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What is "disorderly conduct" anyway?

Here is the Massachusetts statute under which Gates was arrested, Mass. G. L. ch. 272, s. 53:

Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Here is a recent gloss by a Massachusetts court (adopting Model Penal Code s. 250.2(a)):

A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he: (a) engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.... 'Public' means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

Massachusetts courts have rejected MPC s. 250.2(b) as a violation of free speech rights. So this provision is not part of Massachusetts law:

(b) makes unreasonable noise or offensively coarse utterance, gesture or display, or addresses abusive language to any person present.

And here are some squibs:

Arrest under Massachusetts "idle and disorderly person" statute was unlawful under Massachusetts law, where defendant was arrested for yelling, screaming, swearing and generally causing a disturbance but, though the yelling was undoubtedly loud enough to attract the attention of other guests in hotel, it did not rise to level of "riotous commotion" or "public nuisance." U.S. v. Pasqualino, D.Mass.1991, 768 F.Supp. 13.

And --

Defendant who did not physically resist his arrest arising out of a domestic violence incident could not be convicted of disorderly conduct based solely on his loud and angry tirade, which included profanities, directed at police officers as he was being escorted to police cruiser, even if spectators gathered to watch defendant; defendant did not make any threats or engage in violence, and his speech did not constitute fighting words. Com. v. Mallahan (2008) 72 Mass.App.Ct. 1103, 889 N.E.2d 77, 2008 WL 2404550.

And --

Defendant's conduct, namely, flailing his arms and shouting at police, victim of recent assault, or both, after being told to leave area by police, did not amount to "violent or tumultuous behavior" within scope of disorderly conduct statute, absent any claim that defendant's protestations constituted threat of violence, or any evidence that defendant's flailing arms were anything but physical manifestation of his agitation or that noise and commotion caused by defendant's behavior was extreme. Com. v. Lopiano (2004) 805 N.E.2d 522, 60 Mass.App.Ct. 723.

Here is more from that case:

[Officer] Garrett asked the defendant to exit the vehicle. As the defendant was getting out of the car, he "kept saying no problem here, no problem here, everything is all set, no problem." The police advised the defendant that he would be summonsed to court for assault and battery, that he was not to be arrested at Carins's [the alleged victim] request, and that he had to leave the motel parking lot. He began to walk away. [Officer] O'Connor testified: "He took a few steps from me, ten steps, turned around, began flailing his arms, yelling that I was violating his civil rights." He was advised a second time to leave, and the defendant was "yelling at me, you're violating my civil rights, then he began yelling at Ms. Carins, why are you doing this to me, you'll never go through with this." At that time, he was placed under arrest. It is not disputed that only the defendant's conduct after he left the car forms the basis of the disorderly conduct charge.

Angus:
Those cases do not bode well for the officer's decision to arrest. However, it predict that all such analyses will do no good among conservative websites that have made the officer a heroic figure.
7.24.2009 4:06pm
alkali (mail):
A considerable number of Massachusetts statutes date from the colonial era, including the better part of the criminal code, and this is one of them. It is periodically contended that those statutes should be rewritten for clarity, although arguably trying to rewrite the statutes to take into account three centuries of judicial gloss is more trouble than it's worth.
7.24.2009 4:20pm
Lauren H'orsdeaurs:
Typical super-legislature mumbo-jumbo. If the policeman says it's tumultuous, who are we to question it?
7.24.2009 4:21pm
Carolina:
Disorderly conduct, and it's kissing cousin, breach of peace are widely regarded by practitioners down here as legalese for "disrespecting the badge." Very few, if any, people actually get convicted on these charges, but they are vague enough that if you really make a cop angry, you're going to jail. In copspeak, "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride."

I don't defend what the cop did, though I don't see any obvious racial angle here. Cops arrest people all the time for mouthing off, no matter what race they are.

The criminal justice system would be much better, imho, if both of these dubious offenses were taken off the books.
7.24.2009 4:22pm
ne1:
All this does is show that Gates would not be convicted in court and has a great shot at winning on SJ. But what this doesn't show is whether the PO was acting inappropriately.
7.24.2009 4:24pm
A Law Dawg:
Carolina,

They also provide excellent middle ground for misdemeanor plea deals from more elevated charges.
7.24.2009 4:25pm
A Law Dawg:
I don't think there's any doubt that Gates and the officer are both assholes - Gates for not showing ID, and the officer for actually making the arrest.
7.24.2009 4:26pm
drunkdriver:
From reading this, it seems there was no case against Gates and they were right to drop the charges.

I don't think the cop was a "hero." I do think that, IF the police are telling the truth, Gates was acting like a grade-A asshole. (Further irony, of course, since the cops only showed up to protect Gates's property.) No, that does not justify arresting him. But I don't feel so bad for him; not that I need to, he seems happy to enjoy his own wallowing in this moment.

Perhaps Gates hasn't seen this simple advice (2:04 is perhaps especially pertinent)?
7.24.2009 4:27pm
Steven Lubet (mail):
As the police report makes clear, the officer asked Prof. Gates to step onto the porch after Gates had already produced identification, claiming that the "acoustics" were poor in the kitchen. Given the implausible explanation, it is not unreasonable to assume that the officer was trying to create the predicate for a disorderly conduct arrest, since there was no reason that he could not simply depart after he determined that there was no burglary.

The police report also says that passers-by were "alarmed," although none of the six or seven officers at the scene bothered to collect their names.

Anyone accustomed to decoding police reports will easily interpret all of this as the officer's attempt to justify an unnecessary arrest.

Regarding Prof. Gates's attitude toward law enforcement, see his comment on The Daily Beast (in an interview conducted by his daughter): "We depend on the police—I’m glad that this lady called 911. I hope right now if someone is breaking into my house she’s calling 911 and the police will come! I just don’t want to be arrested for being black at home."
7.24.2009 4:34pm
MJN1957:
The case bodes VERY well for the Officer's decision to arrest if you read the Officer's arrest report.

DC in Mass. requires "tumultuous conduct" and the Officer clearly states in his report that Gates engaged in such conduct. Such a determination is a reasonable interpretation even if you don't happen to agree with it. A reasonable interpretation is all the Officer needs to support a decision to arrest based on probable cause.

The later dismissal is not relevant to the initial decision to arrest. A person other than the arresting officer could look at the facts presented and, applying their own reasonable interpretation of those facts, easily come to a different conclusion than the Officer...e.g., that the conduct was not 'tumultuous'.

That doesn't make the Officer wrong and the other person right...both opinions are within the definition of 'reasonable' and that is all that is required.

Lacking evidence that the Officer-in-question's probable cause decision making has been repeatedly found wanting, there is little ground to challenge his decision-making other than as a political stunt or as a result of personal bias.
7.24.2009 4:36pm
ShelbyC:

I don't think there's any doubt that Gates and the officer are both assholes - Gates for not showing ID, and the officer for actually making the arrest.


Being an a-hole isn't a big deal unless you're using the power of the state to crap on people.
7.24.2009 4:37pm
Hutz:
Carolina nailed it, but I would spin it a bit differently. This was not about racial profiling by the police officer. This was about the police officer's arrogance.

Race came into play because Gates brought it into play. I am not faulting him for that -- from his perspective, the officer's presence and persistence had no explanation other than race. That enraged Gates, the officer didn't take kindly to being yelled at, and things spiraled out of control.

The thing is, the officer is the guy with the gun. He is the one who we should expect and demand to remain calm. There was a point when the officer must have recognized that no public interest needed protection in this situation. But that was not enough for him to walk away.

We should defer to police officers when they believe their or the public's physical safety has been threatened. The only thing that Gates' conduct threatened was this officer's ego. Police officers should be trained to understand that disorderly conduct statutes are not meant to let them punish any deviation from obsequious behavior.

(And make no mistake, regardless of what the law says, arrest is punishment for all practical purposes, and police officers know it.)
7.24.2009 4:44pm
cbyler (mail):
@A Law Dawg: Gates did show ID.

@ne1: If Crowley couldn't reasonably have suspected that Gates was guilty, given the information available to him (which, at that point, included the fact that Gates was in his own home), then he couldn't have arrested him in good faith. If you accept that yelling at cops is not comparable to prostitution or brawling in the street, then Crowley couldn't have suspected that Gates was guilty (unless he misunderstood the law, I guess - there's that "not clearly established" excuse potentially available to him).

@Carolina: Both Gates's reaction to Crowley, and Crowley's perception of Gates as uppity, are very likely influenced by racial history. You probably know, and Gates *definitely* knows, that while cops might arrest anyone for "mouthing off" or other vague or outright bullshit reasons, not everyone is equally at risk.
7.24.2009 4:44pm
EH (mail):
A Law Dawg:
I don't think there's any doubt that Gates and the officer are both assholes - Gates for not showing ID, and the officer for actually making the arrest.

If you aren't just a drive-by commenter, what's your cite? By my reading, it's the officer who refused to produce identification as required of officers by MA state law.
7.24.2009 4:46pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Let's hear the tapes. We can all better understand the time-line, who's at fault, once we've listened to the tapes, right? I hope Deval Patrick and the Cambridge Police Department will allow us to learn from and root out our intrinsic racism, once we finally hear the depraved lengths to which Officer Crowley went in order to arrest the immaculate Gates. Please, help us cleanse our collective souls.
7.24.2009 4:47pm
DQ20024 (mail):
Here's an excellent analysis of the whole matter by Professor Maria Haberfeld.
7.24.2009 4:48pm
john w (mail):
Not to defend Gates, who seems like a world-class [expletive deleted], but what is the law when some cop shows up out of the blue and starts banging on the door of your own home without a warrant, and demanding for no obvious (to you) reason that you show him your ID??

If that ever happened to me, my inclination would certainly be to tell him to [bleep] off. (Of course, since I'm not a Harvard professor, I would probably have enough common sense to refrain from acting on my baser instincts.)

But what is the Law????

Just because the cop says that he investigating a burglary report, how do you know that he's not just looking for a pretext to get into your house to check out your marijuana garden or whatever? Are you legally required to let him in?
7.24.2009 4:49pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Well, it certainly appears possible that we will have that conversation on race that AG Holder advised us to have.

Was this situation about race? If the officer would not have arrested a white man who was identically situated to Gates, the answer has to be yes. Can anyone believe that the officer would have arrested a white man under the same facts? I don't.
7.24.2009 4:53pm
Walter Landry:

Here's an excellent analysis of the whole matter by Professor Maria Haberfeld.


I found this line a bit creepy


When an individual under suspicion becomes agitated, insults the officer and becomes aggressive, the majority of police departments would allow the officer to make an arrest.


That essentially makes "contempt of cop" a crime.
7.24.2009 4:54pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
That doesn't make the Officer wrong and the other person right...both opinions are within the definition of 'reasonable' and that is all that is required.

That's not the standard. The officer needed probable cause to arrest Gates, not just a reasonable basis. So it has to be more likely than not (i.e., probable) that both the statute was violated and the First Amendment did not protect Gates' statements.

If it's just a tie, with both parties having reasonable positions, there's no ground for arrest.
7.24.2009 4:55pm
Steven Lubet (mail):

Here's an excellent analysis of the whole matter by Professor Maria Haberfeld.


Professor Haberfeld wrote:


Police officers arriving at the scene of a suspected burglary in progress do not put down their armor of suspicion just because somebody proved to them that they are the legitimate occupants of the dwelling.


That does not seem like excellent analysis to me, and I would expect that my many Libertarian friends would agree. Legitimate occupants of a dwelling should be left alone in their own homes. Property rights and all that. Right?
7.24.2009 4:57pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I think that most of us would agree that a judge deserves respect and deference inside (but not outside) his courtroom. The threshold for contempt is pretty low, and we are well advised to mind our manners in court. That brings up the question: to what degree is a policeman, in the course of discharging his duties, entitled to deference? Surely not as much as a judge, but certainly some. If people are allowed to simply mouth off in any way short of violence or fighting words without consequence, we will ultimately inhibit law enforcement.
7.24.2009 5:01pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Haberfeld has an interesting biography:


Editor's note: Maria (Maki) Haberfeld is a professor of Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. She has served in the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israel National Police, and worked for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a special consultant. From 1997 through 2001, she was a member of a research team, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, studying police integrity in three major police departments in the United States. She is the author of "Critical Issues in Police Training" (2002) and co-author of "Enhancing Police Integrity" (2006).


It is not hard to figure out which side she intrinsically is on. As to the racial aspect, she is clueless.
7.24.2009 5:01pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
As are you, troll_dc2. As I am not.
7.24.2009 5:05pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Some standard, huh?
7.24.2009 5:06pm
EH (mail):
If people are allowed to simply mouth off in any way short of violence or fighting words without consequence, we will ultimately inhibit law enforcement.

This is a non-sequitur, how do you figure? Are you saying the Panopticon will be damaged?
7.24.2009 5:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Legitimate occupants of a dwelling should be left alone in their own homes. Property rights and all that. Right?"

Yes, absent good cause. If my neighbors think my house is being robbed and I'm being threatened inside, I sure want the police to check it out, and if necessary force their way in to save me. I want the police to be very suspicious of anyone claiming to be the lawful resident.
7.24.2009 5:08pm
EH (mail):
As for Haberfeld, the bias is telegraphed in the title of the piece, fer cryin' out loud.
7.24.2009 5:09pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

I think that most of us would agree that a judge deserves respect and deference inside (but not outside) his courtroom. The threshold for contempt is pretty low, and we are well advised to mind our manners in court. That brings up the question: to what degree is a policeman, in the course of discharging his duties, entitled to deference? Surely not as much as a judge, but certainly some. If people are allowed to simply mouth off in any way short of violence or fighting words without consequence, we will ultimately inhibit law enforcement.



It is true that mouthing off can be dangerous, as this Washington Post article demonstrates. But it is the police officer, not the home owner (or renter), who has to toe the line, especially once it is determined that there has been no crime. At that point, the officer's presence becomes problematical.
7.24.2009 5:09pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"If people are allowed to simply mouth off in any way short of violence or fighting words without consequence, we will ultimately inhibit law enforcement."


But people are allowed to do so, in least in this situation Gates was.

"Law enforcement" means enforcing some law. As nearly as I can tell, no law was broken by Gates.

On the other hand, it's illegal for a cop to arrest a person w/o reasonable suspicion or probable cause. It was the cop who broke the law, not Gates.

So it seems to me your conception of "law enforcement" is exactly backwards.
7.24.2009 5:11pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
me: "As to the racial aspect, she is clueless."

Cato the Elder: "As are you, troll_dc2. As I am not."

Okay, Cato, why am I, and why aren't you? Don't be cryptic; explain yourself. And be sure to tell me why my "but for" approach is wrong.
7.24.2009 5:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
EH:

"... how do you figure?"


If we breed contempt for policemen, then we will get more lawlessness. Criminals don't send their time reading law journals. To them the police is the law. The fear of what the police will do to them provides a deterrent to crime. Now perhaps you don't want crime that but most people do.
7.24.2009 5:14pm
Specast:
Several have commented that Gates acted like an a-hole (though I think the evidence for that conclusion is at least questionable). However, especially on a law-related blog, it's important to keep in mind that it is not against the law to be an a-hole, and as far as I know, nobody is proposing that it should be against the law.

And, for many of us, that's the key to this dispute. Faced with a lippy but non-criminal subject, the officer misused the powerful authority given to him by the state to arrest the man. Indeed, he could not "escape the ride." The police officer made the process the punishment.

Everybody loses in this scenario: the cop wastes time better spent chasing criminals; the defendant is put to unnecessary humiliation and expense; the already overburdened justice system is taxed anew; and the defendant (and others) are left to wonder whether about officer's motivations.
7.24.2009 5:14pm
Pro Natura (mail):
Within a few days of this happening, Gates and the CPD jointly released a statement that sounded as if it had jointly hammered out by lawyers from both sides as a PR effort intended to defuse a mutually embarrassing situation. If I am correct then Gates is the type of legal client who mouths off in a way that re-opens a closed case. Isn't the technical term for such a client "jerk"?

Obama is the POTUS. He is supposed to attend to more important things than this local contretemps and admittedly knew none of the details. When running for election he promoted himself as a healer of racial tensions. Yet at the first opportunity he acted by pouring gas onto a fire that was smoldering and about to go out. Isn't the technical term for this "being a jerk"?

It's worth noting that the policeman involved in this situation and his many, many supporters kept silence until they were forced to respond to the calumnies of Gates and Obama. Kudos to both their restraint and the tempered and manly way they are dealing with the PR antics of two jerks.
7.24.2009 5:17pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Specast, perhaps there is one winner, namely, the lawyers who will represent Gates in his false-arrest action.
7.24.2009 5:17pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Has nobody commenting on this case ever seen one of those movies where the owner of the house answers the door, after the police respond to a report of a disturbance, and it turns out that a bad guy is standing just out of view with a gun on the homeowner?

It's not just the stuff of movies. It's not uncommon to see something similar to that in domestic violence cases. The officer had no way of knowing whether Prof. Gates irrational agitation was a response just to the police presence, or was in response to somebody harmful being in the next room.

For that matter, he had no way of knowing whether Prof. Gates was just being an asshole, or rather was experiencing some medical difficulty. Suppose the professor was agitated not because he was tired and irate after traveling, but because he had suffered a head injury. Wouldn't the same people crying "racism" today be crying "racism" if the officer were to just walk away from a very agitated, gesticulating, crazy man? "Had this been a white man," they would cry, "the officer would have checked to see if he needed medical attention, not just assumed he was some crazy black man!"

There's a huge difference between being "submissive" to a cop (nobody should have to be) and being polite to the police, or merely civil to people trying to do a very difficult job. Most people, white and black, would in fact respond to that officer by thanking him for his concern, not screaming at him just for knocking on the door and asking for ID. Cops are trained to look for abnormal reactions and be suspicious of them. Prof. Gates' reaction was abnormal.
7.24.2009 5:18pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

That's not the standard. The officer needed probable cause to arrest Gates, not just a reasonable basis. So it has to be more likely than not (i.e., probable) that both the statute was violated and the First Amendment did not protect Gates' statements.

If it's just a tie, with both parties having reasonable positions, there's no ground for arrest.

Rosetta's Stones was right about the tenor of these sort of lawyerly spats; e.g., "was the footnote of so-and-so properly footnoted?" Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your perspective, especially since you Dilan see fit to allude to the Law quite often in your comments, but what concerns most people is the reasonableness of Officer Crowley actions as they would understand them, not necessarily under your legal standard, if it is indeed correct. I would only change my assessment of the incident if it were proven that Officer Crowley was or should have been trained and instilled into an appreciation of the significance of those differing standards - people make mistakes all the time on the job, and far be it from me or most to criticize police officers on their performance without an appropriate appreciation of its difficulty, especially since they voluntarily taken up the mantle of a job that requires much civic duty and self-sacrifice. I think they deserve at least a little latitude.
7.24.2009 5:19pm
Waste (mail):
Basically at this point we have two stories. Gates which as far as I know hasn't been backed up by anyone, and the officers that was corraborated by the two other officers. I haven't yet heard of any reporter going to the neighbors since some people obviously gathered in the street and could shed some light on which version is more correct nor has anyone I know of talked to the other party that was with Gates.

Something I also haven't seen checked into is why the charges were dropped. Gates has some high profile friends that came out in his support rather quickly. Including a mayor and a governor. Did anyone call to get the charges dropped or was it done by the DA or city attorney on their own?
7.24.2009 5:19pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"If we breed contempt for policemen, then we will get more lawlessness. Criminals don't send their time reading law journals. To them the police is the law. The fear of what the police will do to them provides a deterrent to crime."


I find this logic disturbing. "Fear of what the police will do to you" -- especially when you've broken no law -- can severely restrict freedom and liberty. Indeed, most fascist states rely on it thoroughly.
7.24.2009 5:20pm
Specast:
A Zarkov --

So an officer should be authorized to arrest anyone who demonstrates "contempt for policemen"? No thanks.
7.24.2009 5:20pm
tvk:
I think this is pretty clear from EP's list, but these cases quite easily meet the "clearly established law" part to defeat qualified immunity. Isn't a "loud and angry tirade, which included profanities, directed at police officers as he was being escorted to police cruiser, even if spectators gathered to watch defendant" precisely what Gates did (under the most police-friendly version of events)? And which the courts have already held did not amount to a violation? This is pretty much an open-and-shut case of false arrest, and the "I misinterpreted the law" defense doesn't work when there is a factually very similar case directly on point from an appellate court.
7.24.2009 5:21pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

Don't be cryptic; explain yourself.

No. I regard the entire line of that analysis as illegitimate, indeed obviously so. That's why I said what I said. Whatever her background or biography, whatever mine, our arguments should be attacked alone as they are, on their rhetoric and logic, period.
7.24.2009 5:22pm
Putting Two and Two...:

Just because the cop says that he investigating a burglary report, how do you know that he's not just looking for a pretext to get into your house to check out your marijuana garden or whatever? Are you legally required to let him in?


How do you know? Well, assuming you haven't been smoking a garden-full of marijuana, you might remember that you just got finished forcing open your own front door in full view of the street.
7.24.2009 5:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"On the other hand, it's illegal for a cop to arrest a person w/o reasonable suspicion or probable cause. It was the cop who broke the law, not Gates."

No. What law did Crowley break? The law allows to him exercise reasonable judgment and make an arrest. Gates' arrest can be lawful even if the policeman made a good faith error as to the nature of his behavior. That's why we have investigations and trials. You seem to be saying that every arrest where we can doubt probable cause is necessarily illegal.
7.24.2009 5:25pm
EH (mail):
Lots of apparently first-time commenters in this thread.

PatHMV: Yeah, I accounted for that one elsewhere. He could have been a terrorist, let's ship Gates off to Syria just to be sure. Can't be too careful. The question is: PC.
7.24.2009 5:29pm
Brian S:
http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/404/404mass471.html

You should also have cited Commonwealth v Feigenbaum, where the SJC held that the disorderly conduct statute could not be applied to any speech or conduct that had political content or that would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment. Complaining about police conduct or policies would be specifically protected.

The Mass courts have refused to uphold disorderly conduct convictions unless the behavior of the defendants resulted in nearby citizens being driven to the point of riot. There is no way Crowley could have not known this as a "good faith error".
7.24.2009 5:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I find this logic disturbing. "Fear of what the police will do to you" -- especially when you've broken no law -- can severely restrict freedom and liberty. Indeed, most fascist states rely on it thoroughly."

Not everything you don't like is "fascist." Having the police promote civilized behavior hardly makes the US a dictatorship.
7.24.2009 5:39pm
Baelln1:
...because cooler heads (Cambridge Police HQ/City prosecutors) quickly dismissed the charges against Gates -- it's a very obvious case of false-arrest.

Happens all the time; the cop is criminally immune, but made his point to Gates (you-can-beat-the-phony-rap--but-not-the-ride/handcuffs &humiliation).

If the cop acted correctly -- why were the charges dropped so quickly ?
7.24.2009 5:41pm
Brian S:

It's worth noting that the policeman involved in this situation and his many, many supporters kept silence until they were forced to respond to the calumnies of Gates and Obama. Kudos to both their restraint and the tempered and manly way they are dealing with the PR antics of two jerks.


So what you're saying is that when one side engages in false arrest to punish rudeness and to "teach someone a lesson", they've shown restraint, and when the other side complains about police abuse, it's "calumny"?

Nice perspective you have there. Short of actually destroying his career and sending him off into the sunset in disgrace, there is nothing Gates could do to Crowley that would be as bad as Crowley walking around arresting people for "contempt of cop".
7.24.2009 5:41pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

Whatever her background or biography, whatever mine, our arguments should be attacked alone as they are, on their rhetoric and logic, period.



I want you to explain why I was wrong in writing this at 4:53:


Was this situation about race? If the officer would not have arrested a white man who was identically situated to Gates, the answer has to be yes. Can anyone believe that the officer would have arrested a white man under the same facts? I don't.



Haberfeld addressed the racial aspect of this case only in a throwaway paragraph at the end; she otherwise focused on the law-enforcement aspects. Yet race is the central issue here. Nobody would care much about the situation were it not for Gates' race.

I do not think that her background is irrelevant in figuring out why she wrote about law enforcement and left out race (except for a nod to the concept of racial profiling).
7.24.2009 5:42pm
Brian S:

Not everything you don't like is "fascist." Having the police promote civilized behavior hardly makes the US a dictatorship.


Any police action taken that goes beyond their powers under the law is criminal abuse.

It doesn't make the US a dictatorship, but it makes the individual police officer a criminal thug who should be hounded off the force and out of the profession.
7.24.2009 5:42pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
Not everything you don't like is "fascist." Having the police promote civilized behavior hardly makes the US a dictatorship.

