gawkers.

Can you give some more common examples of the sort of behavior that gets disorderly conduct charges?

Public drunkenness, soliciting prostitution, barfights where nobody gets hurt and there’s not much property damage, begging, busking, being a peeping tom. Some of those crimes have more serious versions. The disorderly conduct charge is what the serious charge gets knocked down to if the judge likes you. You know how if you’re speeding and you fight the ticket in court and the judge likes you, he knocks it down to “improper equipment” so the fine is less and you don’t get points on your license? It’s like that.

So basically the disorderly conduct charge is questionable at best?

At best.

Is it possible Gates did something else illegal?

If he did, it would be in the police report and he would have been charged with it. This was not a complicated incident. No real analysis or investigation is likely to have turned up any other charge.

Are people having a lot of trouble with this concept?

Yes, oddly enough. Let’s go through a few examples.

Are you sure Gates didn’t threaten the officer?

Yes. The officer would have mentioned it in a heartbeat and would have charged him for it.

Are you sure Gates didn’t seem like a threat to himself?

Yes. The officer would have mentioned it in the police report and charged him appropriately.

Didn't Gates disobey a police officer?


Disobeying a police officer isn't a crime everywhere, and most of the places it is, it's a crime to get in the way of an investigation or a crime to disobey during an emergency. The reports suggest that Gates did everything the officer asked him to do, albeit slowly and with protest, and things only really got heated after the officer knew Gates lived there and didn't immediately start apologizing and leaving. So the "investigation" part was over. There was no emergency going on, so that requirement doesn't apply either. And again, if the officers could have charged him with that, they likely would have.

Is it possible that the officer felt threatened by Gates?

Anything’s possible, but by the time of the arrest the officer knew Gates was a Harvard professor. And if you’ve seen the infamous photo, you know that Gates was like six inches shorter than the officers at least, much less muscular and much older.

This does not paint a threatening picture. And the officer's feelings aren't relevant to the law as long as he didn't make any threats.


Would a white guy in the same situation have gotten arrested?


Not in my experience. For example, no report I’ve seen suggests Gates cussed at the officer. My brothers (26, with at least a few inches and 75 pounds on Professor Gates) have cussed out police officers before, and the cops usually ignore it.

Speaking of your brothers, have either of them been arrested, and had the cops say something like “the fine will be $40 and we know you can pay for it because we went through your wallet?”

Not that they could recall and they’ve both been arrested many times. As far as I can tell, that was entirely to make Professor Gates feel more violated. But the only version we have of that event is Gates’ so it is possible the police would have an explanation or deny that happened. Also, it’s possible my brothers have never been arrested for a crime so piddling that the fine was only $40.

What’s the worst thing Gates is alleged to have said?

“"I'll speak with your mama outside,"

Does that sound like something a Harvard professor would say?


No, it sounds like a line of dialogue from a Pam Grier movie, which makes me think that it’s what a white guy thinks a black guy might say. I’m not inclined to believe that he really said it.

But what if he did?

Then I’m not signing up for any rhetoric classes he’s teaching, but arresting him was still illegal.

What if he called the cop a racist?


I suspect he probably did. But arresting him was still illegal.

Isn’t insulting a cop illegal?

NO! Tell your friends.

Is there anything he could have said to the cops that would have been illegal?

Physically threatening them. That aside, not that I can think of.

What about crying out that a representative of the government is doing wrong as he arrests you?

It’s pretty much exactly what the founding fathers had in mind with that whole free speech thing.

If Gates had been really sweet and polite, would this have ended easily?

Probably.

If Crowley had started apologizing the moment he saw the Harvard ID, would this have ended easily?

At worst, there would have been a complaint to Crowley's department, which would have been "investigated" then ignored. Complaints about cops that don't involve violence are usually not taken particularly seriously.

Was it a good idea for Gates to be all Al-Sharptony with the police?

Well, first of all, that he was Al Sharptony is my assumption, not a known fact. But while it gave Gates an unpleasant afternoon, it has raised a lot of awareness and gotten people talking about the fact that this stuff can happen to people who really haven't done anything wrong. And hey, maybe the next time the police are thinking about hassling a black guy, they will wonder if he's Cornel West and decide it isn't worth the trouble.

Why do you mostly use the police report rather than mostly using Gates' version?

Because I ultimately come to the conclusion that Crowley was in the wrong and I can do so using his own account and the arrest he made and the relevant statutes and caselaw. Being able to say "Even using Crowley's version of what happened, he was still in the wrong makes a stronger argument.

If Gates was really rude and Crowley arrested him for a trumped-up charge, then why is Crowley in the wrong and Gates not?

Because "always be polite to the police" is not a requirement to be an American citizen. "Don't make illegal arrests" IS a requirement to be a police officer.


CC

EDIT: Robin pointed out in the comments that Crowley had asked Gates to come outside BEFORE he knew he was the legal resident of the house as well. I added some clarifications on that point.

EDIT II: I've tweaked several sections about Gates coming outside and his potential reasons for doing so and I added two extra questions to the end, one that I was asked over email and one that clarifies another point.

EDIT III: PG mentioned in the comments that whether or not Crowley kept the Harvard ID, Gates still didn't have his name and badge number and Crowley made clear that he wasn't getting it again until Gates came out on the porch. I recalled that Fairfax County police are required to carry business cards with their name and badge number. I wondered if this was true of Massachusetts police. Yes, it is. So Crowley's explanation that he COULDN'T give Gates his name and badge number because Gates was yelling so loud is also bull.


