Some See Bias, Others “Misunderstanding” In Gates’ Arrest

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Some respondents saw the arrest of Dr. Gates as outright racism while others attribute it to a misunderstanding between the policeman and the Harvard scholar. “It’s no different from what they were doing in the past,” says Ronnie Mitchell, a personal trainer.

[Heard It On 125th Street]

After President Obama recently weighed in on the Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. case, saying the Cambridge Police officers “acted stupidly,” there was uproar in media and political circles with some questioning whether the president’s statement was appropriate.

As readers now know—the police arrived at Gates’ home in Cambridge, MA, having responded to a call about two males possibly breaking into a house.

Turns out that the door to Gates’ house had jammed and his taxi driver had tried to help him pry it open. Ironically, the woman who called 911 later stated that the police report was incorrect and she had never specified the race of the men—sergeant James Crowley’s police report later claimed the caller had mentioned “two Black males.”

When the officers arrived, Gates was in his home and was believed to have provided identification upon request. Despite the identification, Gates was asked to step outside whereupon he was arrested by sergeant Crowley.

The arrest gained national and even international attention after the president’s comment of Dr. Gates’ allegations of racial profiling on the part of the Cambridge police. Many African Americans agree with President Obama’s statement and believe that racial profiling is a huge problem in Black communities.

The Black Star News took a walk on the streets of Harlem, in New York City, and spoke with a cross-section of women and men to get their views on the Gates and Cambridge Police incident.

Some respondents saw the arrest of Dr. Gates as outright racism while others attribute it to a misunderstanding between the policeman and the Harvard scholar.

“It’s no different from what they were doing in the past,” says Ronnie Mitchell, a personal trainer. “They’re not going to let you forget about your race. I don’t think Obama was wrong—I’m sure he experienced racism.”

While Anthia R., a case manager understood the president’s comments, the choice of words was problematic: “I think that wasn’t the right thing to say in public.”

John Austin, a vendor on 125th street believed President Obama was right when he later retreated from the “stupidly” comment. “I think Obama used a bad choice of words,” Austin said, echoing Anthia’s comments.

“I think the arrest was a misunderstanding that created confusion.” He added that various reports had Gates displaying “loud and tumultuous” behavior.

Georgia Davies, a Biological Lab Technician, on the other hand, said: “I don’t think the cop was wrong. I think he was just doing his job.”


 

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