No, it makes the US a police state. Whether that's better or worse than a dictatorship is an interesting question.

The police are charged with enforcing laws. It is not a crime to tell a cop that he is being a racist, even if: (1) he is not being a racist; or (2) the form in which the cop is told that he is a racist takes the form of a profanity-filled tirade.
7.24.2009 5:44pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I think that most of us would agree that a judge deserves respect and deference inside (but not outside) his courtroom. The threshold for contempt is pretty low, and we are well advised to mind our manners in court. That brings up the question: to what degree is a policeman, in the course of discharging his duties, entitled to deference? Surely not as much as a judge, but certainly some. If people are allowed to simply mouth off in any way short of violence or fighting words without consequence, we will ultimately inhibit law enforcement.

The judge is only entitled to that respect in a courtroom (and indeed, in a courtroom, you can be cited for contempt for berating a police officer or even a common citizen too.

But outside the courtroom, you can berate a judge all you want, and it isn't contempt of court.
7.24.2009 5:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I would only change my assessment of the incident if it were proven that Officer Crowley was or should have been trained and instilled into an appreciation of the significance of those differing standards - people make mistakes all the time on the job, and far be it from me or most to criticize police officers on their performance without an appropriate appreciation of its difficulty, especially since they voluntarily taken up the mantle of a job that requires much civic duty and self-sacrifice.

Cato, I have had some experience (in a lawsuit filed against the police department) with officer training materials. Every officer is trained as to what probable cause means. I am very certain of that.

I am not quite as certain, but still quite confident, that every officer is also told in training that verbally abusing a police officer is protected under the First Amendment and is not a crime.
7.24.2009 5:54pm
Steve P. (mail):
Not everything you don't like is "fascist." Having the police promote civilized behavior hardly makes the US a dictatorship.

Do we really want the police to "promote civilized behavior" through the use of their arrest powers? Then we empower the police to determine what constitutes "civilized behavior", which could have all sorts of unfortunate consequences.
7.24.2009 5:55pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Basically at this point we have two stories. Gates which as far as I know hasn't been backed up by anyone, and the officers that was corraborated by the two other officers.

It's worth noting that this sort of "corroboration" is almost always wholly unreliable.
7.24.2009 5:56pm
L.N. Smithee (mail) (www):
Mahan Atma wrote:

I find this logic disturbing. "Fear of what the police will do to you" -- especially when you've broken no law -- can severely restrict freedom and liberty. Indeed, most fascist states rely on it thoroughly.

Oh, brother. Re-read the post by A. Zarkov, Mahan. It was specifically referring to criminals, not law-abiding citizens.

I am a mid-forties black man who has never been arrested. I've never even seen the inside of a police cruiser. Gee, how did "a black man in America" manage that? Easy -- I obey all laws that are most likely to endanger my freedom if I violate them. I don't sell drugs. I don't buy drugs. I don't steal. I don't vandalize. I don't riot. I don't get drunk in public. Life is easier when you choose not to do things like that. That's the best way to maintain your own freedom and liberty -- be a decent human being.

I can't honestly say that I have abided by speed limits 100% of the time. But the one time I have been caught (going 35 in a 25 zone), I was very careful not to provide the officer with a reason to click a lock behind me.

If Officer Crowley is telling the whole truth, Professor Gates -- no riff-raff he -- couldn't manage to do that. Shoot, I'm just a community college guy; maybe I should have went to Harvard. How tough could it really be if the professors don't even have common sense?
7.24.2009 5:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Dilan Esper:

"The judge is only entitled to that respect in a courtroom ..."

Isn't that essentially what I wrote? " ... a judge deserves respect and deference inside (but not outside)
7.24.2009 6:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Gates' arrest can be lawful even if the policeman made a good faith error as to the nature of his behavior.

I am not sure what this means in this context. Gates' behavior occurred in front of the officer. There's no basis for him to claim that he made a good faith misjudgment about what Gates did. If the officer doesn't know exactly what Gates did, the arrest is illegal because it was warrantless and was claimed to be based on the personal observations of the officer.

If you are saying that an officer receives latitude as to whether Gates' observed conduct violated the disorderly conduct statute or wasn't protected by the First Amendment, that really isn't the case. It's a straight probable cause standard-- if the officer has probable cause to believe that the observed conduct was both violative of the statute and not constitutionally protected, the arrest is legal. If the officer lacks that probable cause, the arrest isn't legal just because of the officer's subjective misunderstanding of what the law requires.
7.24.2009 6:02pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
I do wish we had Whit or some other police presence here to get their take on this. But reading the police report (invariably a bit self service, but still...), I got the distinct impression of a veteran officer doing his job by the book. Maybe the book is wrong, but it appears to me that a lot of what went on was routine police work, and party was done to protect the single officer responding to a situation where two people had been reported, and where he had no idea of where the other person was. The arrest for disturbing the peace is just apparently how cops control the situation until things settle down.

Gates comes across to me as someone who seems to think that there should be two laws, one for people like him, professors at Harvard, and one for everyone else, and that there should likewise be two standards of policing, one for Harvard professors and other elites, and one for everyone else.
7.24.2009 6:02pm
licrimlawyer:
Joseph Wambaugh said it perfectly. Gates was arrested for contempt of cop. [Under certain circumstances, this can be a capital offense--even in Massachusetts.]
7.24.2009 6:03pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

Haberfeld addressed the racial aspect of this case only in a throwaway paragraph at the end; she otherwise focused on the law-enforcement aspects. Yet race is the central issue here. Nobody would care much about the situation were it not for Gates' race.

I do not think that her background is irrelevant in figuring out why she wrote about law enforcement and left out race (except for a nod to the concept of racial profiling).

In fact, I don't think it has much relevance. I think you engage in this kind of analysis to quickly throw out her substantive points. I also think you that you insinuate that since she is not Black, then that necessarily implies that she is unable or unwilling to comment on "racial aspects of the case", which sounds like BS Crit Speak if I've ever heard it.

This incident wasn't about race, in my opinion, it shouldn't even have been tangential to it. Gates made it about race - as soon as the officer confronted him, and even after changes were dropped, even when things could have proceeded amicably, he continued to make it so on the talk shows and in the editorials.

Perhaps things could have been better resolved. The officer's actions, as I understand them, were neither right nor wrong; however, they were a priori reasonable. Since there is a fair amount of discretion in judging (right?), especially with the paucity of established facts in this case, Gates' uncouth actions and the "punishment" he received for them strikes me as, while not fair exactly, deserved. There's no way what happened on Ware Street becomes my rallying standard to end the infamous "contempt of cop" that too many are familiar with.
7.24.2009 6:04pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"No. What law did Crowley break?"


The Fourth Amendment. The cop arrested Gates w/o reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe he committed a crime. That's an illegal "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment.

"The law allows to him exercise reasonable judgment and make an arrest. Gates' arrest can be lawful even if the policeman made a good faith error as to the nature of his behavior."


The cop exercised neither reasonable judgment, nor good faith. Even from his own police report, it is blatantly obvious that he arrested Gates solely because Gates was disrespectful to him. That's not a crime...
7.24.2009 6:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Isn't that essentially what I wrote? " ... a judge deserves respect and deference inside (but not outside)

Yeah, but you missed the crucial point. It isn't that we are required to respect judges. It is that we are required to respect EVERYONE in a courtroom-- you can get a contempt citation for abusing judges, juries, lawyers, witnesses, court personnel, cops, baliffs, or anyone else in a courtroom.

The contempt of court rule is not a rule protecting judges from abuse. It is a rule requiring parties to respect the decorum of the courtroom. And that's why you can't draw an analogy between that and exercising one's First Amendment right to insult a cop.
7.24.2009 6:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The arrest for disturbing the peace is just apparently how cops control the situation until things settle down.

Bruce, the way professional cops control a situation where a citizen is exercising his First Amendment right to abuse him but has committed no crime is by leaving.

Arresting the person for contempt of cop is not "controlling" the situation-- it's escalating it in a way intended to show the citizen who is boss and shut down his exercise of his First Amendment rights.
7.24.2009 6:07pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Oh, brother. Re-read the post by A. Zarkov, Mahan. It was specifically referring to criminals, not law-abiding citizens."


So why is he justifying the arrest of a law-abiding citizen?
7.24.2009 6:07pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

I also think you that you insinuate that since she is not Black, then that necessarily implies that she is unable or unwilling to comment on "racial aspects of the case", which sounds like BS Crit Speak if I've ever heard it.



I'm not black either, but that does not make me "unable or unwilling" to comment on the racial aspects of the case. You simply are denying that race had anything to do with it. Are you saying that a white man in Gates' position would have been arrested too?
7.24.2009 6:10pm
Brian S:

The officer's actions, as I understand them, were neither right nor wrong; however, they were a priori reasonable. Since there is a fair amount of discretion in judging (right?), especially with the paucity of established facts in this case, Gates' uncouth actions and the "punishment" he received for them strikes me as, while not fair exactly, deserved.


The only reason you believe this is because you have internalized the notion that the police should be able to punish anyone who backtalks them.

If the officer decided to arrest someone to punish them for being "uncouth", then their actions are automatically wrong and there's no way to reasonably think otherwise.
7.24.2009 6:11pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I do wish we had Whit or some other police presence here to get their take on this. --
.
In another thread ...
whit @ 7.21.2009 2:52pm
whit @ 7.22.2009 2:49am
whit @ 7.22.2009 4:18pm
7.24.2009 6:12pm
Brian S:

Are you saying that a white man in Gates' position would have been arrested too?


Personally, I think a white man in Gates' position would also have been arrested. Gates is completely wrong in thinking he was arrested because he's black. He was arrested because he dared to raise his voice to a police officer, and for that he had to be terrorized and humiliated.

Gates' error is that he doesn't realize the extent to which white people are routinely abused and falsely arrested because they failed to properly cower at the feet of the police.
7.24.2009 6:14pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Yes I am saying that, troll_dc2. I am saying that an out-of-control White man, yelling on the street loud enough to bring the neighbors, would indeed have been arrested after a warning from a police officer. Does that shock you?
7.24.2009 6:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mahan Atma:

"The cop exercised neither reasonable judgment, nor good faith."

In your opinion. Others differ.

If Crowley were that out of line, his department would discipline him. That's the point. This whole thing is a judgment call, and people will differ as to whether Gates behavior crossed the line into disorderly conduct. It's not as if Gates were just sitting quietly on his porch and suddenly got arrested for doing nothing.
7.24.2009 6:14pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"If Crowley were that out of line, his department would discipline him."


You've got to be kidding me...
7.24.2009 6:19pm
cboldt (mail):
-- It's not as if Gates were just sitting quietly on his porch and suddenly got arrested for doing nothing. --
.
I don't think he used the most expedient means of obtaining Crowley's ID, but now he certainly has it and can file his complaint about being confronted in the first place.
7.24.2009 6:20pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

You've got to be kidding me...

In the People's Republic of Cambridge? You better believe it.
7.24.2009 6:20pm
loki13 (mail):

I am saying that an out-of-control White man, yelling on the street loud enough to bring the neighbors, would indeed have been arrested after a warning from a police officer. Does that shock you?


That's gotta be it. Had to be all the yelling. I know that I never rubberneck when an armada of police officers suddenly descend. (and... out of control? how many police officers does it take to subdue an elderly man who walk with the assistance of a cane... and were the neigbors on the edge of riot in *Cambridge*, as required by the caselaw? your troll-fu is weak today ;) )
7.24.2009 6:22pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
This guy nails it:

Sgt. Crowley's report almost certainly contains intentional falsehoods, but even accepting his account at face value, the report tells us all we need to conclude that Crowley was in the wrong here, and by a large factor.

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.

No one who is familiar with law enforcement can miss the significance of Crowley's report. As so often happens with documentary evidence, a person seeking to create a false impression spends lots of time nailing down the elements he thinks will establish his goal, but forgets about the larger picture. Under color of law, Crowley entered a residence to investigate a possible break-in, and after his probable cause had evaporated, he continued to act under color of law, but without any justifiable purpose. And he covered it up with false charges. Figuring that his best defense was a criminal charge, Crowley did what bad cops do. He decided he would look better if Gates looked worse.

7.24.2009 6:23pm
L.N. Smithee (mail) (www):
Mahan Atma wrote:


So why is he justifying the arrest of a law-abiding citizen?
Presuming, once again, that Crowley is being honest in his report, and Gates was indeed specifically warned he was about to be found in violation of the law as interpreted by Crowley, he continued with his disorderly behavior. At that point, Gates was asking to be arrested, and that's where my sympathy for him stops.

If you play "chicken" with a train, whose fault is it if you don't jump off the tracks in time?
7.24.2009 6:24pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Presuming, once again, that Crowley is being honest in his report, and Gates was indeed specifically warned he was about to be found in violation of the law as interpreted by Crowley, he continued with his disorderly behavior. At that point, Gates was asking to be arrested, and that's where my sympathy for him stops."


Did Gates commit a crime, or not? You seem to think he did. It's pretty obvious to anyone who looks at it objectively and applies the language of the statute that he didn't.
7.24.2009 6:29pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

...how many police officers does it take to subdue an elderly man who walk with the assistance of a cane...

"Out-of-control" does not imply that the offender needs to be physically subdued. It only implies that Gates was uncontrollable, yelling loudly enough to disturb the reasonable amount of err...peace that most any neighbor is entitled to expect within their residential areas.
7.24.2009 6:30pm
loki13 (mail):

It only implies that Gates was uncontrollable, yelling loudly enough to disturb the reasonable amount of err...peace that most any neighbor is entitled to expect within their residential areas.


Interesting. So you're saying that the reason Prof. Gates was such a menace to society was that people heard him yelling outside? The same people who *were already there*?* The ones who might have been there because of the appearance of those cruisers and officers? Hmmm.... if Officer Crowley didn't want the neighbors disturbed by the loud yelling, why didn't he let Gates continue ranting in his acoustically suspect kitchen, instead of asking him to come discuss (yell) outside)?

*Remember- he was arrested almost immediately after stepping outside.
7.24.2009 6:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Did Gates commit a crime, or not? You seem to think he did. It's pretty obvious to anyone who looks at it objectively and applies the language of the statute that he didn't."

We don't expect the police to be lawyers. We do expect them to act reasonably under the circumstances. Obviously we need more evidence to determine if Crowley really went beyond the police rules and procedures that apply here.

Showing with the leisure of hindsight and the aid of Westlaw, that Gates' would not have been convicted does not in itself prove that Crowley acted out of line.
7.24.2009 6:42pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
If Gates sues under federal law (Sec. 1983), he will not be able to get punitive damages from the city (or quite possibly from the police officer), but can he get such damages under Massachusetts law?
7.24.2009 6:42pm
loki13 (mail):
(btw, i think what is interesting about this case is that both parties behaved unreasonably, yet also think they are correct)

Gates was being a jerk, and brought race into a situation when it wasn't needed. On the other hand, he was within his rights both to ask the officer for identification and to ask the officer to leave once he (Gates) identified himself.

Crowley, on the other hand, thinks that he was just doing his job correctly and being subject to unfair abuse- which is true. Then he did what is probably SOP- you go to far with contempt of cop, you get the ride. That's the way it works, and he probably didn't think anything of it (white, black, or brown). But just because it's SOP doesn't make it right.
7.24.2009 6:44pm
ShelbyC:

At that point, Gates was asking to be arrested, and that's where my sympathy for him stops


This issue isn't having sympathy for Gates, the issue is preventing cops from yielding to the understandable tempation to unlawfully arrest people who are belligerent with them.
7.24.2009 6:47pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
Police training academies everywhere should have a lot of material to use and a lot of issues to explore as a result of this case.
7.24.2009 6:49pm
hattio1:
A. Zarkov says;

If Crowley were that out of line, his department would discipline him. That's the point. This whole thing is a judgment call, and people will differ as to whether Gates behavior crossed the line into disorderly conduct.


Officers are rarely if ever disciplined for arresting for contempt of cop. And no, this whole thing is not a judgment call when there is a case right on point. People may differ. Reasonable people who know what the legal standard for disorderly conduct is in Mass. will not differ.
7.24.2009 6:59pm
ArthurKirkland:
I believe it will be revealed that this officer picked the wrong citizen to abuse.

His poor judgment will probably reach his jacket, because a lawyer for Mr. Gates likely will ensure that the objection to the officer's judgment (as vindicated by the dropped charges and by the police reports) is properly documented, placing the municipality on notice with respect to this officer's conduct. The police department (with the municipal solicitor) is, consequent to that jacket information, likely to devote special attention to his record -- historical, by reviewing any earlier problems or documentable tendencies, and ongoing, by monitoring his judgment calls. Absent extraordinary circumstances, this incident likely will severely limit the officer's opportunities for promotion.

If Cambridge has a police review board -- small department, most likely, but located in a sophisticated community, so there are factors pushing both ways -- it likely will examine this incident. The officer's most recent conduct -- declaring he will never apologize for anything -- is likely to work against him (as, it appears, it should) in every context important to him. Maybe he can turn this into a Joe the Plumber gig -- at least this guy appears to be a police officer -- but if not I see this incident as a heartache for him.

Mr. Gates had an intensely unpleasant but relatively brief experience. The officer's discomfort will likely be less intense but prolonged. Over time, perhaps a wash. Given that Mr. Gates was not the person entrusted with public authority and a state-issued weapon, but that police officers should be entitled to some benefit of doubt, a wash may be a reasonable result.
7.24.2009 7:02pm
alkali (mail):
In Halpin v. City of Camden, No. 07-2711 (3d Cir. Feb. 11, 2009), the Third Circuit recently upheld a denial of qualified immunity to a police officer who had arrested a young woman on a disorderly conduct charge on the basis of an allegedly obscene outburst in a police station:

The District Court found that Gibson was not entitled to qualified immunity. The statute under which Halpin was charged is unconstitutional when applied to anything less than language that would incite the hearer to immediate violence or cause an immediate breach of the peace. That has been the state of the law for more than 20 years. The District Court found that it was unreasonable to believe that Halpin’s words in the police station would incite someone to violence. Therefore, Gibson lacked probable cause to arrest Halpin. The District Court then found that no officer could have an objectively reasonable belief that he could arrest someone simply for using foul language when the statute had been found unconstitutional more than 20 years before. The court concluded that, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Halpin, there was no probable cause and no reasonable mistake of law or fact. Accordingly, Gibson was not entitled to qualified immunity.

(Slip op. at 2-3 (citations omitted).) That case is currently set to go to trial in New Jersey in two weeks.

A different set of facts was presented in Nolan v. Krajcik, 384 F. Supp. 2d 447 (D. Mass. 2005), where a federal judge in Massachusetts granted summary judgment to police officers:

The undisputed facts, even when viewed in the light most favorable to Nolan, could cause reasonably competent police officers to conclude that Nolan’s words and gestures constituted “fighting words.” Although Nolan’s conduct did not in fact provoke a physical confrontation with any members of the audience, his challenge to the audience to “come on down and make me sit down,” combined with his gesturing and calling the audience members “assholes,” could reasonably have been perceived by an objective police officer as a “direct personal insult or an invitation to exchange fisticuffs.” The fact that Krajcik did not expect Nolan’s conduct to cause a fight or that Nolan’s expression may in fact have been entitled to constitutional protection is not sufficient to defeat qualified immunity where the police officers’ actions were objectively legally reasonable.

(Slip op. at 33 (citation omitted).)

With respect to the Gates/Crowley incident, I personally would prefer that there be no lawsuit, but if there is one, the officer may have some legal exposure.
7.24.2009 7:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mahan Atma:

"This guy nails it:"

That guy, Lowry Heussler, writes:
We all know that race and sex explain the difference in the way Sgt. James Crowley treated Professor Gates, ...
How do we know that? Right at the top of the page it says, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." But that's exactly what Heussler does when he asserts things not in evidence. I don't get the sex part. Is he implying that Gates' got arrested for being a man as well as being black?

Are we to believe that in Cambridge of all places, a city with a black mayor and a university community poised to pounce at the merest hint of racism (against blacks but not whites), we have an out-of-control police department that goes around arresting black people for nothing?
7.24.2009 7:10pm
L.N. Smithee (mail) (www):
Mahan Atma

Did Gates commit a crime, or not? You seem to think he did. It's pretty obvious to anyone who looks at it objectively and applies the language of the statute that he didn't.



I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge, but I presume that if charges were dropped, it was determined they couldn't convict Gates of a crime. If I were a Massachusetts resident and a juror in a Gates suit against the Cambridge department, I might be convinced to rule in his favor, but only if he could be limited to receiving a cash award of the cost to make him a spare house key at the local locksmith.

My objection to this circus goes deeper than the legalities of the incident, and more to the elitist, entitlist ("You don't know who you're messing with") and toxic racist attitude of Professor Gates, who hurled what seem to be unwarranted accusations of racism against the officer knowing that he -- a Haarvaard Professor with a chip on his shoulder the size of his head -- could ruin this cop's career for the fun of it.

Obama's jumping into the fray against the police is no surprise to me; Anybody who knows anything about ACORN's history knew very early in Obama's national emergence that his post-racial schmooze was all smoke-and-mirrors. Now that he's President, his protection of and legislative attempts to enrich ACORN racketeers and his AG's dismissal of slam-dunk summary judgments against voter-intimidating Black Panthers speak volumes louder than his "kumbaya" scripted words.
7.24.2009 7:11pm
DG:
{If we breed contempt for policemen, then we will get more lawlessness. Criminals don't send their time reading law journals. To them the police is the law. The fear of what the police will do to them provides a deterrent to crime. Now perhaps you don't want crime that but most people do.}

This is not Judge Dredd, and the police are not the law.
7.24.2009 7:21pm
L.N. Smithee (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov wrote:
We don't expect the police to be lawyers. We do expect them to act reasonably under the circumstances. Obviously we need more evidence to determine if Crowley really went beyond the police rules and procedures that apply here.

Showing with the leisure of hindsight and the aid of Westlaw, that Gates' would not have been convicted does not in itself prove that Crowley acted out of line.

Agreed. Especially considering that the dismissed disorderly conduct case most closely resembling the Gates incident (Com. v. Mallahan) was decided only last year. I expect that Mallahan will be specifically cited in the future as both a reason for the dismissal by Cambridge and as the basis of a suit by Gates.
7.24.2009 7:24pm
Melancton Smith:
Amazed, I agree with Loki13. This has to be a first.

It is kind of a toss up as to who disappoints more, a HARVARD professor with the benefit of age and wisdom or a police officer representing the community.
7.24.2009 7:24pm
hattio1:
LN Smithee says;

Presuming, once again, that Crowley is being honest in his report, and Gates was indeed specifically warned he was about to be found in violation of the law as interpreted by Crowley


Telling someone you're going to arrest them does not make Gates action fit the definition of the crime, as pointed out above. However, more importantly, where do you see in the police report that the officer warned Gates that he was going to arrest him? Even under your lessened, "if the cop warns you the arrest is okay even if it's not for a crime" standard, shouldn't there be a, you know, warning?
7.24.2009 7:29pm
whit:

Just because the cop says that he investigating a burglary report, how do you know that he's not just looking for a pretext to get into your house to check out your marijuana garden or whatever? Are you legally required to let him in?



in the instant case, you would know because YOU FORCED THE DOOR IN YOURSELF. duh. but more importantly to your main point, if the cop demands entry and you refuse, you will most likely be arrested. the reality is that life, like poker, is a game of imperfect information. you don't KNOW what the officer knows (the facts and circumstances). if he requires entry and you refuse and you are arrested for obstruction, you may find out later that he was entirely justified in demanding entry. it is generally good practice for the cop to explain why (see: verbal judo) but it is not required generally speaking, nor will you necessarily find the reasons compelling. that's a question for the finder of fact later. you do not have the right to obstruct the officer because your perception is that he doesn't have the right to do X. think about the consequences. it would mean that anybody would be justified in resisting arrest or resisting lawful orders of the cops unless they were sufficiently convinced of the officers justification. when i was pulled over for a suspected robbery (i have told this story before) i knew damn well i hadn't committed a robbery. it doesn't mean i would have been justified in refusing to raise my arms in the air and step out of the car.
7.24.2009 7:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Whit:

Your posts are excellent and especially so today as they bring real life experience into the discussion. I have one question: why don't you capitalize your sentences your otherwise well written sentences?

Just curious.
7.24.2009 7:53pm
whit:
zarkov, a long time ago i was injured and it was difficult to reach down for the shift key, so i developed the stylish lower case thang. you can be assured i capitalize my police reports. the lower case thing has become sort of a trademark, i guess. i appreciate the compliment, btw.
7.24.2009 7:57pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
whit is absolutely right about the fact that-- unless we came up with a fact pattern where an officer's orders were simply clearly illegal, e.g., a male officer "orders" a female civilian to strip naked and masturbate-- you have to, as a practical matter, obey orders of the police because if you are wrong about the unlawfulness of those orders, you can get yourself validly arrested.

