Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., arrested. What do you think?

Police had no right to arrest him

By: Eric Flatness

The woman who called police on July 16 did nothing wrong when she called for police after reportedly seeing two men breaking into a neighbor’s apartment. The police also did nothing wrong responding to the 911 call, arriving at the scene soon after to ascertain the situation and speaking with the owner of the home, Henry Louis Gates Jr. The problem only came from the arrest of what was obviously an innocent man, trying to rectify a situation that found him locked out of his own home.

The cop in question, Sergeant James Crowley, was a force instructor on racial sensitivity, and I at the very least doubt that the incident was meant to be racially charged. However, there is little doubt that the arrest of professor Gates was unconstitutional, and that the police owe Gates an expedient and heartfelt apology. Gates was not cooperative with police, but the things he said were protected under the first amendment, and the police had no right to arrest him without a warrant as he stood in his own home. Perhaps he would have been more cooperative had Crowley supplied identification when Gates asked him for it. I imagine I wouldn’t be very cooperative either after hearing about the man in Texas who was harassed by an officer in a hospital parking lot as his wife was giving birth inside.

Now, while I don’t believe that Crowley is guilty of any racism, the same can not necessarily be said of his staff. The woman who called in the break-in, Lucia Whalen, said in her call nothing about two “black” men breaking into the home. On the contrary, she said that one of them may have been Hispanic. However, when the police blotter was activated, the report was that two men of color with backpacks had been seen at the house. This inconsistency is particularly disturbing considering that when police tried to defend their actions by saying she had reported two black men, she was the recipient of venomous phone calls and hate mail.

President Barack Obama was yet another person with a part to play in this fiasco, and like many others, his performance left much to be desired. His initial response, that the Harvard police had “acted stupidly” was far from the standard, well thought out answers the president normally gives, and this situation called for. Inviting both Sergeant Crawley and Professor Gates to the white house for a beer is an interesting reconciliation idea, but it doesn’t cover for his mishandling of the situation. One would think, after giving a top notch speech on race on the campaign trail last year, that he would be able to handle such situations with a little more delicacy.

In the end, this was a situation that should have ended on the front steps of Mr. Gates home, but instead grew into an event much bigger than any of the people involved. The reaction of the media, as well as those of the people paying attention to the case, show that this country still has a long way to go when it comes to race relations.

The police were just doing their job

By: Brittany Butterfield

The police were just doing their job. I honestly don’t believe that it had anything to do with race.

As the facts go Mr. Gates was trying to get into his front door after being on vacation, the neighbor called to the police reporting a “breaking and entering”.

When the police arrive they are under all precaution and prepared to deal with a robbery. From that point they handled the situation as procedures, asking Mr. Gates for identification and proof of this being his residence. As the facts go Mr. Gates then told the police officer, James Crowley, that his wallet was in the kitchen.

I completely agree with the fact that the officer followed him to the kitchen if this was in fact a robbery, why would the officer say, “Okay I’ll wait here, since I don’t have a warrant,” that makes no sense, black or white the supposed burglar was not going to be allowed out of the officer’s sight.

I am so frustrated that the media and society blow things out of proportion saying that when things are seen as abnormal, or unjust that it must be a race issue.

Mr. Gates showed the officer his identification and proof of residence; he also acted disorderly, and yelled at the officer. Everyone knows that you cannot do that to authority no matter how upset or frustrated you may be.

The officer thanked Mr. Gates for acquiring to his request than stated that he is under arrest for disorderly conduct.

I completely agree with this action, Mr. Gates was out of line, although the older gentleman did not show any threat and probably didn’t need to be taken downtown, that is not policy. The procedure is that if a person acts out, they are to be warned, and then if they proceed; to be arrested. Officer Crowley followed procedure and then got the race card pulled on him, that is the only injustice I see in this situation.

Crowley’s response was pretty professional to today’s crimes and actions. Mr. Gates asked for the officer’s name and badge number, then spoke only to the other police officers ignoring officer Crowley, no matter if your black, white, blue collar, or a Harvard professor, there is no exception to act out against an officer.

One thing the dept should look at however, is using arrest as a VERY LAST resort, only if there was violence intended.

I commend the Cambridge sheriff in defending his officer and standing by his policies. It is very respectful that officer Crowley treated Mr. Gates the same way he would treat anyone else, regardless of race, or social status.

Bottom line, Mr. Gates should have been thankful that the Cambridge police were so thorough in the investigation, what if there was a robbery, would Mr. Gates want them to just blow it off lightly? Once he understood the reason for them being there he should have sat-back silent and cooperated with their procedures.

As posted in Boston.com responses:

“If they hadn’t responded to call and Mr. Gates house was being broken into, he would have claimed the police chose not to respond to the call because the house of a prominent African American was being broken into. But since they did respond he is now claiming that the response and arrest are racially motivated. It seems to me that Mr. Gates is the one walking around with a chip on his shoulder and believes playing the race card is his right as an African American.”