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Thread: Black scholar's arrest raises profiling questions

  1. #106
    Elite Member MrsMarsters's Avatar
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    So would be the nut or racist in all this? I wonder what her intentions were.

  2. #107
    Elite Member cupcake's Avatar
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    Obama invited the cop to the Whitehouse for a beer. Do you think he will accept or decline? Hmmm
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  3. #108
    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Well, the cop asked Obama to tell the media to get off his lawn. So, who knows?

    But it might be a good idea if Gates & the cop Crowley go and meet with Obama.

  4. #109
    Elite Member cupcake's Avatar
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    I wish they would and hopefully put an end to all of this. I hate all of this dividedness
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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Well, maybe after they have a beer at the White House they can hug it out and we can start talking about healthcare again.

    Although if there's one silver lining in this clusterfuck, it's a reality check for the people that think we're living in a 'post-racial America.'

  6. #111
    Elite Member cupcake's Avatar
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    So true...and maybe they can share a case of that beer and all will for sure be ok with them
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  7. #112
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmmdee View Post
    I know personally I would be pissed if someone told me they were looking into me breaking into my own house. Not cool.
    On the flip, it's not a good idea to lip off to a cop.
    Add to that nothing was filmed and I don't get how his own neighbors didn't know who he was and called the cops.

    It wasn't his neighbour. It was some random woman walking down the street.

    Quote Originally Posted by mamaste View Post
    Which is why he wasn't arrested in the house. They couldn't.

    No matter how non-racist you think you are, unless you have made a conscious decision to unlearn racism, it will creep in from time to time. Understanding how you view people different from you is an important part of that process. Understanding how you view your race is an important part, too. Understanding how that changes the perception of those not like you is very important. If you don't unlearn racism, you'll spend your time looking for ways to make racist situations about anything other than race, which belittles the experience of those that are on the receiving end.
    He was arrested. He was taken from his house in cuffs.

    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    Well, maybe after they have a beer at the White House they can hug it out and we can start talking about healthcare again.

    Although if there's one silver lining in this clusterfuck, it's a reality check for the people that think we're living in a 'post-racial America.'
    Agree about the reality check and hope they have that beer. Maybe that's what we need: Obama to sit down will everyone over a beer and help them sort out their grievances. He is remarkably prgmatic.
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  8. #113
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Hmmm...just found this interesting take on the situation:

    The Henry Louis Gates situation is mainly a distraction, where the media has decided to document a sideshow instead of the hundreds of millions of people struggling every day with substandard health care coverage.

    But there's also a serious policy component. Policemen should not be allowed to arrest someone for being an asshole in their own home. If that was the case, right-wing bloggers would all be doing 10-20. It appears clear, and I guess there may be audio tape to this effect, that the cop came to Gates' house, figured out that he was not a burglar, words were exchanged, and then the cop arrested him for disorderly conduct. That's really over the line of what cops should be allowed to do, regardless of the motivations, racial or otherwise.

    The crime of disorderly conduct, beloved by cops who get into arguments with citizens, requires that the public be involved. Here's the relevant law from the Massachusetts Appeals Court, with citations and quotations omitted:

    The statute authorizing prosecutions for disorderly conduct, G.L. c. 272, 53, has been saved from constitutional infirmity by incorporating the definition of "disorderly" contained in 250.2(1)(a) and (c) of the Model Penal Code. The resulting definition of "disorderly" includes only those individuals who, "with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof ... (a) engage in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or ... (c) create a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.' "Public" is defined as affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access.

    The lesson most cops understand (apart from the importance of using the word "tumultuous," which features prominently in Crowley's report) is that a person cannot violate 272/53 by yelling in his own home.

    Read Crowley's report and stop on page two when he admits seeing Gates's Harvard photo ID. I don't care what Gates had said to him up until then, Crowley was obligated to leave. He had identified Gates. Any further investigation of Gates' right to be present in the house could have been done elsewhere. His decision to call HUPD seems disproportionate, but we could give him points for thoroughness if he had made that call from his car while keeping an eye on the house. Had a citizen refused to leave Gates' home after being told to, the cops could have made an arrest for trespass.