Sources:

Mostly The Police report Crowley wrote

The Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts though I mostly looked them up in Lexis-Nexis rather than using that source.

Orbitz.com for the time it takes to fly from China to Boston.

This New York Times Article and its interview with Crowley

I didn't really use Gates' version much for reasons I explain above. But it is here.

50 comments:

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote:
-snip-
"Officer Crowley once gave a black guy mouth-to-mouth. Though there is no definitive proof in this world that somebody ISN’T a racist, I’d say that’s about as close as one can get."

CC,

This blog post is excellent overall.

I think the problem is our popular culture in such a way that we seem to have very few racists out there.

Ta-Nehisi Coates from Atlantic Monthly's web site says the following about this:

"You know what this is. I've written repeatedly about how racism can be a problem in a society with seemingly no racists, how racism--out of all the isms--became the province of cannibals, ogres, people existing one rung above the rapist, and child molester. Some of this is our fault--dramatizing the depravity of Southern racists was a brilliant political strategy. But the unexpected upshot is that whites who know they'd never sic a dog on a kid for the crime of crossing a street, can sit at home and say 'Well if that's racism, I know I'm not that.' It'd be as if our thoughts of sexism revolved strictly around honor-killings and rape. Perhaps they do.

I took a lot of my white readers by surprise with the 35-40 percent figure (note - this is the author's estimate of the percentage of racists in our society from a previous article). I think, in large measure, that's because we don't think about racism in the same way. I think a lot of my white readers think of white racism as a moral failing, not the accumulation of history and set of societal assumptions bearing down on us all. There is a perverse truth in the racist who protests 'I have black friends!' We all laugh, but in point of fact, it may well be true. The racists, like the sexists, like the elitist, like the homophobe is very capable of seeing individuals, of seeing beyond their race, of even befriending them, and at the same time not challenging the history, the presumptions that the world has put on them."

http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/the_limits_of_our_dialouge_on_race_and_beyond.php

I would check out Coates' earlier article on how racism still persists with all the "progress" we've made:

Now I'm Not Racist...
http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/now_im_not_racist.php

So ... the problem here is we've made out racism as something only found in the KKK and Bull Connor -- not something that might exist in a Cambridge law enforcement officer who had given CPR to a black person.

Diggitt said...

CC and SC, what a great exchange. And the quote SC found nails down a real truth. Thank you both.

Bill Baar said...

CC, forgive me here, but one of the great afflictions of Liberalism is to take a specific case, and build layers and layers of social analysis on it as you've done here.

Some of this may be true, all of it may be true, and very little of it may be true.

Who knows.

When asked if Homosexuality was ingrained or learned, George Bush wisely said he didn't know, and Bob Kerry went in to some long winded thing I forget, save the part about Cheney's daughter a Lesbian (over and over). Liberal's analysis v the wise (and truthful) Conservative's I don't know.

Mayor Daley (the original) once said you never have to take back things you don't say.

Advice Obama should have kept in mind at that presser.

Robin Edgar said...

You were doing more or less OK until you got to - Why did Crowley say that he wanted Gates to step outside the house?

It went down hill from there CC. . .

You really should do that free and responsible search for truth and meaning thing before shooting your mouth off CC aka check the facts, do a little research, familiarize yourself with what really happened. . . I have better things to do right now than point out all the mistakes you have made but I will point out the first one. Crowley did not in fact ask Gates to step out on his porch because Gates was making so much noise shouting and yelling that Crowley couldn’t hear his radio. If you had bothered to read the Gates interview you linked to you would have seen that the very first thing that Crowley said to Gates when he arrived on the scene of the reported *crime* was -

‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’

Sgt. Crowley obviously had not even entered Gates' rented house at that point. Hopefully I don't need to explain to you *why* officer Crowley asked Gates to step out onto the porch upon first encountering him, although I have a sneaking suspicion that I probably will end up having to do just that. . .

As I said you keep going downhill from there. . .

John A Arkansawyer said...

Bill,

I think you misunderstand. Gates is used as an illustration of a pre-existing analysis.

There's nothing at all new in his case beyond the exceptional irony of one of the most mild-mannered black intellectuals in America being treated in this manner. (This disconnect between Gates' entire personality, politics, writing, ideas, and pretty much everything about him, and the acts imputed to him has been a matter of some discussion among those who know him.)

As to what what Obama said: It was entirely consistent with what the police report said.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the police report is strictly truthful (there are reasons to believe it may contain some amount of 'testilying'), I think we can assume the officer who wrote it did not slant the report against himself.

Obama said three things, each consistent with the facts. The second is most in question here:

"number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home"

The police officer's own report shows that to be the case. It's just not in dispute.

I was pleased as punch to hear someone in authority say flatly that an action taken by the police was stupid. That's as heretical a statement as I can imagine being made in American society.

(P.S. Don't hate me for this, but my original verification word was "ingated". Apparently I took too long to post, and now it's something else. The ironies abound.)

Robin Edgar said...

:Mayor Daley (the original) once said you never have to take back things you don't say.

