Town vs. gown ends with professor in jail

Seems Harvard prof Henry Louis Gates Jr. locked himself out of his Cambridge house the other day, so he tried to break open the front door, which prompted somebody to call the police who, when Gates refused to tell them who he was or why he was breaking into the house, arrested him. Gates charges racism, possibly on the theory that simply everybody in Cambridge must know who he is.



    Free tagging: 


    And according to the AP...

    By on

    "An officer ordered the man to identify himself, and Gates refused"

    Got mighty uppity

    With Officer Cracker Crowley.

    Man, don't you love those overly politely worded police reports? You can be certain that's not how it went down. I guess we'll have to wait to hear the other side.

    One of the parts I was looking for in the police report was the part where Gates invited Officer Crowley into his residence. Not there. Funny. And yet there he is in it nonetheless.

    I know Gates is not a large man. Did Crowley push his way into the residence?

    Entering without permission?

    By on

    No kidding. You'd think that since this was written after the fact, one of which being that Gates was lawfully in his own home, he might have mentioned exactly what authority he had to enter the home without a search warrant and not in hot pursuit.

    Entering without permission it is

    Sergeant Cracker Crowley followed Gates into his house without permission, and then refused to identify himself or provide his badge number.

    Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’s request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’s home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates.

    The only person breaking and entering in this story was the cop. Typical thug behavior, doesn't have to answer to a citizen. I guess Gates is lucky the douchebag didn't try to plant drugs in his house or tase him or something.


    The officer hadn't seen the identification yet of (the diminutive, black, male, approx.60 year-old,) suspect who walks with a cane, and wanted to make sure he didn't flee to evade arrest.

    Plus if the door is left open and the permission has not been denied, he can enter.

    However, it is true Sergeant ("respect mah authoritay!" Cartman) refused to identify himself or provide his badge number. It is also true, according to his report, that he did not apologize to the homeowner for accusing him of being a common (punk-ass, two-bit, high-noon) burglar.

    Have there been a lot of high-noon burglaries lately in Cambridge, perpetrated by 60 year old black men?

    Overreaction on both parts

    By on

    Gates should have thanked the officer for checking in on him and the officer should have ignored Gates and left him ranting on the porch. Sounds like the other officer is supporting this story. Funny - Gates says he couldn't lock his door due to a prior break-in attempt - you'd think he'd have been more appreciative of his neighbor watching out for him.

    My wife arrived home a couple of months ago to find an unknown white male in the building supposedly looking for our neighbor's son. Frightened, she left and called our neighbor and the police - both have had previous run-ins with this guy (not a thief - just an odd duck who works for the other well known institute of higher learning in Cambridge-turns out he's basically a low level stalker).

    Point is - Mr. Gates - apologize to the officer and thank your neighbor for being vigilant - has nothing to do with you being black. People call the cops on suspicious white guys too. This has to do with you trying to bang the front door of your house down to get in - your neighbor and the cops did the right thing up to the point they put the cuffs on you - but even that probably serves you right for being a doober to someone just doing his job.

    Innocent etc.

    The Neighbor Isn't Vigilant

    If she was, she would have noticed that the "two black men messing with the door" were:

    2)The cab driver that brought HER NEIGHBOR home, as in "person connected with cab out front with trunk open"

    You don't get vigilance points for not knowing your neighbors.

    Stevil, I take it that you have never seen your black house mates repeatedly harrassed for the "suspicious" activity known as "opening the door to their own house" or their friends hassled for the "attempted break in" known as "ringing the door bell". It is all to easy to judge the Professor's reactions if you have never had to be that "safe white person" who tells the cops that everything is okay and to please let go of your housemate.

    60 year old black man

    By on

    60 year old black man perpetrates "breaking and entering" in broad daylight using a cab driver as wheel man -- only it's his house and the cab driver drove him home.

    The homeowner was not arrested for breaking and entering (thank god) but was arrested for disorderly conduct, in his own home, because his verbally expressed anger was drawing a crowd on the sidewalk. In other words, the cop's judgment was impaired by having an audience gather on the sidewalk and presumably a sense that his authority was diminished by the homeowner's verbal objections.

    It's hard to imagine that disorderly conduct applies to a man in his own home objecting to the officers ongoing presence after the homeowner satisfactorily identified himself.

    Have you had every

    By on

    Have you had every experience possible in life? No matter the story, you seem to have a personal anecdote for it.

    Sure you do

    By on

    I live in a 7 unit building (been here for 16 years) - Two of our residents are tenants whom I've seen a total of twice each - one is fairly new the other is a corporate rental who has been here for 6 months - wouldn't know them if I ran them down in the street. So if I see a guy trying to force the door open and there's a cab in front of the building I should assume he's the cabbie?

    As for my black housemates - never saw one of them get harrassed for "suspicious" activity known as "opening the door to their own house" or their friends hassled for the "attempted break in" known as "ringing the door bell". (white folks do sometimes live with black people at some time in their lives - including ME)

    All of the people I've personally known to get hassled by cops were a) white and b) because they deserved it - so I never told the cop to let go of him. My black friends tend to be very well behaved and I've never seen them or their friends get hassled by the cops-but I'm sure it happens - just not so much simply because they are black.

    In other words

    You have a few black friends ... who are "well behaved" and may or may not have told you about their experiences. Maybe they have been lucky - or maybe, like the biracial writer Malcolm Gladwell growing out his hair to see what happens, they have learned to shrug off the constant scrutiny based on their "different" attributes.

    Maybe they figured you didn't want to hear about it or would just "rationalize" it to make yourself more comfortable.