    But for the sake of education, let's watch while Crowley makes it worse. Read on. He's staying put in Gates' home, having been asked to leave, and Gates is demanding his identification. What does Crowley do? He suggests that if Gates wants his name and badge number, he'll have to come outside to get it. What? Crowley may be forgiven for the initial approach and questioning, but surely he should understand that a citizen will be miffed at being questioned about his right to be in his own home. Perhaps Crowley could commit the following sentences to memory: "I'm sorry for disturbing you," and "I'm glad you're all right."

    Spoiling for a fight, Crowley refuses to repeat his name and badge number. Most of us would hand over a business card or write the information on a scrap of paper. No, Crowley is upset and he's mad at Gates. He's been accused of racism. Nobody likes that, but if a cop can't take an insult without retaliating, he's in the wrong job. When a person is given a gun and a badge, we better make sure he's got a firm grasp on his temper. If Crowley had called Gates a name, I'd be disappointed in him, but Crowley did something much worse. He set Gates up for a criminal charge to punish Gates for his own embarrassment.

    By telling Gates to come outside, Crowley establishes that he has lost all semblance of professionalism. It has now become personal and he wants to create a violation of 272/53. He gets Gates out onto the porch because a crowd has gathered providing onlookers who could experience alarm. Note his careful recitation (tumultuous behavior outside the residence in view of the public). And please do not overlook Crowley's final act of provocation. He tells an angry citizen to calm down while producing handcuffs. The only plausible question for the chief to ask about that little detail is: "Are you stupid, or do you think I'm stupid?" Crowley produced those handcuffs to provoke Gates and then arrested him. The decision to arrest is telling. If Crowley believed the charge was valid, he could have issued a summons. An arrest under these circumstances shows his true intent: to humiliate Gates.

    The cop baited the guy into leaving the house so he could arrest him for making a cop feel bad.

    I appreciate the work of law enforcement. But regardless of race, too many cops have the belief that if they get insulted, they have the right to turn that into an arresting offense. That's not the law whatsoever, nor should it be. It creates a chilling effect among the public not to call out bad behavior in law enforcement or raise your voice in any way. I know we're all supposed to believe that cops are saintly, but I live in LA. Police misconduct happens all the time, and we should be vigilant when it does.

    Instead, the media takes the soccer ball and chases it into the corner, without any semblance of factual records or perspective. It becomes an emotional argument instead of a factual record of misconduct. We pay cops with tax money. We should not risk arrest when arguing with them.Crooks and Liars
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  9. #114
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buttmunch View Post
    Hmmm...just found this interesting take on the situation:
    Indeed, VERY interesting.
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  10. #115
    Gold Member mamaste's Avatar
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    The cop baited the guy into leaving the house so he could arrest him for making a cop feel bad.
    Butt, this is exactly what I meant. They couldn't arrest him in the house. That's why he tricked him into going outside.

    ETA: I've had a cop (or two) try that crap on me. Once I was actually arrested, but the whole thing was dropped because I didn't break any laws.

  11. #116
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Friday, July 24, 2009

    The Frenzy begins

    by digby

    Following up on dday's post below, can I just ask if those of you who are older than 35 or so are getting that strange familiar feeling? You know the one, where the media are suddenly hostile to the president, the Democrats are running for the hills and the country is confused and doesn't know what to think? The one where cable news gets obsessed with manufactured wingnut shitstorms designed to distract and diminish the president's stature and sap his political capital just when he needs it the most? We've seen this movie before, haven't we?