Robin Edgar was just inspired to say you never have to take back things you DO say if you are a hubris filled Unitarian*Universalist hypocrite. . . I am still waiting for outrageous U*U hypocrites to take back things they said over a decade ago now.

Thanks for providing that pithy Daley quote Bill I will definitely be putting it to good use. BTW regardless of whether or not President Barack Obama takes back saying that the Cambridge police force acted stupidly I believe that he should even the playing field by acknowledging that his friend Henry Louis Gates Jr. acted stupidly in this matter too*. . .



* Assuming that the Cambridge police did in fact act stupidly in arresting Gates for disorderly conduct which is still open to some debate and is being hotly debated on U.S. talk radio shows. Gotta love that First Amendment eh U*Us? :-)

Chalicechick said...

Actually, Bill, I've tried really hard not to do a bunch of social analysis.

What decisions I've made (e.g. that the policeman's claim that he asked Gates to step outside because he needed to hear his radio is dubious) come from an examination of the facts as reported and refining them through reason.

My analysis actually minimizes the impact of race because I'm more focused on their actions and obvious motivations rather than their deep seated ones. I don't deny that race was a factor throughout this, but that Gates was cranky because of all the racism he'd ever endured is a far less straightforward explanation than Gates being cranky because he'd just spent 19 hours on a plane.

Mostly, I've gone for the simplest explanation all around.

And yeah, maybe there's a reason my brothers can get up in a police officer's face in a public place and get a ticket, and when this little old mad does it on his front porch he gets hauled off to jail for making a fuss in public. But to me race IS the simplest explanation there, so it's the one I provided.

Steve

It wasn't CPR. It was mouth-to-mouth. Like Officer Crowley's mouth on Reggie Lewis' mouth.

Again, no one can ever PROVE they're not a racist. But having put one's mouth on the mouth of a member of the race one is accused of hating for the purpose of saving a life is about the best evidence I can think of and much more persuasive than people believing they'd never sick a dog on someone of another race.

Also, the article does nothing to suggest that Reggie Lewis and Officer Crowley were friends or even knew each other. Reggie Lewis was a basketball player for the Boston Celtics who was in the middle of a practice session at Brandeis university. Crowley was a campus police officer at Brandeis university.

I don't see any reason to believe they weren't total strangers. So I don't see how the bit about some racists still getting to know and like individual members of the race they hate is relevant.

CC

Chalicechick said...

According to this police report AFTER Crowley had seen Gates' Harvard ID, he still asked him to step outside the residence.

"I told Gates that I was leaving his residence and if he had any other questions about the matter, I would speak with him outside the residence."

But you're right, I don't make that distinction clear. I will fix that in the FAQ.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

I did not see John's comment before posting mine. Allow me to respond to some of what John said -

:There's nothing at all new in his case beyond the exceptional irony of one of the most mild-mannered black intellectuals in America being treated in this manner.

Actually there a a fair number of new things but Henry Louis Gates' reputation as "one of the most mild-mannered black intellectuals in America" may be in tatters by the time this thing is over. It is already called into question by Gates' post incident words let alone what he was allegedly shouting and yelling during the incident. I look forward to the recordings of the police radio calls in which Gates is allegedly yelling and screaming like a maniac in the background being released to the public. . .

:(This disconnect between Gates' entire personality, politics, writing, ideas, and pretty much everything about him, and the acts imputed to him has been a matter of some discussion among those who know him.)

Maybe you should read some of what Gates said in his post incident "interview" John.

:As to what what Obama said: It was entirely consistent with what the police report said.

Don't be so sure of that John. . .

:Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the police report is strictly truthful (there are reasons to believe it may contain some amount of 'testilying'),

There are probably more reasons to believe Gates' self-serving "interview" contains some amount of 'testilying'. . .

:I think we can assume the officer who wrote it did not slant the report against himself.

I think we can assume The Root "reporter" who wrote the Gates' "interview" did not slant the report against his Editor-in-chief. . . Most ironically Gates still comes out of it looking like what Rev. Victoria Weinstein might call a crazy AssHat.

:"number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home"

Regardless of the specifics of the Gates case, there are all kinds of reasons why a police officer might legitimately arrest *somebody* after determining that they are in fact "in their own home".

:I was pleased as punch to hear someone in authority say flatly that an action taken by the police was stupid. That's as heretical a statement as I can imagine being made in American society.

I will be pleased as punch to hear someone in authority say flatly that an action taken by a Unitarian*Universalist minister was stupid. That's as heretical a statement as I can imagine being made in Unitarian society.

:(P.S. Don't hate me for this, but my original verification word was "ingated". Apparently I took too long to post, and now it's something else. The ironies abound.)

Don't worry John. I hereby officially stand on the side of LOVE for your mentioning of the apparently quite valid WVC synchronicity here.

Robin Edgar said...

I am perfectly aware of what the police report says CC. Unlike you and a whole lot of other U*Us I am actually engaging in a free and *responsible* search for the truth and meaning of what happened in this matter. Do I *really* need to point out to you that Sgt. Crowley informing Gates that "he was leaving his residence and if Gates had any other questions about the matter, he would speak with him outside the residence is NOT the same as saying "that he *wanted* Gates to step outside the house"? Apparently so. . . I dare say that you should pay heed to Chicago Mayor Daleys' very good advice CC but then so should a whole lot of other U*Us who have acted stupidly ion various ways. . .