    Perceived racism is more likely

    By on

    I've been a minority - living in countries where you were lucky to see another white person in a day or sometimes even in a week. I know from first hand experience your first thought when you are "dissed" is that the it's racism (you don't get seated at a table, the cab refuses to pick you up but grabs the guy down the street, they don't rent you the apartment, a car almost sideswipes you when you step onto the street, the cop randomly stops and asks you what you are looking for etc., etc.) Nine times out of ten, maybe 99 out of 100 when you step back and think about it there's another perfectly reasonable explanation (and unlike here, in most other countries there are no laws preventing most of this behavior). It's a minority's natural reaction - obviously I did nothing wrong - that guy must be racist. Usually it's something like - the restaurant is seating a regular customer as is their practice, the cabbie didn't see you, you were an idiot for stepping in front of a turning car against the walk signal, the beat cop has been working the street for 4 years and has never seen you and your five 16 year old buddies in the alley you are just "wandering through" at 11 pm - who knows - but the most likely reason is almost certainly not racism - most cops have better things to do than hassle people so they can write up extra reports on incidents that are more likely to get them in the newspaper than get them a commendation from the captain.

    I don't need to "rationalize" anything about other people's experiences of discrimination, curiosity about my physical attributes and cultural and religious practices etc. - actually been there, done that.

    PS - I literally didn't get the apartment because I was a white guy - pure racism - they told me so flat out - also purely legal in Japan - at least in 1987.

    You're right-not centuries

    By on

    They were only able to do it for a couple of years until we made them stop. If you haven't eaten for a few hours I'll be happy to send you a few web references to what the Japanese did to caucasians and many others during WW II - with no apologies for the behavior of slaveholders - they look like boy scouts in comparison to this stuff.

    Other than that are you trying to say that racism is OK or at least not so bad if your culture hasn't enslaved and tortured the people you are discriminating against?

    You're missing the point

    By on

    Yes, I'm aware of the WWII history, but that wasn't the point. It's a bit of a different dynamic. The US has centuries of history where we've gone out of our way to teach people that Black folks are inferior to white folks. Yes, Japan has some bad racial history as well, but currently in Japan you have a dynamic where people in Japan are paying for plastic surgery to make their facial features look more Anglo, and where the government is funding people to come to the US to study how Japan might make some aspects of their country be more like America. It just isn't nearly the same kind of dynamic of dominance and oppression that we have here.

    dominance and oppression?

    By on

    Have you ever befriended any Japanese people? They may want to look like us, but I've had people ask me straight out on multiple occasions why I'm different from most Americans (and when they say Americans they think white people) whom they consider fat, lazy and stupid. You want dominance and oppression - try being a third or fourth generation Korean immigrant in Japan - God help you if you keep a Korean name or they find out your ancestry (the companies used to hire private investigators to make sure). I think it may now be technically illegal - but I'd fall off my chair if I ever heard of the law being enforced.

    As for America - I got out of business school in the middle of the 1991 recession. Me and my white classmates were ecstatic to have one job offer - I didn't know a single white person that had more than 1 and about 1/3 had zero offers. I knew a few of my black classmates and I think the fewest offers one of them had was three. Four or five was the norm. Companies were fighting over even the academically middle of the road black students while my Phi Beta Kappa white friends were sweating bullets that their offers would get rescinded. Every major company I've ever heard of bends over backwards to hire educated black people and promote them through the ranks and has formal diversity programs to enhance opportunities for minorities (and women). They take these things very seriously if for no other reason than not to get sued - but most are pretty sincere about it. Take a guess on where the largest geographic area in Boston without an elementary school is? I haven't gotten the ruler out, but have looked at a map - try Allston to the North End and about a half mile in from the river (it's possibly the far NW corner of West Roxbury -but I believe that's a zoning issue). The area approximates the size of the airport. The white residents personally and in large numbers asked the mayor to build us a school. They even volunteered to raise money for the construction so the city wouldn't have to pay for it - just staff it with the understanding under the city's laws that half the kids would come from outside the neighborhood. The mayor himself in a rare move came to the Beacon Hill Civic Center and told them flat out that there werent' enough children of school age to make this a priority (because with no schools they all move away!). Since that meeting I believe we've built about a half dozen new schools in Boston - none in that area.

    Are there problems - sure - but dominance and oppression that's in your and Al Sharpton's head - back to original point - perceived racism.

    Is there no end to Swirly's wisdom?

    By on

    'Cause there's hardly a topic on which she doesn't proclaim herself as not just an expert, but _the_ expert. Leaving aside the obvious jibes that might be made about this kind of behavior, let me ask this:

    -Were you there? No? If not, then it's not fair to comment on the behavior of the police, is it? Nor is it fair to compare them to actions by other cops in different places at different times.

    -Do you know all of your neighbors by sight, especially if-- as might have been the case here-- their backs are turned? Well, knowing you, you probably going to say that you do, but please don't judge this woman for not knowing Mr. Gates. If someone saw me breaking into my place and called the police, I'd appreciate it.

    -And please don't attack Stevil and others for having opinions that differ from yours. It's tedious. You don't know everything, and neither do I, but at least I don't act like it. For all we know the police were 100% the aggressors here, but you, _you_, weren't there, so you don't know for sure, and having been in (what you think are) similar situations doesn't give you special status here. You're smart enough and you seem to have some interesting things to say, but your habit of attacking people who don't fall into lockstep is really lame and ought to be beneath you. Have some tolerance, wouldja?

    It is called "being old"

    Wisdom should come with it. So should experience (as recounted, above) and empathy.

    Try it sometime. Please.

    As for "tolerance", well, I guess I "tolerate" people born different from me. I simply don't - and won't - tolerate excuse making for lameness. There is a difference between "tolerating" different people and "tolerating" lazy thinking like yours. You would know that if you were wise, experience, empathetic, etc.

    So not thinking like you you isn't tolerable?

    By on

    Wow. I've actually found, as I've gotten older, that I have more tolerance for differing viewpoints than I did when I was younger. I'm not ready to call that wisdom, though-- probably just part of growing up. You should give that a shot sometime.

    Not everyone has to think like you in order to qualify as not evil and not stupid. Obviously in your world they do, but in your world everyone thinks alike, or at least ought to, and you know what? You're welcome to that world. You can have it. Sounds dull to me.

