Tuesday, July 28, 2009

is it still going on?

Early afternoon on Ware Street in Cambridge, Mass., a few blocks from Harvard University. Professor Gates and his airport driver, a large black man, shoulder open Gates' jammed front door. A concerned neighbor calls 911.

Officer Crowley arrives to find the caller standing on the sidewalk in front of the home. Crowley recalls "she observed what appeared to be two black men with backpacks on the porch ... her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door." The caller, now identified as Lucia Whalen, a white woman, does not recall using a racial description of the men, other than to say one might have been Hispanic.

Gates, 58 and gray-haired, was dressed in a blazer and walking with a cane. His driver was wearing a black suit jacket and matching pants. After they forced open the door, the driver carried Gates' luggage into the house, then drove off.

Crowley confirms that Gates is the owner of the residence, but still arrests him for disorderly conduct. What was said between the two and what conduct Gates used is uncertain.

President Obama later comments that Officer Crowley "acted stupidly" in arresting Professor Gates. The black community collectively says, "Right on!" The white community reacts in disbelief saying "Don't mess with a police officer in the execution of his duties." And, we are still talking a week later about what happened and who's right.

Can't we just recognize that both sides acted a little stupidly and move on. Both the racial aspect of the situation and the fact that we are dealing with class - a Harvard professor versus a Boston police officer - means that perception is in the eye of "victim", the black professor coming home from a long trip or the police officer just trying to do his job and getting no thanks for it.

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