But that, of course, gives rise to a corollary point-- police officers' privilege to arrest people for obstruction gives rise to a heightened duty NOT to make orders without a legitimate law enforcement purpose and NOT to make orders that are unnecessary or unwise.

Because citizens will, as a practical matter, be forced to obey orders even if they aren't lawful, officers have a tremendous power that others do not have to force people to do things they are otherwise entitled to refuse to do.

The fact of the matter is that the entire problem of "contempt of cop" is a problem that arises from police officers who do not understand that they have that duty. People go on power trips, especially when they get insulted.

If we are ever going to solve the "contempt of cop" problem, it is going to be through internal discipline of police officers. It's really hard to get past qualified immunity in these cases, and often the victims don't want to sue. But a good police chief can simply announce that this crap isn't happening in his or her department, and that anyone found to have arrested someone because the arrestee insulted the cop will need to find another job.
7.24.2009 8:01pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Twice now (4:53pm and 5:42pm) troll_dc2 has asked "Can anyone believe that the officer would have arrested a white man under the same facts?" I can easily believe it. I've seen a white person (a 30ish woman) arrested for disorderly conduct on her own front porch when she was the one who called the police.

Shocked and surprised? Don't be. She was blatantly drunk, hostile, and uncooperative, and had called them under false pretenses, alleging that her downstairs neighbor (me) was rude to her and was being evicted. Neither was true, and neither would have been a crime if it had been true. As had often happened before, I heard her screaming obscenities at 3:30am while trying to get her front door unlocked. (She kept stealing the lightbulb in our shared entranceway and I got tired of replacing it, since, not being a drunk, I could find my keyhole in the dark.) After five minutes of foul curses, I opened my own front door and told her that if she didn't stop cussing, quiet down, and go to bed I would call the cops. Ten minutes later, they knocked on my door, because she called them. Twenty minutes after that, they hauled her away in handcuffs. She was later sentenced to 100 hours community service.

I rather enjoyed my chat with the police, as my neighbor stumbled around making incoherent accusations and I patiently and soberly convinced them that I was not being evicted, but was moving out because my lease was up, the rent was being raised by 40%, and (mostly) because I'd just spent five months of Hell living below a drunken a**hole who liked to come home drunk at 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning and pick up pieces of furniture and drop them, screaming "How do you like that, you son of a bitch?" (She started that her second night in the apartment, when 7 different neighbors, but not I, called the police to complain about the loudness of her partying at 2:30am on a weeknight. I told her the next day that I wasn't one of the 7, but she chose to blame all her troubles on me.) She knew that I was an unmarried middle-aged high school teacher, so she particularly liked to scream "F***ing Pedophile" at me. If anyone had believed her, I would be unemployable, so I was disappointed that her sentence was only 100 hours. Did I mention that when she got home she was (as usual) driving a rather large car from wherever she'd gotten drunk?

By the way, after a very polite black policeman slipped the cuffs on her so deftly that I didn't even see what he was doing until he'd done it (and I'd been expecting it), she started screaming "Rodney King! Rodney King! Bring it!", which immediately made my Top 10 list of Most Embarrassingly Stupid Things I've Ever Heard Anyone Say.
7.24.2009 8:03pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Whit:

"... a long time ago i was injured and it was difficult to reach down for the shift key, so i developed the stylish lower case thang."

I suspected something like that. Have you considered voice recognition software. There's Dragon for the PC and Dictate (or Mac Dictate) for the Mac. Both work extremely well-- not expensive at all. Hint: I'm trying to encourage you to comment more because common sense, intelligence and experience cuts through bullshit every time.
7.24.2009 8:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Dilan Esper:

I generally agree with youh comment which is well thought out and informative. However I don't see how it applies to Sargent Crowley. His requests to Gates were entirely reasonable. Gates choose to make a scene and create a national uproar over nothing. Crowley had to make sure that Gates was not under duress. To do that, he needed for Gates to come out, or for him to go in. Gates' aberrant would invite suspicious by any police officer try to do his job. When someone goes nuts with no provocation, you have to wonder why.

It's possible (and this is pure speculation on my part) that Gates wanted to provoke an issue here and seized on the opportunity.
7.24.2009 8:20pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
FWIW, my impression from reading the cases is that police often intentionally blur the distinction between a request (which you are free to decline) and a demand (which you are not free to decline). If you say "yes," you have consented to a search, and waived your Fourth Amendment rights. If you say "no" you risk criminal liability for obstructing lawful police action. Of course, the police report (often the most credible evidence of whether it was a request or a demand) is written by the policeman after the fact

My own view is that this, and similar police tactics, while effective in the short term, are counterproductive in the long run. Subjecting the population to abusive bullshit is no way to win friends and influence people. I can see why individual policemen use these tactics, but they seem so pervasive that I wonder if they are not, at least informally, doctrine approved by police commanders. I'd be interested to know if this is so.
7.24.2009 8:25pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
If we're not careful, some of these comments may start to get repetitive.
7.24.2009 8:26pm
L.N. Smithee (mail) (www):
hattio1 wrote:
where do you see in the police report that the officer warned Gates that he was going to arrest him? Even under your lessened, "if the cop warns you the arrest is okay even if it's not for a crime" standard, shouldn't there be a, you know, warning?

From the police report:

...Due to the tumultuous manner in which Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates' outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest...
I said that Gates was at this point asking to be arrested. I say that because according to all accounts I have seen and read thusfar, Gates was shouting loudly that he was being persecuted because he is black. OK, Perfesser, you're saying you already have one strike against you because of your skin color. So whaddaya do? You follow an alleged racist cop as he is leaving your residence and talk about his mama.

Way to win friends and influence people, huh?
7.24.2009 8:27pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
It's possible (and this is pure speculation on my part) that Gates wanted to provoke an issue here and seized on the opportunity.

I agree, though it is also possible that Gates immediately assumed that he was being questioned because he was a "black male" breaking into a home, and was not being given the benefit of the doubt, and just took off from there. Remember, once people think that they are being singled out because of their race-- even if they are wrong about it (as Gates was-- the police would have investigated a report of a white burglar too)-- they get very agitated.

The thing is, once Gates is pissed, even if his anger is actually groundless, we have to expect the police officer to act like a professional and not to arrest the guy in front of his own home for disorderly conduct. Unless there's an actual threat to the officer's safety, it's time to just leave.
7.24.2009 8:33pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Subjecting the population to abusive bullshit is no way to win friends and influence people. --
.
That's true. In the several encounters I've had with LEO (and I don't trust them as far as I can throw them), I've never had a serious problem, even when being cited. A calm, collected demeanor works wonders - or at least the wisdom to calm down / shut up when told to. I've been stopped/detained for "nothing" more than once [motorcycle in the back of a pickup at 3AM, yes it was mine and I could prove it; burning rubber out of a toll booth, which is perfectly legal], identified myself, cleared the suspicion in a matter of minutes (less than 5), and went on my way.
.
It didn't take Dr. Gates to teach me that hollering "You racist!" to a cop is counterproductive. But then again, subjecting the police to abusive bullshit is, as noted here, legal, and likely to win friends/cred among fellow race-baiters.
7.24.2009 8:35pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Smithee:

It's worth noting that saying "you are becoming disorderly" is VERY slippery on the cop's part. That is a statement that is intended to go into a police report as a warning the suspect of imminent arrest, but is intended not to actually be heard as a warning. An actual warning is "if you keep this up I will arrest you for disorderly conduct". And the cop didn't say that, which suggests he wanted to arrest Gates.

Same with brandishing handcuffs. That looks like a warning in a police report, but it's not the same as a specific warning.
7.24.2009 8:36pm
cboldt (mail):
-- An actual warning is "if you keep this up I will arrest you for disorderly conduct". And the cop didn't say that ... --
.
I don't assume that Crowley didn't specifically mention a threat of arrest. The report may contain shorthand, where "he was warned" is shorthand for exactly what YOU think constitutes sufficient warning. The report likely contains a mix of shorthand and direct quotation.
.
My sense is that Crowley would have much preferred Gates to calm down/de-escalate - the sooner the better. One thing that would work in Gates favor would be that his only question, as he exited the house, was continued demand for Crowley's identification details, so he (Gates) could file a properly cited complaint to the department.
7.24.2009 8:46pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
cboldt:

It is possible that the report contains shorthand. But I doubt it-- the brandishing of handcuffs sounds like the officer deliberately made two non-warning "warnings".

And this isn't about what "I" think is a sufficient warning. The issue is whether it is a warning at all. To a reasonable person who is not a lawyer, the words "you are becoming disorderly" is not likely to be taken as a threat of arrest, because ordinary people aren't schooled in the law of disorderly conduct.

My sense is that Crowley would have much preferred Gates to calm down/de-escalate - the sooner the better.

Remember, while Gates was probably out of control, it actually isn't his responsibility to calm down and deescalate. He isn't being paid a salary by the state to remain professional in a police questioning situation. The cop, on the other hand, is.

The cop was free to leave at any time. Leaving deescalates. Instead, the cop chose to arrest. Arresting escalates. It's the cop's fault, not Gates, because Gates has the right to act like an ass in this situation, whereas the City of Cambridge pays the cop not to act like one.
7.24.2009 9:00pm
Yo!:
Angus says, "Those cases do not bode well for the officer's decision to arrest. However, it predict that all such analyses will do no good among conservative websites that have made the officer a heroic figure."

Right, and it shows the great Gates to be nothing but a two-bit homie with the judgment of a 'hood rat. Quite the show for Harvard's great African Scholar!
7.24.2009 9:01pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Can someone explain why the cop didn't leave, once he had entered Gates' home, discovered that Gates lived there, and saw that there was nobody else there?

Why didn't he leave at that point? All Gates wanted was his name and badge number. Give him that info, and leave. Why hang around and argue with Gates?
7.24.2009 9:08pm
Yo!:
Mahan Atma, you'll want to see this: "What's Missing from this NYTimes article about Henry Louis Gates"
7.24.2009 9:13pm
loki13 (mail):

Right, and it shows the great Gates to be nothing but a two-bit homie with the judgment of a 'hood rat. Quite the show for Harvard's great African Scholar!


Ladies and Gentleman, Your 2009 Republican Party!

...seriously, I wonder what the Sister Souljah moment is going to be. Is Mitt Romney going to have to a Sonny's BBQ, choke down some pork three ways, fondle a rifle, and say, "Y'all, us white guys have it pretty good! I mean... c'mon. This whole victim thing... dang, we got the power and the money, do we have to take the whiney sense of victimhood from everyone too? Can't we leave 'em something?"
7.24.2009 9:16pm
cboldt (mail):
-- It is possible that the report contains shorthand. But I doubt it --
.
That's fair enough. I'm just not inclined to make an assumption either way. If Crowley wasn't being direct with the threat of arrest, he merits criticism and discipline for not using tools that are proven effective at de-escalating a tense situation. "Command and consequences" is a reasonable requirement.
.
-- And this isn't about what "I" think is a sufficient warning. --
.
I know that. I just used "YOU" as representing that if the report is shorthand, that the full expression used may represent exactly what you expect. Surely what you would expect would be sufficient, in your eyes. Of course - it's a tautology!
.
-- Remember, while Gates was probably out of control, it actually isn't his responsibility to calm down and deescalate. --
.
My speculative point was that Crowley would probably have preferred things calm down, rather than heat up.
.
-- The cop was free to leave at any time. --
.
In hindsight, it would have been best if he hadn't shown up.
7.24.2009 9:27pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I found this line a bit creepy
When an individual under suspicion becomes agitated, insults the officer and becomes aggressive, the majority of police departments would allow the officer to make an arrest.
That essentially makes "contempt of cop" a crime.
It's not just "creepy," but wrong as applied here, since Gates was not an individual under suspicion at the time he was arrested.
7.24.2009 9:33pm
enjointhis:
Lots of Monday-morning quarterbacking going on here. Some (hopefully non-repetitive) thoughts about this whole brouhaha, which might be salient because of my close proximity to the whole affair.

1. I think it was more a town/gown (or class) thing than a black/white thing. I know Cambridge well enough to know there's a not-insignificant amount of tension between the townies (with their Suffolk/BC/U.Mass./CRL educations) and the Harvard folk. I've had interactions with the CPD both when my Harvard affiliation was clear and when it was unknown, and the experiences were noticeably different. Also, with all due respect, I've seen first-hand Prof. Gates being an arrogant pr**k to those not his intellectual equal. An incendiary combination, especially if Prof. Gates was tired, jet-lagged, and sick.

2. The story nobody's talked about too much... who called the CPD on him? While there's an apartment bldg. next door, I can't help but thinking the neighbors would have recognized him from daily activities. If there's racism at play, THAT'S its most likely location.

3. Concur with whit's post about knowledge disparities &experiential biases. Also concur that police reports are written to shade facts into the best light possible. But with the # of witnesses present (many of whom are Harvard-affiliated &generally feel more loyalty to the institution than the city), it'd be ill-advised to fabricate too much objectively-verifiable information.

4. DA's office is political, so dropping the charge is meaningless with respect to whether Sgt. Crowley had probable cause, etc. Gerry Leone pictures himself in Sen. Kennedy's seat in a couple of years (or AG Coakley's, if she's tapped to fill it), and authorizing the prosecution of Prof. Gates would be toxic to those ambitions. The case was radioactive. As an aside, there's no love lost between Leone &Cambridge's city manager, Robt. Healy (who was on the losing end of a multi-million wrongful termination / discrimination suit recently). As a final note, Harvard voluntarily contributes a LOT of money to the City; I have a hunch money might dry up if the city fathers encouraged such a prosecution.

-- ET!
7.24.2009 9:52pm
Oren:



The thing is, once Gates is pissed, even if his anger is actually groundless, we have to expect the police officer to act like a professional and not to arrest the guy in front of his own home for disorderly conduct.

Indeed, this is an incident of two individuals being unfathomably childish.

The problem is that one has an obligation to comport himself with the dignity and professionalism even in the face of patently obnoxious behavior.
7.24.2009 10:08pm
Oren:

If people are allowed to simply mouth off in any way short of violence or fighting words without consequence, we will ultimately inhibit law enforcement.

How? A professional can discharge his duty in face of mouthing off just fine.
7.24.2009 10:11pm
cboldt (mail):
-- A professional can discharge his duty in face of mouthing off just fine. --
.
I'm looking forward to the YouTube of the Gates/Crowley interaction.
.
It's funny you linked to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzNX_oEal4c, because that is exactly the sort of tirade that I picture Gates making.
7.24.2009 10:17pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Oren:

The problem is that one has an obligation to comport himself with the dignity and professionalism even in the face of patently obnoxious behavior.

I'm sure there's a valuable lesson in that for everyone, but until I hear it from somebody who agrees with me, I reject it.
7.24.2009 10:21pm
anotherpsychdoc (mail):
I believe Arthur Kirkland's statement and analysis above is likely to be true. 'The Sgt. chose the wrong person to abuse.' Now maybe it being very high profile now, that Sgt. will escape a problem, but were I a policeman I would put the future odds on Mr. Kirkland's statement. The consultant who has worked for the Israelis points out that the policeman 'feels called in to restore order.' That is with the implication that he has to have 100% certainty that there has not been a burglary. I would revise that to put as a priority that the black man does not have a sense of being infringed. If it 'seems likely that' it is his house and I have a picture id that can tell me later who it was if something were awry, then I am free to leave. Order, as demonstrated by the opinion of the president of the U.S., has been restored.
7.24.2009 10:30pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Mahan Atma, you'll want to see this: "What's Missing from this NYTimes article about Henry Louis Gates""


In the cop's report, he admits he realized Gates lived there before the cop went back outside. Furthermore, it would have been blatantly obvious by Gates' appearance that he wasn't a burglar.

So why didn't the cop just leave?
7.24.2009 10:46pm
Sal:
LM: I agree. These comments are repetative.
7.24.2009 10:54pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
An unconstitutional disorderly conduct statute resulted in the landmark decision under Indiana's free speech clause in Colleen Price v. State, 622 N.E.2d 954 (Ind 1993). Can't seem to find it online. While the case showed promise of the Indiana court starting to take it own constitution seriously, it's rarely been relied on since outside other disorderly conduct cases.
7.24.2009 11:19pm
ArthurKirkland:

Now maybe it being very high profile now, that Sgt. will escape a problem,


The prominence of the case likely inclines the prospect and increased severity of a problem for the officer. Most citizens would walk away; this one seems likely to press every procedural point, for several reasons. Many cases are handled informally (customarily a plus for the officer, especially if its keeps his jacket clean); this one seems likely to feature every dot and cross, and it is hard to envision how the officer could keep it out of his jacket.

The freakish notoriety of this episode might override the usual factors -- union politics, municipal politics, personal relationships, etc. -- that influence this type of situation.

This type of mistake customarily is not a career-crusher -- and shouldn't be, unless the appropriate inquiries reveal reep-seated unfitness. (It does suggest that this officer is a poor fit for the academy, and let's hope verbal judo was never among the subjects he taught.) But, as I said, this fellow picked the wrong citizen to abuse.
7.24.2009 11:24pm
Please stop banning TtheCO:
Gates is a drama queen.
7.24.2009 11:55pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):


That ain't no crime.
7.25.2009 12:29am
MartyA:
Could Gates have had a few too many belts at the faculty club before his racial stereotyping? Did the cop actually cover for Gates' tipsiness? Is there any evidence that Gates had been drinking?
7.25.2009 12:30am
Franklin Drackman:
So it was "clearly obvious" Gates wasn't a Burglar??? Why? cause he wasn't wearing a little black mask??
He's lucky they showed him some academic courtesy and didn't search his house, which they "Obviously" had the right to do, since he could have reasonably been suspected to be under the influence of demon crack... Guy probably has an unlicensed Glock in his night table... believe thats a mandatory year in jail in Tax-achussetts...
7.25.2009 12:43am
jellis58 (mail):
"defendant did not make any threats or engage in violence, and his speech did not constitute fighting words. Com. v. Mallahan"

If calling someone a damned racketeer and a facist were fighting words (from chaplinski) would accusing someone of being a racist be the same? Facist is not that much worse than racist.
7.25.2009 12:45am
Sarcastro (www):
Sassing a cop in your house is a crime. If not, the epidemic of sass would run out of control!
7.25.2009 12:53am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"So it was "clearly obvious" Gates wasn't a Burglar??? Why? cause he wasn't wearing a little black mask??"


We're talking about a 50 or 60-something year old man with a gray beard, in a polo shirt, little round glasses, with a Harvard ID (and according to Gates, a drivers' license with his address on it).

I'm sorry, but if you can't tell this person isn't a burglar, you have no business being a cop. But of course, we know the cop knew it was Gates' residence at that point because he said so in his report.

So tell me again, why didn't he leave at that point?
7.25.2009 12:55am
Franklin Drackman:
Your makin my point, thats exactly what I'd wear if I didn't want to make people think I was a burglar, just like Mohammad Atta and the hijackers didn't wear Turbans and Flowing Robes... And I don't think Mr. PhD is all that smart anyway... he might get an Apology with crossed fingers behind the back, but he'll always have that Body Cavity Search in his memory...
7.25.2009 1:06am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"thats exactly what I'd wear if I didn't want to make people think I was a burglar"


You'd make yourself 58 years old?
7.25.2009 1:16am
whit:

Same with brandishing handcuffs. That looks like a warning in a police report, but it's not the same as a specific warning.


what planet are you from? here in the real world, any garden variety guy with less than a high school education knows that if a cop takes his handcuffs out, it's time to (to quote yosemite sam) "shut up shutting up". i mean SERIOUSLY. join the reality based community. i've done this dozens of times. it WORKS. it works especially well when people get all "no speakee english" on you. i've had people speak the queen's english, and then when they start getting questions they don't like, all of a sudden their ability to speak english instantly evaporates. but they ALWAYS understand what a set of handcuffs waved in front of me means. and thus is gained VOLUNTARY compliance and no arrest needs be made. for pete's sake, if gates was being rational he would have been more concerned about the handcuffs vs. making comments about crowley's "mama".
7.25.2009 1:25am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If calling someone a damned racketeer and a facist were fighting words (from chaplinski) would accusing someone of being a racist be the same? Facist is not that much worse than racist.

I am not the first person to observe this, but Chaplinsky, even though it is good law on the subject of fighting words being unprotected, would come out the other way under modern caselaw. Fighting words must provoke an IMMEDIATE breach of the peace, and calling someone a racketeer and a fascist doesn't do that.
7.25.2009 1:28am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
what planet are you from? here in the real world, any garden variety guy with less than a high school education knows that if a cop takes his handcuffs out, it's time to (to quote yosemite sam) "shut up shutting up". i mean SERIOUSLY. join the reality based community. i've done this dozens of times. it WORKS.

Whit, if you put it in your police report as a "warning", you would be filing a false police report.

Brandishing your handcuffs is not the same thing as saying "I am going to arrest you if you don't stop". Indeed, it is typical police BS-- it allows an officer to claim that a suspect was "warned" without actually warning him or her.
7.25.2009 1:31am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Oh, and Whit, unless those people were obstructing your duties or actually disturbing the peace (i.e., THEY caused the disturbance, not the police), you don't have the right to shut people up by brandishing handcuffs. They have every right to insult you.
7.25.2009 1:32am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
if gates was being rational he would have been more concerned about the handcuffs vs. making comments about crowley's "mama".

If you don't like comments about your mother, whit, find another line of work. Seriously. Anyone who can't take an insult should be quickly removed from policework.
7.25.2009 1:33am
whit:

Whit, if you put it in your police report as a "warning", you would be filing a false police report.

utter rubbish. a "false police report"... lol. and of course i would give a verbal warning as well. i was referring to my actions primarily with people who pretend they don't understand english. they ALWAYS understand "mr handcuffs".
Oh, and Whit, unless those people were obstructing your duties or actually disturbing the peace (i.e., THEY caused the disturbance, not the police), you don't have the right to shut people up by brandishing handcuffs. They have every right to insult you.



and i've never denied that. i've given numerous instances on this website where i've been insulted . i've never arrested anybody for insulting me. nor did crowley arrest gates for insulting him. i am a stronger defender of the first amendment than anybody i am aware of. i have never claimed people don't have the right to insult police. i think it's hilarious that gates was such a dumbass that he made the mama comment to crowley. stop putting words in my mouth. i never said people don't have the right to criticize the police. the situation I ALREADY MENTIONED was when i was interviewing a domestic violence victim and the suspect's mother came over and started insulting HER, and calling her a liar. that's OBStRUCTING. and as i said, a clear warning that she would be arrested if she didn't knock off her idiocy and get her arse back to her trailer worked to gain voluntary compliance, which is what we are all about. so try reading for content next time. hth
7.25.2009 1:46am
Franklin Drackman:
C'mon Y'all aint ya ever watched an episode of "Cops"?? the handcuffs are for the Perps "Own Protection"...
and they're innocent until proven guilty in a court of law...
And I bet Dr.Gates is one of those Ph Ds who always refers to himself as "Doctor"
7.25.2009 1:57am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

I want the police to be very suspicious of anyone claiming to be the lawful resident.


Trouble is, the scenario you're describing is not what Crowley described in his report. Crowley did not say 'Gates claimed he was the resident, but I remained in the residence because I was suspicious of this claim.' Rather, Crowley said that shortly after he entered the residence, he came to "believe" that Gates was the resident. The key word there is "believe." Crowley has admitted that he was not suspicious. So what further business did he have inside the residence?

His requests to Gates were entirely reasonable. … Crowley had to make sure that Gates was not under duress. To do that, he needed for Gates to come out, or for him to go in.


Trouble is, the scenario you're describing is not what Crowley described in his report. Crowley did not say 'I entered the residence because I had to make sure that Gates was not under duress.' If this is why Crowley entered the residence (as you are suggesting), then why didn't he say so? Crowley pointedly neglects to tell us how, why and when he entered the residence. That's because he had no right to do so. Everything he needed to accomplish he could have accomplished while standing in the doorway. There was no need to ask Gates to step outside, and there was no need for Crowley to enter the residence.

What law did Crowley break?


The law that requires him to show his ID upon request. (See also here and here.)

Obviously we need more evidence to determine if Crowley really went beyond the police rules and procedures that apply here.


Wrong. We already have enough evidence to conclude that Crowley broke the law that requires him to show his ID upon request.

It's not as if Gates were just sitting quietly on his porch and suddenly got arrested for doing nothing.