    In my life, and in my work (I've had several careers) I've grown to appreciate, more and more, people who have different opinions than I do-- but I draw the line between someone who has a different opinion _and_ respects the opinions of others, and lazy fascist morons like you who think that everyone who doesn't agree with them is wrong.

    oh more distraction from the

    By on

    oh more distraction from the peanut gallery - make this about SwrrlyGrrly instead of the issue.

    How this scenario became elevated into a disorderly conduct charge against a man re-entering his own home is so troubling on so many levels I can't even begin to say.

    Escalated is a fair assessment of a situation. As soon as the cop knew the alleged B&E was not a B&E he had an obligation to DE-ESCALATE the situation. Instead he did not and it seems he may have lured the resident out on his porch to make a "justifiable" arrest. If so, that's an abuse of his power as a law enforcement officer.

    I wait in anticipation of Ogletree's defense of Gates on this ridiculous waste of time and abuse of a constable's authority.

    Well said

    By on

    Even the politely worded police report doesn't make any reference to apologizing, validating that he seems upset, trying to explain the common ground of how both sides would like to get this done with -- you know, all the basic human interaction stuff that the police departments hire people to teach to their officers. THAT'S what's wrong with the whole picture; had they done that, I'm guessing he WOULD be glad that someone had called the cops to check on his property.


    The report said the officer asked the man to step outside so he could verify that he lived there. Gates said 'no I will not'. The cop said he was investigating a call from a resident of a break in progress. Gates said "why cause im a black man in america?"

    Why should the officer who was investigating a potential violent crime have to apologize for anything after this initial interaction?

    Would have gone a long way, I'm guessing

    By on

    Alternate ending to today's story, picking up from where the cop figures out he's stepped into hornet's nest:

    Cop thinks to himself: Okay, it's pretty clear this guy is the lawful owner and there's no crime here.

    Cop: "Sir, I apologize for having upset you and hope you have a good day."

    Cop leaves and tells caller that she was right to call but that the person entering was the owner.

    Cop calls in false alarm to dispatch and drives away.

    Aaaaand, scene.

    The cop didn't even need to *mean* what he said in apology. But instead of de-escalating the situation and trying to remove himself from the scene, a scene of NO CRIME TAKING PLACE, he invites Gates outside for more piss'n'moan and then locks him up for it.

    So, why should he have to apologize after Gates flew off the handle? Because it's the right thing to do to try and bring the completely benign situation to a close the way it was before he arrived on a mistaken identity call.

    Sometimes when innocent people are accused or implied to have done something illegal, they get mad. Imagine that. It costs the cop nothing at all to take the moral high ground and chalk Gates up to "just another angry (black) man" and walk away. Instead, he put on his Cartman sunglasses and proved to Gates that he should "respect mah authoritay!".

    When one angry black man complains in public, it's disorderly conduct. When a million do, it's a peaceable right to protest. This story is picking up steam nationally, I wouldn't be surprised to find some of the latter heading this way soon.

    Gates was never accused or implied of anything.

    and when you say a cop figures out something that is "pretty clear" it doesn't always end up like that. Your average Cambridge cop probably goes on a few thousand calls a year, lets say 2000. You can bet that of the 2000 that appear "pretty clear" that no crime was committed, 25 of them actually had some extreme circumstances. And you don't (or shouldn't) take any chances on any of those 2000 calls or someone might get hurt.

    So like I said before, the cop still has to identify the man just to be sure. I might apologize that the situation might seem crazy, but I wouldn't apologize for asking Gates to idenfity himself. Thats the cops job.

    And this has nothing to do with race. Id bet that more white people get arrested for disorderly conduct in Cambridge than black people. And of course if Crowley is really racist, he will have a clear detailed history of arresting black people for bad reasons. I have a feeling that is not the case.

    And Gates should apologize to Crowley as well and understand that it is part of the job. No black officer would handle that call any different. Thats an important aspect.

    The turning point in the police report, to me,

    was the point where the officer decided that, even though this was clearly the owner of the house, he had to call Harvard Police anyway because he was "confused" by Gates' being pissed off. I don't think the cop was "confused" about much of anything at that point- I think he was just irritated by Gates' demeanor. What was his justification for calling Harvard police once he had confirmed Gates' i.d.? "Boys, I got some old guy from Harvard doing nothing wrong over here on Elm might wanna send a few units- I think he's got a cane."

    Another BS justification

    Gates was on the phone with Harvard when Sergeant Crowley started harassing him. But he was probably being tumultuous, which probably confused poor Sgt. C so much he couldn't figure that out.

    On the phone with Harvard

    Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there.

    So far so good. Why should he step outside his house? There's no good reason to do that. And as for calling Harvard to report a broken door ... that's what Gates was doing at the time. If Sgt. C had been a little more patient and a little less rash, thing would have turned out better.

    The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard
    University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard.

    Here's the part where it would be interesting to see a transcript of Sgt. C's call to the Harvard Police. I'd imagine that the purpose of this call was not, as Pete suggests, to report the broken door, but to verify if they had any record of a black guy being a professor at Harvard.

    As for calling the chief, that talk happened only after Sgt. C entered the house uninvited and began harassing Gates in his kitchen. It was probably a good idea, and Gates should have continued down that road rather than stepping out onto the porch, where he was arrested. Unfortunately, because his front door was broken, he couldn't lock it between him and Sgt. C. Gates was apparently thinking the chief could have told Sgt. C to cool his jets.


    Why should he step outside his house? There's no good reason to do that.

    To make sure everyone was alright? So he didnt have to go inside and break the door again? The situation or investigation wasn't over yet since the officer was still there.

    No one is dumb enough to think Harvard or Cambridge doesn't have rich black people. Not even cracker cops.


    So he could easily get his hands on him if he felt he needed to.
    And as a dominance move.


    So he could easily get his hands on him if he felt he needed to.
    And as a dominance move.

