I find it hard to believe that American conservatives are defending the Cambridge police for arresting this man, a fifty eight year old scholar who walks with a cane, for speaking angrily to a policeman in his own home (ie., on his front porch). The right wing talking heads are saying that Gates was the wrongdoer here: the wrong he did was that of being "disrespectful" toward an officer of the law.
That is not a crime and should not be. Being "respectful" toward someone because they have a badge may or may not be prudent, wise, or moral, but it clearly is not your legal duty and should not be.
What kind of country would this be if "disrespect" for an officer of the state were a punishable criminal offense?
And surely, no sounds you are making on your own property, provided the sheer decibel level is not disturbing others, should be treated as "disturbing the peace" or "disorderly conduct."
Three things about this case seem obvious to me:
1. Prof. Gates should not have responded with instant anger with police answered a report of a break-in at his home.
2. Barack Obama should not have said that the police acted "stupidly" before knowing the facts. (He seemed to think that Gates was being arrested as an intruder after having proved that he wasn't one.)
3. Officer Crowley should not have arrested this man, taken him away in handcuffs, and forced him to submit to the above mug shot, simply for speaking angrily to a police officer in his own home.
Of these three, the worse offense by far -- by far -- is the third, because it is the only one that involves an assault on the person of a human being who is not violating anyone else's rights.
The fact that there are conservatives who don't get this seems to show an unbecoming desire to bow and scrape before authority.
Friday, July 24, 2009
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According to the police report -- http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0723092gates1.html -- Gates was arrested for "tumultuous behavior", "yell[ing]" in view of the public, and not responding to requests to calm down. I don't think it's quite accurate to say Gates was arrested for being "disrespectful." That word doesn't occur anywhere in the police report.
As far as the general principle that "no sounds...or 'disorderly conduct'", true or false, it doesn't apply in this case -- if the police report and some other testimony is accurate -- since there was not just talkng but yelling going on, which is by definition loud.
I think it's a pretty good idea for yelling-type behavior to be arrestable in some circumstances. This includes yelling at a police officer, but yelling at others too. Maybe especially yelling at police. I'd hate to have people get the idea that they can yell at police without any consequences.
"I'd hate to have people get the idea that they can yell at police without any consequences."
I'd hate to have people get the idea that yelling at the police is a crime. If you are in your home and not under suspicion or being placed under arrest, then you should be able to yell at them. I'd also hate people to get the idea that disobeying any order whatsoever from a policeman (eg., "calm down," "shut up" etc.) is a crime.
From what I gather, the decibel level of what Gates said was not bothering anyone, rather Crowley was bothered by the content of what he was saying.
Once he realized that Gates was the resident and that he was bothering an innocent man in his own home, he should have walked down those steps and left. The fact that Gates was not "calm" was none of his damn business.
One thing that makes police work hard is that you inevitably do things that make people angry. You should learn to take it impersonally and professionally or, if that is impossible, find a more congenial line of work.
We're in total agreement. Most conservatives, at least as I judge them by a sampling of self-professed conservative radio hosts, are authoritarian. To them, police misconduct never happens.
"If you are in your home and not under suspicion or being placed under arrest, then you should be able to yell at [the police]."
Even setting aside the untoward consequence that frequent yelling at police is likely to lead to agression toward police, and other untoward police-related consequences, certainly it would be a great annoyance to my neighbors if I were to yell at police - on or off my property - with impunity. Since I shouldn't be able to yell at non-police on or off my property with impunity --assuming a certain decibel level --I also should not be able to yell at police with impunity.
"Once he realized that Gates was the resident and that he was bothering an innocent man in his own home, he should have walked down those steps and left."
Even setting aside Gates's obstreperousness, there was a perfectly good reason for the police officer to hang around. The 911 call mentioned two alleged burglars. Even after one is confident Gates is the resident, it may well be that one or both of these burglars are still in the residence. Checking for such a possibility is perfectly appropriate police behavior.
How many times do the police answer a residence call about an abusive husband but instead of he being lead away in hancuffs like Mr Gates, the wife says "He did nothing wrong officer."
Having not known #3, I thought Obama's comments were a bit strong or ironically classic reverse profiling of police behavior.
Just goes to show:
#1 Always keep a family photo with yourself on the mantle.
#2 Be prepared to tell the officer that "I can prove I live here, because I've got a bottle of Old Grand Dad in the linen closet".
#3 Keep a receipt in the house for a charitable contribution to the Fraternal Order of Police.
#4 Tell the police, "I was in a hurry officer to "break in to my house" because I saw some black youths coming up the street".
"Even after one is confident Gates is the resident, it may well be that one or both of these burglars are still in the residence."
That does not seem at all plausible to me. After Gates had explained that he was jimmying his own door because he was locked out and shown him is ID, there was no need to look for a mysterious second "burglar."
By the accounts I've seen, Crowley wasn't sticking around to investigate anything, but to get sucked into a "step outside Bub," "oh yeah, sez who?" argument with this aging hothead.
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