    It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that we are seeing a rather sudden attention being paid to race. First, our black president nominated a Hispanic woman to the Supreme court. That got the right wing noise machine all hyped up about "reverse discrimination" a concept which began seeping into the mainstream almost immediately. Then we suddenly have a lot of attention being paid to the Birthers, out of the blue. It's not like they haven't been around for a while, but on the heels of the Sotomayor discussion, we are hearing a whole lot about them --- and their claims are being aired over and over and over again on mainstream TV (even as they are being refuted.) Hmmmmm. Now we have the president having the temerity to suggest that the arrest of a black man for disorderly conduct in his own home was handled "stupidly," which has sent the media into a frenzy the likes of which we haven't seen since Jeremiah Wright.

    Indeed, I heard a TV commentator suggest this morning that this one comment may be the reason for the death of health care reform because it sucked the air out of the conversation. The fact that it's the media which is doing the sucking doesn't seem to occur to anyone.

    This is quintessential village behavior. They are being drawn into a right wing noise machine meme --- and they are more than eager to go there. The health care debate is costing Obama some serious political capital and the mushy Dems are predictably getting restless. The villagers smell blood. When that happens, the wingnuts are always at the ready with some juicy, emotion laden trivia for the kewl kids to latch on to to make the narrative of impending failure really sing. And that brings us to the sexy stuff about "wise latinas" and police behaving "stupidly" and the weird idea that our black president isn't really an American at all.

    Race was always going to be the underlying issue in this presidency. This country didn't magically shed its racial baggage in 2008 no matter how much everyone wanted to pretend it did. (The Jeremiah Wright episode should have given us a clue as to what would happen if Obama ever strayed too far into the black identity.) The villagers were all thrilled that we had the first black president. But it was quite clear to me that what they really loved was their own "enlightened" self-image. Cokie and Sally Quinn and their friends down at the beauty parlor were very pleased with themselves for being so post-racial that they didn't even "see" race anymore. As long as Obama didn't start to be too "black" that is.

    We saw the first inklings of a change among the Villagers with Matthews and his laughable class identification with the litigious firefighter in New Haven. Since villagers all see themselves as working class white ethnics already (even as they plan their summer vacations in their multi-million dollar vacation homes in Nantucket) this handy narrative really got the ball rolling. Sotomayor and the Birthers and now Gates are all gelling into a narrative about Obama's "race problem" and we are seeing the veil of racial tolerance among the Villagers slipping.

    Obama's "problem," as it is for all Democratic presidents, is that he is allegedly "out of step" with the people --- like Matthews and his firefighter brothers, and that cop in Cambridge and Rush and other Real Americans who are upset about how "liberal" he's being with his tax 'n spend health reform and the horrible deficits and his defense of loudmouthed black professors who are no better than they ought to be. You can feel the Big Money, the right wing noise machine and the Village all starting to find their collective voice and take control.

    You can blame Obama for walking into the lion's maw, as I'm hearing many of his allies do today --- liberals always blamed Clinton for failing to be perfect too. But believe me, there's no way to avoid this stuff when the frenzy begins. Once they smell blood they always find something.
    Hullabaloo

  12. #117
    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    The villagers were all thrilled that we had the first black president. But it was quite clear to me that what they really loved was their own "enlightened" self-image. Cokie and Sally Quinn and their friends down at the beauty parlor were very pleased with themselves for being so post-racial that they didn't even "see" race anymore. As long as Obama didn't start to be too "black" that is.
    Couldn't agree more. While you may have some whites who are happy with Obama as long as he doesn't become 'too black' you have some blacks who take issue with Obama if he becomes 'too white.'

    This is why during the campaign when people kept saying Obama should get angry I knew that was a bad idea because he would get painted as 'the angry black man.' Which is what Rush and the right-wingers are trying to do with the Gates & Sotomayor situations.

    That's why I was glad this incident happened, so it could end all of this 'post racial' nonsense. We're never going to be a 'post-racial' society until EVERY race examines their own view of themselves and their view of other races in comparison to their own race.