What is it exactly that he did? There's a lot of yelling about his alleged yelling, even though there is a distinct lack of evidence (aside from the self-serving police report) that Gates ever raised his voice prior to his arrest. Have you seen any such evidence? There might be some, but I haven't seen anything I consider reliable.

================
bruce:

it appears to me that a lot of what went on was routine police work, and party was done to protect the single officer responding to a situation where two people had been reported, and where he had no idea of where the other person was. The arrest for disturbing the peace is just apparently how cops control the situation until things settle down.


You are suggesting that at the time of the arrest, Crowley was a "single officer," and was acting to protect himself. This glosses over the fact that by the time of the arrest, there were several other officers at the scene, including both Cambridge police and Harvard police. And the police report indicates that there was another officer inside the house with Crowley, obviously prior to the arrest. So the arrest was not "done to protect the single officer."

================
cato:

The officer's actions, as I understand them, were neither right nor wrong


There is no question that it was wrong for Crowley to violate the law that required him to show his ID. By Crowley's own account, Gates asked Crowley to show ID. By Crowley's own account, Crowley did not show ID.

================
dilan:

a good police chief can simply announce that this crap isn't happening in his or her department


In this instance, the chief said that "Crowley followed proper protocol and procedures in making the arrest." In other words, the chief has communicated to his cops that the law requiring them to show ID can be safely ignored.

================
smithee

according to all accounts I have seen and read thusfar, Gates was shouting loudly that he was being persecuted because he is black


Let us know if you can find any "accounts" that are based on a source other than the self-serving police report.

================
enjoin:

The story nobody's talked about too much... who called the CPD on him? While there's an apartment bldg. next door, I can't help but thinking the neighbors would have recognized him from daily activities. If there's racism at play, THAT'S its most likely location.


The person who called is Lucia Whalen. Her role was discussed at length in the prior thread, starting here.

But with the # of witnesses present


Many or most of the key events happened inside the house, where the only witnesses were Crowley and another cop.

================
mahan:

In the cop's report, he admits he realized Gates lived there before the cop went back outside.


Not just before he went back outside. Crowley made several statements which indicate that he realized very early in the encounter with Gates that Gates lived there.

================
drackman:

So it was "clearly obvious" Gates wasn't a Burglar??? Why? cause he wasn't wearing a little black mask?? … thats [Gates' attire] exactly what I'd wear if I didn't want to make people think I was a burglar


It doesn't matter if you would have been suspicious that Gates was a burglar pretending to be a resident. Or if you think that Crowley should have had that suspicion. What matters is that Crowley has admitted that he did not have that suspicion, as of very early in his encounter with Gates. Which means Crowley had no further business on Gates' property, aside from making his ego feel better.
7.25.2009 2:03am
Oren:

It's funny you linked to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzNX_oEal4c, because that is exactly the sort of tirade that I picture Gates making.

Except of course that that Cambridge police apparently doesn't require anywhere near that level of command presence (from a Sarg. no less).

Whit, come on -- we know you understand the difference between obstructing a bona-fide investigation and the same behavior which, in the absence of such an investigation, is nothing more than petulant annoyance.

[ Incidentally, I've never said the cop was in the wrong -- he was clearly in the right. I would just hope that he would discharge his authority in a more professional manner. ]
7.25.2009 6:01am
Baelln1:

- Why were the Disorderly-Conduct charges so quickly dismissed ?

- Who exactly dismissed the criminal charges made by Officer
Crowley... and ordered Gate's rapid release from custody ?


____________________
7.25.2009 7:50am
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

Crowley provides additional information in this interview. He explains in detail the sequence of events as he remembers them. Crowley asserts that once he was satisfied that Gates was the lawful resident and no one was in danger, he left the house. He claims that Gates followed him out the house and proceeded to throw a tantrum. That's why he was first warned and then arrested. Had Gates not followed him out, the matter would have ended.

As there other policemen outside as well as civilian witnesses, Crowley's version of what happened outside will ultimately get confirmed or contradicted.

You seem to be obsessing over the whether Crowley properly identified himself. I submit that's nitpicking at this point because that would not justify Gates' alleged disorderly conduct outside the house. That's the issue at this point.
7.25.2009 8:10am
cboldt (mail):
-- [jukeboxgrad seems] to be obsessing over the whether Crowley properly identified himself. I submit that's nitpicking at this point because that would not justify Gates' alleged disorderly conduct outside the house. --
.
Somewhere in the mess of discussion on the Crowley/Gates war, I commented that it would augur in Gates's favor, if his yelling while following Crowley out the door was persistence in obtaining the officer's identification details. That would be evidence of persistence in filing a properly cited complaint relating to the initial contact, etc. One of Gates's chief complaints is lack of proper showing of ID, and the more persistent he was in seeking that, the more credible his self-serving after-the-fact report.
7.25.2009 8:24am
cboldt (mail):
-- Why were the Disorderly-Conduct charges so quickly dismissed?
Who exactly dismissed the criminal charges
[who] ordered Gate's rapid release from custody?
--
.
Arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - July 16
Friends of Gates said he ... was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday [July 16] ...

Probably released on his own recognizance, no bail, etc.
Gates Charges Dropped - July 21
The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department have recommended to the Middlesex County District Attorney that the criminal charge against Professor Gates not proceed. Therefore, in the interests of justice, the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter.

IIRC, subsequent to the release, there have been some critics, inside the police or police union apparatus, who maintain the criminal charges should not have been dropped.
7.25.2009 8:55am
Baelln1:
Gates Charges Dropped - July 21

{ "The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department have recommended to the Middlesex County District Attorney that the criminal charge against Professor Gates not proceed. Therefore, in the interests of justice, the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter." }

____________________________

So Officer Crowley's very own police co-workers &friends in the Cambridge Police Dept 'Court Prosecutor's Office' ... readily determined that Crowley falsely arrested/charged Gates -- because the charges were legally unsupportable.

Crowley couldn't even convince his police buddies on his side of the story.

If the Cambridge Police Chief &Police Union are now so sure that Crowley acted correctly -- then they absolutely should file the disorderly-conduct charge with the court. That they have not done so, tells you all you need to know about the "facts" of the case.
7.25.2009 9:58am
SusanV:
"Gates' alleged disorderly conduct outside the house. That's the issue at this point."

There is no alleged disorderly conduct, at this point. Nolle prosequi, requires the court to find the Gates not guilty of disorderly conduct.
7.25.2009 10:05am
Yo!:
From Powerline:


A Minneapolis attorney writes to add a note on the matter of Harvard Professor Henry Gates. When asked to come out of his house to talk to the police in connection with the report of a possible break-in, Gates exclaimed: "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Our correspondent suggests otherwise. He writes:


I know that this Gates incident is getting plenty of play in all quarters right now, but I have yet to see the proper context set out for the police response. In a past life (both before and during law school), I was a Minneapolis cop for eight years. I left in 2002 as a Sergeant supervising a dogwatch shift (9:00 pm -7:00 am), to take my first legal job at a Minneapolis firm.

In the Gates incident, the police were not dispatched to simply "check on a couple of guys acting suspiciously around a home." They were almost certainly responding to a report of a "burglary of dwelling in progress." This is typically one of the highest-priority calls that an officer will encounter during a shift.

Let me explain, and I know this will require a huge leap of faith for certain segments of the population. The vast majority of police officers are deeply, deeply committed to protecting the public from the type of criminal that would force their way into someone else's home. When a "burglary of dwelling in progress" call comes over the radio, officers literally drop everything (yes friends, even doughnuts . . .) and risk life-and-limb driving as fast as possible to get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Cops don't do this simply out of desire to catch "bad-guys." They do it because -- due to prior experience -- they assume that the "dwelling" in issue is occupied, and they have seen first-hand the devastation left behind when an innocent family is confronted with a violent home-invasion, burglary/rape scenario, or something similar.

Sergeant Crowley responded out a desire to ensure the safety of Gates's home and its inhabitants without regard to the race of the homeowner. Period. In return, he was subjected to abusive race-baiting from a purported "scholar" that apparently didn't rise above the intellectual level of a playground taunt. Gates is, quite simply, a jerk.



7.25.2009 10:30am
Yo!:
Mark Steyn devotes his weekly column to Professor Gates's arrest. He is relatively charitable to Professor Gates, though he notes:

I confess I've been wary of taking Henry Louis Gates at his word ever since, almost two decades back, the literary scholar compared the lyrics of the rap group 2 Live Crew to those of the Bard of Avon. "It's like Shakespeare's 'My love is like a red, red rose,'" he declared, authoritatively, to a court in Fort Lauderdale.

As it happens, "My luv's like a red, red rose" was written by Robbie Burns, a couple of centuries after Shakespeare. Oh, well. 16th century English playwright, 18th century Scottish poet: What's the diff? Evidently being within the same quarter-millennium and right general patch of the North-East Atlantic is close enough for a professor of English and Afro-American Studies appearing as an expert witness in a court case
.
7.25.2009 10:33am
Baelln1:
"There is no alleged disorderly conduct, at this point. Nolle prosequi, requires the court to find the Gates not guilty of disorderly conduct." (-SusanV)

________________________

Crowley, the Cambridge Police, and his supporters are certainly loudly declaring that Crowley's official actions were still correct. That would, of course, include Gate's arrest & disorderly-conduct charge.

A nolle prosequi filing is basically an administrative court action -- ending that specific prosecution. But Cambridge City &Police can easily reinstate the disorderly-conduct charge and prosecute Gates again.

If Gates acted criminally, as Crowley officially stated, Cambridge authorities have a solemn duty to prosecute Gates... if they really accept Crowley's side of the story.
7.25.2009 10:41am
Addendum:
Police investigating brick thrown into East Austin home
Police are investigating a brick with an offensive message thrown into the window of an East Austin home.

The brick, thrown through a 4-year-old boy’s bedroom window, read “Keep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong.”

The homeowner, Barbara Frische, who is white, said she has lived in the home for 10 years.

7.25.2009 10:41am
Public_Defender (mail):
I'm surprised at how libertarian the law is. Given the Massachusetts cases cited above (especially Mallahan), I don't see any coherent argument that Gates was acting "disorderly" as that term is defined in Massachusetts law.

I also don't think this was an example of racism. The cop had a duty to check out the complaint. The cop had the (unfortunate) right to demand ID. Gates provided the ID. But Gates (stupidly) kept yelling at the cop.

Even though this wasn't racism, the cop was doing what too many cops do when citizens exercise First Amendment rights obnoxiously. This shows why it's unwise to mouth off to a copy even where youhave the right to, but it's still legal. Cops should know better. This cop should have risen above Gates' rudeness and walked away. Instead, the cop became a bully and abused his power.

Neither Gates nor the cop is entitled to any credit for their behavior in this incident.
7.25.2009 11:41am
subpatre (mail):
cboldt writes: ...some critics, inside the police or police union apparatus, who maintain the criminal charges should not have been dropped.

The police view 'All parties agree that this is a just resolution' like a plea bargain: made by both sides. Gates welshed, the agreement is void, so the charges should be reinstated.

Contrary to most comments, the union interprets the nol pros agreement to be wholly in Gates favor: Gates is a decent guy who made a minor mistep, it's a trivial charge, Crowley's record can take the court dismissal, and Gates' political friends will be happy.

It's standard, boilerplate, political favor . . . until Gates decided a "just resolution" meant he could trash Crowley's career and impute police in general.


Cambridge courts have been entertained by Harvard (and now MIT) for centuries, and this case promises nothing different. Harvard alumni, professors, parents —even entire firms—regularly appear with special pleadings, novel defenses, foot-thick case files, and Constitutional claims. It's routine.

With feedback from every on-scene PO, sense of neighbors' reactions, witness statements, dispatchers, audio tapes, and courts with 16 years experience of Sgt Crowley's cases, the department and union appear secure in this.
7.25.2009 11:42am
Cleanville Tziabatz (www):
Probable cause was required for Sgt. Crowley to enter and Sgt. Crowley did not have that probable cause to enter. A witness's statement that someone is trying to force a door is not probable cause in and of itself. Sgt. Crowley should have asked for Gates' id BEFORE he came in. If Gates refuses, then Sgt. Crowley has probable cause. If Gates produces (with Gates in and Crowley out), then Sgt. Crowley never gets probable cause to come in.

Problem is, according to the police report, Sgt. Crowley never asked for id before he came in. He just went in without probable cause. He was in violation of the Fourth Amendment at that point, and a trespasser.

Besides the fact that the police report does not even try to establish PC for the initial entry (presumably assuming that a person trying to force a door is automatic PC to enter, which it is not), there is another glaring omission, which is this:

We know Sgt. Gates talked to the witness Ms. Whalen prior to going to the door. What we do not know is what she said when Sgt. Crowley asked her:

What happened to the two black men with backpacks who were trying to force the door?

It seems pretty likely that Ms. Whalen's answer would have obliterated any previously existing support for probable cause even before Sgt. Crowley even started talking to the home's rightful occupant.

I can't wait for the civil suit. I hope Prof. Gates wins big.
7.25.2009 11:55am
J.D. Crump (mail):
I understand the sensitivity blacks must feel regarding this issue but as a white male, I must say that we suffer from the same problem, perhaps with less disastrous consequences historically. This is not so much racism as it is fifism. We have far too few Andys and far too many Barney Fifes in our police departments.
7.25.2009 12:32pm
Cleanville Tziabatz (www):
And another thing:

even if the Gates conduct on the porch at the end met the elements of disorderly, isn't there a necessity or justification defense as far as trying to attract the attention of (non-police) witnesses?

Look at it this way: what do you think the charges would have been if the only witnesses were the police officers? At least assault. Probably worse since they knew they had his fingerprints on the cane. Gates needed those witnesses, bad.
7.25.2009 12:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Cboldt:

"... if his yelling while following Crowley out the door was persistence in obtaining the officer's identification details. That would be evidence of persistence in filing a properly cited complaint relating to the initial contact, etc."

Any failure on Crowley's part to properly identify himself does not give Gates license to engage in disorderly behavior. If Gates did not think he got a correct oral identification or forgot, then he could get it from the police report. He need not have thrown a tantrum.
7.25.2009 12:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Public_Defender

"The cop had the (unfortunate) right to demand ID."


Unfortunate? What would you have the policeman do at Gates' house if he were not authorized to demand an ID? Without an ID the cop would have had to take Gates into custody. Or I suppose the policeman could just leave. Do you want that? How would you like it if home invaders could easily pose as the legal resident while you were held hostage in another part of the house?
7.25.2009 12:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Cleanville Tziabatz:

I think you need to read the police report and listen to the interview with Crowley broadcast on WHDH. That way you will get an accurate picture of what Crowley asserts happened.
7.25.2009 1:02pm
subpatre (mail):
A. Zarkov writes "...If Gates did not think he got a correct oral identification or forgot, then he could get it from the police report."

... or from the nameplate on Crowley's uniform.

Some comments suggest cops in uniform and on call —holding a bank robber at gunpoint for instance— must immediately present an identification card if asked; and further, that failure to present ID invalidates any and all charges placed. The claim is at odds with precedent and good sense.
7.25.2009 1:26pm
Horace:
We know Sgt. Gates talked to the witness Ms. Whalen prior to going to the door.


That's not true.

Please read the report again, carefully:
When I arrived at [redacted] Ware Street I radioed ECC and asked that they have the caller meet me at the front door to this residence. I was told that the caller was already outside. As I was getting this information, I climbed the porch stairs toward the front door. As I reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I turned and looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified as [redacted]. [Redacted] who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence,[...] Since I was the only police officer on location and had my back to the front door [...]


Sergeant Crowley was on the porch before he contacted the reporting witness.
7.25.2009 1:43pm
DennisN (mail):
A. Zarkov

How would you like it if home invaders could easily pose as the legal resident while you were held hostage in another part of the house?


There are two problems with that.

First, there is Sgt Crowley's prior interview with Ms. Whalen. While it is not known what was said, no argument has been raised by Sgt. Crowley, that it contained anything to arouse his suspicions.

Second, and most important, Sgt. Crowley never stated that he suspected Gates' to be other then the lawful resident, or that he was under any coercion or duress.

This is a good example of one of the rules of cynical report writing. Always be sure to remember what you saw and what you thought, before you saw it or thought it. It makes it easier to get the facts right.

[/cynicism]
7.25.2009 2:39pm
SusanV:
That is an odd conversation, the officer describes. Him on the porch with his back to the door and the repoerting witness on the sidewalk. He doesn't seem very suspicious with his back to the door.
7.25.2009 2:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
DennisN:

Listen to the interview with Crowley on WHDH. He explains the sequence of events and why he did what he did.

"While it is not known what was said, no argument has been raised by Sgt. Crowley, that it contained anything to arouse his suspicions."

Not true. Crowley was dispatched to a burglary in progress as reported by a witness. Crowley makes it clear that he was suspicious as he should have been.
7.25.2009 2:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
SusanV:

"He doesn't seem very suspicious with his back to the door."

Not true. Listen to the interview. Turning his back to the door to talk to the witness worried him a lot. He did not know who was in the house and what was going on. At that point it was prudent to assume a possible home invasion had taken place.

Do you really want the police inhibited from investigating possible home invasions? Do you realize the kind of horrible things done to people in home invasions?
7.25.2009 3:02pm
SusanV:
If it worried him, he should not have his back to the door, he should protect himself and her by doing something differently.
7.25.2009 3:08pm
Horace:
Do you really want the police inhibited from investigating possible home invasions?


All by their little lonesome selves? Hell yes. Get backup there before you get your damn fool head blown off.
7.25.2009 3:10pm
DennisN (mail):
@ A. Zarkov:

Do you really want the police inhibited from investigating possible home invasions? Do you realize the kind of horrible things done to people in home invasions?


Not at all, and I never argued that Sgt. Crowley's actions in entering the premises were improper. But he never stated that he was attempting to extricate Gates from a potentially hazardous or coercive situation. I would expect that, if after entering the house, Sgt. Crowley suspected that Gates was in danger, he would have reported it, as well as reporting how that suspicion was resolved, or at least noting the fact that it was resolved.

As the situation stands in his report, we have Sgt. Crowley arresting Gates and then doing nothing to ensure there are no burglars in the house.

I'm not suggesting that Sgt. Crowley endangered or acted improperly in the tactical situation. I am suggesting that his suspicions were resolved early in the game, and the subsequent arrest was a matter of bullying. His paperwork was an attempt to justify his actions - no surprise there.

I believe that Gates "had it coming," but that no more justifies an unjustified arrest for Contempt of Cop than it would justify an on-the-spot correction with a sap glove.
7.25.2009 3:32pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Release the tapes.
7.25.2009 3:33pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
DennisN:

"But he never stated that he was attempting to extricate Gates from a potentially hazardous or coercive situation."


Listen to the interview. Crowley says he was attempting to do just that. He was worried that others could be in the house and wanted Gates outside. Even then in many places the police will search an entire house just to make sure the owner is not acting under duress.

Lesson learned. When someone reports what looks like a home invasion, it could very well trigger a intrusive investigation. Be prepared for that.
7.25.2009 3:59pm
EH (mail):
whit:
i was referring to my actions primarily with people who pretend they don't understand english. they ALWAYS understand "mr handcuffs".

Hey, why stop there? Just put your gun to their face.
7.25.2009 6:26pm
subpatre (mail):
EH writes: "Hey, why stop there? Just put your gun to their face."

Why stop there? Because he'ss a cop doing his job; not a sadistic, power-tripper who gets a thrill taking cheap shots at cops doing their job.
7.25.2009 6:54pm
Baelln1:
...from Crowley's own official report it's clear he perceived there was absolutely NO urgency or danger in the situation. If there was, he would not have casually chatted with the female 911-caller nor confronted Gates alone.

Crowley had unlimited time to back off from an uncooperative citizen, wait for additional police backup, and observe the situation. If it was a real burglary, the crooks had already been cornered.

Crowley could easily have knocked on neighbors' doors and asked those neighbors to describe the residents living in Gate's house -- that would have calmly solved the identification problem... and ended the story.

Crowley chose otherwise.
7.25.2009 7:23pm
EH (mail):
subpatre:
Some comments suggest cops in uniform and on call —holding a bank robber at gunpoint for instance— must immediately present an identification card if asked; and further, that failure to present ID invalidates any and all charges placed. The claim is at odds with precedent and good sense.
You don't know what you're talking about.
7.25.2009 7:30pm
Cleanville Tziabatz (www):
Not true. Listen to the interview. Turning his back to the door to talk to the witness worried him a lot. He did not know who was in the house and what was going on. At that point it was prudent to assume a possible home invasion had taken place.

What seemed prudent would have been to ask the witness (Lucia Whalen) which way they went and whether they were armed. Which Sgt. Crowley almost certainly did. You can almost imagine how it went.

Crowley: which way did they go?

Whalen: One got in the house somehow and met the other one from inside the front door. He opened the front door from the inside.

Crowley: What happened next?

Whalen: The black men took some bags inside. Then the one who had waited outside drove off in some kind of cab.

Crowley: But the other black man is still in there with the bags of guns?

Whalen: Well, I didn't say . . .

Crowley: GET BACK! WE HAVE A SITUATION HERE! *turns and proceeds into Gates' foyer, gun at ready low*
7.25.2009 8:37pm
subpatre (mail):
@EH - As previously mentioned, Slate and and similar 'journals' are poorly regarded as legal cites. One reason is authors, like your 'freelance writer living in NYC', may know little or anything about law.

This ignorance results in your ownership of the claim "police ... cannot force you to identify yourself". ( Hiibel )

The ID of the Sgt Crowley isn't a real question, it's an excuse to reach for a technical red herring. It isn't surprising the first in-thread suggestion that cops in uniform and on call must immediately present an identification card when asked was EH.

Boston policy clearly makes police officer self-identification separate and distinct from a 'lawful request' for the state card.
7.25.2009 9:40pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

Crowley provides additional information in this interview.


You didn't provide a direct link, but I imagine you're talking about this.

There's nothing in that interview to explain why he couldn't look at Gates' ID while standing in the doorway. Crowley never needed to enter the residence. There's also nothing in that interview to explain why Crowley got on the radio, in Gates' kitchen, after seeing Gates' ID, instead of leaving immediately.

There's also nothing in that interview to explain why Crowley failed to show his ID upon request, as required by law. The interview just tends to confirm what is suggested by the police report: Crowley lured Gates outside by withholding his ID. By his own account, Crowley knew that Gates wanted to see Crowley's ID. By his own account, Crowley never presented it, and instead suggested to Gates that any further discussion needed to take place outside. How convenient for Crowley, since he knew a DC arrest could take place outside, but not inside. Crowley knew that Gates was likely to follow Crowley outside in an effort to finally get Crowley to show his ID, as required by law.

There's also an interesting discrepancy between Crowley's interview and Crowley's police report, with regard to what Crowley did once he saw Gates' Harvard ID. In the interview, Crowley said that once he saw Gates' ID, Crowley wanted to get on the radio because he "did want to start clearing all the responding units, because they were probably needed other places in the city" (see the video at 7:48). In other words, he decided there had been no burglary. But in his police report, Crowley said that right after seeing Gates' Harvard ID, Crowley "radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University police."

Huh? What? If "all the responding units" were no longer needed here, why was Harvard police needed here? How does that make sense?

Crowley asserts that once he was satisfied that Gates was the lawful resident and no one was in danger, he left the house.


By Crowley's own account in his police report, he did not immediately leave the house "once he was satisfied that Gates was the lawful resident and no one was in danger." He decided to do something else first. Upon seeing Gates' ID, Crowley decided he needed to summon Harvard police. In front of Gates. This makes no sense.

And it's interesting to notice how Crowley's story is evolving. In his original police report, he doesn't offer his name until after Gates asked for it, which was after Crowley asked Gates to step outside. In the WHDH interview, Crowley claims he said his name before he said anything else.

He claims that Gates followed him out the house and proceeded to throw a tantrum.


Yes, we know what Crowley "claims." I'm still waiting for someone to show evidence that Gates ever raised his voice, prior to the arrest.

Had Gates not followed him out, the matter would have ended.


If Crowley had complied with Gates' lawful request to see Crowley's ID, Gates would not have followed Crowley out, and the matter would have ended. Crowley broke the law by denying this request. He apparently did so in an effort to lure Gates outside. Crowley knew that a DC arrest could take place outside, but not inside.

You seem to be obsessing over the whether Crowley properly identified himself. I submit that's nitpicking at this point


Crowley was required by law to show his ID upon request. He refused to do so. I'm sorry that you think expecting Crowley to obey the law is "obsessing" and "nitpicking."

because that would not justify Gates' alleged disorderly conduct outside the house.