Robin Edgar said...

BTW CC maybe you should leave this post intact as you originally posted it because if you go around correcting things after I point out the various errors aka mistakes in it it will look quite different in a day or two. . .

Chalicechick said...

Robin, if he took Gates' Harvard ID with him outside, Gates was going to follow.

I don't know why you're accusing other people of not engaging in a responsible search and looking at the police reports. I've done so all along and made reference to them before you did.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

BTW John, in all this excitement I forgot to ask you if you are familiar with Henry Louis Gates' book aka *writing* 'The Signifying Monkey'?

Interestingly enough the WVC for *this* comment is hesings as in he sings and an anagram for he signs. . . Quite the meaningful "coincidence" AFA*I*AC

Chalicechick said...

Robin, I'd like the FAQ to be as correct as possible. If you think you can point out inaccuracies, go for it. So far, you've helped me clarify a section and I appreciate that.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

:Robin, if he took Gates' Harvard ID with him outside, Gates was going to follow.

The key word here being *if* CC.

Yes, the police report mentions that Sgt. Crowley had Gates' Harvard ID "in hand" when he radioed his findings to ECC and does not specify that he returned it to Gates before stepping outside but unless you know for a fact that Crowley retained Gates' Harvard ID card while stepping outside you are apparently assuming that he did not return it to Gates first.

:I don't know why you're accusing other people of not engaging in a responsible search and looking at the police reports.

Because if you were *responsible* with the truth and meaning of what happened you would not have said what you said CC. That's all. Why do you suppose I emphasized the word responsible with a couple of asterisks?

:I've done so all along and made reference to them before you did.

See above.

WVC = clarifl which is close enough to clarify for me, in fact the top of the letter f touching the top of the l even makes it look like the word clarify.

Bill Baar said...

I'd sure hold off analysis until we hear the tapes....

Inspector Clouseau said...

This is quite good in terms of raising the numerous issues which many have already provided their own answers to. Fascinating dissection of the possibilities.

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.

Chalicechick said...

If you want to assume that Crowley gave the ID back, I guess you can, but to me Crowley not having given the ID back makes much more sense given that:

a. Crowley said he was transmitting information from the ID in his radio call and that he was unable to make his radio call in the house. Unless Crowley memorized the ID, he would still need that to transmit the information that by his own words he was trying to transmit. The simpler explanation is that he took the ID with him.

b. Crowley would likely have written that he handed the ID back to Gates in his report as he is trying to get across the idea that Gates was acting crazily and he was acting reasonably. Taking away a man's Harvard ID and not handing it back is the sort of behavior that provokes people. Crowley does everything he can in the entire rest of the report to emphasize that he wasn't provoking Gates. So the simplest explanation is that if he'd handed the ID back, he would have written it in the report.

I will add this to the FAQ, but again, unless you have some compelling reason for Crowley not to mention handing the ID back, I tend to think he didn't.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

:So the officer DID go outside and try to remove himself from the situation?

:Sort of. He did go outside, but according to his own words, he hadn't given Gates his Harvard ID back.

Where do Sgt. Crowley's "own words" make it clear, i.e. beyond any reasonable doubt. . . that he did not return professor Henry Louis Gate's Harvard ID card to him before leaving the house CC? I do not see any such a statement in the police report and I am not aware of Sgt. Crowley saying such a thing elsewhere. Omitting to mention in the police report that he gave Henry Gate's Harvard ID card back to Gates before leaving his house does not count.

Chalicechick said...

((((I'd sure hold off analysis until we hear the tapes....___))))

If the tapes include officer Crowley saying "Professor Gates, I so apologize for the inconvenience. Here's your ID back and have a pleasant day."

or saying

"Professor Gates, what you just did is technically assaulting a police officer, but I'm going to arrest you for something else and leave the assault out of my report and all of my accounts of this incident for the following reasons:"

then I will adjust the FAQ accordingly.

As I've already conceded that Gates was likely quite rude, I don't see how tapes that show him as being rude will change anything.

CC

PG said...

CC,

I think you might have misunderstood Steve's/Ta-Nehisi's point, which is that trying to divide the world into racists and people-devoid-of-racism is not realistic. As the Avenue Q song goes, everyone's a little bit racist. I don't consider myself a racist, simply because I have had racist thoughts, just as I don't consider myself a liar even though I have lied sometimes.

There's a difference between racism as characteristic ("he's a racist") and racism as something that's in almost everyone's head, including black people's (is Jesse Jackson a racist because he's acknowledged that he's almost unconsciously more afraid of black men than white men when it comes to having a crime perpetrated against him?).

Bill,

"Bob Kerry went in to some long winded thing I forget, save the part about Cheney's daughter a Lesbian (over and over)."

Do you mean Bob Kerrey or John Kerry? And do you have a citation for this (even roughly a year in which it happened)? Because the only time I recall a Democrat's mentioning that Cheney's daughter Mary is a lesbian (are folks still capitalizing that, like she's a resident of Lesbos?) was John Edwards at the 2004 VP debate, and the question was about same-sex marriage, and had nothing to do with whether homosexuality was ingrained.

The totality of Edwards's reference to Ms. Cheney was: "Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy."

Cheney's response was: "let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much."

Robin Edgar said...

My comment above was written *before* seeing your comment above CC. Thanks for anticipating my line of questioning. . .