    Ok. So you think Crowley thought Gates lived there but still wanted to harrass him because he was black? Or because he was black he probably broke into a house? Or a dominance move like "im white your black and Im giving out the orders here"?


    Crowley thought, at first sight, that Gates might or might not live there, and he wanted to control the situation. He could do that better on the porch. It's harder to control somebody on the other side of a doorway.

    A dominance move = if you ask somebody to do something and he does, it's more likely he'll do the next thing you ask him also. Do they really not teach you that?

    Glad you find this so funny.

    Well its not funny now that you admit

    that Crowley might not have known Gates had lived there which I also could be true.

    But since you already called him officer cracker, I have no idea what your definition of a "dominance" move might be. Someone that would call someone else "cracker" that they don't know might think the cop had a feeling of white superiority over black people and this "dominance" move would have been racially motivated. So if you did think that way, which it appears you don't, then yea, that is funny.

    And they don't call them dominance moves anyway. But if he didn't know that Gates lived there then even you might admit that it would be better to get him outside so he could better handle the situation.


    I have to get back to work in an hour anyway....

    A NEW HOPE. It wasn't

    By on

    A NEW HOPE. It wasn't Empire. Geez, did you even watch those movies?

    No good reason

    By on

    He also has no good reason not be allowed on his porch...


    I hope I won't disappoint you by not making light of racism here. I don't think it's as funny as some people do.

    Yes, anybody who is confused about why a man might be angry that you have barged into his house uninvited and are badgering him in his kitchen while refusing to identify himself is simply not terribly bright.

    One salient point in this story that hasn't been pointed out yet is that Gates was arriving in the cab from Logan, where he had just flown from China.

    I imagine that if I had just flown overnight from China and my front door was broken and some cracker was harassing me in my house, I might be more than a bit snippy.

    You make clear light of it by calling the officer "cracker"

    So it is clear that you find what you want to find funny funny.

    Gates was mad before the cop ever came into his house. And Id be cranky as hell if I came back from that trip. Would I complain about racicm if a white cop asked me to come outside and then talk about his 'momma'? No probably not. But I would apologize if I was curt and rude in the end if I were on either side.

    In case you don't already

    In case you don't already know, Pete Nice is a policeman who is firmly committed to defending the thin blue line no matter what - that's the nature of the thin blue line. All of us are on one side of it, all the men and women in blue are on the other side. Pete, are policewomen allowed on your side of the thin blue line or is it just the men?

    If I were doing that I would have defended the charge.

    which I never did. But I am not a policeman anymore but I have been in hundreds of situations just like this one, as I have been in hundreds of calls involving live breaks. So I know what the proper response should be, and I know what department policies are and why they are like that. Its so the department doesn't get sued when people get hurt from negligent policework. This cop would have been negligent if he had simply left this house just because a guy with a cane was in the foyer.

    More justifications

    Would he have been negligent if he had waited for Gates to return from the kitchen with his ID, instead of barging into the house uninvited?


    1. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside.
    2. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there.
    3. The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. 4. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University.
    5. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard.
    5. Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet.
    6. The officer followed him.

    It's perfectly logical, indeed advisable, to refuse to step outside your house to talk to a policeman or any other stranger.

    not if there was someone still inside...

    You forgot to mention that the officer was by himself and probably didn't want to do a house search alone. Sometimes you like to get the residents to a safe place before backup comes and you can do a search.

    And yea, that is another justification but the nature of law enforcement is to justify everything you do so the worse case scenerio doesn't happen.

    That would be a valid reason

    If a house search was his objective, that would be a valid reason for asking Gates to step outside. He could have politely explained that reason and his objective. He did not. Nor did he ever do a house search. Therefore, that was not his reason.

    Apparently the cop was

    Apparently the cop was granted access to the kitchen via the back door because the front door was still jammed close, at which time the cop must have realized there was no "breaking" (and entering).

    Wrong read

    No, the front door was open and broken. Gates himself forced the front door open, and probably could not close it again.

    Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’s luggage into his home.

    He was on the phone with Harvard trying to get an order in to fix the door when the tumult happened. The sequence has Sgt. C following Prof. Gates from the front door to the kitchen.

    Gates left his wallet with his ID in his kitchen - that was his initial entry to the house.


    By on

    Hey Sock,

    Whaddya say we keep our racist/classist slurs to our nice little hippie liberal selves, shall we? Really undermines your holier-than-thou arguments here.

    Best, P.R.

    Problem with the scenario --

    By on

    Problem with the scenario -- the robbers are in the house and after the cops leave, after apologizing, the murder the owner. This happens, also -- and the perps would have instructed the home owner not to say anything upon threat of death to some hostage. Preposterous -- we or the cops don't know!!!

    I should have known better

    By on

    I should have read the police report more critically. My comment is just plain wrong.

    The way I read the police report

    By on

    Adam, your blurb is pretty screwed up. "...on the theory that simply everbody must know who he is."? What the hell, man?

    Starting from the top:

    Seems that he wasn't locked out, but has trouble opening and closing his front door. The woman who called is either a racist or really needs glasses. Gates has no expectation to have to defend himself from an accusation of breaking and entering into his own house. When did we start going all "guilty until proven innocent" in this country?

    Sure, he starting getting pissed pretty fast, but he had a cop asking him if he lived in his own house! He never should have even let the cop in to begin with.

    Then, read the report, the cop was having "acoustic" problems in the kitchen with his radio? Right. What housed language for "I had this guy calling me names and all lathered up, so I goaded him out of his house to arrest him for a public decency crime". Nevermind that the "scene" being made was from multiple Cambridge PD AND then Harvard University PD being on the scene at the behest of the cop, not Gates!

    Gates made the fatal mistake of stepping outside of his house. But the "everyone was shocked at his behavior, justifying Disorderly Conduct arrest"...oh COME ON. He wasn't running in circles nude while jabbering at the moon and chewing on grass! You just didn't like that he was pissed and calling you out on how accusatory you started the entire encounter based solely on the account of some random woman on the street! The spectacle here was caused by the cop escalating the encounter in response to an angry "suspect"....and then suckering him outside where he could attach a charge, any charge since it's not illegal to be pissed inside YOUR OWN HOUSE.

