Monday, July 20, 2009

Find It Hard To Write the Next Line

How often do you read a headline and groan? Buckle up.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested, Police Accused Of Racial Profiling

So I used to work in this punk rock bar where pretty much anything could happen, but what happened every weekend was the employees got tanked after closing, told very funny stories and did all kinds of things we won't talk about until indictments are unsealed. One night, the bar's owner Doobie told us one time some guy picked a fight with Doobie's wife Connie. Hauled off and hit her. Knocked her off her barstool. Doobie groaned, "Oh man, you shouldn'ta done that." Connie stood up, punched that guy straight in the face and knocked him out.

I read this article and groaned, "Oh man, you shouldn'ta done that." This is very bad:
[Gates' attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles] Ogletree said Gates gave the officer his driver's license and Harvard identification after being asked to prove he was a Harvard professor and lived at the home, but became upset when the officer continued to question him.

"He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification," Ogletree said.

Ogletree declined to say whether he believed the incident was racially motivated, saying "I think the incident speaks for itself."

Some of Gates' African-American colleagues say the arrest is part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge.

Allen Counter, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard for 25 years, said he was stopped on campus by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

"We do not believe that this arrest would have happened if professor Gates was white," Counter said. "It really has been very unsettling for African-Americans throughout Harvard and throughout Cambridge that this happened."

The Rev. Al Sharpton is vowing to attend Gates' arraignment.

"This arrest is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen," Sharpton said. "I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs."

Ogletree said Gates had returned from a trip to China on Thursday with a driver, when he found his front door jammed. He went through the back door into the home – which he leases from Harvard – shut off an alarm and worked with the driver to get the door open. The driver left, and Gates was on the phone with the property's management company when police first arrived.

Ogletree also disputed the claim that Gates, who was wearing slacks and a polo shirt and carrying a cane, was yelling at the officer.

"He has an infection that has impacted his breathing since he came back from China, so he's been in a very delicate physical state," Ogletree said.

But wait, there's one more gut-punch:
The Middlesex district attorney's office said it could not do so until after Gates' arraignment.

Arraignment. Arrested for disorderly conduct in his own home.

Karmically speaking, we are about to see some shit go boom.



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