:If you want to assume that Crowley gave the ID back, I guess you can, but to me Crowley not having given the ID back makes much more sense given that:

"Makes much more sense" is what might be called deductive reasoning CC and you are no Sherlock Holmes. . .

:a. Crowley said he was transmitting information from the ID in his radio call and that he was unable to make his radio call in the house. Unless Crowley memorized the ID, he would still need that to transmit the information that by his own words he was trying to transmit. The simpler explanation is that he took the ID with him.

Woo hoo! CC wields Occam's Butter Knife. . .

b. Crowley would likely have written that he handed the ID back to Gates in his report as he is trying to get across the idea that Gates was acting crazily and he was acting reasonably. Taking away a man's Harvard ID and not handing it back is the sort of behavior that provokes people. Crowley does everything he can in the entire rest of the report to emphasize that he wasn't provoking Gates. So the simplest explanation is that if he'd handed the ID back, he would have written it in the report.

Occam's Butter Knife strikes again!

:I will add this to the FAQ, but again, unless you have some compelling reason for Crowley not to mention handing the ID back, I tend to think he didn't.

Yoo hoo CC. Nowhere at all in the whole police report is it mentioned that Sgt. James Crowley returned Henry Louis Gates' Harvard ID card back to him. How do you explain *that* omission CC? Do you suppose that Sgt. Crowley *never* returned Gates' Harvard ID card at all aka stole it? What part of "I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared to leave" do you not understand?

Yes I too am *assuming* something, specifically that Sgt. Crowley returned Gates' Harvard ID card to him before leaving the house, but I am not on record as asserting that assumption as if it was an established fact am I CC? My assumption is every bit as reasonable as yours, if not more so, but I am not *asserting* that Sgt. Crowley gave back the ID card when I do not know beyond any reasonable doubt that he did so. You on the other hand have said -

:He did go outside, but according to his own words, he hadn't given Gates his Harvard ID back.

:So the officer carried Gates' Harvard ID outside?

*Yes*, and I think what Gates did, follow him outside, is what just about anyone in the situation might have done.

:He. . . just took Gates' ID with him.

How did your questionable belief that it "makes much more sense" that Sgt. Crowley did not return Gates' ID card before *leaving* the house get magically turn into an established fact CC? Do tell. . .

PG said...

Interesting that Bill assumes a Cambridge city official would want to avoid releasing tapes of the incident because she's trying to protect Gates (who's already had the charges dropped), rather than because she doesn't want to provide ammo for litigation against the city (which is still very much a possibility).

PG said...

I don't assume that Crowley failed to return the ID before leaving the house, but by Crowley's own report, he told Gates that he'd have to come outside if he wanted Crowley's name and badge number. So it's odd that Crowley is now telling the media that Gates's following him outside was a problem. Why tell an irate civilian that he has to come outside to get your info (that you're required to give him under Mass. law anyway) and then be "surprised" that he comes outside?

Chalicechick said...

You might want to give me a chance to fix things before complaining they aren't fixed yet, Robin. That was fixed before I even saw your post.

As for the rest, I don't have any proof that Gates calling a Crowley racist bothered Crowley at all, nor do I have any proof that a 19-hour-plane ride leaves one stressed out and exhausted, nor do I have any proof that the police report is the most accurate source of information about Gates' behavior and is a more reasonable source than Gates' own interview.

I make those assumptions and I'm looking for the simplest explanation based on what's in front of me. If you think you can do better, you're welcome to write your own FAQ.

I'm happy to add clarifications of what documents say and fix actual errors, but if you're going to complain about the places that I directly say I'm making an assumption because you don't think it's the right one but you don't have a better explanation, then I'm not changing anything.

CC

Chalicechick said...

PG,

Fair enough, but I still think we have at least some evidence that Crowley tends to put whatever level of racism he has to the side when he's on the job.

CC

Chalicechick said...

(((Why tell an irate civilian that he has to come outside to get your info (that you're required to give him under Mass. law anyway) and then be "surprised" that he comes outside?)))

Now THAT's a good point. I'm adding that.

CC

Ellen Etc said...

My dad is a retired police officer, and I'm unusually pro-police for a liberal, but this case is pretty clear by all accounts.

I don't find it all that significant now whether Gates was tricked our lured outside so they could arrest him. What I find significant is that the first responding officer got his nose out of joint, and the backup officers felt compelled to support him despite obvious problems with the situation.

Dad used to say that the two REAL reasons people were arrested were "creeping with intent to crawl" (i.e., suspicious behavior) and "contempt of cop." This was an illegal "contempt of cop" harassment arrest. I can't say whether it was racially motivated, but I'm guessing the officers might have been more deferential to a white citizen in the same situation.

Would the neighbor have called the police if it was a white guy putting his shoulder to the kitchen door? Maybe. Would a white homeowner have been grateful that the cops showed up to protect his house under the circumstances? Maybe.

Are police officers required to act lawfully, even if citizens are belligerent? Absolutely.

I am as disappointed in the backup officers as I am with the first responder, and I'm happy that Gates has the clout to make this a national incident.

Chalicechick said...

PG,

I added what you said, and your comment reminded me that Fairfax County cops carry business cards with their name and badge number. I checked and yes, Massachusetts cops are required to carry them too.

So Crowley's explanation that he couldn't give his name and badge number to Gates inside because Gates was yelling too loud makes no sense. If Crowley really intended to follow the law and give his name and badge number, he could have handed over of the cards he's required to carry.

CC

Joel Monka said...

Gates haiku:
Two massive egos collide.
One of them has a badge.
A lesson for us all.

Robin Edgar said...

I never asked you to *fix* anything CC. Au contraire. . . I expressly asked you to leave the original blog post intact so that your mistakes were preserved for posterity.

PG said...

CC,

"Fair enough, but I still think we have at least some evidence that Crowley tends to put whatever level of racism he has to the side when he's on the job."

I think that assumes that people can clear their minds of bias at will whenever it's required.

Moreover, for a guy who taught classes to other police officers about racial profiling, Crowley sounds oddly clueless about why a black man might be angry about being questioned about his presence in his own home. Crowley in his police report and in his media interviews has repeatedly spoken of Gates's negative reaction as “strange,” “confusing,” “surprising,” “uncommon in my experience,” etc.

If Crowley can't connect what he teaches in the classroom to what was happening on the street, I think this was a collision of two ivory tower academic types, even if only one of them holds a professorship.

Chalicechick said...

(((I expressly asked you to leave the original blog post intact so that your mistakes were preserved for posterity.))

Well, that's where our goals differ, Robin. I'm trying to take a resource that is useful to people right now who are trying to figure out what happened and who is saying what. So as more updated information comes out, I'm updating it and noting my changes at the bottom.

So when you point out something that needs clarification, I clarify it because I'd like this document to be as accurate and useful as possible.

But if you so much want proof of my imperfection available to posterity, I will make you a deal. Provided that the comments in this thread remain as on-topic and reasonable in tone as the rest of the conversation has been, I will leave the comments up for the rest of the Chaliceblog's life so that should you, on some cold winter night years from now, wish to reminisce about one of the many times that you and I saw the same facts and interpreted them differently, a full record of your interpretations and mine, and where I added your input and where I didn't, will be available for your perusal.

CC

Chalicechick said...

PG,

That's a really good point. I had chalked Officer Crowley's surprise up to Officer Crowley not having much experience demanding identification from people in their own homes.

I still hope that's the case, but you are right that Officer Crowley's "expertise" in racial profiling should have lead him to expect it.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

:Are you a lawyer? Hahahaha. No.

Tiny Robin Edgar OAQ

Every now and then someone comes up to me and asks me if I am a photographer when I am out and about covered in camera gear. Since I think this is what may be termed a "stupid question" I provide a stock stupid answer. . .

"No. I'm a lawyer. I don't want people to recognize me."

There have been occasions where the person who asked the stupid question then goes on to ask what area of law I practice. . . Just thought you might like to know. :-)

Back to the fray. . .

::Can one be a non-racist, but still be an arrogant jerk?

:Yep.

The question seems to reference Sgt. Crowley rather than Gates. If anyone has been an arrogant jerk in this affair it is Gates not Crowley. Also, I won't go so far as to say that Gates is a racist but he clearly has an internalized "narrative" that prejudicially assumes that white people are racists. It is this prejudice on Gates' part that is largely to blame for how he reacted to Sgt. Crowley when he arrived at his house to investigate the reported break in.

:Why would Professor Gates want to continue the conversation?

:Because he had asked the officer for his name and badge number and the officer said he wouldn't give them to Gates unless Gates came out on the porch.

Show me where Sgt. James Crowley ever said that wouldn't give his name and badge number to Gates unless Gates came out on the porch. That is certainly not in the police report nor is it alleged by Gates in his "interview". So just where did you "get" that CC?

:What’s the worst thing Gates is alleged to have said? “"I'll speak with your mama outside," Does that sound like something a Harvard professor would say? No, it sounds like a line of dialogue from a Pam Grier movie, which makes me think that it’s what a white guy thinks a black guy might say. I’m not inclined to believe that he really said it.

So now you are saying that Sgt. Crowley lied about what Gates said in his police report. Right CC? Oh wait. You've already done that. . . I hate to have to say so CC but a free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of Gate's alleged words sounds like a line of monologue right out of a Henry Louis Gates book. . . specifically 'The Signifying Monkey'.

:Was it a good idea for Gates to be all Al-Sharptony with the police?

:Well, first of all, that he was Al Sharptony is my assumption, not a known fact.

I guess that depends on what being Al-Sharptony means CC but there is plenty of evidence, including Gates' own testimony, which strongly suggests if not proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Henry Louis Gates did get just a tad Al-Sharptony in Sgt. Crowley's face. . .

:So Crowley's explanation that he COULDN'T give Gates his name and badge number because Gates was yelling so loud is also bull.

So just where is Sgt. Crowley's explanation that he COULDN'T give Gates his name and badge number because Gates was yelling so loud CC? Don't see it in the police report or anywhere else. Please direct me to the hard evidence that supports that allegation.

Robin Edgar said...

:(((Why tell an irate civilian that he has to come outside to get your info (that you're required to give him under Mass. law anyway) and then be "surprised" that he comes outside?)))