Crowley's denial of Gates' lawful request is highly relevant to the arrest. Crowley gave Gates multiple good reasons to be angry (one reason: Crowley denied Gates lawful request that Crowley show ID), and then arrested Gates for allegedly acting angry. WTF? That's really how you want police to behave?

Any failure on Crowley's part to properly identify himself does not give Gates license to engage in disorderly behavior.


Crowley unlawfully denied a lawful request. Gates had a right be angry about this, and he had a right to express that anger.

If Gates did not think he got a correct oral identification or forgot, then he could get it from the police report.


By law, he is not required to "get it from the police report." By law, he has a right to see Crowley's ID. Crowley unlawfully denied that right.

He need not have thrown a tantrum.


How do you know Gates threw a tantrum? That's what Crowley claims. I'm still waiting for someone to show evidence that Gates ever raised his voice, prior to the arrest.

What would you have the policeman do at Gates' house if he were not authorized to demand an ID?


In this particular situation, Crowley could have solved his problem without asking Gates for ID.

How would you like it if home invaders could easily pose as the legal resident while you were held hostage in another part of the house?


We've been over this already. Even before Crowley saw Gates' ID, Crowley believed that Gates was the resident, not someone posing as the resident. You need to deal with the scenario as reported by Crowley, not some scenario that exists only in your imagination.

Crowley was dispatched to a burglary in progress as reported by a witness. Crowley makes it clear that he was suspicious as he should have been.


I'm sure Crowley was "suspicious" until he got there. But he has made multiple statements indicating that he decided very quickly, once he saw Gates (and even before seeing Gates' ID), that Gates was the resident, not a burglar.

Do you really want the police inhibited from investigating possible home invasions?


We do want the police to investigate possible home invasions. We don't want the police to give people legitimate reasons to be angry and then arrest them for being angry.

==================
cboldt:

it would augur in Gates's favor, if his yelling while following Crowley out the door was persistence in obtaining the officer's identification details


By all accounts, Gates was persistent in asking Crowley to ID himself.

==================
pd:

But Gates (stupidly) kept yelling at the cop.


That's what Crowley claims. I'm still waiting for someone to show evidence that Gates ever raised his voice, prior to the arrest.

==================
subpatre:

or from the nameplate on Crowley's uniform


If the nameplate was sufficient, there would be no MA statute requiring police to carry an ID card, which they are required to show on request.

Some comments suggest cops in uniform and on call —holding a bank robber at gunpoint for instance— must immediately present an identification card if asked


MA law does indeed require cops to "present an identification card if asked." Crowley was not "holding a bank robber at gunpoint," so the "immediately" part is an effort at obfuscation. Crowley's report does not say 'I could not show my ID card because I was so busy rescuing the hostages.'

The problem is not that Crowley didn't show his ID immediately. The problem is that he didn't show his ID. Period.

and further, that failure to present ID invalidates any and all charges placed. The claim is at odds with precedent and good sense.


Crowley's failure to present ID gave Gates a legitimate reason to be angry. It's pretty Orwellian to arrest Gates because he was angry that Crowley broke the law.

Slate and and similar 'journals' are poorly regarded as legal cites.


Commenters who ignore the plain language of a statute are also "poorly regarded." The issue is not what Slate said. The issue is what the statute says.

Crowley carries a photo ID, as required by law. Crowley has admitted that Gates' asked to see it. Crowley has admitted that he did not show his ID to Gates. Crowley broke the law.

It isn't surprising the first in-thread suggestion that cops in uniform and on call must immediately present an identification card when asked was EH.


Speaking of red herrings. The only one tossing in the word "immediately" is you. The problem is not that Crowley didn't show his ID "immediately." The problem is that he didn't show his ID ever.

Boston policy clearly makes police officer self-identification separate and distinct from a 'lawful request' for the state card.


Another red herring. Do you understand that Cambridge is not Boston? Why not tell us about police policy in Boise, or Anchorage?

And aside from that, your claim about Boston policy is gibberish. Even if we pretend that Boston is Cambridge, there is nothing in the Boston policy that relieves Crowley of his duty to show his ID upon request.

And if you're claiming that Gates did not make a lawful request to see Crowley's card, you should explain why Crowley said in his TV interview (WHDH, at 6:07 in the video) that he "did start reaching for a photo ID that I have" when Gates asked to see it. Crowley just never gets around to explaining why he never actually showed the card.
7.25.2009 10:54pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
jukeboxgrad writes, among much else:

"There's also an interesting discrepancy between Crowley's interview and Crowley's police report, with regard to what Crowley did once he saw Gates' Harvard ID. In the interview, Crowley said that once he saw Gates' ID, Crowley wanted to get on the radio because he 'did want to start clearing all the responding units, because they were probably needed other places in the city' (see the video at 7:48). In other words, he decided there had been no burglary. But in his police report, Crowley said that right after seeing Gates' Harvard ID, Crowley 'radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University police.'

"Huh? What? If 'all the responding units' were no longer needed here, why was Harvard police needed here? How does that make sense?"

I find it astonishing that someone could even ask such a silly question. There is a huge difference between city policemen, who routinely deal with crimes of violence and other felonies, and campus policemen, who spend most of their time keeping order among non-criminals. A possible burglary in progress will naturally attract several carloads of city policemen, since burglars are often armed and sometimes assault people they find in the place they are trying to burgle. When it turns out there is no burglary, city-police backup is no longer needed, and there is plenty more crime in Cambridge for the backup to deal with instead. On the other hand, you still have an obnoxious jerk making a huge scene who happens to be a Harvard employee living in a Harvard-owned residence a block from campus, with a door that has been broken down. Is it really so unreasonable to think that the Harvard police might be interested in coming around to help out in a Harvard-related non-emergency situation? If nothing else, they can help keep an eye on the place while the door is being repaired so Gates (even if he doesn't have to be somewhere else like a police station) can get on with his professorial work and not have to guard the door himself.

The "discrepancy" is purely in jukeboxgrad's imagination. He seems determined to make Crowley look like a liar, and is none too scrupulous about how he does it.
7.25.2009 11:41pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

You are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill with regard to the police ID in an effort to direct people away from the central issue: Gates's behavior. Failure to get the ID does not give him license to throw a tantrum. End of story. It's a red herring. If you think that Gates didn't misbehave, that's ok-- we can differ on our interpretation of the available evidence.
7.25.2009 11:58pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I have a question about police IDs. Wouldn't Officer Crowley have had "J. Crowley" embroidered on his shirt pocket? Most policemen I've met have their names printed on their uniforms.

The show-ID rule seems to be designed for situations where you need to know whether someone you are dealing with is in fact a policeman, and Gates could not possibly have been in doubt about that. What I mean is that if a plain-clothes detective in an unmarked car knocks on your door and asks to speak to you about some crime that you may have committed or witnessed or know nothing about, you will naturally want to make sure that he is a detective, not just some criminal who's found a clever way to get people to unlock their doors in the middle of the night.
7.26.2009 12:07am
geokstr (mail):

Cleanville Tziabatz:
Look at it this way: what do you think the charges would have been if the only witnesses were the police officers? At least assault. Probably worse since they knew they had his fingerprints on the cane. Gates needed those witnesses, bad.

What a disgusting thing to say. And you know that these cops were just looking for an innocent black man to beat up because they're racists, even the Hispanic one? Why would that have been inevitable, because one cop was white? (The one chosen by a black superior to teach how not to profile at the academy, no less.)

Now I recognize you. You're one of the people screaming RACIST at any criticism of The Won, right?
7.26.2009 12:10am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Tziabatz:

The events in question took place in Cambridge, a university city with a black mayor in state with a black governor in a country with a half-black president. Do you really think such a police force could exist in this day and age with the federal DOJ really to pounce? Come on.
7.26.2009 12:24am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Boston policy clearly makes police officer self-identification separate and distinct from a 'lawful request' for the state card.
You've been called on this once already: this didn't take place in Boston, which means that "Boston policy" is no more relevant than Miami policy. Slate may not be a law journal, but it links to the relevant statute.
7.26.2009 12:51am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
weevil:

Is it really so unreasonable to think that the Harvard police might be interested in coming around to help out in a Harvard-related non-emergency situation?


If there was a need for Harvard police "to help out in a Harvard-related non-emergency situation" then the Harvard professor who lived in that residence was perfectly capable of summoning them himself (aside from the fact that they didn't need to be summoned at all, since they were already there). Why did Crowley take it upon himself to summon them? And if for some weird reason Crowley felt a need to summon them, it was clearly a "non-emergency situation," so he had no need to summon them immediately. So why didn't he leave the residence and summon them while standing on the sidewalk? Why did he have to summon them while lingering in Gates' kitchen? And what was Gates supposed to think while he was hearing Crowley summon Harvard police, without any explanation offered by Crowley as to why such a summoning was warranted?

And how was Harvard police going to "help out?" Fix the door? Harvard has another department for that. And how the door got repaired was none of Crowley's business.

And even if you put all that aside and claim Crowley had a valid reason to summon Harvard police while standing in Gates' kitchen, there is still a discrepancy. Crowley mentioned this in his police report, but not in his interview, even though both accounts are detailed and lengthy. Why did his story change? Did he realize that he had no good reason to summon Harvard police, and he would like us to forget that he admitted doing so?

If nothing else, they can help keep an eye on the place while the door is being repaired so Gates (even if he doesn't have to be somewhere else like a police station) can get on with his professorial work and not have to guard the door himself.


What a joke. If Gates needs someone to "help keep an eye on the place while the door is being repaired," he's perfectly capable of arranging that on his own. When did making such arrangements become part of Crowley's job description?

Wouldn't Officer Crowley have had "J. Crowley" embroidered on his shirt pocket?… if a plain-clothes detective in an unmarked car knocks on your door and asks to speak to you…


Read the statute. It applies to "every full time police officer." It does not care whether you are in uniform or not. It does not care whether you have your name embroidered on your shirt. The statute applied to Crowley. He violated the statute. Deal with it.

==============
zarkov:

You are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill with regard to the police ID


I'm sorry you think that paying attention to Crowley's unlawful behavior is "[making] a mountain out of a molehill." It's highly relevant, because it gave Gates a legitimate reason to be angry.

If you think that Gates didn't misbehave, that's ok-- we can differ on our interpretation of the available evidence.


I have asked several times for "evidence" that Gates yelled (prior to his arrest). Aside from Crowley's self-serving report. The silence is deafening (speaking of yelling). The absence of an answer is a highly revealing answer. Where's the "available evidence" you're talking about?

By the way, Gates claims that he returned from China with a severe bronchial infection. Do you think he was in any condition to yell?
7.26.2009 12:57am
David M. Nieporent (www):
If Crowley had complied with Gates' lawful request to see Crowley's ID, Gates would not have followed Crowley out,
You don't know that. But, then, you have a habit of saying things to be true when you don't know them to be.
and the matter would have ended. Crowley broke the law by denying this request.
Triple nonsense. First, Gates doesn't say he asked to see ID. Second, the fact that the statute requires that officers carry ID and show it does not mean that the statute requires that officers drop whatever they're doing and show it instantaneously.
He apparently did so in an effort to lure Gates outside.
Putting "apparently" in front of a made-up fact doesn't make it more accurate.
Crowley knew that a DC arrest could take place outside, but not inside.
How do you know what Crowley knew? Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct when Gates's reported actions do not meet the definition of disorderly conduct. So if Crowley doesn't even know the law well enough to know what DC is, we don't know that he knew where he could make an arrest for DC.
7.26.2009 12:58am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill with regard to the police ID in an effort to direct people away from the central issue: Gates's behavior. Failure to get the ID does not give him license to throw a tantrum. End of story. It's a red herring. If you think that Gates didn't misbehave, that's ok-- we can differ on our interpretation of the available evidence.
The problem is that people are allowed to "misbehave." Cops are not people's parents, and do not get to discipline them for misbehaving.

The issue is the person who broke the law -- not by the ID thing, as JBG keeps harping on, but by making a bad arrest.
7.26.2009 1:09am
Scott Jacobs (mail) (www):
Here's my take on this, as a child of a divorce:

The ID that gives proof of residence doesn't end the matter. Lets say, for example, that I got married, there was trouble with the marriage, and as so often happens, I get divorced.

Lets further say that I am not happy with some part of the proceedings, and decide "Hey, you know what? That b***h ain't keeping my 50" HDTV, screw what the court said!"

So I decide to visit the home and take it. She's changed the locks on me, so I have to persuade the door to allow me entrance. While I'm liberating my poor, poor television, a cop stops by.

"Who am I? Why, I'm Scott Jacobs, and I live here, officer... My ID? Sure. Here you go..."

The officer sees that the ID on my drivers license matches the address, says "sorry, just had to make sure, as we got a report of a break-in..." and goes on his marry way...

Without double-checking everything, the cop has just allowed me to continue robbing my former home, simply because I haven't gotten a new drivers license with a newer address on it. The department is now hosed because it allowed it to happen.

That's the light in which I view the Sgt's continued scrutiny, and why I'm far more supportive of the Sgt than some others might be.

Not that my dad ever tried to pull a stunt like that when mom divorced him... /sarc
7.26.2009 1:12am
David M. Nieporent (www):
And if for some weird reason Crowley felt a need to summon them, it was clearly a "non-emergency situation," so he had no need to summon them immediately. So why didn't he leave the residence and summon them while standing on the sidewalk? Why did he have to summon them while lingering in Gates' kitchen?
Maybe he preferred air-conditioning to a hot summer day. Why do you harp on trivialities? Did Gates demand he leave immediately, and Crowley refused because he was making this call? That's not in either party's version of events, so there's no basis for thinking that. In the absence of such a demand, there is no requirement that the officer turn and sprint out the door the moment Gates shows him ID.

Gates doesn't say that he's mad that Crowley didn't leave immediately. (Actually, Gates doesn't mention this summons at all. He just says that he asked Crowley for his name and badge number several times, that Crowley didn't respond, and that Crowley then left the house.)

And even if you put all that aside and claim Crowley had a valid reason to summon Harvard police while standing in Gates' kitchen, there is still a discrepancy. Crowley mentioned this in his police report, but not in his interview, even though both accounts are detailed and lengthy. Why did his story change? Did he realize that he had no good reason to summon Harvard police, and he would like us to forget that he admitted doing so?
I can't get the video to play, but from what you describe, that's neither a "discrepancy" nor a "story changing." Not mentioning every single fact in every description of events is not a contradiction. Unless one is reading from a script, one does not say exactly the same things every time one talks about an event.

And while we're on the subject, your attempts to play "gotcha" with the police report are no more valid. A police report is not a second-by-second narrative of every word spoken, every thought of the officer, every time someone coughed. It's a summary of events.
7.26.2009 1:33am
David M. Nieporent (www):
By the way, Gates claims that he returned from China with a severe bronchial infection. Do you think he was in any condition to yell?
A neighbor was quoted in the paper as saying that Gates yelled. He doesn't explicitly say when in the sequence of events it happened, but he says it happened. So yes.
7.26.2009 1:36am
subpatre (mail):
Jukeboxgrad harps on Massachusetts Chapter 41, but failed to mention one part:
Section 98. Police Officers; Powers and duties.
The chief and other police officers of all cities and towns shall have all the powers and duties of constables except serving and executing civil process. They shall suppress and prevent all disturbances and disorder.
Not 'disorderly conduct', not 'disturbing the peace'; plain and simple disorders and disturbances. According to that, Crowley performed his job.
7.26.2009 2:09am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It's highly relevant, because it gave Gates a legitimate reason to be angry."

Gates can get angry all he wants. His anger doesn't count-- his behavior does. Not getting ID from the Crowley might be an excuse for anger, but not for a tantrum. You might not be convinced that he actually had a tantrum, but ultimately we will find out, won't we?
7.26.2009 3:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

You don't know that [If Crowley had complied with Gates' lawful request to see Crowley's ID, Gates would not have followed Crowley out]


By all accounts, Gates was persistently making requests for ID information (name, badge number, showing of photo ID). By all accounts, Crowley refused to show his photo ID, as required by law. It is reasonable to conclude that Gates followed Crowley outside because Gates hoped that Crowley would finally comply with Gates' lawful request.

you have a habit of saying things to be true when you don't know them to be.


What a joke. Carefully documented examples of you doing precisely that are here and here.

Gates doesn't say he asked to see ID


Crowley said that Gates asked Crowley to show ID. Crowley said this in his police report, and he said this in his WHDH interview. Are you claiming that these statements by Crowley are false?

the fact that the statute requires that officers carry ID and show it does not mean that the statute requires that officers drop whatever they're doing and show it instantaneously


The problem is not that Crowley didn't show it "instantaneously." The problem is that he didn't show it at all.

I've already explained this. Have you read the thread?

How do you know what Crowley knew?


I don't know for sure "what Crowley knew." I also don't know for sure that Crowley is not a cyborg from Planet Xanax. But it's reasonable to surmise that Crowley knew, or thought, that a DC arrest outdoors would be more plausible than a DC arrest in Gates' kitchen.

The issue is the person who broke the law -- not by the ID thing, as JBG keeps harping on, but by making a bad arrest.


It's true that Crowley broke the law by making the arrest, and it's true that this unlawful act is more significant than any other issues with what Crowley did (like his failure to show ID). I'm glad we agree on this. But his failure to show ID was also unlawful, and it should be noted. Especially because Crowley may have withheld his ID specifically to provoke Gates into following Crowley outside.

Maybe he preferred air-conditioning to a hot summer day.


You think Gates left his AC on the whole time he was in China? I think Harvard tries to be greener than that.

Did Gates demand he leave immediately, and Crowley refused because he was making this call?


As far as we can tell, Crowley entered the house without Gates' consent. Crowley had an obligation to stay no longer than necessary, regardless of a specific demand by Gates.

I can't get the video to play


I had a lot of trouble getting the video to play on a Mac. Then I was able to get it to play via Windows, running Firefox and Windows Media Player.

Unless one is reading from a script, one does not say exactly the same things every time one talks about an event.


It's not a superficial variation. It's a material discrepancy.

A police report is not a second-by-second narrative of every word spoken


I don't expect it to be. But I expect it to be free of glaring omissions. For example, Crowley said nothing about why, when or how he entered the residence.

A neighbor was quoted in the paper as saying that Gates yelled. He doesn't explicitly say when in the sequence of events it happened, but he says it happened. So yes.


The report I think you're talking about is this:

A 55-year-old neighbor who said he witnessed the incident but declined to give his name, however, said that Gates was in fact yelling loudly, as indicated by a photo taken by another neighbor. “When police asked him for ID, Gates started yelling, ‘I’m a Harvard professor . . . You believe white women over black men. This is racial profiling.’ ”


I find that statement highly suspect. The part that sticks out like a sore thumb is "when police asked him for ID." From the police report and the WHDH interview, we know that Crowley asked Gates for ID, and Gates provided ID, when the two were in Gates' kitchen. Was the witness in the kitchen? Of course not. So how could the witness know that Gates yelled "when police asked him for ID?" This only makes sense if Crowley "asked him for ID" using a voice loud enough to be heard out on the street. Which would mean that Crowley yelled at Gates before Gates yelled at Crowley.

The statement by this unnamed person makes no sense.

And the part about "as indicated by a photo taken by another neighbor" is also suspect and a sign of confusion (by the reporter, perhaps), because the photo was taken after the arrest, not before. Therefore the photo is not very helpful.

==================
scott:

Without double-checking everything, the cop has just allowed me to continue robbing my former home


Any further double-checking could have been done after Crowley left the residence. And Crowley indicated no need for further double-checking. So the issue you're describing isn't relevant to the instant matter.

==================
subpatre:

They shall suppress and prevent all disturbances and disorder


Let us know how this explains why Crowley refused to show his ID, as required by law.

Not 'disorderly conduct'


The alleged offense was "not 'disorderly conduct?' " Really? Then you better tell Crowley to correct his police report, because it indicates that the offense was disorderly conduct. And it references the DC statute, not the statute which contains the "all disturbances" language you're making a fuss about.

I'm sure this was just a minor oversight on his part, and hopefully you will set him straight.

==================
zarkov:

You might not be convinced that he actually had a tantrum


I guess this is your oblique way of admitting that you can't find any evidence (other than Crowley's self-serving report) that Gates ever raised his voice prior to his arrest.
7.26.2009 3:24am
loki13 (mail):

You've been called on this once already: this didn't take place in Boston, which means that "Boston policy" is no more relevant than Miami policy. Slate may not be a law journal, but it links to the relevant statute.


DMN *does* read my posts! I've got a warm fuzzy feeling.

This was in reference to subpatre, but to refresh-
1. The badge requirement is seperate from the ID requirement, as you have been told.
2. The ID requirement is to allow citizens to know who they are dealing with (and to file complaints if necessary, Dr. Weevil- that's why they have them).
3. The Boston policy does not mean what you think it does, as you have been told.
4. Boston is not Cambridge.

Finally, since you seem to keep eliding the issue- no, this isn't about a technical violation of the ID requirement "absolving a criminal of all crimes". There is no provision that if, say, a man shoots five LEOs in cold blood, and one officer doesnt't give him his card in the course of arresting him, that the murderer should be exonerated. However, when the factual dispute between two individuals seems to hinge (from both accounts) on a citizen desiring to know the LEO's identity, and there is a relevant statute compelling the LEO to provide the citizen with that information, then the statute might be relevant in understanding why the LEO chose to a) write the report as he did and b) whether the LEO had a duty to give his information before escalation.

None of this either excuses Gates' jerky conduct as a human being (if the LEO's account is true) or is dispositive that the LEO is "testilying" in the arrest report. I don't know. I do know two things:
1. Accepting everything in the LEO's report as true, there should never have been an arrest.
2. It's bad form to have your nonsense debunked on one thread, and then pop up with the same nonsense on another.
7.26.2009 4:14am
Scott Jacobs (mail) (www):
I guess this is your oblique way of admitting that you can't find any evidence (other than Crowley's self-serving report) that Gates ever raised his voice prior to his arrest.
Well, sure...

Well, besides the witnesses, I suppose.

Details, details, details...
7.26.2009 4:39am
Cleanville Tziabatz (www):


Look at it this way: what do you think the charges would have been if the only witnesses were the police officers? At least assault. Probably worse since they knew they had his fingerprints on the cane. Gates needed those witnesses, bad.


What a disgusting thing to say. And you know that these cops were just looking for an innocent black man to beat up because they're racists, even the Hispanic one? Why would that have been inevitable, because one cop was white? (The one chosen by a black superior to teach how not to profile at the academy, no less.)


If there had been no witnesses, I don't think they would have beaten him. I do think all the policemen would have all agreed that Gates took a swing at Crowley. That way they could have bargained down to disorderly, and perhaps erased the possibility of a civil suit under Heck. But, alas, there were witnesses and the witnesses might have had cel phone cameras, so they stuck to something less outrageous.

I don't think the policemen wanted to punish Gates for being black. I think they wanted to punish him because he did not think that Crowley should have entered his house (which he shouldn't have).
7.26.2009 6:44am
subpatre (mail):
Jukeboxgrad claims: "By all accounts, Gates was persistently making requests for ID information (name, badge number, showing of photo ID)."

Only if 'persistently' means one time.
By all accounts, Gates bellowed for Crowely's identification one time in a defiance of Sgt Crowley's legitimate request for Gates' ID. Later, when proceeding outside, Henry 'You-don't-know-who-your-messing-with' Gates continued to yell demanding Crowley's name.


loki13 claims "The Boston policy does not mean what you think it does" yet the (of code's plain text) supports my representation and supports the Boston legal interpretation, not your spin.

Supply a citation —a court case— of an officer convicted for failing to comply with Section 98 ID. Over the last century there have been dozens of police convicted of everything from murder, extortion, and felonious assaults to spitting in the street and disorderly conduct; yet not a single 'failure to identify'.

Cite a cop failing to produce the magic ID.
7.26.2009 10:59am
Stacey:
This is a just classic “he said she said” scenario. On one hand you have a cop who not only is trained in diversity, mandated by law but also teaches other offices how to handle racial situations and who was picked and referenced to teach such class by prominent African Americans in the community. On the other had you have a professor who racially profiled a white cop, by playing the race card even before the alleged police abuse, who although works as a professor at a university and earns more income than the average american, he is on the dole of tax payers by living in University housing, and who references include a top African American leader that has close ties with racists, and ex terrorist , and who has entered into a high official position with a forged photo copy of a birth certificate (try paying your taxes with a photo copy of a $1000 dollar bill, or obtaining a security clearance by listing the names of the Likes of Bill Ayers on your form, andin his comments about not of doing enough to bomb the pentagon, and stating he made these comments when you were fund raising with him in the early 2000s). So bottom line it’s a "he said she said" case, regarding the abuse of the government powers, you are free to take your side in the court of public opinion using the charter witnesses provided..
7.26.2009 11:47am
loki13 (mail):
Shorter subpatre:
I don't read the police report carefully, so first I will claim there is no request for indentification: Source
7.26.2009 12:24pm
David Tomlin (mail):
Unless recollection fails me, not one of Crowley's defenders in a very long thread has even attempted to address the point made in the main post. This is, that there is case law on point to show that Gates's actions, even if exactly as described in Crowley's report, do not meet the standard for 'tumultuous behavior', and hence 'disorderly conduct', under Massachusetts law.
7.26.2009 12:32pm
loki13 (mail):
Shorter subpatre:

I don't read the police report carefullu, so first I will claim there is no request for identification: Source.

