Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested in his own home on a charge of disorderly conduct, which has since been dropped.
Gates was locked out of his own house, so he and his driver broke into it, something I am sure many people have had to do, but a call was made to the police reporting a suspected burglary. When the police arrived, Gates informed them it was his house but got belligerent when asked to show identification proving he lived there, causing the police to arrest him for loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space. The charges were dropped, but Gates accused the officers of racial profiling.
Enter Barack Obama and his two cents.
Obama turned his attention, after being questioned about it, to this specific case during his Obamacare infomercial on Weds., saying "I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. "
Obama admitted Gates was a friend, further stating "so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts."
Obama further went on to speak about racial profiling.
This opened a can of worms, which is still being talked about and to which Barack Obama himself is trying to put the lid back on the can, unsuccessfully.
In the meantime, a black officer who was at the scene, Sgt. Leon Lashley, has come out in support of the arrest, saying Gates was "acting strange."
Sgt. Leon Lashley says Gates was probably tired and surprised when Sgt. James Crowley demanded identification from him as officers investigated a report of a burglary. Lashley says Gates' reaction to Crowley was "a little bit stranger than it should have been."
Asked if Gates should have been arrested, Lashley said supported Crowley "100 percent."
Gates has said he was the victim of racial profiling.
President Barack Obama says the officers "acted stupidly." Lashley called Obama's remark "unfortunate" and said he should be allowed to take it back.
Reactions are coming out fast and furiously, with police unions now calling for an apology from Barack Obama as well as from Governor Deval Patrick, for suggesting racial profiling had anything to do with the issue.
Police unions today called on President Obama and Governor Deval Patrick to apologize to "all law enforcement personnel," saying they "deeply resent the implication" of their comments about racial profiling and the arrest of an African-American scholar last week at his home near Harvard Square.
Speaking at a press conference at the Hotel Marlowe packed with local and national media, the union officials also said that the disorderly conduct charge should not have been dropped against professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The move earlier this week to drop the charges, "was a decision made without our input," said Alan J. McDonald, a lawyer for one of the unions.
The harshest words came from Steve Killion, who identified himself as a third generation Cambridge police officer and president of the city's police patrol officers association.
"As far as the president's comments, the governor's comments, and comments that I did not hear that our mayor made, I think when the time is right they should make an apology to us," Killion said. "I think the president should make an apology to all law enforcement personnel throughout the entire country, [they] took offense to this."
Now Barack Obama, realizing that he has escalated this who issue by inserting himself into it, is trying to undo the damage he has cause and the offense that has been taken to his careless words.
"I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I wanted to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically. And I could have calibrated those words differently. And I told this to Sergeant Crowley."
"I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station. I also continue to believe, based on what I heard, that Professor Gates probably overreacted as well. My sense is you’ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved."
Sp now, supposedly, Obama has invited the arresting officer and Gates to the White House for a "beer" and everyone can play nice.
The problem here is that Gates and Obama still are trying to connect this to some racial issue that should "teach" people or help them grow, instead of simply as a case of police doing their job.
Both Gates and Obama owe the police a huge apology, not some mealy mouthed explanation of why they are injecting racial profiling and issues into this and acting surprised that they have offended police everywhere by accusing them of racial profiling when their job happens to involve a black man.
Perhaps it was not the police racially profiling anyone, but Gates and Barack Obama who are "racially profiling" the white policeman who made the arrest.