:Now THAT's a good point. I'm adding that. CC

That's a total bullshit point. As per my comment above. . . There is no evidence that Sgt. Crowley told an irate Harvard educating jackass that he had to come outside to get his name and badge number. On the contrary Sgt. Crowley claims to have provided Gates with his info at least twice, and to have reminded Gates of that fact, before leaving the house. It sure would be nice if people checked the facts before posting unsubstantiated BS here as though it was validated facts.

Chalicechick said...

(((So just where did you "get" that CC?)))

The officer says that he told Gates that he had already provided his name and if Gates wants to continue to conversation, Crowley would speak to him outside.

I don't see how Gates was supposed to come to any other conclusion than if Gates wanted the information he was going to have to come outside.

(((So now you are saying that Sgt. Crowley lied about what Gates said in his police report))

I've said many times that witnesses sometimes remember events in very different ways, particularly emotional and dramatic events.

(((So just where is Sgt. Crowley's explanation that he COULDN'T give Gates his name and badge number because Gates was yelling so loud CC?))

"Sergeant Crowley said he tried to identify himself several times but the professor was shouting too loudly to hear."

Is in this New York Times article which features an interview with Crowley. I will add it to my list of sources.

CC

Chalicechick said...

(((On the contrary Sgt. Crowley claims to have provided Gates with his info at least twice, and to have reminded Gates of that fact, before leaving the house.))

Yes, but upon leaving the house he made it clear that if Gates hadn't heard it, he was going to have to come outside to get it.

CC

Robin Edgar said...

:(((So just where did you "get" that CC?)))

:The officer says that he told Gates that he had already provided his name and if Gates wants to continue to conversation, Crowley would speak to him outside. I don't see how Gates was supposed to come to any other conclusion than if Gates wanted the information he was going to have to come outside.

Oh dear. . . You asserted as a *fact* that Sgt. Crowley *said* that he wouldn't give his name and number to Gates unless Gates came out on the porch. He *said* no such thing as your response to my question here makes clear. I know a U*U blogger who is always going on about how conservatives "make shit up" but you repeatedly "make shit up" here, to say nothing of in your other blog posts and comments. You are now saying that Sgt. Crowley *implied* that if Gates wanted to obtain his name and number he would have to come outside but he didn't *really* even do that. If we accept his police report at face value Sgt. Crowley reminded Gates that he had already given his name to him two *separate* times. He then informed Gates that he was leaving his residence and *said* that if Gates had any *other* questions regarding the matter that he would speak to him outside the residence. So Sgt. Crowley never actually said what you said that he said CC. Talk about she said he said. . .

:(((So now you are saying that Sgt. Crowley lied about what Gates said in his police report))

Robin Edgar said...

:I've said many times that witnesses sometimes remember events in very different ways, particularly emotional and dramatic events.

Give me a break CC. You are definitely being disingenuous here. I know something about how witnesses remember *particularly* emotional and dramatic events and they very accurately remember certain key phrases when people are insulting them and berating them. I have a very clear memory of Rev. Ray Drennan's most outrageous accusations about me, not only what he said but how he said it. This is a police report we are talking about CC. I could be wrong CC but I have reasonable grounds to believe that it is a felony aka a crime to engage in "testilying" (as *you* put it) when writing up a police report. Why would Sgt. James Crowley say that Henry Louis Gates said, "ya, I'll speak with your mama outside" if Gates didn't say exactly that or something very close to that? He knew he was dealing with a Harvard professor CC. I'm sure Crowley is smart enough to know that most people would *assume* that a Harvard professor would not be expected to say such a thing but he wrote it into his report anyway. Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote in his book 'The Signifying Monkey' -

"The monkey, fed up with the lion's roaring, decides to do something about it. He insults the lion publicly and at length---his "mama" and his "grandmama, too..."

Sgt. James Crowley writes that Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, "ya, I'll speak with your mama outside"

I think I know why all the hairs stood up on the back of Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s neck, and he realized that he was "in danger", when Sgt. James Crowley showed up and asked him to step out on his porch. . . He obviously thought Sgt. Crowley was a lion. Who knows CC? Maybe he was right. It's sure looking that way now. . .

:"Sergeant Crowley said he tried to identify himself several times but the professor was shouting too loudly to hear."

:Is in this New York Times article which features an interview with Crowley. I will add it to my list of sources.

Thanks I was not aware of that particular NYT article until now. So how many people still believe that Henry Louis Gates Jr. wasn't shouting shouting loudly CC? Who is guilty of "testilying" now?

"The police report says I was engaged in loud and tumultuous behavior. That’s a joke. Because I have a severe bronchial infection which I contracted in China and for which I was treated and have a doctor’s report from the Peninsula hotel in Beijing. So I couldn’t have yelled. I can’t yell even today, I’m not fully cured."

:(((On the contrary Sgt. Crowley claims to have provided Gates with his info at least twice, and to have reminded Gates of that fact, before leaving the house.))

:Yes, but upon leaving the house he made it clear that if Gates hadn't heard it, he was going to have to come outside to get it.

Not really CC. Gates could have stayed inside and obtained Sgt. Crowley's name and badge number later by calling the police department. Right? I mean I am pretty sure that the police department would know which of its officers handled the call and would provide that information to Gates if he requested it from them. The fact remains that you misrepresented the facts, which sadly is something of a bad habit of yours CC.

UUpdater said...

