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thecalifornian.com

July 30, 2009

Racism in Gates arrest comes from more than one source

Mike Keegan

With the rest of America, I am deeply troubled by the incident involving the arrest of renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. by Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department.

However, my frustration lies not with the police but with the reaction to the incident by numerous people who think the incident was incited by race instead of the facts of the case.

For those unaware of the case, here are the facts: Sgt. Crowley was dispatched to the report of a possible burglary in progress at Gate's home.

Upon arrival, Crowley encountered Gates and questioned him regarding his presence there to which Gates responded with a tirade of racial attacks as he felt he was being targeted solely because he was black.

Although it was established that Gates was in his own home, he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, although those charges were later dropped.

First, it is the duty of the police to investigate the dispatch until such a time as the police can ensure the safety of the public is secured.

This means the police can question Gates and determine his identification and purpose for being there.

If Gates would have cooperated, the police would have been on their way; Gates chose to create a problem with his verbal attacks on the police and was arrested for public disturbance.

I can accept ignorance from Gates, director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

However, what I cannot accept is the ignorance of several others who have made it their place to comment on the event.

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons apologized on behalf of the city saying the incident was regrettable and unfortunate.

Gov. Deval Patrick said he was troubled and upset over the incident.

Finally, President Obama said "the Cambridge police acted stupidly." President Obama continued by saying, "there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement."

This is where the incident takes a ridiculous turn; if the police sergeant did his job according to the letter of the law and his department and association are supporting him and his actions, then why the public outcry about race?

It is my opinion that the only racial attacks are the ones being made by Gates, the mayor, the governor and President Obama all of whom are black.

It is disgusting and unacceptable that Obama has involved himself in this incident and made those ludicrous and ignorant comments.

It is nice to know police around the country have his support.

Let's not overlook Crowley so fast.

An 11-year veteran police officer, Crowley is a supervisor and manages the evidence room. He coaches youth basketball, baseball and softball.

Before we attack Crowley as a racist, don't forget he is the officer who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in an effort to save dying Boston Celtics star and black man Reggie Lewis after a heart attack in 1993.

Commenting on that incident, Crowley said, "I wasn't working on Reggie Lewis the basketball star. I wasn't working on a black man. I was working on another human being."

# Mike Keegan, a former police officer, lives in Salinas.

Racism in Gates arrest comes

from more than one source