Can Prejudice Be Justified?
NBA Basketball Player, Oklahoma City Thunder
By now everyone has heard of the incident that occurred with Professor Henry Louis Gates and officer James Crowley of the Cambridge Police department. Just to recap, a woman calls the police to inform them that two black men are breaking into a house. The police end up arresting a Harvard professor at his own house for disorderly conduct. At his own house. President Barack Obama calls the actions taken by the Cambridge police "stupid," the officers apparently get offended and return with criticism that the President commented without knowing all of the facts. As if there was a missing piece of evidence that supported arresting a man for breaking into his own house and citing the reason for the arrest as disorderly conduct.
President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Joseph McMillan stated:Once Gates was identified as the lawful resident of the house, the police contact should have ended.
Sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Officer Crowley, in describing the chain of events, explains that Professor Gates was arrested after he proved to him that it was indeed his house, showed the proper identification, and began to become in Crowley's words "disorderly." I guess he expected bygones to be bygones, and to receive an invite for some donuts and maybe a good laugh at the absurdity of being detained or even questioned for breaking into one's own house. Or maybe Crowley expected Gates to say something along the lines of, "Oh, that's O.K. Mr. Police Officer, I know you were just doing your job and the fact that you treated me like a common criminal despite the fact that I am a Harvard Professor with numerous honorary degrees, widely considered one of the nation's foremost authority on black culture, didn't even bother me. Thank you for keeping our streets safe."
To add insult to injury, Crowley has proclaimed that he will not apologize because he feels he did nothing wrong. This father of three (not sure why articles keep pointing that out so I decided to reiterate) and police academy instructor on the dangers of racial profiling, who the Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas describes as "a stellar member of the department," who Academy director Thomas Fleming calls "a good role model," described by his colleagues as an overall wonderful human being, told the Herald, "I just have nothing to apologize for, it will never happen."( Collapse )
Even if the case with Professor Gates turns out to be more the clash of egos than racism, the last line of this article is so, so true.
There is a big, big problem with the cops not
having to face responsibility for their own wrong doings and instead circling the wagons to protect their own. Racist or no, Crowley was in the wrong and should apologize. But sadly, I doubt he will.
And I daresay nearly every single Black man in America has had problems with the cops like Eton Thomas wrote about--in my own family, there was a 'pulled over by the cops' story time at one family reunion, where all
the men were talking about all the times they've been pulled over by the police (including my big brother telling one where he got as far as the first line--"Well, me and my friend Jarell were driving through Mississippi..." before all of us started laughing our asses off and saying "Well, THERE was your problem right there!") We were all laughing because there are some damned good storytellers in my family and it was all done with a light, funny touch, but the sad fact is, ALL of them had these stories: my dad, my brother, my cousins, extended family, all of them, as well as the resignation of it to being a part of life.