Then I will be corrected on that. And I will realize that even in the LEO's report, he wes asked for his identification: Source

However, I will double down by changing "demanded" to bellowed. Because what are a few facts between friends?

Then I will bring up continue making snarky references to the slate article "not being a legal citation", despite the fact that it has been pointed out to me that it is hyperlinked to the relevant laws.

Then I will bring up a random *Boston* police department rules and regulations. I will claim this "backs me up". I will not provide anything else. I will do this despite the fact that:
1. Legally, PD rules and regulations do not overrule *state statutes*.
2. The rules and regulations require "Any officer, acting in his official capacity, shall give his name, rank and badge number, in a civil manner to any person who may inquire unless he is engaged in an undercover police operation and his physical safety or the police operation would be jeopardized by his making such identification." *IN ADDITION to showing of the picture ID card... and there was never a giving of the badge number.
3. One more time since I am geographically impaired.... Boston is not Cambridge. I am sure that Seattle has some interesting rules and regulations for their life guards, and I am eagerly researching them now.

Finally- little known fun fact! subpatre is latin for "big tool!" (No, not really.)
7.26.2009 12:38pm
David Tomlin (mail):

loki13:

Finally- little known fun fact! subpatre is latin for "big tool!" (No, not really.)

My first guess would be 'under the father'.
7.26.2009 12:44pm
Federal Dog:
"This is, that there is case law on point to show that Gates's actions, even if exactly as described in Crowley's report, do not meet the standard for 'tumultuous behavior', and hence 'disorderly conduct', under Massachusetts law."

Cops regularly get charges wrong, and the wrong charges sometimes get past DAs, counsel, and judges. People can be surprisingly sloppy about reviewing complaints and charging statutes. They caught the error here, well before arraignment. The catch usually happens at that first charging/bail appearance.

None of which, of course, has a damned thing to do with racism, which is Gates's charge. The cop overreached, as cops sometimes do. They do it with white defendants too.
7.26.2009 12:50pm
Jimbo44 (mail):
Gates is apparently working on a PBS special. It looks more and more like he ginned up this whole thing to generate publicity for his TV program.
7.26.2009 1:07pm
DennisN (mail):
A. Zarkov:

"But he never stated that he was attempting to extricate Gates from a potentially hazardous or coercive situation."

Listen to the interview. Crowley says he was attempting to do just that.



He may have stated it subsequently in an unofficial manner, but it is not in his official incident report. Follow-on statements are often embellished once the individual has time to refine what he must have thought.

Sgt. Crowley stated "Sinnce I was the only police officer on location andhad my back to the front door as I spoke with her, I asked that she wait for other responding officers while I investigated further."

That is the only reference in the official report to potential danger. As an aside, If I were Sgt. Crowley's superior, I would have torn a strip off him for turning his back on the most likely axis of threat.

Even then in many places the police will search an entire house just to make sure the owner is not acting under duress.



And there is no evidence from Sgt Crowley's or Patrolman Figueroa's reports that a search was actually conducted. That burglar may still be in there. ;-) Seriously, I would not want to conclude and do not conclude that Sgt Crowley and Patrolman Figueroa were derelict in their duties by leaving the premises while they believed there was a criminal inside. I contend they had no such belief.

But the tone of Sgt. Crowley's report indicates that he quickly decided that Gates was legitimate and in no danger. "While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behaviour he exhibited toward me." Not alarmed, not made to feel threatened, not believing Gates was in danger or duress. He had no justification to remove Gates from the residence and doing so would arguably have the potential to escalate the issue by bringing the onlookers into the incident.

Sgt. Crowley attempted to defuse the, at this time only embarassing, situation by leaving the residence. At thgis point it is unclear whether Gates followed the officers outside and continued to taunt them, or whether he was yelling from his porch. I tend to believe that Gates was not in Sgt Crowley's face, as that fact was not noted in the Police Report.

Based on the statute and caselaw cited supra, I believe it was not a fair bust. I think it is also questionable enough that Sgt. Crowley's "punishment" should be limited to having some strips torn from his arse by his superior officer, an event that has probably occurred, and which pales in comparison to the strips torn off him in the National Press.

In re-reading the Police Report, I am mildly alarmed by one statement by Sgt. Crowley that "the caler was outside as we spoke." He ratted out Ms. Whalen for no reason, subjecting her to possible retaliation. That is very disturbing.


Lesson learned. When someone reports what looks like a home invasion, it could very well trigger a intrusive investigation. Be prepared for that.


Absolutely. My response would be and has been to offer the officer coffee. Given the quality of my coffee, that might open me up to a charge of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer.



Baelln1:

Crowley could easily have knocked on neighbors' doors and asked those neighbors to describe the residents living in Gate's house -- that would have calmly solved the identification problem... and ended the story.



That would have been a completely unreasonable course of action that would have left Gates in danger and the burglars free to escape. Sgt. Crowley acted perfectly properly by essentially asking Gates, "Who are you, is this your house?"

Gates chose to be a race baiting agitator.
7.26.2009 1:11pm
David Tomlin (mail):

Federal Dog:

They do it with white defendants too.

Indeed. It has happened to me. (And I am white.) I don't think I've ever heard of it happening to a prominent white college professor.
7.26.2009 1:19pm
Federal Dog:
"I don't think I've ever heard of it happening to a prominent white college professor."

I don't see how that person would get away with the racist slurs that caused the publicity in this case.
7.26.2009 1:38pm
DennisN (mail):
I'm not going to cite all the comments above, because there is much back and forth, but have two comments on the issue of Sgt. Crowley's failure to "properly identify himself."

First, the statute doesn't say he must immediately identify himself, only that he must do so. The exigencies of the situation govern the flow of events. The time frame between when Gates allegedly demanded identification and the time he was arrested seems to be short enough that a charge for failing to ID probably cannot be sustained.

Second, the act of arresting Gates interrupted the identification process and pretty much made it superfluous. Once Gates is under arrest, the Sgt. Crowley's supposed violation is at most a de-minimus procedural violation. The sergeants identity is recorded in a sheaf of documents available to the defendant.

The troubling part to me, is the sequence of actions immediate to the arrest. Did Gates continue to shout at Sgt. Crowley from his porch , which would have been legal, or did he continue to harry the sergeant, which would presumably been proper grounds for arrest. It would be difficult to sustain a DC charge solely on the basis of the information at hand. Likewise, it would be difficult to sustain a False Arrest charge against Sgt. Crowley.
7.26.2009 1:43pm
Federal Dog:
"The sergeants identity is recorded in a sheaf of documents available to the defendant."

This is a particularly silly claim on Gates's part.

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the cop refused to identify himself, he was readily identified anyway (which is why I don't believe that he refused to do so). Gates didn't need to throw a tantrum to secure that information, and only undercut his own position by doing so.

Gates knew his own name. He knew his own address. He knew the date. He knew the time. He knew that the Cambridge Police Department was the investigating agency.

So -- again, assuming for the sake of argument that the cop defied Gates's requests for his ID -- what does a minimally sentient person do with all this abundant information if he wants to ID officers involved in the stop?

Go to the Cambridge Police and get a copy of the incident report.

Refusing identification would therefore have been futile (and destined to complicate any complaint against the investigating officer). For this reason, I find completely credible the sergeant's statement that he did respond to the request, and Gates was just shouting over his response.
7.26.2009 1:55pm
loki13 (mail):

First, the statute doesn't say he must immediately identify himself, only that he must do so. The exigencies of the situation govern the flow of events. The time frame between when Gates allegedly demanded identification and the time he was arrested seems to be short enough that a charge for failing to ID probably cannot be sustained.

Second, the act of arresting Gates interrupted the identification process and pretty much made it superfluous. Once Gates is under arrest, the Sgt. Crowley's supposed violation is at most a de-minimus procedural violation. The sergeants identity is recorded in a sheaf of documents available to the defendant.


Look, unless and until tapes are released, no one knows *exactly* what happned. Until then, we only have two realy accounts to go- Crowley's and Gates' (and, to a lesser extent, Figueroa's).

Both have the following things in common:
Gates never knowing who the officer is, and asking for indentification.
Gates acting like a jerk.

Both account s minimize one factor and maximize the other factor. Crowley's account maxmizes Gates' jerkiness, and minimizes the ID issue. Gates' account minimizes his jerkiness, and maxmizes the ID issue.

We also know that under Mass. Law, none of Gates' jerkiness is sufficient to form the basis of a successful prosecution for disorderly conduct. We know that Crowley is *obligatged* to provide identification. I think this informs our understanding.

My take- (and this is opinion)- LEOs don't take very well to being asked for ID and badge number. They really don't like it when the person who is doing it is also calling them a racist and telling the LEO that they will call their superiors because the LEO "doesn't know who they're messing with." I think this would be the case if Gates was brown or white (although substitute fascist for racist).
7.26.2009 2:03pm
EH (mail):
It seems at this point, in this thread, that Crowley's supporters assume more facts not in evidence than Gates' do. That party lines have been drawn in terms of personalities than the actual law (relevant in the jurisdiction, pace subpatre) speaks to the prejudices of the commenters more than their legal expertise and dispassion.
7.26.2009 2:14pm
Federal Dog:
"We know that Crowley is *obligatged* to provide identification. I think this informs our understanding."

Right. Given that fact, inevitability of identification, and consequences if the cop failed to state ID, Gates's account is neither credible nor coherent.
7.26.2009 2:16pm
loki13 (mail):

Right. Given that fact, inevitability of identification, and consequences if the cop failed to state ID, Gates's account is neither credible nor coherent.

Again, assuming all facts in light most favorable to the arresting officer (aka his report), Gates was not in violation of the crime for which he was charged. So... you seem to want to lock people up for speech you (or the arresting officer) disagrees with. While that is not the law, I hope you are consistent when they come after speech you approve of.

Aside to DennisN- I'm fairly positive subpatre is Latin for "the sandwich eaten by the ballplayers of San Diego"... but it's been awhile.
7.26.2009 2:35pm
Federal Dog:
"So... you seem to want to lock people up for speech you (or the arresting officer) disagrees with."

Just curious: How did you manage to miss my repeated statements that the cop overreached by charging Gates?
7.26.2009 2:38pm
loki13 (mail):
inevitability of identification

Also, trotting out that canard (inevitability of identifaction)... that's true in every state. Because of the difficulties of that, and a desire to heighten the accountability of LEOs to their citizens (us), some states such as Massachusetts require the LEOs to provide that information at the time, and not force the citizen to wait and then go to the police station and request the records.
7.26.2009 2:38pm
loki13 (mail):
Federal Dog,

Because you mention once that the LEO "overreached". Overreached is when an LEO makes a good-faith error. I would concede that the error might have been good-faith in that it is SOP in some areas to use disorderly conduct / breach of peace as a catch-all "contempt of cop", but it shouldn't be used to chill the exercise of free speech, on one's own property, that the LEO doesn't agree with, especially if it appears the LEO is doing so in order to intimidate someone who is lawfully requesting him to provide his badge number (in a misguided attempt to report him, and in the midst of being a jerk).
7.26.2009 2:43pm
Federal Dog:
"some states such as Massachusetts require the LEOs to provide that information at the time, and not force the citizen to wait and then go to the police station and request the records."

Assuming that you are genuinely confused (and not trolling), I said that several facts about controlling law and availability of public records made Gates's claim that the cop refused to identify himself not credible. I plainly said that even assuming for the sake of argument that the cop did defy lawful requests for his ID, that ID would inevitably be determined, making any refusal futile and damaging to the cop.

Having dealt with MA cops and public records for years (as both prosecutor and defense counsel), I think Gates is fabricating a story full of obvious problems for anyone who actually knows how these things work. There's no way the cop would get away with not identifying himself, and no point to even trying. It therefore could not only do him no good, but it would do nothing but harm during any grievance process. I therefore believe the cop when he says that he did respond, and Gates was just shouting over the response.

That happens when people get mad at cops.
7.26.2009 2:46pm
Federal Dog:
Actually, in multiple threads I have repeatedly stated that the cop overreached. Further, during an early post, I immediately remarked that charging under the disorderly conduct statute was plainly wrong (even if cops wanted to charge, they'd stand a better chance under disturbing the peace).

Finally, I have never claimed that I felt any charges were warranted. I have simply stated that for many reasons, I do not credit Gates's account. Further, his crying wolf in order to save face/turn a profit in this case, and thereby damage real victims of racism, is sickening.
7.26.2009 2:51pm
loki13 (mail):

Finally, I have never claimed that I felt any charges were warranted. I have simply stated that for many reasons, I do not credit Gates's account.

1. Good, we agree that the LEO had no business arresting Gates. Given that you, me, and anyone reasonably acquainted with the law knows that, I am sure the LEO knew that as well.

2. I do not credit Gates account. I *also* do not credit the LEO's account fully. Since you claim expertise with LEOs (which I do not doubt) then you are aware that the arrest reports are written after the fact, and that they are often, to use a polite term, shaded. First, the use legally conclusory language to match the statutory language (which I don't have a problem with and is necessary)- hence, the description of Gates' tumultuous behavior. But more importantly, by the time Crowley wrote his report, he *knew* there was major heat on this case.

So- do I think Gates downplayed what a tool he was? Yes.
Do I think Crowley (as I explained in an earlier thread) had the chance to identify himself and did not do so? Yes. Which he shaded in his report.

Why? Because it's a common fact in both accounts, and it's just common sense to me that this aggrieved professor who is doing his best to make this LEO's life hell would be doing his best to get the officer's ID.

Do I know any of this? No. And neither do you. That's what litigation is for.
7.26.2009 3:04pm
Federal Dog:
"it's just common sense to me that this aggrieved professor who is doing his best to make this LEO's life hell would be doing his best to get the officer's ID."

Even if you assume, as you do, that the cop inexplicably refused to identify himself -- despite knowing the law, the futility of the refusal, and disciplinary problems that would be assured by it -- the best way for Gates to make the cop's life hell would have been to conduct himself in a manner beyond reproach and get the allegedly refused ID after the fact.

Instead, Gates made a public spectacle of himself in a way that even another black witness (a cop) believed warranted police intervention. Gates thereby undercut his own allegation that he was blameless and that the cop was a racist "rogue cop": Even another black person denounced Gate's conduct as improper.

That's no way to make the white cop's life hell; that's the best way to destroy Gates's own credibility. If the cop really did engage in misconduct, Gates should have kept his hands clean and taken the matter up with higher-level police officials.
7.26.2009 3:29pm
DennisN (mail):
Federal Dog:

I said that several facts about controlling law and availability of public records made Gates's claim that the cop refused to identify himself not credible. I plainly said that even assuming for the sake of argument that the cop did defy lawful requests for his ID, that ID would inevitably be determined, making any refusal futile and damaging to the cop.


The demand and supposed refusal to provide ID appears to have no eye witnesses other than the two principals, so we are left with a peeing contest, and forced to make suppositions.

Looking at this from a tactical POV, I can see Sgt. Crowley making a reasonable decision that it would be risky to provide his ID card under the tense situation of the moment. We have an agitated and confrontational subject demanding an ID card. The cop is not required to give his ID card to the subject, merely to produce it so the subject can read it. That may be easy to do when you have a terrified woman in a traffic stop suspecting a police impersonator. You hold the card up against her closed window with your finger. This of course presupposes the woman can tell a valid police ID from a baseball card.

In the situation at hand, there is a very reasonable risk that the subject would grab or grab at the ID card, and a fracas would ensue. This would invariably result in the subject being arrested for felony assault on a police officer or resisting arrest. I can see Sgt. Crowley wanting to protect this a'ole from himself, and spinning out the demand for ID until the situation was stabilized. Gates had an obligation to not allow himself to become agitated to the point he broke the law.

You don't have to be facing the extreme example of an armed bank robber for it to be tactically unsound to be handing over your ID card. As an officer you really don't want to get into a physical fight, not even a tug of war with an ID card, with an agitated subject, even an old man.

I think that refusing to show your ID card to an agitated subject is more likely to defuse the situation than to escalate it. Given that, I find no fault with that aspect of Sgt. Crowley's actions.
7.26.2009 3:44pm
Scott Jacobs (mail) (www):
My take- (and this is opinion)- LEOs don't take very well to being asked for ID and badge number.
If you think it was the demands for Crowley's ID that prompted the arrest, you apparently are quite fine with someone shouting about what a racist you are when you simply do your job.
7.26.2009 3:45pm
Federal Dog:
"so we are left with a peeing contest, and forced to make suppositions."

We can also draw reasonable inferences from facts alleged.
7.26.2009 3:48pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

This is a just classic “he said she said” scenario. On one hand you have a cop who not only is trained in diversity, mandated by law but also teaches other offices how to handle racial situations and who was picked and referenced to teach such class by prominent African Americans in the community. On the other had you have a professor who racially profiled a white cop, by playing the race card even before the alleged police abuse, who although works as a professor at a university and earns more income than the average american, he is on the dole of tax payers by living in University housing, and who references include a top African American leader that has close ties with racists, and ex terrorist , and who has entered into a high official position with a forged photo copy of a birth certificate (try paying your taxes with a photo copy of a $1000 dollar bill, or obtaining a security clearance by listing the names of the Likes of Bill Ayers on your form, andin his comments about not of doing enough to bomb the pentagon, and stating he made these comments when you were fund raising with him in the early 2000s). So bottom line it’s a "he said she said" case, regarding the abuse of the government powers, you are free to take your side in the court of public opinion using the charter witnesses provided..



I would like to thank Stacey for bringing a moment of antic humor to this discussion of important issues.
7.26.2009 4:33pm
loki13 (mail):

"so we are left with a peeing contest, and forced to make suppositions."

We can also draw reasonable inferences from facts alleged.


Yes. It's interesting that your reasonable inferences (dealing with LEOs and living in Massachusetts) are different than my reasonable inferences (dealing with LEOs and living in Massachusetts). The only thing we agree on is that no arrest should have been made, and that an arrest was made.

Since we agree on that, and I think it's reasonable to believe the officer knew that, and since the officer wrote his report after the fact *knowing* what a shinolastorm was ensuing (really- the Herald and the Globe and WHDH have called, and Ogletree is downstairs??)... well, I would hope that reasonable officer would dot his i's cross his t's, and CYA.
7.26.2009 4:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
scott:

Well, besides the witnesses, I suppose.


"The witnesses?" What "witnesses?" There are witnesses who assert that Gates ever raised his voice, prior to his arrest? Really? Non-police witnesses? Witnesses other than one unnamed person who made a highly questionable statement?

Here and on the other thread I've asked repeatedly, for days, if anyone had found credible witnesses. And I haven't heard much of an answer. So I hope you'll tell us more about the "witnesses" you have in mind.

you apparently are quite fine with someone shouting about what a racist you are when you simply do your job


You apparently are quite fine with cops arresting someone who committed no crime. Because merely "shouting about what a racist you are" (if that's what Gates actually did) is not a crime.

================
subpatre:

By all accounts, Gates was persistently making requests for ID information (name, badge number, showing of photo ID)


Only if 'persistently' means one time.


This is what I said Gates did persistently: make requests for ID information. Please consider the following requests:

A) Tell me your name
B) Tell me your badge number
C) Show me identification

Those are all what I would call requests for ID information. And Gates did not do A, B and C just "one time." In aggregate, he did those things multiple times. In Crowley's police report, he said "when Gates asked a third time for my name." So your assertion that Gates requested ID information only "one time" is false.

With regard to B, Crowley did not mention this at all in his police report. But in his interview (see video at 7:47), Crowley said he was asked for his badge number, and he provided his badge number.

If you are asserting that Gates said C only "one time," that may be true. By Crowley's own account (both in the police report and in his WHDH interview), Gates said C at least once. And this is a key problem, because Crowley has admitted he was asked to show his ID, and he has admitted (implicitly) that he did not show his ID, as required by law.

loki13 claims "The Boston policy does not mean what you think it does" yet the (of code's plain text) supports my representation and supports the Boston legal interpretation, not your spin.


I hope you'll translate that into English. Even if we pretend that Cambridge is the same as Boston, there is nothing in the Boston text you cited which relieves Crowley of his obligation to show ID upon request. I already explained this.

Supply a citation —a court case— of an officer convicted for failing to comply with Section 98 ID.


(98D, not "98 ID.") The question you're raising is pure misdirection. It's completely irrelevant. Even if we assume, arguendo, that no cop has ever been "convicted for failing to comply with Section 98 ID," that does nothing whatsoever to relieve Crowley of his obligation to comply with Section 98D.

By the way, it's quite likely that no cop has ever done what Crowley has done: admit in his own report that he was asked to show ID, and then refused to show ID, and then arrested for DC the person who was angry (at least in part) because their lawful request had been denied.

================
loki:

subpatre is latin for "big tool!" (No, not really.)


I think it's latin for 'someone who regularly posts blatant misinformation and then ducks when challenged' (example).

================
dennis:

At this point it is unclear whether Gates followed the officers outside and continued to taunt them, or whether he was yelling from his porch.


There is no reason to think that Gates ever left the porch. According to Crowley, he made the arrest on the porch. And if Gates "was yelling from his porch," it's odd to notice the almost complete absence of non-police witnesses who have come forward to support that assertion.

Did Gates continue to shout at Sgt. Crowley from his porch , which would have been legal, or did he continue to harry the sergeant, which would presumably been proper grounds for arrest.


There is no reason to think that Gates ever left the porch. According to Crowley, he made the arrest on the porch.

I tend to believe that Gates was not in Sgt Crowley's face


In his interview, Crowley said "he wasn't in my face" (see video at 12:14).

The time frame between when Gates allegedly demanded identification and the time he was arrested seems to be short enough that a charge for failing to ID probably cannot be sustained.


I think you need to pay closer attention to Crowley's police report, and his TV interview. In both, he (inadvertently) makes it clear that he had plenty of time to show his ID. Crowley describes various events in the following order:

- Gates asked me to show ID
- I did start reaching for a photo ID that I have
- He went into the kitchen
- He gave me his Harvard ID
- I used my radio, in his kitchen
- I told him if he had any other questions, I would speak with him outside
- I went outside
- He followed me outside
- He did some yelling
- I delivered one or more warnings
- I arrested him

Do you notice the item that is conspicuously absent from the list? Here it is:

- I showed him my photo ID, in response to his lawful request, in accordance with Section 98D

Given Crowley's narrative, please explain what it is about "the time frame" that gives him an excuse for violating 98D.

the act of arresting Gates interrupted the identification process and pretty much made it superfluous.


Please show us the part of 98D which explains that the statute can be ignored if the officer can figure out a way to eventually arrest the person who made the request.

The sergeants identity is recorded in a sheaf of documents available to the defendant.


If information "recorded in a sheaf of documents available to the defendant" was considered sufficient, there would be no need for 98D, and it wouldn't exist. And there is nothing in the statute that says it can be ignored on account of information "recorded in a sheaf of documents available to the defendant."

The demand and supposed refusal to provide ID appears to have no eye witnesses other than the two principals, so we are left with a peeing contest, and forced to make suppositions.


Wrong. "We are left with a peeing contest, and forced to make suppositions" only with regard to A and B. With regard to C, Crowley's own account establishes that he violated 98D.

In the situation at hand, there is a very reasonable risk that the subject would grab or grab at the ID card, and a fracas would ensue.


Baloney. Gates is 5' 7", 150 lbs. There is nothing in Crowley's police report or TV interview suggesting any physical aggression whatsoever by Gates. Crowley said explicitly "he wasn't in my face." Crowley does not say 'I started to present my ID, and he started to grab it, so I withdrew it.' As far as we can tell, Crowley simply refused to show the card.

We have an agitated and confrontational subject demanding an ID card.


The odds are very high that any "subject demanding an ID card" is going to be "agitated and confrontational." The very act of asking for the card is "confrontational," virtually by definition. You are constructing a blanket excuse that could be used by virtually any cop who is interested in violating 98D.

================
federal:

Go to the Cambridge Police and get a copy of the incident report.


Please note what I just said to dennis regarding "a sheaf of documents available to the defendant." As loki explained: "some states such as Massachusetts require the LEOs to provide that information at the time, and not force the citizen to wait and then go to the police station and request the records."

