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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama on Gates Arrest

The discussion on health care was much needed. I thought Obama did a good job of clearing up some of the threats to undermining the reform. He did approach trying to clarify peoples misperception between deficit and debt. Although I found my own attention wandering as he tried to go through it and realized, as I already had surmised, this is why it is so difficult to correct many adults narrow vision of "checkbook math". So it will be interesting to see how successful his explanation will be in explaining away conservative fears of spending more money.

I, myself, am not happy with the way things are going on health care in the Senate, as my earlier satire--below on the Senator Di suggests, I am a proponent of a single payer system. But I wanted to comment, per Mowdy's review, on the lightest and most poignant moment during Obama's question and answer period following his speech.

Addressing a reporter's question on his feelings regarding the arrest of Henry Gates earlier this week Obama first clarified that he might not be as objective as he and Mr. Gates are friends. But he gave a lot of good background on the topic. Then came "I'd be shot" as he sincerely but somewhat ambiguously stated trying to describe the situation by placing it in the context of his own life and comparing it to that the renowned scholar Henry Gates found himself in a few days ago. I am going to look on the White House website and see if I can snag a video of the whole thing (it is not up yet so I will post the link to where it will be It is worth posting just for the health care speech of course but the Gates moment just makes it worth paying attention all the way through.

I thought about writing on the topic of Mr. Gates arrest earlier but again I would like to keep this about local Greeley stuff. With Mowdy commenting frequently though I think there is an appropriate relationship between the macro and the micro here since she posted her own experiences with Greeley police just a day or so ago.

All of the text of the exchange between Obama and the reporter asking the question will probably be up in the media before the hour is out. I have posted what I could find at the moment. First here is a part of the original article from the Washington Post on the original arrest. The event happened in Cambridge, MA.

Addendum (from CNN--of course they put the most sensational headline up instead of the truly important stuff on healthcare):

"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played," Obama said Wednesday night while taking questions after a White House news conference.

Cambridge authorities dropped disorderly conduct charges against Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Tuesday.

Obama defended Gates on Wednesday night, while admitting that he may be "a little biased," because Gates is a friend.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

From the Washington Post on the original arrest:
"Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's most prominent African American scholars, was arrested last week at his home near Harvard University after trying to force open the locked front door.

According to a report by the police department in Cambridge, Mass., Gates accused police officers at the scene of being racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America." The incident was first reported by the Harvard Crimson.

Gates, the director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Studies, has been away from his home much of the summer while working on a documentary called "Faces of America," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and friend of Gates who is working as his lawyer. Gates returned from China last week and had trouble opening the front door with his key.

Gates, 58, was arrested Thursday by police looking into a possible break-in for disorderly conduct "after exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior" at his home, according to the police report. Officers said they tried to calm down Gates, who responded, "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.

Ogletree said Gates was ordered to step out of his home. He refused and was followed inside by a police officer. After showing the officer his driver's license, which includes his address, Ogletree said Gates asked: "Why are you doing this? Is it because I'm a black man and you're a white officer? I don't understand why you don't believe this is my house." Ogletree said Gates was then arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and racial harassment."

Obama: Cambridge police acted 'stupidly' in Gates arrest - National Politics Blog - Political Intelligence -
Obama: Cambridge police acted 'stupidly' in Gates arrest
Email|Link|Comments (2) Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor July 22, 2009 08:59 PM

President Obama addressed he arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his Cambridge home during his news conference tonight, saying that "anyone would be angry" and "the Cambridge police acted stupidly."

Obama prefaced his reply by saying that "I might be a little biased here" because "Skip Gates" is a friend, and by acknowledging that "I don't know all the facts."

He then recited what has been reported, and joked that if he tried to jimmy the lock at his current residence -- the White House -- "I'd get shot."

But then he went on to say that there's a long history of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. "That's just a fact," he said.

America has made progress on race relations, and his election is testimony to that, he said, but the Gates episode suggests there's still more that needs to be done to end discrimination, he said.

Comments :

3 comments to “Obama on Gates Arrest”

mowdy5gs said...

Thank you Jane for your intrest in my intrests. One obvious correction on my behalf is that Harvard in fact owns the Gates property as Gates himself is the legal resident. To further push on this subject it is more than uncanny to see this issue take even the ear of the President of our country. I decided to bring it up in an earlier post due to the personal expirience I have encountered with Greeley police as a continuation of a few other posts eluding to racial equality or lack thereof. Again what strikes me is the way police infringed upon the rights of Mr. Gates when the officer [s] had no right to be there in the first place. Then to arresst the man after identity had been established is more than outrageous it is cruel.
To me it is strikingly similar to the way I was treated by more than one officer in Greeley but rather the norm I encountered. Loud, illicit,egregious,in a parley between to citizens of this nation best describes a few of the encounters in which I made complaints. I also have recordings of charges being trumped up only to have them dimissed on scene before I was walked in circles of questioning while being threatened by a Lt. to have another officer come to the scene to write me tickets for what the Lt. observed as for some reason he was unable to do this himself [he knows why].. This was on my property. The same questions asked 5 or 6 different ways. I know few white people who are or have ever been treated this way on so called "Traffic" stops.
So to reverberate my thoughts I speak to this as I find Mr. Gates argument and comments more than plausable I find them the norm when speaking to the issue of profiling. Especially in Greeley. I would personally like to see the stats as they pertain to white officers Vs. Black officers Vs. Latinos and Women as well. Then add to it ranking positions such as Commanders, Sgt's. and Lt' Greeley.
But I digress..

Jane Paudaux from Greeley, Colorado said...

These statistics on Greeley diversity should be around. I doubt if they are on the web but they should be obtainable through the city. But keep in mind, the authorities should reflect the make-up of the city. Hence, depending on whose statistics you want to use, the force should have about a 50/50 split on hispanic/white candidates plus an officer or two that can represent other minority groups like black americans, native americans, somalians, hmong, etc. But these positions have to come open or funding has to be created for them most likely. If Greeley has all twenty year vets on the force you won't see as much diversity. The whole affirmative action debate fascinates me--and most people I know don't understand the legal basis behind it. Certainly during the Sotomayor hearings her case and its implications was distorted in the common press from both viewpoints. It would be an interesting post to dig into at some point.

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