I guess I owe something of an apology to Huffington Post blogger Martha St. Jean who wrote yesterday about the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:
I believe Gates did what anyone would do, he yelled at the officer, probably called him a few names and maybe told him he was not too smart.
I responded, in my post Everyone Yells At The Stupid Police, that “maybe in the world of Huffington Post bloggers everyone yells at the police, calls them names, and tells them they are stupid… and expects no reaction.”
I was wrong. I should not have restricted my commentary to the world of Huffington Post bloggers. Barack Obama is not a Huffington Post blogger, but Obama also asserted that the Cambridge police acted stupidly even though Obama acknowledged that he was not familiar with the facts of Gates’ conduct which led to the arrest:
“I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.”
Gates wasn’t arrested for being in his own home. He was arrested after police reacted — maybe overreacted — to Gates’ verbal assault on the police. Obama’s statement did not leave open the possibility that Gates caused the problem not by being in his home, but by overreacting to police officers investigating a complaint of a burglary in progress.
The Cambridge police officer defends his conduct, and will not give the apology Gates demanded:
“There are not many certainties in life, but it is for certain that Sgt. Crowley will not be apologizing,” Sgt. James Crowley told NewsCenter 5….
Bill Carter, the man who snapped a photograph of Gates being led away in handcuffs, said police officers were calm and that Gates was “slightly out of control” and “agitated” when he was arrested.
“The officers around kind of calmed him down,” Carter said. “I heard him yelling — Mr. Gates yelling. I didn’t hear anything that he was saying so I couldn’t say that he was belligerent.”
Cambridge police superior officers came to Crowley’s defense after Gates accused the officer of lying and fabricating a police report that detailed Gates’ arrest on disorderly conduct charges. The report described the incident as a tumultuous and frightening confrontation with police.
The Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association said it reviewed the arrest and
expressed its “full and unqualified support for the actions taken by Sgt. Crowley.”
I stand by my other comment in response to Ms. St. Jean’s post: “I think Ms. St. Jean has confused just who is ‘not too smart.'”
Added: Take a look a Jules Crittenden’s post Sensitivity Training Now — this supposedly racist cop was the person who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in an unsuccessful attempt to revive basketball player Reggie Lewis.
And: Dan Riehl has the video clip of Obama’s “I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak” comment as to a different controversy.