I find completely credible the sergeant's statement that he did respond to the request, and Gates was just shouting over his response.


That phrase ("the request") is unhelpfully ambiguous. If you mean A (see my comment to subpatre, above), then it's possible "that he did respond to the request, and Gates was just shouting over his response" (although it should be noted that there is no non-police witness who ever heard Crowley say his name). But if you mean C, then it's clear that Crowley "did [not] respond to the request."

Cops regularly get charges wrong… They caught the error here


Unfortunately, one of the people who seems to have not "caught the error" is Commissioner Haas. He said "Sergeant Crowley followed proper protocol and procedures in making the arrest." In other words, Cambridge police have just been notified that they can safely ignore 98D. Not to mention the Fourth Amendment and the First Amendment.

Given that fact, inevitability of identification, and consequences if the cop failed to state ID, Gates's account is neither credible nor coherent.


If by "failed to state ID" you mean 'failed to state his name,' there are no consequences to the cop. Because all Crowley has to do is assert that he said his name. Even if he didn't. Because lots of people are simply going to take his word for it, even though there are no non-police witnesses who ever heard Crowley say his name. So the consequences for failing to state his name, for this Crowley and future Crowleys, are nil.

And if by "failed to state ID" you mean 'failed to comply with 98D,' then the consequences are also nil. Because by his own account, Crowley failed to comply with 98D, and he is nevertheless getting a free pass on that point. From Haas (as I cited), and from the press, which is paying virtually no attention to the 98D issue. That darn liberal media.

several facts about controlling law and availability of public records made Gates's claim that the cop refused to identify himself not credible


If by "refused to identify himself" you mean 'refused to comply with 98D,' then there is no question that Crowley "refused to identify himself." And if by "refused to identify himself" you mean 'refused to ever say his name or badge number,' then it is utterly plausible that he "refused to identify himself." Because that part of the story is a pure he-said-she-said, and there is no shortage of people (here and elsewhere) who are inclined to reflexively side with Crowley, on that point.

As I have explained, it's possible that Crowley never said his name or badge number, and it's possible (if not likely) that the consequences to him for doing so will be nil. Because that part of the story is a pure he-said-she-said.

even assuming for the sake of argument that the cop did defy lawful requests for his ID, that ID would inevitably be determined, making any refusal futile and damaging to the cop.


The refusal (to state name/badge) would only be "damaging to the cop" if the civilian could prove the refusal took place. In a typical situation where there are no witnesses to the key events (and that is true in this instance), the cop would be perfectly free to refuse and then get away with it. Because that part of the story is a pure he-said-she-said.

There's no way the cop would get away with not identifying himself


If there is no witness to the cop refusing to identify himself, who or what is going to stop him from getting away with it?

I therefore believe the cop when he says that he did respond


One more time, just to be clear: according to Crowley's own account, he responded to A and B, but he failed to respond to C.

================
jimbo:

Gates is apparently working on a PBS special. It looks more and more like he ginned up this whole thing to generate publicity for his TV program


Naturally. I especially like the part where Gates exercised mind control over Crowley, forcing Crowley to violate 98D.

================
stacey:

This is a just classic “he said she said” scenario.


With regard to 98D, it's not. Crowley's own statements are enough to establish that he violated 98D.

a forged photo copy of a birth certificate


Sarcastro, I'm glad you finally appeared, but why do you keep using alternate handles?

================
loki:

Both have the following things in common: … Gates acting like a jerk.


I'm not clear about what it is in Gates' own account which indicates that he acted like a jerk.

Good, we agree that the LEO had no business arresting Gates. Given that you, me, and anyone reasonably acquainted with the law knows that, I am sure the LEO knew that as well.


It's nice to hear lots of people saying "the LEO had no business arresting Gates." However, it should be noted that a very relevant personality (Commissioner Haas) has said "Sergeant Crowley followed proper protocol and procedures in making the arrest." I wonder if that forces us to reach the conclusion that Haas is not "acquainted with the law."
7.26.2009 5:06pm
Federal Dog:
"since the officer wrote his report after the fact *knowing* what a shinolastorm was ensuing (really- the Herald and the Globe and WHDH have called, and Ogletree is downstairs??)... well, I would hope that reasonable officer would dot his i's cross his t's, and CYA."

So, on your understanding, the black cop is selling Gates out to cover for the white guy? Despite, as you stress, the massive, public, and specifically race-based attack that Gates unleashed to justify his own misconduct during a simple threshold inquiry?
7.26.2009 5:23pm
loki13 (mail):

I'm not clear about what it is in Gates' own account which indicates that he acted like a jerk.


Even from Gates account, it appeared that, for whatever reason, he immediately went into "the cop is racially profiling me mode". There may be reasons in Gates' head that might have justified the overreaction:

1. History of poor relations between the Greater Boston Police Departments and minoriities, especially the black population (aka the Charles Stuart effect). It is my *opinion* that the Cambridge police are less prone to this than most departments, and it much less than it was.

2. Being tired from a long trip.

3. Being frustrated by not being able to get in his house.

4. Misreading the officer's cautiousness re: possible danger from a B&E as racial hostitlity.

That said, had he simply been polite, the mess would have been avoided. Again, though, it is not the police's job to enforce norms of civility when pure speech is involved (unless imminent threat).

That said, I wish he had been a garden variety jerk instead of pulling the racial profiling angle; then, the focus could properly be on the rampant misuse of these types of laws to enforce "contempt of cop" violations without allowing the bedwetting Law&Order crowd* to cry racism.

*Authority is good. Authority lets us sleep at night!
7.26.2009 5:24pm
loki13 (mail):

So, on your understanding, the black cop is selling Gates out to cover for the white guy?


Federal Dog-
I am unfamiliar with this testimony. Figueroa (the only other officer in the report) is not black. Could you please point me to this officer's official statement or police report where he sells out Gates? I'm not sure how to view it (given the clear pressures he'd face) but I'd like to read it.
7.26.2009 5:27pm
Federal Dog:
The guy's name is Leon Lashley. His statements have been made to the media. He states that he fully supports how Crowley handled the incident, including the arrest, given Gates's conduct.
7.26.2009 5:35pm
Jimbo44 (mail):
jukebox,

Gates baited Crowley into the arrest. In hindsight Crowley should not have taken the bait. Still, it's beginning to look like Gates saw a window of opportunity to create a national scandal and thereby generate publicity for himself. Crowley did not appreciate this and walked right into the trap.
7.26.2009 5:43pm
Federal Dog:
"Crowley did not appreciate this and walked right into the trap."

He's an idiot if he goes to any meeting without a lawyer.
7.26.2009 5:46pm
Federal Dog:
Actually, I take it back: He's an idiot if he goes to any meeting without a tape recorder.
7.26.2009 6:12pm
subpatre (mail):
Loki13 claims:"Massachusetts require the LEOs to provide that information at the time" and then later: "my ... dealing with LEOs and living in Massachusetts"

Massachusetts law says no such thing. Still waiting on any citations supporting your spin. But I'm glad to hear you 'deal with LEOs' that should make providing that case cite real easy ... or not.
7.26.2009 6:15pm
loki13 (mail):

A black police officer who was at Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s home when the black Harvard scholar was arrested says he fully supports how his white fellow officer handled the situation.

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."


Huh. Okay, so you have one black officer that is gong to have to work with the rest of the LEO's there for the rest of his life.

He gets two comments:
1. He says that Gates was probably tired and surprised and acted a little bit stranger than he should have. Tired and surprised is hadly the image of an out-of-control madman.

2. Asked if Gates should have been arrested... he says he supports Crowley 100%.
Objection, non-responsive. I mean, cmon. What else is he going to say. Note he doesn't say- "I'd have arrested him!" Or... "The arrest was completely justified." Just a statement of support for his fellow police officer.

Wow- excusing the victim, and a statement of support for your fellow officer.
*That's* selling Gates out? That is about the least he could have done.
7.26.2009 6:17pm
subpatre (mail):
Jukeboxgrad writes: "Unfortunately, one of the people who seems to have not "caught the error" is Commissioner Haas"

Secretary of Public Safety for Massachusetts —over State Police, Corrections, National Guard, Fire Services and other assorted criminal justice and public safety agencies— where he had the major leadership role ... to ensure that police departments were not engaged in racial profiling ... Masters in Criminal Justice Administration and is finishing a PhD in Law, Policy and Society at Northeastern U.

But he doesn't know squat compared to 'Jukeboxgrad'. [/sarcasm]

The hubris never ends.
7.26.2009 6:19pm
cboldt (mail):
Even from Gates account, it appeared that, for whatever reason, he immediately went into "the cop is racially profiling me mode".
.
That conclusion varies depending on what constitutes "going into mode," and what constitutes immediately.
Statement on Behalf of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — by Charles Ogletree
The Root's Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about his arrest
It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, "What is your name, and what is your badge number?" and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, "You're not responding because I'm a black man, and you're a white officer."
7.26.2009 6:22pm
subpatre (mail):
Jimbo44 writes: "Gates baited Crowley into the arrest. In hindsight Crowley should not have taken the bait."

Crowley's on perfectly solid ground; Gates put himself within the violation. It would be just too strange for the Commissioner and union (especially the union!) to take stands without reassurance of their legality.
7.26.2009 6:28pm
loki13 (mail):
subpatre:

"Such card shall be carried on the officer’s person, and shall be exhibited upon lawful request for purposes of identification."

What part of "shall" do you not understand? As for citing case law, I'm not aware of any case law interpreting it, but it has been used as evidence in cases going to motive (showing that a cop was enraged by a request to produce his identification depsite being legally obligated to do so- Nydam v. Lennerton) since it's rarely dispositive as a legal matter.
7.26.2009 6:30pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Gates is apparently working on a PBS special. It looks more and more like he ginned up this whole thing to generate publicity for his TV program.
No, no. He did it to discredit Crowley, who was about to produce the evidence that Obama was born in Kenya.
7.26.2009 6:38pm
subpatre (mail):
Loki13 asks What part of "shall" do you not understand?
"...Massachusetts require the LEOs to provide that information at the time, and not force the citizen to wait and then go to the police station and request the records..." --comment by Loki13

First you lied and claim the law says 'immediately' or "at the time", then you cover and shift goalposts by emphasizing another word. There is no requirement of time or immediacy.
7.26.2009 6:44pm
Federal Dog:
I find it interesting that loki -- beyond playing lawyer (incompetently) and presuming to second-guess the percipient knowledge of a black witness to the scene -- posits that that witness is not being candid, and is just a tool of the man.

I guess being dismissed like that by people like loki is what happens to black men in America.
7.26.2009 6:46pm
Scott Jacobs (mail) (www):
What part of "shall" do you not understand?
I don't see any time frame in that rule. Do you seriously take it to mean "the very instant it is requested"? So if I'm an LEO, and I'm trying to keep some miscreant from grabbing my gun after I watch him hit a guy with a 2x4, I have to stop trying to keep myself from getting killed, and reach for my freaking card?

The officer has a right to some measure of personal safety, doesn't he? Isn't it more logical to allow the officer to get the information he's requested from whoever he's talking to, and THEN give his card?

And isn't that exactly what happened?
Because merely "shouting about what a racist you are" (if that's what Gates actually did) is not a crime.
That is hardly what I suggested. You stated quite plainly that you believe it was the demand for Sgt Crowley to show his identification that led to the arrest. I simply suggested that it was the insulting, self-aggrandizing tirade on Prof. Gate's part that caused it.

Should Crowley have arrested Gates? Probably not, no.

Was it a blatantly illegal arrest that violated Gate's rights? Probably not, no.

Simply because the Sgt was not 100% right doesn't make him some sort of monster. Discretionary power is a double-edged sword. Had gates been ranting about his bitch of an ex-wife, I doubt Crowley would have arrested him.
7.26.2009 6:49pm
Oren:

Simply because the Sgt was not 100% right doesn't make him some sort of monster. Discretionary power is a double-edged sword.

Indeed. And it's apparent that the Cambridge police are incapable of using their discretionary powers in a prudent manner.

I got off this thread because everyone seems to argue about the legality of the arrest instead of the more fundamental question of how to deliver good policing.
7.26.2009 6:57pm
jay jay (mail):
I disagree with bloggers who are positive that this wasn't a case of profiling and I understand Gates' uneasiness.

Gates provided his driver's license and his Harvard ID. The police report states that the officer radioed Harvard security. The request for Harvard security was to authenticate the ID. Crowley has been on the force for seven years, so it's reasonable to presume that he had seen a Harvard ID before this incident. Unless he always contacts Harvard security to verify an ID, this does give the appearance of profiling (i.e. Gates couldn't possibly be a Harvard professor and the ID is false).

According to the police report, Crowley's first word to Gates was a command to step outside his home. By his own admission, Officer Crowley didn't identify himself until Gates refused to exit and demanded to know who the officer was. This isn't even in dispute. It was reasonable for Gates to be frightened.

After establishing the identity, Crowley wanted to know who else was in the house. How could anyone not feel under attack? There is a strange man with a badge and a gun standing in your house and questioning you as a suspect.

Crowley could have handled this differently. He could have identified himself before he started issuing orders. It would have set an entirely different tone. He could have told Gates that he was asking about other people in the house because he wanted to make sure Gates was safe. He isn't legally required to do any of this. As a police officer, he is allowed wide discretion. But, he has to take responsibility for the outcome of that discretion or lack thereof.

I also disagree with bloggers who assume Gates played the race card. His fear was not unreasonable. Witness Abner Louima (the Haitian immigrant that New York police sodomized in the police station), Amadou Diallo (an unarmed man who died in the vestibule of his building when four plain clothes police officers literally emptied their guns because they thought he was a criminal; he wasn’t), NFL player Ryan Moats (the police officer drew his service revolver on Moat in the hospital parking lot, because Moat rolled through a red light; Even after Moat explained that his family member was dying, the officer detained him), and Rodney King (no identification needed).

The only people I hear calling Crowley a great cop are his fellow police officers. Am I the only person who has heard the term The Blue Wall of Silence?
7.26.2009 7:07pm
Federal Dog:
"His fear was not unreasonable. Witness Abner Louima (the Haitian immigrant that New York police sodomized in the police station), Amadou Diallo (an unarmed man who died in the vestibule of his building when four plain clothes police officers literally emptied their guns because they thought he was a criminal; he wasn’t), NFL player Ryan Moats (the police officer drew his service revolver on Moat in the hospital parking lot, because Moat rolled through a red light; Even after Moat explained that his family member was dying, the officer detained him), and Rodney King (no identification needed)."

Yes, because when police beat the hell out of a black man, they always make sure that they do not remain out of sight in the house when doing so. Rather, they assure that they drag the guy out in front of 7-8 civilians eyewitnesses so that they can beat the guy to within a inch of his life, then get away with it all without questions about their conduct. This is especially true in Harvard Yard, where civilian witnesses never report beatings of black men on the street.
7.26.2009 7:15pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

Huh. Okay, so you have one black officer that is gong to have to work with the rest of the LEO's there for the rest of his life.

I said, I said, get back on plantation and keep at it, Negros!
7.26.2009 7:17pm
loki13 (mail):
I find it interesting that Federal Dog -- beyond insulting other posters (incompetently) and misrepresenting the knowledge of a black witness to the scene -- posits that it is surprising that a police officer of any color would support one of his brethren, and, moreover, calls sympathy for Gates and not answering whether the arrest was valid "throwing Gates under the bus".

I guess people like Federal Dog only care about what happens to black men in America when it happes to advantage a white man.
7.26.2009 7:32pm
loki13 (mail):

Huh. Okay, so you have one black officer that is gong to have to work with the rest of the LEO's there for the rest of his life.

I said, I said, get back on plantation and keep at it, Negros!


Ahhhh... Cato the Elder. You are nothing if not predictable. As I wrote above
"Ladies and Gentleman, Your 2009 Republican Party!". It is so *hard* to be you, eh?
7.26.2009 7:35pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Are you insinuating I'm a racist, loki13? Heh.
7.26.2009 7:37pm
loki13 (mail):
No, Cato, you're a *victim*. Heh.

Good luck with that!
7.26.2009 7:44pm
jay jay (mail):
I am a mid-forties black man who has never been arrested. I've never even seen the inside of a police cruiser. Gee, how did "a black man in America" manage that? Easy -- I obey all laws that are most likely to endanger my freedom if I violate them. I don't sell drugs. I don't buy drugs. I don't steal. I don't vandalize. I don't riot. I don't get drunk in public. Life is easier when you choose not to do things like that. That's the best way to maintain your own freedom and liberty -- be a decent human being.
-

Gates didn't do any of these things either. He was in his own house minding his own business.
7.26.2009 7:45pm
jay jay (mail):
I am a mid-forties black man who has never been arrested. I've never even seen the inside of a police cruiser. Gee, how did "a black man in America" manage that? Easy -- I obey all laws that are most likely to endanger my freedom if I violate them. I don't sell drugs. I don't buy drugs. I don't steal. I don't vandalize. I don't riot. I don't get drunk in public. Life is easier when you choose not to do things like that. That's the best way to maintain your own freedom and liberty -- be a decent human being.
-

Gates didn't do any of these things either. He was in his own house minding his own business.
7.26.2009 7:45pm
subpatre (mail):
jay jay writes:"I disagree with bloggers who are positive that this wasn't a case of profiling and I understand Gates' uneasiness."

Disagree all you want to, your 'analysis' is supported only by making up 'facts'. To the point about Harvard, read Roy Bercaw's comment:

[City Manager] policy makes Harvard property a separate jurisdiction from the rest of the city. HUPD promotes the idea that they have exclusive jurisdiction on Harvard property ... as if Harvard were a different city

just one more data point that Crowley was acting according to department policy.


@ Federal_Dog and Cato_the_Elder - you really need to clearly mark sarcasm; some of these folk (loki13) don't get it.
7.26.2009 7:45pm
DennisN (mail):
jukeboxgrad:


this is a key problem, because Crowley has admitted he was asked to show his ID, and he has admitted (implicitly) that he did not show his ID, as required by law.


The MA Statute simply says, "shall be exhibited upon lawful request for purposes of identification." It says nothing about how much time must transpire before the officer exhibits his ID. In a tactical situation, and a confrontation with an agitated, confrontational provocateur, there is no way I would give the subject the opportunity to grab my ID. Sgt. Crowley saved gates from a felony rap, there.

In both, he (inadvertently) makes it clear that he had plenty of time to show his ID.


I disagree. First of all, the law does not define what a reasonable time is. Second, as long as Gates was acting agitated and potentially violent, I would argue that it would be improper to show him anything. Arguably the offense, if any, occurred after Gates had been cuffed and stuffed in the cruiser. At that point, it is nothing more than a minor technical violation.

Baloney. Gates is 5' 7", 150 lbs. There is nothing in Crowley's police report or TV interview suggesting any physical aggression whatsoever by Gates.


Baloney back atcha.

Gates size has nothing to do with it, nor the subject's age. He was agitated and being provocative. Under those circumstances, it would be foolish to produce an ID or anything else. All Gates had to do would be to grab Sgt. Crowley's ID or grab at it, and he would be up on a felony rap. Sgt. Crowley saved Gates from a serious charge.

The odds are very high that any "subject demanding an ID card" is going to be "agitated and confrontational." The very act of asking for the card is "confrontational," virtually by definition.


Not at all. "Officer, I need to see your departmental ID. Thank you." There. No confrontation.

In the end Gates probably does have a technical beef about the ID, but there is no way a charge could be made to stick given the circumstances, and I'm not aware of any penalty for failing to comply.

There is no reason to think that Gates ever left the porch. According to Crowley, he made the arrest on the porch. And if Gates "was yelling from his porch," it's odd to notice the almost complete absence of non-police witnesses who have come forward to support that assertion''


I agree. That is one reason the charge was dropped. Politics was the other. But likewise the situation is ambiguous enough, or has been managed to be ambiguous enough, that a charge of false arrest is also unlikely to stand.

It's apparently a standard cop stunt.

Unfortunately, one of the people who seems to have not "caught the error" is Commissioner Haas. He said "Sergeant Crowley followed proper protocol and procedures in making the arrest."


He's supporting his people and supporting the use of a standard cop tool. One that may be illegal, but is useful and won't be given up without a fight.


jay jay:

I also disagree with bloggers who assume Gates played the race card


It was Gates who immediately started screaming about Black men in America and playing the role of provocateur.
7.26.2009 7:50pm
loki13 (mail):

First you lied and claim the law says 'immediately' or "at the time", then you cover and shift goalposts by emphasizing another word. There is no requirement of time or immediacy.


You are correct. When construing statutory language, use of superfluous language such as "upon" should be disregarded. Verily, legislators prefer to use "immediately" and "at the time" when writing their laws! So that when writing a law designed to ensure that law enforcement provides an inquiring citizen with their name, rank and badge number, the canny legislator *shall* use the word "upon, wherein the law enforcement officer, seeing the wink of the legislature, will know that he has no duty to ever produce it!

For example, if a legislature were to write, "Upon an authroized law enforcment officer's request, a person shall produce their driver's license. . .", everyone knows that would mean the person would be allowed to produce it whenever they should chose to do so, because the law enforcement officer could always avail themselves of some sort of public record, or, forsooth, the citizen might choose to get back to them sometime in the next few fortnights!

So endeth the lesson in statutory construction from the sandwich eaten by San Diego ballplayers.
7.26.2009 8:05pm
loki13 (mail):

Gates size has nothing to do with it, nor the subject's age. He was agitated and being provocative

Translation- he was angry that the officer was staying in his home despite ascertaining he was the rightful inhabitant and being asked to leave, and he expressed that displeasure using words and threatening administrative retribution; moreover he provoked the officer with words and demands for identification.
7.26.2009 8:10pm
jay jay (mail):
Yes, because when police beat the hell out of a black man, they always make sure that they do not remain out of sight in the house when doing so. Rather, they assure that they drag the guy out in front of 7-8 civilians eyewitnesses so that they can beat the guy to within a inch of his life, then get away with it all without questions about their conduct. This is especially true in Harvard Yard, where civilian witnesses never report beatings of black men on the street.
-
Go back and read the police report. When the officer first asked him to step outside, there weren't any other officers there. And the officer that pulled his service revolver on the NFL player not only did it in full view of witnesses, he recorded the incident with his police camera. The officers that sodomized the cab driver didn't do it on the street. They took him to the police station.

But your comment ignors the point I was making. It was not unreasonable for Gates to be fearful under these circumstances.
--

If Gates sues under federal law (Sec. 1983), he will not be able to get punitive damages from the city (or quite possibly from the police officer), but can he get such damages under Massachusetts law?
-
I am an adjuster that handles 1983 claims. He can collect punitive damages from officer Crowley. If he wins, he is also entitled to legal fees. In a case like this, they would probably be more than the judgment. I have handled cases where the judge allowed $400 @ hour.
7.26.2009 8:18pm
DennisN (mail):
loki13:

Translation- he was angry that the officer was staying in his home despite ascertaining he was the rightful inhabitant and being asked to leave, and he expressed that displeasure using words and threatening administrative retribution; moreover he provoked the officer with words and demands for identification.



It doesn't really matter why Gates was behaving in an agitated manner, or even if he was justified in doing so. The officer is under no obligation to comply with any demands, lawful or not, until the situation has de-escalated. The subject has a certain obligation to behave in a calm and controlled manner if he expects any cooperation at all.
7.26.2009 8:45pm
subpatre (mail):
jay jay claims "He can collect punitive damages from officer Crowley."

No he can't. Gates —in collaboration with his attorneys— made a public statement the issue was resolved:
"This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances."
Gates may believe the 'resolution' to be legal only, reasoning that public trashing of the officer(s) involved isn't covered by the previous public statement. But any legal movement on Gates' part negates the nol pros agreement; risking reinstatement of the charges.

At trial not only will Gates' race-baiting be paraded for the world [the most powerful incentive to Gates and friends] but his conduct were so clearly within the code's prohibited acts that conviction is inevitable.

No matter after that —appeals, constitutional questions,or federal motion— the cop acted squarely within established law, procedure, and policy. There will be no punitive damages or legal fees.
7.26.2009 8:47pm
loki13 (mail):

but his conduct were so clearly within the code's prohibited acts that conviction is inevitable.