    Sure, Gates made some errors but this whole thing was predicated by how the cop handled the situation as it built up (and helped escalate it all the way until the arrest). Racism or not (and more likely on her part than the cop's, actually), I'm just tired of seeing cops abuse the law as a way to eventually guilt an innocent party into a crime. Traffic stops turned into taser events, tweaking innocent people into a conniption and then hitting them with disorderly conduct, etc...

    No need to arrest this guy here....

    But I would have summonsed him in for the felony of hindering an investigation. Both the cop and Gates here ended up being assholes, but it looks like Gates was the asshole at first. Heres a cop investigating a felony crime and some asshole can't have the decency to let the cops know he lives there.

    Assuming the cop didn't lie here (as usually there are other witnesses anyway), Id say fuck him and just summons him in for the felony. He isn't going anywhere and there is clearly enough for that crime.

    My question

    By on

    What does it take to justify an "investigation"?

    One person calling into the police that she saw a couple of black men use force to open a door? How "helpful" does Gates have to be (or not be) in order to justify "hindering" this "investigation"?

    How does one random person get to dictate the scenario and create the homeowner-as-suspect?

    I think you're wrong and any "hindering investigation" (what MGL is that, please?) wouldn't stick at all. He doesn't have to answer to them, let them in, or anything else. There was no emergency and they had nothing credible to believe there was a crime being committed other than a black man was in a house that a woman says she saw two black men enter.

    Save your breath, Kaz

    Pete suffers from an occupational derangement: If a cop did it, it's ipso facto justified. Felony Hindering Investigation = not doing exactly what cop says whenever he says it.

    felony call is an investigation....

    Ive been to many calls where the homeonwner comes home and has no idea someone was in his house or is still in his house. And of course the responding officer is not going to have any idea of that either. The crime is a reported break, and the MGL is 268. 13B and Ive seen dozens of people CWOF'd for lesser involvements.

    No one ever believes me anyway so I hope Jake Wark can come in here and show some examples where this crime has been charged and held up in court.

    He doesnt have to let the cops in but if the cops feel people might be in the building the dont need his permission. Credible?

    Sockpuppet, maybe you Kaz and Bretts ghost can decide for yourself what the laws mean since you all know everything about everything.

    You know what. Im not even going to respond on this thread anymore since everyone knows exactly what they are talking about.

    Take your ball.

    Go home.

    We already know that there are an endless number of lies an abusive policeman can tell to justify his illegal actions. It's amusing to hear from you what some bullshit excuses might be, but it's not like you're participating in good faith. You already know that the cop is right, because he's in your tribe, and the other guy is wrong, because he's in our tribe. So it's funny to hear your justifications, but it's apparent to those of us not suffering from cop-mind what the difference is between justifications and reasons.

    yea i cant go out like that...

    but whatever. 100% chance there are other people there that will tell their story and they will have the same story as the police. Just like when that kid died down at fenway and everyone wanted to believe the kids friends and not the independent witnesses.

    Did I not call him an asshole for arresting him in the first place? Yea but you read what you want to read. Ive been in these situations where the cops are racist for everything they do. Heres a situation where someone called the police to report a felony and the resident played the racecard right off the bat.

    For real?

    By on

    Under which part of 268-13b? This one?

    (v) a person who is or was attending or had made known his intention to attend a grand jury proceeding, trial or other criminal proceeding of any type with the intent to impede, obstruct, delay, harm, punish or otherwise interfere thereby with a criminal investigation, grand jury proceeding, trial or other criminal proceeding of any type shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 21/2 years in a jail or house of correction or not more than 10 years in a state prison, or by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000.

    If he doesn't give the cop an ID with an address (not illegal), says he's not coming outside (not illegal), confirms that he's not detained or under arrest and then goes back to his book on the living room couch (not illegal), how is that "impede, obstruct, delay, harm, punish, or otherwise interfere"? It would seem those are all crimes of commission, not omission.


    A BS summons isn't intended to get a conviction. It's intended to be a form of cop-initiated judicial punishment. The victim has to spend money and time to defend himself no matter if the charge was preposterous on the face of it. It's done in bad faith by bad cops.

    Sort of like arresting a man for being tumultuous on his own porch after pushing him around for 'breaking into' his own house.


    You're tipping your hand again, Pete. If you know the law, it's BS.

    If you don't, you're what? Fair game?

    No I meant that

    you and Kaz (mostly Kaz I guess here) can't just look up the MA general laws on the internet and decide that the man didn't do anything wrong. Its never that simple.

    Thus the questions

    By on

    So, you tell me, then, since as Sock Puppet points out, either you know the law (and not just what they put in those pesky MGLs) or you don't either. I've been asking questions, not disclaiming knowledge. See my headlines? "Entering without permission?", "My question", "For real?": All denoting that I'm searching for clarification. Don't like being questioned? Am I being uppity? Good thing I'm not in public to be "disorderly", I guess.

    As I understand it, "not making a cop's job easy" isn't a crime. Actively inhibiting his job is. There is very limited information that anyone, innocent or guilty, have to actively offer to an officer. That doesn't make them guilty of the original reason the cop came out OR any other trumped up legalized harassment the cop wants to hand out.

    all right sorry...I snapped.

    But let me give you an example of something I experienced once.

    There was a 911 call for a woman screaming for help in a house at X Main St. I showed up with two other officers and went up to the building and heard yelling and screaming inside. We knocked on the door and a man was at the door. He didnt really let us in but we could hear a woman yelling in the next room so we pretty much pushed him out of the way to get in. There was a woman crying and screaming at the other side of the room and the guy that let us in now wanted us to leave. We told him we couldnt leave until we found out if the woman was ok and what had happened. He continued to call us racist (with black officers there) and refused to give us his name or who lived there or why he was there. As another officer and I were talking to him, another man came running out of the other room with a syringe in his hand and stabbed my partner officer right in the face with the syringe. The syringe broke and only punctured the skin barely thank god (after a few dozen shots later he was found to be ok and disease free).

    Now it turns out there was no crime here. The woman was crying because she was out of crack cocaine and thought one of the other men she was with was stealing money from her or something. It turned out to be a bogus call, but of course we could not take that chance with a woman screaming for help.

    Now the guy who didn't let us in hindered us in a real investigation of a woman screaming. Were we at fault since the woman was only crying for help because she was out of drugs?

    Now if we were just driving by and said "hey, X Main Street is a crack house and there is probably some crack inside...lets go knock and see what happens..." Then yea, there is no crime to investigate and if the same circumstances still happened (cop stabbed in the face), we would have still probably been found to be illegally in the apartment.

    And just because no one broke into the apartment here, doesn't mean the cops weren't performing an investigation. Its not in the MGLs, and I don't have my criminal procedure book with me...but I can assure you that there is case law on it and I have seen lesser things happen under this statute.


    By on

    That's really not analogous since exigence from the crying woman let you in. There's no exigence here (and none claimed in the police report either).

    But did you charge the guy at the door with "hindering"? I could see that one both ways. On one hand, he got in your way to respond to the assumed exigent nature. On the other, it doesn't sound like he was much of an impediment (pushing back, grabbing, etc) once you made it clear you were coming in past him whether he likes it or not.


    well the report here did not rule out that the officer was done with his investigation. He still did not know who lived there or if this man belonged here. Who knows if there was someone still in the house? But now this cop has to waste his time (and the people of Cambridges time) talking to someone in order to clear this call. He has to confirm that this man legally belongs here before he leaves. Does he leave just beaause he has a "gut" feeling that this man with a cane lives there?

    And this case has nothing to do with whether the officer has the right to be there or not. I will bet a million bucks that this will not be an issue as the officer had the right to be there. It doesn't appear like the cop was trying to enter illegally or search for anything anyway.

    This incident happened before this law was intrepted this way. It used to be just a witness or juror intmidation law and turned itself into a hindering an investigation law after judges started intrpeting it that way.

    But you have to take all the circumstances into consideration. heres a crackhead holding us up while another crackhead friend charges the cops and stabs one. I believe they both ended up being arrested for mayhem and the privy element of that charge but I cant remember.

    I agree with most of that

    By on

    But this goes back to an earlier question I had.

    "He has to confirm that this man legally belongs here before he leaves."

    Does he? That goes back to presuming guilt before innocence. I don't see in either officer's reports where they asked the witness if Gates is the man she saw entering the house or not. Why should I have to prove I belong in my house just because someone called and said they saw someone enter my house (and the officer's don't note any evidence of forced entry either).

    What keeps me from "innocently" calling the cops any time I see someone enter their own house and say "I just saw someone enter that might be a burglar!". I shouldn't have to defend entering my own house every time someone calls the police when I do it.

    proving who lives there.

    Its like a 911 hangup call.

    During home invasions (which are rare but dangerous), criminals will break into a house, tie up residents and rob the house. Sometimes a resident will 911 and the criminal will terminate the phone call. Now the police call back and want to talk to the resident. The criminal puts a gun to the residents head and asks them to tell the police everything is ok. In most departments this is not good enough and 2 officers will be dispatched to physically check to see if the resident is ok. If the officers do not physically check to see if the resident is ok and something happens to the resident....guess who is legally liable? Right or wrong a lot of these officers actions are liability issues. What happens if the cop left here and someone was still inside and murdered Gates? Officer Crowley never even was able to idenfity Gates why not? Again, these are policy issues when responding to breaking and entering calls and/or 911 hangups. If you don't follow through with the policy and touch all your bases, you are responsible.

    Did this woman "innoncently" make a mistake here? Two men budging open a door that can't lock becuase of a past break might place more of a heightened alert for this woman. Im sure if he used a key the woman would not have called right? But these calls are not rare.

    IE: resident forgot his keys and climbs up back fire escape to enter through an unlocked kitchen window. Another neighbor rightfully calls police because this type of action is suspucious. Hopefully the resident can identify himself and doesnt get hurt.

    As for the officer not asking the witness if Gates was the man she saw? it seems that the report indicates that Officer Crowley asked the caller to wait for other officers on the sidewalk while he went up to investigate. And Officer Crowley even then mentions that he gets the sense that Gates was the resident.

    If that were the reason,

    The policeman could politely inform the resident that he is sorry, but it is their policy to investigate the house completely with any B&E call. He could provide his identification and badge number to the resident and then do a complete sweep of the house.

    None of these things were done. The policeman did not ask or inform, but barged in and followed Gates into his kitchen without permission. Once there, he verified Gates' ID and then left without providing his ID or apologizing.

    The difference between a reason and a justification is that a reason motivates your action; a justification excuses your action. The idea that the officer was correct in barging in because it might have been a home invasion is a justification rather than a reason. The officer did not look for bad guys in the house. That was not his reason. You bring it up now as a justification because it is your habit.

    In short, the cop had no reason to enter the house, and could have waited respectfully on the porch. If he had done so, it is likely he would not have precipitated the problem.


    The policeman could politely inform the resident that he is sorry, but it is their policy to investigate the house completely with any B&E call. He could provide his identification and badge number to the resident and then do a complete sweep of the house

    The police officer asked a man that he did not know if he would come out onto the porch so the man could talk to the officer. The man said "no I will not".

    So at what point should the officer apoligize. Before asking Gates to come outside?

    The policeman could politely inform the resident that he is sorry, but it is their policy to investigate the house completely with any B&E call. He could provide his identification and badge number to the resident and then do a complete sweep of the house

    It says in the report that the officer asked him to come outside. Gates asked who the officer was and the officer identified himself as a Cambridge police officer investigating a felony break that someone called in. Not good enough for Gates who yelled out racial comments and when the officer asked if anyone else was inside (because the witness said two men went in) Gates told him that it was none of his business.

