July 24, 2009
Obama is the One Who 'Acted Stupidly'
By Bob Weir
From the moment a police officer dons that uniform, he/she becomes a symbol of authority, and it becomes obvious very quickly that most people in a free country resent authority. It could be the guy who gets pulled over for speeding or passing a red light; it could be the guy who's clobbering his wife during a family dispute, or it could be a guy who breaking into a residence that turns out to be his.
Although these are situations in which the police must take action, their authority will usually be resented. It's the type of job in which you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't. When a neighbor called police to the Cambridge, Massachusetts neighborhood next to Harvard University, she said there were two men breaking into a home. Sergeant Jim Crowley, a sixteen year veteran of police work, took the call and arrived at the scene to discover that the door had been jimmied and two men were inside.
It turned out later that it was Henry Gates, a Harvard professor, and his chauffer. Unfortunately for Sgt. Crowley, Gates did not have his name and address tattooed to his forehead. Therefore, it became necessary for the sergeant to ask him to show his identification.
What ensued from that moment is something that any veteran cop can relate to. This professor, evidently indignant about being questioned by a mere public servant, launched into a tirade that included references to the cop's mother and charges of racism.
In addition, it was reported that Gates made insinuations about his political influence. When he asked the officer if he knew who he's "messin' with," it was a likely reference to his friendship with President Obama.
So, here we have a case of a man who lost his keys to his house, broke in through a rear door and then became indignant when police responded to a report of a burglary and had the temerity to ask him to identify himself. When he was asked to step outside to speak with the officer, this Harvard-educated, "learned" professor said: "I'll speak with your mama outside!"
Such trash talk is generally confined to inner-city ghettos, not upscale areas which are often targeted by burglars. Is it any wonder that the cop doubted he was talking to a prominent citizen and respectable member of the community?
The fact that the cop is white and the professor is black made this a dream scenario for an opportunist to scream racism. Gates, who is reportedly working on a documentary about racism in America, apparently seized the moment as an excellent way to grab publicity for his upcoming project.
Keep in mind that the actions of the sergeant were thoroughly investigated by the Professional Standards Unit of the Cambridge PD and found to be in accordance with proper police protocol. If that cop had not followed procedure, and it turned out later that the house had in fact been burglarized, he could have been fired.
Speaking as a veteran cop (retired), who has effected more than 500 felony arrests in my 20 years with NYPD, I can tell you that Sergeant Crowley must be very tolerant indeed to have taken so much abuse from Gates before putting the cuffs on him. If it had been me, not only would he have been arrested sooner, but those manacles would have secured his arms behind his back, not in front, as Crowley did, once again being overly tolerant with this arrogant agitator.
If anyone is a racist in this confrontation, it is this obstreperous professor who evidently feels that his loft academic status and his friendship with Obama not only put him above the law, but give him a platform to inject "color" into every situation. Make no mistake about it, if Crowley were black and followed the same protocol, Gates would have recognized that there was no opportunity for a public spectacle, so he would have behaved properly.
Speaking of behavior, President Obama showed his own lack of class and judgment when he said the Cambridge PD "acted stupidly." To make such a sweeping statement of condemnation after admitting that he didn't "know all the facts," is beneath the dignity of his high office.
For a black man who has achieved the level of Chief Executive in a country where the overwhelming majority of voters are white to use that tired old canard about everything being racist, is stunningly contemptible. If this is the type of judgment Obama uses to make decisions, God help us if he's able to pass any more legislation.
Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department.