Police Abuse: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry L. Gates, Jr.

Henry L. Gates, Jr.

The buzz on this story is about racism, but I see it as a case of blatant police misconduct.  I’ve been on the receiving end of cops behaving badly ~ covering their tails and closing ranks.  I know what it feels like to be rousted from my home on a false charge.  I was as incensed and livid as Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Every value I held dearly was turned on its ear in a moment that changed the course of my life.

I have been stunned that all the pundits who debate this case ad nauseam are unable to discipline themselves to walk a moment in Professor Gates’ shoes.  Anybody who has spent a lot of time in airports and on planes knows how good it feels to finally arrive home. . .especially when we don’t feel well.  Our homes are our sanctuaries and our havens.  Professor Gates’ home in Cambridge, Massachusetts is painted sunshine yellow.

The 9-1-1 tapes have been released.  If you listen to the tape, it is abundantly clear that the cops over-reacted and blamed Professor Gates for their stupidity and arrogance.  (Note:  Jason has left a YouTube video of the call in the comment section.  You can hear it and the dispatch on his web site.)

On one hand, Professor Gates is lucky to have concerned neighbors watching out for his home while he’s on the road.  His neighbor was clear:  the luggage on the porch was an indication the owner might have just returned home from a trip.

On the other hand, he’s unfortunate to live in a town where the police department will close ranks.  Bill Maher characterized it perfectly on CNN, “he was arrested for not kissing the behind of the police.”  They knew he owned the home.  Who was being threatened?  Why couldn’t the cop just walk away?

It is a sad day for liberty in our country when a disabled Harvard professor is arrested in his home after a long trip for being cranky with police.  And, it is a sadder day when the police department can’t find the grace to apologize.

4 responses to “Police Abuse: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  1. Thanks, Jason. You are more tech-savvy than I am. My readers could access the tape via the link to CNN’s web site, but this is infinitely easier.

    I’ve edited my post to encourage future readers to read your comment and listen to the tape. The Cambridge police department has toned down their arrogance on tonight’s news broadcasts. But, I’m still not hearing the apology.


  2. I’ve been following the National Police Misconduct Research Project’s (InjusticeEverywhere.com) bad cop news stories at


    for a couple of weeks now and let me tell you it is disturbing how many criminals there are with a badge and the power of the state behind them. What’s being done about this?

  3. John, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. You are right. That’s an amazing web site: http://www.injusticeeverywhere.com/

    What’s being done? Great question. Unfortunately, not much. Why?

    Three reasons. First, those lobbying about racial profiling highjack cases like Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to promote their cause.

    Second, nobody protects the wives of these abusive cops ~ abuse of power almost always starts at home. So, these women keep their mouths shut to stay alive.

    Third, the general public isn’t sufficiently informed to be outraged and demand change. I think most folks still live under the fantasy that cops are the good guys. Most are, but the rogue cops like those featured on that web site get unbelievable protection from their colleagues. That blue wall is really tough to penetrate. . .as bad as getting one doctor to rat another out another for malpractice. . .or lawyers to blow the whistle on corrupt judges.

    After Crystal Brame was murdered by her estranged husband ~ who was the chief of police in Tacoma, WA, I was certain we’d get change. But, that blue wall highjacked the political process to keep the status quo firmly in place. The politicians let them get away with it because they can count on cops to get out the vote.

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