@CC/PG - My experience with govt "education" on these type subjects is that they follow this formula for the curriculum: 1) Here is what is in the employee handbook/code of conduct, etc. as appropriate says about the subject. 2) Here is the legal definition of the subject. 3) Here is an example or two. 4) Here are the disciplinary measures you will be subject too if caught doing this. I suspect the Racial profiling courses were similar.

The articles I read noted that the officer was a coach. My guess is that he had some anecdotes about "good kids" who "look like gang members" but are in fact "good kids". That he used to emphasize that race should not be a factor in determining probable cause.

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt the level of training he was providing would do anything to prepare him for the confrontation he had.

The Arizona policy states: Courts continue to hold that any reliance on race and/or ethnicity in articulating reasonable suspicion is prohibited, except in investigations in which race or ethnicity is part of an identifying description of a specific suspect. (emphasis mine).

Anyone accusing the officers of racial profiling is way off the mark (at least in terms he was probably taught).

If the department is standing behind him I am curious what procedures would have recommended this course of action to diffuse the situation (if they could reference any at all).

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote:
-snip-
"It wasn't CPR. It was mouth-to-mouth. Like Officer Crowley's mouth on Reggie Lewis' mouth."

CC,

I should explain my usage of the term "CPR."

During my active-duty military time, CPR refresher training included both the specific establishing an airway and mouth-to-mouth breathing assistance activity you described (used when the victim isn't breathing).

It also include the cardiac massage activity as well (used the the victim has no pulse).

I was aware that Officer Crowley assisted a black man with the mouth-to-mouth portion of CPR.

My apologies for the confusing terminology on my part -- it's a hold-over from my service experiences.

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote:
-snip-
"Again, no one can ever PROVE they're not a racist."

CC,

Perhaps we shouldn't be asking questions like "who is a racist?" and focus on different questions like "in what ways does racism as an ideology influence the behavior, speech, and attitudes of all people?"

The problem isn't one of the "racist" label and the perceptions by some that racism is a personal sin.

It's really looking at racism as a cultural influence that affects attitudes and perceptions of good people.

Personally, I don't think that Officer Crowley is any more racist than you are or I am.

But that doesn't mean that he is somehow immune from the influences of systemic racism in our society.

Nor are we immune either.

ddadmin said...

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http://markthispage.blogspot.com/2009/07/all-about-cambridge-police-unit-demands.html

Chalicechick said...

I get ya, Steve. And I think you're right. Societal forces do hit everyone.

CC
Amused at the odd way this debate has broken down.

Chalicechick said...

(((I know something about how witnesses remember *particularly* emotional and dramatic events and they very accurately remember certain key phrases when people are insulting them and berating them.)))

You would be surprised how often witness accounts differ from videotaped versions of the same encounters.

theCSO and I have considered having an "argument room" complete with video equipment so we could later examine who said what when if our memories differed. Fortunately, we don't fight often enough to really make this a necessity.

(((Gates could have stayed inside and obtained Sgt. Crowley's name and badge number later by calling the police department. Right?)))

Maybe, if they'd felt like being helpful.

But the question still remains why Crowley didn't just show him the card if he was yelling too loud to hear* That is what the card is for and Crowley is legally required to carry it around.

As you know, I'm skeptical of that story and I think Crowley's story has just as many holes as Gates'.

But again, for me, it comes down to the constitution in the end. The constitution lets you be a jerk. It doesn't let you arrest people for a crime they haven't committed.

CC

*Which we still only know from Crowley's perspective. If the police outside could hear anything, they certainly haven't been quick to speak up and Officer Figureoa's report doesn't mention him being able to hear anything before he "stepped in."

Kinda odd that shouting that loud couldn't be heard from outside. I can hear trick-or-treaters on my porch every Halloween from two rooms away.

Steve Caldwell said...

CC wrote:
-snip-
"the CSO and I have considered having an 'argument room' complete with video equipment so we could later examine who said what when if our memories differed. Fortunately, we don't fight often enough to really make this a necessity."

CC,

Given the advances in digital editing, even that may run into problems.

Video recordings, audio recordings, still photos, and the written word can all be edited in ways that are very seemless.

You're probably surprised to learn that Lee Harvey Oswald was a rock singer:

http://www.trisk.net/artwork/OswaldGarageBand.jpg

The link above gives a photograph from his November 1963 final concert in Dallas.

Video is generally an accurate record. However, it's possible to edit video and get away with it as long as the editing isn't too outlandish -- "check out the video - you really did agree to letting me have the threesome with you and our cute neighbor" might not work.

Chalicechick said...

((("check out the video - you really did agree to letting me have the threesome with you and our cute neighbor" )))

Well, obviously the important question here is "how cute IS this neighbor?"

CC

John A Arkansawyer said...

Just to clean up from yesterday:

The only one of Gates' books that I've read is Colored People, a memoir. It's quite good.

However, I didn't have to read the entire article quoted in Robin's link to know that the post about it was written by someone ignorant. How did I know that? Quite simple:

I followed the link to the Google Books facsimile, and noted that at least some of the material attributed to Gates was not written by Gates, but was quoted.

So when that ignorant guy says, "Gates' writing is impenetrable, like that of most contemporary academics who rely on jargon and obfuscation," I nod and say, "That's how I feel about math books."

And then I dismiss him, as I have no interest in crap argument by internet bibliomancy.

Hafidha said...

CC - you have the patience of a saint.