  13. #118
    Silver Member oltifreakinbaby's Avatar
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    I really dislike police officers. Maybe it's just a personal thing. I have NEVER had a good experience with a police officer. I've never been arrested or anything like that, but I've never liked their conduct. The police were called to my house a month or so ago because of a disturbance (while I was at work) on a VERY private family matter. When they were about to leave, my neighbor asked them what had happened and they told her EVERYTHING. That made me sooooo mad because if I had been there, I would've gotten their badge numbers and filed a complaint.


    Another time, my little sister almost got kidnapped. My mom called the police (despite me telling her it was no use), and they came and did NOTHING. And when I told the officer to please leave because he was of no help to us, he got angry at me. He filed the report and was just hanging around. My mom had made dinner and he was asking what it was and stuff. I politely told him that we were tired and if he would please leave.


    Not to mention all the times police officers have hit on me, despite being a minor. I really don't like them. They all seem to have an inferiority complex or something because they think just because they have the badge that they can do what they want and act superior to someone else. I will not be bullied by anyone, police officer or not.

  14. #119
    Elite Member BITTER's Avatar
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    I've met some good cops, and lots of bad ones. I try to tell myself that their job makes them the way that they are because of the number of dirtballs they have to deal with, but frankly, a lot of them are assholes out of the womb, and their job only brings out the worst in them that was already there in the first place.

  15. #120
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    I thought this was a good essay on the Gates incident, particularly on the police:
    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Gatesgate

    by digby

    I have been reluctant to really delve into the Gates story because well ... it just seems so obvious. And it's clear that it's just taking the wingnut bait. But since I write often about police abuse of power, particularly with tasers, some readers seem to be interested in a larger discussion of this incident so here goes.

    First, I think that there is obviously a racial component here, but I don't see it as classic "profiling" at least in the traditional sense that someone is targeted for a police stop solely because of their race. The circumstance as I understand them are that the police responded to a call of a possible burglary with two black suspects. The idea that they wouldn't have responded to that call if the description had been two white suspects is not believable. It's what happened after that fits the racial narrative.

    One racial component is the reflexive angry defensiveness that white people often feel at being called racist when they don't believe (rightly or wrongly) that they are. This cop, a man who we are told teaches other cops how to avoid racial profiling, may have felt he was being unfairly targeted as a racist and he got angry. The "angry black man" syndrome, whereby blacks' sensibilities in such situations are discounted as being a "chip on the shoulder" or somehow a function of an inherently angry temperament adds to the mix. Black people are assumed to be "dangerous" in situations where whites get the benefit of the doubt. I really don't think that's debatable.

    Having said that, to me, this situation actually has far broader implications about all citizens' relationship to the police and the way we are expected to respond to authority, regardless of race. I've watched too many taser videos over the past few years featuring people of all races and both genders being put to the ground screaming in pain, not because they were dangerous or threatening and not because they were so out of control there was no other way to deal with them, but because they were arguing with police and the officer perceived a lack of respect for the badge.

    I have discovered that my hackles automatically going up at such authoritarian behavior is not necessarily the common reaction among my fellow Americans, not even my fellow liberals. The arguments are usually something along the lines of "that guy was an idiot to argue with the cops, he should know better," which is very similar to what many are saying about Gates. He has even been criticized for being a "bad role model," thus putting young black kids at risk if they do the same things.

    Now, on a practical, day to day level, it's hard to argue that being argumentative with a cop is a dangerous thing. They have guns. They can arrest you and can cost you your freedom if they want to do it badly enough. They can often get away with doing violence on you and suffer no consequences. You are taking a risk if you provoke someone with that kind of power, no doubt about it.

    Indeed, it is very little different than exercising your right of free speech to tell a gang of armed thugs to go fuck themselves. It's legal, but it's not very smart. But that's the problem isn't it? We shouldn't have to make the same calculations about how to behave with police as we would with armed criminals. The police are supposed to be the good guys who follow the rules and the law and don't expect innocent citizens to bow to their brute power the same way that a street gang would do. The police are not supposed wield what is essentially brute force on the entire population.

