I'll Speak With Your Mama Outside
When you have the President commenting at his press conference on the arrest of some guy in Cambridge, Mass for “disorderly conduct” you look into it. Henry Gates apparently went ballistic when a cop asked him for his I.D. when responding to a 911 call. Gates is one of the top scholars in this country and runs the African American Research Centre at Harvard. You don’t get credentials much better than that in academia and Gates deserves our respect for that. He also deserves our respect for coming up with a great line. After the Cambridge cop asked him for about the third time to step outside of his home he responded by saying (according to the Police report). “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside”. After that statement he was arrested.
I wrote a blog awhile back about being polite to the Police. I am polite to the Police and most anyone else who is carrying a handgun. Then again, I’m not a big shot like Gates who can tell a cop “You don’t know who you are messing with”. The cops who stop me have a pretty good idea who they are “messing with” and it strikes no particular fear into their hearts. But for a guy with PHD, he sure said some foolish things and apparently said them quite loudly(if the Police are to be believed). I don’t think that you should be arrested for saying foolish things, but even an eggplant knows not to scream at a cop. The President said that the cops reacted “stupidly”. The President was not there and so I don’t know how he knows this and it strikes me that the President responded “stupidly” to the question. This, especially in light of the sensitivity of the issue. The resume of the arresting officer was not too bad. He is the one who performed forty minutes of CPR on Reggie Lewis, the great African American basketball player in a vain attempt to save his life. He also once ran a Police Athletic League which cops use to try to get kids with troubled backgrounds into sports instead of gangs.
What the president should have said was this, “Look, all the facts have not yet come out so I’m reserving judgment, but that does not mean that we can’t use the incident to highlight the important issue of racial profiling among our law enforcement agencies. We can all agree that that is wrong and is something we as a society should work on.” When the dust has cleared, and the Gates case is dismissed, which it probably will be, we can focus on the individuals at issue. I assume that the arrest was illegal. It is hard to be disorderly at your own front door. The Police report shows the actions of a highly intelligent man reacting foolishly, make that very foolishly, but probably not illegally. If you could arrest someone for being disorderly in their own home, I would be arrested every time one of my favorite teams blows a late lead, which is a lot of the time. But again, the police do stand for some type of order in the community and it is highly foolish, even if it is not illegal ,to make a huge scene while they are talking to you. As I always tell my friends, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you never pull the mask on that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim.