Racial profiling vs. the benefit of the doubt

gatesyell_01As much as I want to side with Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his case against the Cambridge police, from what has been released, it seems as if he had as much to do with the escalation of events that occurred. Putting myself in the shoes of Sgt. James Crowley, he was called to the site of a potential breaking and entering. Walking into that situation must be tense. Crowley walked into an additional hornets nest of race. Black men in America are not used to getting the benefit of the doubt.  That is the big difference between how this was handled if Gates was a white professor from Harvard. Getting the benefit of the doubt is the difference. Think of it this way – think if Crowley walked in on a pretty blonde trying to get into her house; he probably would help her. Gates probably assumed he wasn’t going the get that benefit. I understand why he might feel that way, but it doesn’t help matters. Racial profiling works both ways – assuming the white cop is out to get you is not going to get you very far. I hate to say it, but a lot of cops are about power and respect – yes sirs go a long way.

That said…

Once it was determined that Gates did live there, why didn’t Crowley eat crow, apologize for the mistake and get out? “Loud and tumultuous behavior in a public place” doesn’t seem like something you get arrested for. The arrest was made to make a point; to reinforce who was in charge. You have to wonder why you can’t be “loud and tumultuous” in your own home? Would the white professor have been allowed to be more “loud and tumultuous”?

Based on any account you read, it appears that there were plenty of mistakes on both sides. A fact that should have lead President Obama to steer clear of this controversy instead of picking sides. I appreciate his honesty, but even I waited until I had a little more information.

One more thing – the woman that called the “burglary” in must be feeling horrible. She did the right thing, but she has to wonder if there were two white men, would she have called the police?

Or would she have given them the benefit of the doubt?

BTW – before the police start getting too high and mighty – I’ll point them to the case in Philadelphia getting a lot of press where a police officer harrassed a woman, putting a gun to her neck, after the officer’s son hit the woman’s car in a car accident. The lack of trust on the behalf of the public towards the police is well earned. A history of abusing the considerable power they have over you and I has made it a “them versus us” relationship not withstanding all they do for the public.

I hate Boston

First off, let me apologize in advance for my friends that live and/or grew up in Boston – you can’t help it; I still love you guys.

Anyway – after watching the umpteenth ESPN report on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriot I’ve finally had it.   Actually I probably had it this past summer when the Yankees vs. Red Sox reduced the rest of the civilized world to afterthoughts; or maybe when the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to save Danny Ainge’s job.   Yes the Boston sports teams are good, but do I have to hear about them every waking moment?   It seems that we went from the Boston media whining about “The Curse” to being totally inundated with Boston is great sports stories 24/7.   Yes, the adulation is deserved, their teams are on a run that is ridiculous, but the national media too often seems like national means New York and Boston and some other cities.

Take this weekend’s game versus the Jets.   The Patriots are 3 touchdown plus favorites to win   This is a game that no one should be paying attention to.   But add a little spygate redux and the game is dominating the NFL coverage on ESPN.   It’s a game that no one should care about, but ESPN tells us we should.   Wait until the Patriots play the Dolphins – undefeated vs. winless – we’ll be hearing about that all week.   It’s just too much.

I think part of the problem is that too many of the writers, editors, researchers, etc. come from the Boston area and are fans of the teams there.   They have succeeded in making Boston the center of the known universe (or at least broadcasting their belief that that is so).   So essentially we get incomplete sports coverage shoved down our throats.   I remember when ESPN was actually good;   when it wasn’t just slam dunk, “booya”, touchdown, “jacked up”,   HR, “en fuego”.   Now it’s just about creating stories and whoring products.   And if the stories just happen to showcase a Boston team – then all the better.

Yes some of this is sour grapes.   I live here in Philadelphia where our sports teams basically suck.   We’re in a streak that makes the Red Sox curse a non-story .   25 years without one of 4 teams winning a championship – multiply that out and you get a 100 seasons of futility. Yet I don’t see Will Smith producing a documentary whining about it like Ben Afleck did.

Anyway, I guess it could be worse; the Bruins could win something.