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President: Cambridge police acted stupidly

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He wasn't saying "I'll talk to your momma", he was saying "you'll hear from Obama".

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I was always taught, by my parents and by campus safety sources, to never let a "police officer" into my house or room or office unless I recognized them or that officer identified himself or herself. This was because there were a number of "fake cop" rapes, murders, and home invasions during that crime wave known as the 1980s.

If Officer Crowley refused to or failed to properly identify himself, doesn't that make his actions a home invasion?

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It's a home invasion if he's not a police officer.

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He is required to identify himself.

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And that is one of the he said/he said parts of this case - you'll recall Crowley wrote he did identify himself.

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...he can also say that "I'm a police officer" which counts as identification. It's also "impersonating a police officer" if he isn't one.

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Gates should not have been so cooperative in allowing Officer Crowley entrance into his house as he went to obtain his ID at Officer Crowley's request.

Since Gates did not affirmatively deny Crowley permission to enter, and since the door was open, Crowley could enter.

Next time, Crowley will know to ask the officer for identification before he cooperates with the officer of the law. What is astonishing is Crowley's non-responsiveness to Gates after Gates was so clearly responsive to (and trusting of) to Crowley.

Did not Gates follow Crowley out on the porch demanding his name and badge number? Why would he feign that Crowley did not already provide it? That makes no sense.

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Because his story would sound a lot less sympathetic if he didn't.

Assuming that Crowley didn't give his badge number.

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You're assuming Gates has a motive to look sympathetic to people on the sidewalk. Gates followed the officer outside demanding he give his name and badge number. Crowley said he tried but couldn't because Gates interrupted him, which I find to be an improbable claim. In that case, what Gates would have said was, when I gave it to him, he was yelling so he didn't hear me; as opposed to I couldn't becuase Gates was yalling.

If Gates rights were violated, it wasn't becuase the cop didn't respond to his question so this issue is not central to a cause of action but it is telling about what actually went down.

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Gates was pissed off, and most likely verbally combative.

I can see a likely scenario where Crowley couldn't get a word in, before others started to gather.

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by definition in MA law requires that a violent act happen or threaten to happen in order for it to be a home invasion.

Tresspassing would be the charge but police are exempt from trespassing laws.

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A uniformed police officer, wearing a badge and all other ID that goes w the uniform, arriving in a marked police cruiser, and who most likely identified himself as "Cambridge PD" when he knocked on the door, is not "failing to properly identify himself."

There may be some question as to whether he failed to provide his name and # when asked, but that is a different issue.

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Why would you let a cop in your home AT ALL?

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Because your front door is broken and you can't stop him.

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This video is front page on myfoxboston.com? Didn't these idiots play "So You Think You Can Dance?" instead of the press conference? Suddenly they give a damn?

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I know it's a line we hear a lot in situations involving diversity matters, but it fits here: To gain understanding, try to walk in another person's shoes.

Well, I'm listening to what Skip Gates is saying, and I'm listening to the stunningly sharp-edged closing remark by President Obama at the end of his press conference, and I think I understand where the anger comes from.

I believe this incident is pressing a lot of painful buttons among high-achieving African American men, who -- at least if we go by statistics -- have truly overcome the odds to be where they are. What happened with the Cambridge Police is a painful reminder to them that no matter how much they achieve, they are THISFAR from being arrested, cuffed, and photographed for a mug shot on the most petty and bogus of matters.

That wasn't "President" Obama saying the Cambridge Police "acted stupidly." That was an African-American man, gifted and successful in so many ways, betraying -- if only via a line at a press conference -- his own sense of vulnerability.

And that is one big reason why we still have so much work to do on race in America.

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"no matter how much they achieve, they are THISFAR from being arrested, cuffed, and photographed for a mug shot" (You left out four words) "because they are black."

Gates promptly went to the kitchen to get his ID at the cops request. I think this demonstrates his level of cooperation with Officer Crowley. I think we can agree that Gates felt he was not getting the same consideration (respect) from Crowley when he asked him for his identification. Gates anger at Crowley is what caused him to raise the question of race. If I were to take some steps in Gates' shoes, I too would wonder why Gates felt no impulse to provide the info. The arrest was a gratuitous, insulting, misappropriation and selfish exercise of law enforcement authority.

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Gates promptly went to the kitchen to get his ID at the cops request.

I'm not so sure about that. Yesterday, I mentally tried to reconstruct the timeline of events in Gates' house. One area of confusion I found was when Gates actually presented his identification. According to the police report, the police had to ask several times for his ID, with Gates saying "No, I will not!". According to Gates, he promptly presented it.

There's a huge grey area here, and it's really important because it's appears to be the major source of the anger in the confrontation. If he presents his ID promptly, there is little reason for confrontation. But if he's insulted being asked for an ID, perhaps gets a bit uppity, that can start a confrontation snowball. The fact that he is Henry Louis Gates, esteemed Harvard professor is irrelevant - the police need proof.

So, when was the ID presented? We don't know. When you say he "promptly" presented his ID, that's not a fact, it's your guess as to how events transpired. I prefer to stick to the facts.

Now, by no means am I excusing the Cambridge police for their actions after they found out that Gates was in his own house. The arrest is bogus and a real embarrassment to the police, and to all of us in the area.

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but from what Crowley now has said, Crowley asked Gates for an ID and Gates gave him a Harvard ID. A harvard ID does not have an address on it, so Crowley calls Harvard to confirm the address. As he is doing this on his portable radio, Gates is asking for his badge number and name. Crowley is still investaging this and cant hear his radio because gates is yelling so he goes outside.

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It appears the only six people in the New England who buy Professor Gates and his racial hate speech are here, on this blog. When 9 out of 10 comments at the freaking Boston GLOBE are backing Officer Crowley, it tells you all you need to know. Not to mention, reading the comments here makes me wonder if any of you are even aware of what happened because your claims are simply NOT fact and you're wildly distorting the story.

You want to know when we move past racism in this country? When black people stop screaming RACISM every time something happens to them.

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What I find most amazing about Obamas answer is his lack of self awareness. He is a black man that was freely elected to the most powerful posistion in the country. You would think he would get over the woe is me attitude.

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Direct and subtle racism is still a huge problem in this country, so you guys aren't hitting the right note here.

That said, this isn't a case of it. Crowley was doing what they teach officers day one; If someone is being verbally combative to an officer, is drawing a crowd, and won't calm down, arrest them before it get's out of control.

It's excessive, but it saves lives.

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If that's what they teach officers, then they are teaching officers to do something that is plainly illegal (and, as you concede, "excessive").

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Crowley arrested Gates for Contempt of Cop. It is not a Massachusetts General law but it is an unwritten rule in police departments all across the nation. It is also wrongful arrest not permitted under our Constitution.

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It's not illegal in the slightest.

It's what they charge you with for disorderly behavior /conduct, which has some leeway in it's legal definition.

It's a law to get the offender off the road, calm him down while pushing him to the court system instead of battling a cop in the street.

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These are not the same as "inside private home".

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Since there is so much confusion on this law, I am going to type out word for word how courts have intrepeted this law over the last 310 years, since the statute is older than the Constitution itself, and is worded the same as it was in 1699.

And there are 7 crimes that are derived from this statue as well including keeperof a disorderl house, disturbing the peace, lewd and lascivious conduct, annoying and accosting another sexually, indecent exposure and prostitution. All these crimes are from MA general law Ch. 272 s.53

Here is what it says from a criminal law manual I have. Court decisons have ruled that several elements are involved.

To be disorderly means that:

- cause or risk. The suspect purposefully caused or recklessly created risk;

- Public Reaction. Of public incovenience, annoyance or alarm;

- Prohibited conduct. By one of the follwowing types of conduct:

* Fighting; or
* Threating to use force; or
* Violent or tumultuous behavior; or
* Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition: By any act: Which served no legitimate purpose of the suspect.

And Comm. V. Lopiano 60 Mass. App. Ct. 723 (2004) deals with the issue of the public element of this crime.

"The public element of disorderly means that the suspect's conduct affect[s] or [is] likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access."

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There is no suggestion that Gates attacked anyone, threatened to attack anyone, did anything violent, or otherwise posed a hazard to anyone. All he did was talk. That the officer's report was careful to describe Gates' speech as "tumultous" -- meaning violent or riotous -- does not cure the problem.

(Incidentally, the fact that the statute is older than the Constitution makes no difference: the statute can't be interpreted to violate the First Amendment.)

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tumultous gets defined by a judge and the thousands of previous case laws that have already ruled on what "tumultous" means.

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Commonwealth v. Mallahan, Mass. Appeals Court, June 16, 2008:

Following his arrest for assault and battery arising out of a domestic violence incident, the defendant launched a screaming tirade at the arresting police officers. The defendant's loud yelling continued for some ten minutes, as the officers walked the defendant, in handcuffs, from an apartment toward the police cruiser. The defendant's rantings included warnings that he would sue the officers, as well as loud protestations interlaced with profanities that he had done nothing wrong, including that he never 'fucking touched that bitch.' When they reached the cruiser, the defendant stiffened his body upright. One officer placed his hand on the defendant's head in order to move the defendant into the cruiser. The defendant sat on the cruiser's seat but left his feet outside. The defendant, who recently had neck surgery, yelled that the police had hurt his neck. The officers removed the handcuffs and called the fire department. An ambulance transported the defendant to South Shore Hospital and then to Massachusetts General Hospital.

During the originating domestic violence incident, approximately six people in the housing complex had emerged from their apartments and gathered outside. As the cruisers arrived with sirens on, additional residents emerged or peered out their apartment windows. At one point, it was estimated ten persons were outside.

The defendant was charged with assault and battery for the originating domestic violence incident and with disorderly conduct for what transpired during his arrest. The defendant was acquitted of the assault and battery, but was convicted of disorderly conduct. G. L. c. 272, § 53. ...

While acknowledging the constitutional protections that surround speech, the Commonwealth asserts that the defendant's loud and angry verbal tirade rose to the criminal level of tumultuous disorderly conduct ... The Commonwealth argues that tumultuous behavior, 'while perhaps not physically violent, may nevertheless be characterized as involving riotous commotion and excessively unreasonable noise so as to constitute a public nuisance.' We conclude, however, that on the evidence presented, the defendant's loud tirade could not be prosecuted as tumultuous behavior under this definition.

The Commonwealth concedes that 'there was absolutely no evidentiary support for the hazardous or physically offensive condition prong of the statute. There was essentially no live issue at trial concerning a hazardous or physically offensive condition.' Instead, the evidence (including the testimony of the two arresting officers) showed only that the defendant verbally protested his arrest, taunted the officers with possible legal action, and railed about the officers' hurting his neck. Words alone are not sufficient to establish tumultuous conduct. The only exception for a word-predicated offense under G. L. c. 272, § 53, is for 'fighting words,' that is, words, 'which by their very utterance inflict injury or intend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.' The Commonwealth does not contend, nor could it, that the defendant's speech in this case constitutes fighting words. That the defendant's language was vulgar and unpleasant did not translate the speech into tumultuous, disorderly conduct. 'To be disorderly, within the sense of the statute, the conduct must disturb through acts other than speech; neither a provocative nor a foul mouth transgresses the statute.' '[T]he mere use of obscenities in public does not make out the crime of disorderly conduct. . . .'

The Commonwealth further argues that the defendant's nighttime eruption outside the apartment complex was noisy enough to cause people to gather and neighbors to look out their apartment windows and, as such, was extreme enough to constitute disorderly conduct. However, the mere fact that persons may be drawn to a scene because of noise and 'verbal cacophony' does not mean that a defendant has engaged in criminally tumultuous disorderly conduct. On this issue, we note that in Commonwealth v. A Juvenile, 'a crowd of approximately 100 shoppers gathered' to watch the episode. That level of crowd gathering did not qualify the juvenile's verbal tirade as tumultuous, disorderly conduct under that prong of the definition; nor did the lesser assemblage of the estimated ten or so persons who gathered outside the apartments in the instant case. (Moreover, in this case the evidence was mixed concerning the timing of onlookers gathering because certain of the onlookers came outside during the originating domestic violence incident and with the arrival of the cruisers -- both of which events preceded the defendant's arrest and loud verbal protest.)

Finally, the Commonwealth's depiction of an extreme, tumultuous event is not persuasive. In this respect, Commonwealth v. Lopiano, 60 Mass. App. Ct. 723 (2004), is instructive. In that case, the police came upon Lopiano fighting with his girlfriend in a car and ordered him to exit. Lopiano approached the police officer yelling and flailing his arms, protesting that the police were violating his civil rights. The court held this episode did not 'support a reasonable inference that 'the noise and commotion caused by the [defendant's] behavior was . . . extreme."

(For the full opinion go here and search for "Mallahan" under "Parties".)

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Using the Public Order laws to arrest a person who is loud and arguing with a cop is a violation of the persons first Amendment rights and has been held up by Federal Appeals courts in Duran v. City of Douglas.

I believe it is a common practice for a cops to decide to arrest a citizen in order to put an end to their loud argument or even insults but we all accept that to easily. We deserve better, black and white, green and red, all of us.

If Gates had done what Crowley asked, step outside, how long after Gates opens his mouth does Crowley arrest him, mostly becuase Crowley doesn't like what he hears not that Gates has broken the law by saying it?

When Gates asked Crowley if he was being targeted because he was black, (if I put myself in Gates' shoes, I think it is a reasonable question, after all, I'm in my own home) did Crowley ever think that Gates was referring to the lady with the cell phone outside or did he assumes Gates meant him?

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You've got to be kidding. Woe is me attitude? Someone who is Black or Latino is not safe in their car, not safe walking around in stores, and now they can't feel safe even in their own homes without getting hassled or arrested for nothing other than the color of their skin.

Karen Zgoda
http://www.karenzgoda.org
http://www.fussy-eater.com
http://editmymanuscript.com

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...aren't exactly a bastion of left-wing political views on any story. (Check out any political story to see what I mean.) Sounds more like callers to talk-radio than a hippie parade.

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When 9 out of 10 comments at the freaking Boston GLOBE are backing Officer Crowley, it tells you all you need to know.

No, it doesn't. 9 out of 10 Globe comments are posted by the same windmill-tilting mouthbreathers who, by mashing their hands on their keyboards, miraculously manage to produce the same ol' talking points as they've ever had. They make YouTube commenters look like the Algonquin Round Table.

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They make YouTube commenters look like the Algonquin Round Table.

I don't know how we'll gain a sufficiently distanced perspective to make a call on this, but someday an enterprising anthropologist will assess the pros and cons of Internet chatter...and I have no idea what s/he will conclude!

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The Globe summarizes the press conference.

Boston.com also has an NECN video equivalent to the one from the Fox affiliate.

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IMAGE(http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk143/nfsagan/Crowley-Gates.jpg)

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man...this makes gates look like a complete ass. and his house HAD BEEN burglarized! yet he flips out because the cop is just doing his job and investigaing a possible burglary.

'racist cop' indeed. it is incidents like this that are going to start making charges of Racism toothless. cry wolf too many times and we whites will eventually say; 'ho hum. racism.'

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...of whether the cop is "racist" (personally I'm not ready to join fellow lefties on that bandwagon), it's vital to remember that no one should take a police report at face value, assuming it is an accurate recounting of a given event.

The last time I had to complain about stolen property with the police (very recently), the report I got back was so full of errors that I gave up hope on getting any meaningful help from the police in investigating the matter.

And as a public defender many years ago in New York City, I read police reports and transcripts of police testimony that were highly implausible and at times unbelievable.

Gates' version of events may also be inaccurate. And each man could honestly believe he is telling the truth and be wrong in his recollection.

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Like you, I'm guessing the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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"Skip Gates is a dear friend. I'm sorry to hear about his experience, and I salute the Cambridge Police for dismissing the disorderly conduct charge against him. But beyond that, this isn't the time or place to toss out opinions on an incident that I did not witness. This press conference is about health care in America, a topic of overwhelming importance. We should stick to it."

Hindsight is easy, I know, but I'm guessing the President wouldn't mind a do-over as well.

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"By the time police arrived, Gates was inside and showed proof of his residency. But he did not obey Sgt. James Crowley's order to step outside, and after words were exchanged, he was arrested."

http://wbztv.com/local/Obama.gates.arrest.2.109817...

Are citizens obligated to "step outside" their own homes when requested by an officer of the law in a situation like this? I don't this so but IANAL.

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