    And the issue of the officer being in the house is not even an issue here. Gates never made it an issue, so I dont know why it is an issue here.

    you don't need ID unless you're driving

    By on

    "If he doesn't give the cop an ID with an address (not illegal)"

    Uh, wrong. You are not required to show ID unless you're driving, because shockingly, you don't have to carry any ID....and many people don't have driver's licenses. Yes, I know about Liquor ID cards and such.

    You are only required to give your name and address. Maybe DOB.

    First, thanks for cluing me into the copy of the report

    By on

    I hadn't seen it, since my initial source was the Crimson story (which doesn't have it), not the Globe story.

    My comment was based on this line from the Crimson story:

    The sergeant reportedly then tried to calm Gates, to which Gates shouted, "[y]ou don't know who your [sic] messing with!"

    Which is basically in the police report - in the part about Gates screaming at the cop (the "acoustic difficulties" thing, surely you realize that police reports are sometimes kind of stilted) and calling up somebody and demanding "Get me the chief!" and repeatedly asking the cop his name even after the cop had given it to him and even as the cop was walking out the door.

    Yes, there are two sides to every story and we haven't really heard Gates's side yet ...

    By the way

    By on

    The witness who called it in is Lucia Whalen. It appears the Globe decided on their own to redact her name from the report even though the police didn't.

    I saw it when it was in there before they redacted it.


    By on

    The Globe isn't evil. If they decided to redact/withhold the name of a witness, maybe they had a good reason?

    Despite speculation by people here, we don't know the situation, so let's not go stumbling about.

    My own speculation: I think most likely is that everyone involved already wants this event to go away.

    Public record

    By on

    Well, then they shouldn't have shown it in the first place. That was their decision, not mine. Besides, it was in there after the police redactions, so seems like it's public record no matter what they choose to hide for their own purposes.

    Formerly of Wellesley, Perhaps?

    A bank employee in Wellesley, maybe?

    Or maybe she previously lived in an upscale area of Milton and called the cops when she saw a doctor sitting in a Mercedes while waiting for his daughter at a friend's house? (what did Milton pay for that embarrassing stupidity, millions?)

    And the youngsters wonder why a 60 year old educated black man would have his back up about being questioned about living in his own home. Why he might "overreact" about it. Maybe because he's been there, done that, and don't wanna go back?

    Um, Yeah

    Sensitivity training is forecast for her future.


    By on

    You win the internets.

    Oh, the Humanity!

    By on

    Who does Gates think he is, Alan Dershowitz, playing the
    put upon minority?

    New line when getting arrested: "This is what it's like to
    be a tenured Harvard faculty member in America!"

    the arrest is absurd. the

    By on

    the arrest is absurd. the alleged burglar was not a burglar and the cop learned that. in fact, the alleged burglar was in his own home. you would think the cop would apologize for troubling him and his taking time an beat a path out of the man's home. but no, he arrested him for a public disturbance charge.

    Where do I live?

    By on

    Right across the street from a bookstore that carries
    "Radical Chic and Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers" by
    Tom Wolfe.

    You should check it out. In some respects, things
    haven't changed a lot in the last 40 years. The grifter
    may change but the grift itself stays the same.

    police report

    The police report, written in classic cop-speak, raises my long-time-ago public defender antennae. How this scenario became elevated into a disorderly conduct charge against a man re-entering his own home is so troubling on so many levels I can't even begin to say. And we'll probably never fully know the extent to which button pushing and personal baggage on issues of race (both Gates's and the cop's) turned this into a needlessly ugly situation.

    thanks news man.

    By on

    Way to stay on top of this!

    Would a white 60 year old Harvard professor have been arrested under the exact same circumstances?

    Oh yea.

    You can bet he got arrested because he was an asshole, not a black man. This was an asshole crime, not a racial one. I don't agree with the arrest, but it's one that assholes get arrested for, not blacks.

    Probably differing asshole thresholds (thrassholds?)

    By on

    I think that a 60yo black male professor would be not unlikely to have a different perception of the situation than his hypothetical white counterpart would.

    The white one wouldn't have to wonder whether there's a racial bias (a suspicion that would be supported by decades of history, whether or not it's the case this time), and probably was not as personally invested/involved in the civil rights movement and ongoing efforts.

    So, I'd probably have a little *less* patience for similarly rude remarks and incomplete cooperation from the white guy. The black guy, I can understand if he's sensitized and vigilant.

    Another point... I suspect that, were I a cop, I wouldn't have arrested either of them, regardless of whether or not I saw solid legal grounds to do so. Just doesn't sound like my style. But I can't say for certain what I'd do, since I don't know enough about what considerations a cop would have in that situation.

    Third point... This is Cambridge PD, who are good guys, in my experience. As I said before, maybe everyone just needs a good night's sleep. Then maybe this can be resolved well enough with brief voicing of viewpoint to each other and a gruff handshake, even if neither side is persuaded that the other was being fully reasonable.

    And this is progress?

    By on

    You wrote: "So, I'd probably have a little *less* patience for similarly rude remarks and incomplete cooperation from the white guy."

    So... double standards are the way to go then? That's good to know.

    Double standards

    By on

    I think more accurate is to say that an individual's motivations are relevant to interpreting their actions and interacting constructively with them. The group is almost incidental.

    This is specific to individuals, not groups, although information from groups might help guide your guessing as to a person's motivations. For fairness to the individual, you can't penalize the individual because of a generalization from a group. However, there's nothing unfair to the individual about being extra patient with them if you think of possible reasons that might be appropriate (though can't be certain), though you might later realize that suspected reason didn't apply.

    I'd guess this represents a combination of appreciating the importance of understanding perspectives, believing that people are in some ways more reasonable than is commonly believed, having a "better ten guilty go free than one innocent is wrongly convicted" policy in personal interactions, and believing that there's a limit to how much consideration you can give individuals.

