By now the episode involving famed Harvard professor “Skip” Gates has probably been picked apart from every perspective imaginable. As a result, I don’t think I have much to add to what has also been said. However, I did come across this blog post over at Underdog, which I thought was worth sharing with everyone:
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s story shines the light on police practices that too often are business as usual operating too often in the shadows. Here are some of my thoughts on his conflict with the police;
– Too many police will arrest for disorderly conduct when people exercise their First Amendment right to complain about those holding governmental power.
– From 1981 to 1985, during college, I lived two miles from Harvard. Overt racism at the time, and probably to this day, was all too common in the Boston area, but not only in that part of the United States.
– What was arresting Sergeant James Crowley’s exposure to racism, anti-racism, and the beauty of a rainbow society? Do police get trained in anti-racism?
– How much was Sgt. Crowley racially motivated? He should have left by the time he saw identification showing Gates lived there. There certainly should not have been any inquiry by police into Gates’s profession, as if possibly to question how a black man could afford to live in such a house in such a nice neighborhood.
– Being a sergeant, Crowley was no rookie. How could he not have recognized the firestorm that would result from persisting with questioning of Professor Gates?
– When race is not a factor, how often do cops still abuse their power out of belief that certain suspects have more privilege than the cops or out of belief that suspects are copping a superior attitude or not kowtowing to the cops?
– Rampant police abuse will continue until we shrink the criminal justice system. I repeat again that we can shrink and radically improve the criminal justice system by legalizing marijuana, heavily decriminalizing all other drugs, eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing, eliminating per se BAC guilty rules in DWI cases, and ending the death penalty.
– I would have advised Professor Gates and all other suspects not to open the door of their homes to the police without a warrant.
– Gates’s lawyer says the cop did not give his name. If so, is this akin or not to the cop telling me on a traffic stop that I would receive his name in due time? Are some cops taught to delay giving their name as an effort to control by being questioners rather than being answerers?
– The police role should not be to control everyone in their line of sight and beyond. Police are in many ways a necessary evil, interfering with achieving a truly free society.
– There is possibly a chicken-and-the-egg question about the likelihood that police will respect civilians the more civilians treat them compassionately, and vice versa. Are cops trained that way?
– We live in too much of a police state for police and prosecutorial abuse to end before we shrink the criminal justice system.
– How will we achieve a more humane policing system when even three of twenty-five lawyers at my first law firm unashamedly spoke at various times of the general criminal defense population as scum? I next joined the Maryland Public Defender’s Office; none of my clients have ever been scum; they are human beings deserving of compassion and the best defense.