    And yet, that's what we are told we are supposed to accept. Not only can they arrest us merely for being argumentative as they did with Gates, they are now allowed to shoot us full of electricity to make us comply with their demands to submit.

    There is a philosophical underpinning to all this that I am only beginning to fully understand. It was discussed in this very interesting guest post over at Crooked Timber by a police officer and philosopher who went through the various elements of the case and offered his perspective. Much of what he wrote was very thought provoking and made me think a bit about my reflexive recoil against police behaviors in so many of these situations. But some of what he wrote reinforced my belief that something has gone wrong:
    The judgments of policing are obviously difficult and subjective, and are often marred when they are made in the face of people issuing inflammatory comments even as the police are rendering routine services with an obvious cause. It is in the collective interest of citizens and police to promote an environment where the police can conduct an investigation calmly and with mutual respect. It cannot become commonplace for people to be allowed to scream at the police in public, threatening them with political phone calls, deriding their abilities, etc. Routine acts like rendering aid to lost children, taking accident reports and issuing traffic violations could be derailed at any time by any person who has a perceived grievance with the police. The police service environment is not the best venue for the airing of such grievances.
    This is a form of blackmail similar to the CIA threatening to let terrorists kill us if they are held accountable for lawbreaking. It says that the police will not be willing to rescue lost children if they have to put up with yelling citizens. That is an abdication of their duties and the idea that they should then be given carte blanche to shut up all citizens by means of arrest, because it creates a social environment where someone might cause a distraction in the future, is Orwellian double talk.

    And it makes a mockery of the first amendment. If police are to be shielded from public criticism when they are acting in their official capacity then we have an authoritarian state. If yelling at the authorities is a crime then we do not have free speech.

    He goes on:
    The police should not be cowed by threats of phone calls to people such as mayors, police chiefs and presidents of the United States, along with allegations that “you don’t know who you’re messing with.” It is traditionally whites who have had this type of crooked access and influence. These appeals to higher authorities are often meant to exempt the ruling castes from following the rules and laws that the rest of the community will be expected to follow. It happens, it is unfortunate, and it is not in the interests of justice for it to continue. Nobody trying to do their job fairly deserves to hear the equivalent of “My daddy donated fifty million to this university, and you’ll be getting calls from everywhere in the administration about raising my grade enough for this class to count as a distributive requirement.”
    It is very rude of citizens to do that, to be sure. But it is not a crime. The idea that people should not get angry, should not pull rank, should be rude to others is an issue for sociologists and Miss Manners, not the cops. Humans often behave badly, but that doesn't make it illegal. For people with such tremendous power as police officers to be coddled into thinking that these are behaviors that allow them to arrest people (or worse) seems to be to far more dangerous than allowing a foolish person or two to set a bad example in the public square.

    He continues:
    It is possible for a person to commit disorderly conduct by unabated screaming and verbal abuse in a public setting. Without drawing conclusions about the Gates case, there comes some point where a person is genuinely causing public alarm, and where he is acting with a rage that exceeds what we can expect from a reasonable person in a heated moment. The mere presence of the police conducting a legitimate investigation should not provoke continuous rage and epithets from such a person. One response is that the police should just leave if the investigation has been conducted successfully, and that this will calm the person down. In practice, this is indeed often the best thing to do. On the other hand, it should be noted that it is just as much the responsibility of the citizen to see that his actions are an inappropriate way to relate to police officers who have not, in the specific case at hand, acted unreasonably. This point may be hotly contested, but I believe it is true: there is no obligation for the police to hurry in their activities or to leave as soon as possible because they have incited the rage of a person who is acting unreasonably. There is a distinction between hanging around to show them who’s boss and working at a steady, professional pace, to be sure. But in the end the mere presence of the police cannot be seen as an acceptable reason for disorderly conduct, and should therefore not spur the police to leave a scene simply to de-escalate it. A police strategy of “winning by appearing to lose” emboldens citizens to attempt to get the police to lose in more and more serious matters, including walking away from situations where a person is genuinely guilty of a crime.
    At this point we are seeing a tipping in the other direction. Police are emboldened when they repeatedly get away with using bullying, abusive tactics against average citizens who have not been convicted of any crimes. This is the kind of thing that results:
    Police say they struggled to get inside the home to speak with the man. When police managed to get inside the home, the suspect was placed in handcuffs. The complainant alleged that he was Tased three times by police - once to his wrist, the second to the small of his back and the third to his buttocks.