    Ogletree releases statement

    By on

    That link you provided was interesting;
    one could see which spin the story would follow;just look at the photo they used- the relaxed friendly smile on Gates face,obviously trying to engender sympathy for the defendant.

    Oh great. I wish the good

    By on

    Oh great. I wish the good Reverend would leave it to Ogletree, Skip Gates' lawyer.

    You know what's odd about the incident? Skip Gates is all about bringing people together, so much so that black activists think he goes to far too fast in moving beyond racial issues. Also, Friends of his don't believe he accused the cop of racism.

    Just another Cambridge crazy

    By on

    I can't believe you guys are defending Gates. Please feel free to post your address here so that I could break into your house. Then when the cops show up, I'll show my school ID and just say I live there. I'll even cross my heart and pinky swear. All this guy had to do is act like a civilized human being and answer the cops question without acting entitled. This is just another reason why I dislike Cambridge, not cause of the police, but cause of all the crazies on the other side of the river.

    1000 comments on

    By on

    1,000 comments. Their servers have probably melted.

    There are two types of stories that will bring the army of bitter townies running to their keyboards: stories about Harvard, and stories about race. Looks like we have a perfect storm on our hands.


    It may surprise you to know that I do not think that every thing a cop does is wrong. In this situation, I believe that it was completely sensible and not out of line for Sgt. Crowley to ask Prof. Gates to step out onto the porch when he first saw him.

    I believe he would have done that no matter what race Prof. Gates was, because it makes sense for him to try to control the situation. I call this a dominance move; I’d bet cops have some jargon for it, like “positive control escalation” or some such.

    On the other hand, I also think it was perfectly sensible, even advisable, for Prof. Gates not to step out onto the porch. It is equally reasonable for Prof. Gates to try to keep his control of the situation. Prof. Gates knows that it is his house. At this point, Sgt. Crowley does not.

    The next thing that happened is that Sgt. C asked Prof. G to identify himself. Prof. G. did so. Then Sgt. C. asked him to prove it. Now, neither one of us knows exactly how he did this, what tone of voice or body attitude, or how this came across to Prof. Gates. It seems to me that this is the point where Prof. Gates began to feel a bit insulted.

    Gates left his wallet in the kitchen, because that is where he came into the house. He was already in a totally pissed off mood because a) he’d just flown overnight from China; b) he’d just taken a taxi from Logan; and c) his damn door was broken. Now all of a sudden, he noticed that this cop was following him into his house, uninvited.

    I believe that this was legal on the part of the cop. However, I believe that it was mistaken, and it was rude, and it was the key move that caused the ruckus. It appears that it was after this point (and Sgt. Crowley’s reported repeated refusal to properly identify himself) that Prof. Gates began to have a clear apprehension of racism on the part of Sgt. Crowley. One might legitimately ask if Sgt. Crowley would have followed Prof. Pinker or Prof. Greenblatt into his own house.

    Now, you've suggested repeatedly that Sgt. Crowley had some idea of sweeping the house for burglers or some such nonsense. Do you have any other suggestions as for legitimate reasons for Sgt. Crowley to follow Prof. Gates into his house? And do you think he would have done the same for Prof. Pinker or Prof. Greenblatt?

    I dont think there is any issue

    regarding Crowley in the house. The Issue with Gates was that Crowley was trying to talk to him in the first place and Gates did not want to talk to him. Gates knew no one broke into the house but had no clue that a cop might not know that. Its this miscommunication that led to everything.

    1) Crowley could have

    By on

    1) Crowley could have followed Gates into the house to make sure that he didn't pick up a weapon on the way to picking up his ID. Remember the door was open (don't think Crowley knew the door was hard to close)
    2) Crowley would have followed Gates if he had been black, white, green or blue.
    3) Gates was belligerent upon seeing Crowley.

    I'm a white person. I don't

    By on

    I'm a white person. I don't know about the rest of you white people but I wake up every day and try to find ways to harass people who don't look like me. It doesn't matter if I could lose my job if I'm caught doing it, I still do everything in my power to harass and bother people who aren't white. I even see white people doing the wrong thing and blame black people for it because it makes me happy. All day long all that goes through my head is "How can I bother a black person today?"

    the woman who called 911

    By on

    It will be interesting to see if the Harvard employee who called 911 will find herself unemployed soon. If Gates claims that he is a victim of racial discrimination by a fellow Harvard employee, then is that not grounds for termination?

    The MOST inflammatory Colbert-esqe statement yet.

    How much longer will white Cambridge police Sargents have to endure the jackboot of elderly black Harvard professors and their black Harvard law school lawyers?

    But seriously, the public disorderly charges didn't stick?

    Get a grip

    By on

    Seriously people, debating the merits of who opened the door when and who asked who in what order is kinda beside the point. I'm white but even I can clearly see that the cop was overly suspicious and the professor was overly defensive. But why shouldn't Gates get his back up immediately? He's probably dealt with this many times before, and was at the end of his rope. True story: in Brighton not too long ago I was about to leave the house with a black male friend to walk my dog (yes, admittedly it was a pit bull). My friend walked out the door first and as soon as he hit the sidewalk a cop drives up, stops at the curb, gets out and demands to know who he is, where he lives, what he's doing there, is the dog licensed, etc. My friend naturally got mad as hell because all he was doing was STANDING ON THE SIDEWALK. The cops didn't appreciate his attitude, big surprise there. Long story short, me and my (white) boyfriend came out of the house and intervened and managed to de-escalate the situation. Incidentally my b.f. walks the exact same dog on the exact same street several times a day year after year and has never been hassled by cops. Anyone want to guess why? So yeah I can see how if I were Gates I wouldn't knuckle under and do some kind of "yes, sir, no sir" routine. I'd protest loudly. The moral of the story: you can't give cops attitude, especially if you're black. It's not illegal, but they can still apparently arrest you for it.