    The ombudsman's report states that the suspect was tased only two times after an investigation. One of those tases, however, was in the buttocks.

    The use of force "was after he was handcuffed," said Ombudsman Pierce Murphy. "And it was in the most senstive, private areas, and accompanied by threats."

    The suspect can be heard pleading to the police several times that he couldn't breathe when officers were on top of him.

    "I can't breathe - just let me up, I want to breathe," he says.

    The officer quickly replied, "If you're talking - you're breathing."

    The report also states that the officers used excessive language.

    "If you move again, I'm going to stick this Taser up your (expletive) and pull the trigger," the complaint said. "Now, do you feel this in your (expletive)? - I'm going to tase your (expletive) if you move again."
    It was determined that the cop had the taser literally pushed up against the man's anus.

    In an earlier portion of his essay on Crooked Timber, the officer talked about how we need to allow police to have discretion and explained that it works as often as not in the favor of the suspect as a matter of common sense. (Police often let people go with a warning, for instance, rather than adhere strictly to the letter of the law.) And that's reasonable.

    But when it comes to race we've got a terrible history of discretion not being extended in favor of blacks --- and the increased use of tasers is turning this concept of discretion into a license to torture. A policeman using his discretion to arrest a man in his own home because he was not deferential enough is just one more incident along a long road of creeping authoritarianism.

    I said the other night that I thought Gates was lucky he didn't get tased and I really think he was. People all over this country are "subdued" by means of electricity every day, probably more blacks than whites, but it doesn't seem to be particularly limited to race. We are accepting this kind of thing as if it's just an inevitability because of the attitudes this police officer very thoughtfully lays out in his essay: we are told that we must defer to authority or risk all hell breaking loose.

    And I would suggest that it is just that attitude that led to people in this country recently endorsing unilateral illegal invasions, torture of prisoners and the rest. You remember the line --- "the constitution isn't a suicide pact." To which many of us replied with the old Benjamin Franklin quote: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    The principles here are the same. Sure, we should treat the cops with respect and society shouldn't encourage people to be reflexively hostile to police. They have a tough job, and we should all be properly respectful of people who are doing a dangerous and necessary job for the community. But when a citizen doesn't behave well, if not illegally, as will happen in a free society, it is incumbent upon the police, the ones with the tasers and the handcuffs and the guns, to exercise discretion wisely and professionally. And when they don't, we shouldn't make excuses for them. It's far more corrosive to society to allow authority figures to abuse their power than the other way around.

    Henry Louis Gates may have acted like a jackass in his house that day. But Sergeant Crowley arresting him for being "tumultuous" was an abuse of his discretion, a fact which is backed up by the fact that the District Attorney used his discretion to decline to prosecute. Racially motivated or not he behaved "stupidly" and the president was right to say so.


    * And by the way, if anyone wants to see some real incoherence on this subject, consult the right wingers who are defending the policeman today, but who also believe that anyone has the right to shoot first and ask questions later if they "feel" threatened in their own home. By their lights, Gates should have been arrested for behaving "tumultuously" but would have been within his rights to shoot Sgt Crowley. This is why conservatives have no standing to discuss anything more complicated than Sarah Palin's wardrobe.

    digby 7/24/2009 07:30:00 PM

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