No matter after that —appeals, constitutional questions,or federal motion— the cop acted squarely within established law, procedure, and policy


I had my doubts before, but now I know. The sandwich eaten by San Diego ballplayers is a troll. Given that the OP and original comments were about what the code meant (IOW, whether it was constitutional to arrest Gates given those facts).... wow.
7.26.2009 9:00pm
jay jay (mail):
The events in question took place in Cambridge, a university city with a black mayor in state with a black governor in a country with a half-black president. Do you really think such a police force could exist in this day and age with the federal DOJ really to pounce?
--
All the presidents, most of the mayors and governors have been white up until now. Based on that logic are you saying that whites can't be victimized?
7.26.2009 9:19pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Jay Jay said:

The events in question took place in Cambridge, a university city with a black mayor in state with a black governor in a country with a half-black president. Do you really think such a police force could exist in this day and age with the federal DOJ really to pounce?
--
All the presidents, most of the mayors and governors have been white up until now. Based on that logic are you saying that whites can't be victimized?


Unwarranted racial profiling is best characterized as a transgression against a group - Blacks. Well, it ultimately afflicts individuals, but the ultimate and illegitimate motive that the Law judges is that it is unfair to impute group characteristics, which are tremendously difficult for any one person to change, onto to distinct individuals who vary widely amongst themselves. Yes, directly from the analogy you give, I would agree with Zarkov that Whites indeed could not be victimized with the same motivations as you feel precipitated Gates' arrest. More precisely, simple observation of this country's history implies that they could not be subjected to racial profiling as a body.
7.26.2009 10:02pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Corr, supra: Please change "...it ultimately afflicts individuals..." into "...it proximately afflicts individuals...".
7.26.2009 10:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Failure to get the ID does not give him license to throw a tantrum.

A citizen doesn't need a license to throw a tantrum at a police officer. Indeed, the original understanding of the First Amendment was precisely that citizens would not need to obtain licenses to express themselves.
7.26.2009 10:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Disagree all you want to, your 'analysis' is supported only by making up 'facts'. To the point about Harvard, read Roy Bercaw's comment:
[City Manager] policy makes Harvard property a separate jurisdiction from the rest of the city. HUPD promotes the idea that they have exclusive jurisdiction on Harvard property ... as if Harvard were a different city
just one more data point that Crowley was acting according to department policy.
Setting aside the question of why we should believe a random commenter on a website, I'm mystified as to how this comment is supposed to support anything at all about Crowley's actions.
7.26.2009 10:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It was Gates who immediately started screaming about Black men in America and playing the role of provocateur.
Sez who?
7.26.2009 10:16pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Gates size has nothing to do with it, nor the subject's age. He was agitated and being provocative

Translation- he was angry that the officer was staying in his home despite ascertaining he was the rightful inhabitant and being asked to leave, and he expressed that displeasure using words and threatening administrative retribution; moreover he provoked the officer with words and demands for identification.
Both sides are incorrect here. Gates may have been upset, but there's nothing showing he was "agitated" or "being provocative," whatever that means.

But it isn't correct that Gates asked the officer to leave and the officer didn't. It's the other way around. Gates asked the officer for ID, and instead the officer left.
7.26.2009 10:19pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And since I know JBG likes to jump on words, when I say "asked the officer for ID," I mean, asked the officer to identify himself, not asked the officer to show his ID card.
7.26.2009 10:19pm
Scott Jacobs (mail) (www):
Translation- he was angry that the officer was staying in his home despite ascertaining he was the rightful inhabitant and being asked to leave,
As I said before, simply because your ID says you live there doesn't mean you should be there. The case of a divorced or seperated husband with a standing order to not remove contents from the home (standard, I would think, in divorce proceedings) would mean that regardless of what the ID says, he still shouldn't be there.

Trust, but verify.
7.26.2009 10:21pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
No he can't. Gates —in collaboration with his attorneys— made a public statement the issue was resolved:
"This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances."
Gates may believe the 'resolution' to be legal only, reasoning that public trashing of the officer(s) involved isn't covered by the previous public statement. But any legal movement on Gates' part negates the nol pros agreement; risking reinstatement of the charges.

At trial not only will Gates' race-baiting be paraded for the world [the most powerful incentive to Gates and friends] but his conduct were so clearly within the code's prohibited acts that conviction is inevitable.

No matter after that —appeals, constitutional questions,or federal motion— the cop acted squarely within established law, procedure, and policy. There will be no punitive damages or legal fees.
Now you've gone from bad lawyering to delusion. You're wrong on the disorderly conduct issue, and you're wronger on the nolle prosequi issue.
7.26.2009 10:24pm
jay jay (mail):
He can collect punitive damages from officer Crowley."

No he can't. Gates —in collaboration with his attorneys— made a public statement the issue was resolved:
"This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances."
Gates may believe the 'resolution' to be legal only, reasoning that public trashing of the officer(s) involved isn't covered by the previous public statement. But any legal movement on Gates' part negates the nol pros agreement; risking reinstatement of the charges.

At trial not only will Gates' race-baiting be paraded for the world [the most powerful incentive to Gates and friends] but his conduct were so clearly within the code's prohibited acts that conviction is inevitable.

No matter after that —appeals, constitutional questions,or federal motion— the cop acted squarely within established law, procedure, and policy. There will be no punitive damages or legal fees.
--
As I understood the question, she asked under 1983 could Gates collect punitive damages from either the officer or the city. Gates still has the option to file a civil lawsuit under 1983. This is a case seeking money damages. The resolution that you are referencing deals with the criminal charges only. If the jury delivers a favorable verdict, Gates is entitled to damages AND legal fees. If the jury award punitives, those come out of the officer's pocket.

It is extremely unlikely that legal charges will be reinstated. As many bloggers have pointed out, there wasn't probable cause to arrest Gates in the first place, and prosecutors don't like messy cases.

In a 1983 civil case, a jury (or in the event of a bench trial a judge) decides if there has been a violation of Gates' civil rights. Since we haven't heard what Gates said, it is entirely possible that a jury will determine that there was no race baiting or that it was irrelevant. The police officer's jacket, any contradictions between his police report and video interviews are admissible as evidence.

Frankly I'm surprised that some one hasn't told Crowley and the police department to shut up, because they are making statements that could come back to hurt themselves, if a civil suit is file.

We have to agree to disagree that Gates' conduct falls within the act. And any good lawyer will tell you, juries aren't predictable. There is no such thing as an "inevitable jury decision."
7.26.2009 10:25pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
David M. Nieporent said:

You're wrong on the disorderly conduct issue, and you're wronger on the nolle prosequi issue.

Could you expound on this?
7.26.2009 10:38pm
loki13 (mail):
Cato,

The resolution (toasting marshmallows round the campfire while issuing a joint statement about the nolle prosequi) does not foreclose civil action.

(At this point, given the whole "Beer at Obama's" angle, I find it unlikely, but as a conclusory statement of fact, "Underwater Boat who doubles as a Military Clergy" is incorrect that the resolution will not allow the civil action. It's only a feel-good end to the criminal complaint.)
7.26.2009 10:54pm
subpatre (mail):
David M. Nieporent said:
You're wrong on the disorderly conduct issue, and you're wronger on the nolle prosequi issue.
I'm very certain on the disorderly issue (Posner cites the wrong statute) but could you expound on the nol pros? I've seen charges reinstated, so why not here?
7.26.2009 10:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Dilan Esper:

"A citizen doesn't need a license to throw a tantrum at a police officer. Indeed, the original understanding of the First Amendment was precisely that citizens would not need to obtain licenses to express themselves."

I think you beg the question here. Not all forms of expression enjoy 1A protection. When I say "tantrum," I mean behavior that crosses the line to disorderly conduct. One can express the thought "you are a racist cop" in different ways, some of which will be disorderly.
7.26.2009 11:00pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Jay Jay, Crowley has been told not to make further statments- CNN was interviewing fellow officers- Crowley was present but not talking.
7.26.2009 11:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Jay Jay:

"Based on that logic are you saying that whites can't be victimized?"


You question contains a planted axiom: symmetry. Black politicians have more sensitivity to accusations of police abuse (against blacks) than white politicians (against whites). As such they are going to act as more careful guardians for their constituency.

There is another asymmetrical aspect. Blacks have a much higher rate of encounters with the police than whites. Heather Mac Donald explains why here.
As for urban policing — where the police have victim identifications and contextual and behavioral cues to work with — blacks are stopped more, but only in comparison with their proportion of the entire population. Measured against their crime rate, they are understopped. New York City is perfectly typical of the black police-stop and crime rates. In the first three months of 2009, 52 percent of all people stopped for questioning by the police in New York City were black, though blacks are just 24 percent of the population. But according to the victims of and witnesses to crime, blacks commit about 68 percent of all violent crime in the city. Blacks commit 82 percent of all shootings and 72 percent of all robberies, whereas whites, who make up 35 percent of the city's population, commit about 5 percent of all violent crimes, 1 percent of shootings, and about 4 percent of robberies.
7.26.2009 11:20pm
jay jay (mail):
Based on that logic are you saying that whites can't be victimized?"

You question contains a planted axiom: symmetry. Black politicians have more sensitivity to accusations of police abuse (against blacks) than white politicians (against whites). As such they are going to act as more careful guardians for their constituency.
----

I can't tell you how interesting it is that people relate victimization to skin color. The blogger's orginal comment indicated that a black person couldn't be victimized because of the abundance of black public officials. It is a idiotic premises. I don't think badge heavy cops spend a lot of time thinking about what the governor or mayor is going to say.

Police have absolute power, and we know the old saying about absolute power. That means they can harrass anyone, regardless of skin color and regardless of who is mayor.
7.26.2009 11:53pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Jimbo44:

Gates is apparently working on a PBS special. It looks more and more like he ginned up this whole thing to generate publicity for his TV program.

Now that you've wrapped that up, maybe you can tell us if jet fuel burns hot enough to melt a grassy knoll.
7.27.2009 12:01am
jay jay (mail):
A. Zarkov,

Contrary to your article assertions, Obama is very aware of police activity and profiling. When he was in the state senate he sponsor a law that requires officers to complete papers that identify the ethnicity of all who are stopped by the police, whether an arrest was made or not. He also sponsored a law that required that police interviews surrounding capital offenses be videotapped

Incidently, Illinois stats don't jive with yours. In fact, they demonstrated that blacks were stopped more often, but arrested less.

Your article also seems a little biased, and, dare I say it, racist. Most people, regardless of color don't argue with the police when they are stopped. And it just plain stupid to believe someone on a lonely road is going to argue with the police because of Obama's statement.

No one objects to police doing their job. The objection has to do with abuse of authority. That seems to be an issue with a lot of people, regardless of color.
7.27.2009 12:10am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
When I say "tantrum," I mean behavior that crosses the line to disorderly conduct.

There isn't such a line.

Disorderly conduct occurs if he severely disturbs the neighbors. But as long as he isn't severely disturbing the neighbors (and note, the cops maneuvering him so that they can claim that he is disturbing the neighbors doesn't count), he can yell and scream all he wants.

Absent a severe annoyance to the PUBLIC or actual interference with his duties, the cop has two choices: (1) take it, or (2) leave.
7.27.2009 12:14am
A. Zarkov (mail):
jay jay:

"Incidently, Illinois stats don't jive with yours."

They are not my statistics. Mac Donald probably got them from NYPD or the US Department of Justice Statistics.

"In fact, they demonstrated that blacks were stopped more often, but arrested less."

You will have to be more specific here. What are the numbers? Mac Donald's numbers are consistent with those from the National Victimization Surveys done by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"Your article also seems a little biased, and, dare I say it, racist."


How can data be racist? Black crime rates are 7-10 higher across all categories of crime. As such blacks are going to have more contact with the police, which is going to lead to a higher rate of accusations of police abuse.

"Most people, regardless of color don't argue with the police when they are stopped."

Most everyone won't argue with a policeman when stopped. A few hotheads do and they risk arrest.
7.27.2009 12:45am
loki13 (mail):
Black crime rates are 7-10 higher across all categories of crime.

You sure you don't want to caveat that statement? Does it depend on how you define "categories"? Does it depend on how you define "crime"? Is it for the (set of all) = (less than all)?
7.27.2009 12:57am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Dilan Esper:

"But as long as he isn't severely disturbing the neighbors..."


How do you know he wasn't?

Gates lives at 17 Ware Street. Go to Google Maps, type in the address, and select "street view." This will give you a feel for the neighborhood. If you rotate, you will see an apartment building across the street. I can imagine that someone having a severe tantrum on the porch, would attract a crowd and upset people on either side and across the street.
7.27.2009 12:58am
A. Zarkov (mail):
loki13:

"You sure you don't want to caveat that statement? Does it depend on how you define "categories"?

I'm talking about homicide, robbery, rape and other sexual crimes, assault, battery, mayhem etc. Violent crime. There is an exception: serial murder. In this case blacks have only twice the rate of whites despite the popular delusion that most serial killers are white.
7.27.2009 1:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

So, on your understanding, the black cop is selling Gates out to cover for the white guy? … The guy's name is Leon Lashley. His statements have been made to the media. He states that he fully supports how Crowley handled the incident, including the arrest, given Gates's conduct.


Yes, Lashley said "I know what he did. I support what he did 100%" (see video at 0:28). Trouble is, Lashley also said "I stayed out" (see video at 2:17). That is, he stayed outside the house. Since he was outside the house, how is he in a position to say "I know what he did?" Many or most of the key events, such as Crowley violating 98D, and allegedly refusing to give his name at all, occurred inside the house. Lashley is relying on hearsay to evaluate those events. This is not good for his credibility. And presenting him as a witness as if he was inside, even though he wasn't, also isn't good for your credibility.

I find it interesting that loki … posits that that witness is not being candid


I find it interesting that you posit Lashley as candid even though he is claiming to know things he is not in a position to know.

================
loki:

I'm not clear about what it is in Gates' own account which indicates that he acted like a jerk.


Even from Gates account, it appeared that, for whatever reason, he immediately went into "the cop is racially profiling me mode".


I'm primarily interested in what Gates actually did ("acted") and said during the event, as distinguished from his thoughts about the incident (as expressed after it). His accounts are here and here. He admits to making one racial statement before the arrest:

It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, ‘What is your name, and what is your badge number?’ and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’ That’s what I said. He didn’t say anything. He turned his back to me and turned back to the porch. And I followed him. I kept saying, “I want your name, and I want your badge number.”


Does that statement ("you’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer") amount to "acted like a jerk?" I think the answer might be yes, but it depends on things we don't know, and probably will never know, like the attitude Crowley presented to Gates (and attitude is communicated not just by words but also by tone and body language). So I think claiming that Gates acted like a jerk requires assuming a bunch of facts that are not in evidence.

I wish he had been a garden variety jerk instead of pulling the racial profiling angle; then, the focus could properly be on the rampant misuse of these types of laws to enforce "contempt of cop" violations without allowing the bedwetting Law&Order crowd* to cry racism.


You're summing up a key aspect of what makes the situation interesting and complicated. There are indeed two potential angles: racial profiling, and police abuse of power more generally. And most of the media attention is being focused on the former, and not the latter. I agree with you that this is unfortunate. I think the "bedwetting Law&Order crowd" is indeed taking advantage of the situation by crying racism, to distract attention from the broader issue. I agree that it probably would have been better, overall, if Gates had kept the racial angle out of it. Even though I also think Crowley's behavior may have been influenced by race, at least to some extent. But in this situation that would be hard to know and hard to prove, so discussions of the race angle tend to become a waste of time.

2. Being tired from a long trip.
3. Being frustrated by not being able to get in his house.


Indeed. Also, having a severe bronchial infection.

================
jimbo:

Gates baited Crowley into the arrest


Yes, especially the part where Gates used mind control to get Crowley to violate 98D by refusing to show his ID, as required by law. And also the part where Gates used mind control to get Crowley to say that any further discussion regarding the ID (or anything else) needed to take place outside. A place where Crowley would be in a better position to make a DC arrest. Yes, all that mind control was quite diabolical.

================
subpatre:

I'm glad to hear you 'deal with LEOs' that should make providing that case cite real easy ... or not.


There's no need for a "case cite" to comprehend the plain language of the statute:

Each city or town shall issue to every full time police officer employed by it an identification card bearing his photograph and the municipal seal. Such card shall be carried on the officer’s person, and shall be exhibited upon lawful request for purposes of identification.


What do you think "shall be exhibited upon lawful request" means? "Exhibited" months later? How do you interpret the word "upon?" The relevant definition is as follows: "immediately or very soon after."

The statute does not say 'shall be exhibited eventually.' It says "shall be exhibited upon lawful request." For those who have trouble speaking English, that means 'shall be exhibited immediately after lawful request, or very soon after lawful request.' And it's not just that Crowley failed to show his ID immediately. It's that he failed to show it at all. So how is it possible to construe his behavior as being in compliance with the statute?

First you lied and claim the law says 'immediately' or "at the time", then you cover and shift goalposts by emphasizing another word. There is no requirement of time or immediacy.


The law does stipulate "immediately" or "at the time." That's what "upon" means. But feel free to tell us about the special GOP dictionary where "upon" is defined as 'eventually' or 'much later' or 'whenever the officer feels like getting around to it.'

By the way, here's some similar language from another MA statute:

Upon request by a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority police officer, a passenger shall make themselves known to police by personal identification or any other means for the purpose of issuing a non-criminal citation.


Are you really claiming that "upon" at the beginning of that sentence means something other than "immediately or very soon after?" Because if it means something else, then it's perfectly fine for the passenger to delay his response, right? What if first he wants to use his cell phone for a while (like how Crowley decided he needed to use his radio, instead of responding to Gates' lawful request)? What if he needs to trim his nails? Go home and spend a few days reorganizing his lint collection? The passenger has not violated the statute, because "upon" means something other than 'right away.' (And because the statute allegedly does not define a "time frame," as scott said.) Right? That's funny. Now tell us another one.

(I see loki produced a similar example.)

the cop acted squarely within established law, procedure, and policy


Naturally. And the people who drafted 98D put the word "upon" in there even though the word has no meaning whatsoever. And the OP and various comments about the constitutionality of the arrest also have no meaning whatsoever.

Secretary of Public Safety for Massachusetts —over State Police, Corrections, National Guard, Fire Services and other assorted criminal justice and public safety agencies— where he had the major leadership role ... to ensure that police departments were not engaged in racial profiling ... Masters in Criminal Justice Administration and is finishing a PhD in Law, Policy and Society at Northeastern U.


Yes, Haas has a great resume. All the more reason to expect him to know better than to give Crowley a free pass for violating 98D. So why did Haas give Crowley a free pass for violating 98D? Is it possible that Haas has the same impairment you have regarding the plain meaning of the word "upon?"

Crowley's on perfectly solid ground; Gates put himself within the violation. It would be just too strange for the Commissioner and union (especially the union!) to take stands without reassurance of their legality.


If there was an actual "violation" and the arrest was "on perfectly solid ground," then why did Haas allow the charges to be dropped?

HUPD promotes the idea that they have exclusive jurisdiction on Harvard property ... as if Harvard were a different city


If true, so what? Who cares? How does that explain or justify any of Crowley's bad acts, like his violation of 98D? How does it have any relevance whatsoever to your ipse dixit claim that "Crowley was acting according to department policy?" (I'm happy to note that nieporent made the same point. We do agree occasionally.)

I'm very certain on the disorderly issue (Posner cites the wrong statute)


That's hysterically funny, since you said it was "not 'disorderly conduct,' " and you cited "the wrong statute." As I explained to you here. Naturally you didn't respond.

================
scott:

I don't see any time frame in that rule.


You must have the special redacted version of the statute where the word "upon" cannot be seen.

Gates asked Crowley to show ID roughly ten days ago. As far as we know, Crowley has still not complied with that request. Is Crowley still within the proper "time frame?" When the drafters of the statute said "shall be exhibited," do you think they meant 'shall be exhibited at any time prior to the end of the current century?'

Do you seriously take it to mean "the very instant it is requested"?


I seriously take "upon" to mean what "upon" actually means, which is 'immediately or very soon after.' What a radical notion: paying attention to the actual meaning of the actual words that appear in the actual statute.

So if I'm an LEO, and I'm trying to keep some miscreant from grabbing my gun after I watch him hit a guy with a 2x4, I have to stop trying to keep myself from getting killed, and reach for my freaking card?


No. First I have to do what's needed to make sure I'm not "getting killed." But upon doing that, I do indeed have to "reach for my freaking card." And if you're not sure what I meant by "upon," look it up.

And was Crowley unable to exhibit his card because he was so busy keeping himself "from getting killed?" I don't think so. Try dealing with the actual circumstances of the instant matter, and not some circumstances you've pulled out of your imagination.

The officer has a right to some measure of personal safety, doesn't he?


Indeed. Trouble is, Crowley said nothing in his lengthy police report or in his lengthy TV interview to give the slightest indication that he viewed Gates as a threat to his "personal safety." As I said, try dealing with the actual circumstances of the instant matter, and not some circumstances you've pulled out of your imagination.

Isn't it more logical to allow the officer to get the information he's requested from whoever he's talking to, and THEN give his card? And isn't that exactly what happened?


Wrong. That's exactly what didn't happen. I reviewed the events here. Crowley didn't "give his card." Ever. Period. Even after he was able to "get the information he's requested from [Gates]."

You stated quite plainly that you believe it was the demand for Sgt Crowley to show his identification that led to the arrest. I simply suggested that it was the insulting, self-aggrandizing tirade on Prof. Gate's part that caused it.


Trouble is, there are no reliable non-police witnesses who assert that Gates ever delivered an "insulting, self-aggrandizing tirade." On the other hand, Crowley's own statements make it clear that Gates repeatedly asked for various forms of ID information, and that Crowley did not respond to those lawful requests in a lawful manner (at the very least, with regard to one of those requests). Therefore it is indeed reasonable to believe that "it was the demand for Sgt Crowley to show his identification that led to the arrest." At least indirectly, because Gates had a legitimate right to be angry because his lawful request had been denied.

simply because your ID says you live there doesn't mean you should be there … Trust, but verify.


This is a pure red herring. By his own account, Crowley did indeed "trust" (shortly after arriving) that Gates "should be there" (and it doesn't matter if you think this was bad judgment on Crowley's part). And in any case, if Crowley didn't trust that Gates should be there, Crowley could "verify" very easily via the Harvard police who were standing outside. They knew (or could easily find out) that Harvard owned that building, and that Gates "should be there."

By the way, I notice you're ducking my question about witnesses. You said there are "witnesses." What witnesses?

================
dennis:

The MA Statute simply says, "shall be exhibited upon lawful request for purposes of identification." It says nothing about how much time must transpire before the officer exhibits his ID.


Someone else who learned to speak English without ever being told the meaning of "upon."

In a tactical situation, and a confrontation with an agitated, confrontational provocateur, there is no way I would give the subject the opportunity to grab my ID. Sgt. Crowley saved gates from a felony rap, there.


I suspect that Crowley was not bending over backwards to make sure that Gates was not victimized by some kind of unfair "rap." Just a hunch. And to protect Gates from "a felony rap," all Crowley had to do was decline to press "a felony rap;" i.e., Crowley could apply discretion and generously forgive any gratuitous ID-grabbing that might ensue as a result of Crowley acting in compliance with 98D. Crowley was under no obligation to bring "a felony rap," even if there had been a veritable orgy of ID-grabbing on his watch.

Also, has there been a rash of ID-grabbing? Have perps been grabbing IDs and using them to assault cops? Are there a bunch of cops in the hospital as a result of assault with a deadly ID? Exactly what harm would come to Crowley if the aging, diminutive college professor suddenly transformed himself into a crazed, rampaging ID-grabber?

I don't think the dog really ate your homework, and I don't think Crowley violated 98D in order to protect Gates from "a felony rap."

as long as Gates was acting agitated and potentially violent, I would argue that it would be improper to show him anything


If Crowley viewed Gates as "potentially violent," then why does he say nothing in his lengthy police report or in his lengthy TV interview to give the slightest indication that he viewed Gates as "potentially violent?"

Under those circumstances, it would be foolish to produce an ID or anything else.


"Anything else?" Really? Crowley was perfectly comfortable using his radio while standing in Gates' kitchen. Didn't Crowley realize that at any moment, Gates could have grabbed the radio? Who knows what sort of unspeakable things might happen if a "potentially violent" person like Gates managed to get hold of a dangerous object like a radio. And wasn't Crowley concerned that this could lead to "a felony rap" for Gates? How could Crowley be so careless?

And if "it would be foolish to produce an ID," then why did Crowley say "I did start reaching for a photo ID that I have?" What happened? Did it take him a moment to realize that he was about to take the terrible risk of showing his ID to a "potentially violent" person?

Not at all. "Officer, I need to see your departmental ID. Thank you." There. No confrontation.


How do you know that's not exactly what Gates said?

He's supporting his people and supporting the use of a standard cop tool. One that may be illegal, but is useful and won't be given up without a fight.


How reassuring to know that Cambridge has a police commissioner who doesn't mind encouraging his people to do things that "may be illegal." (And the word "may" there is unjustified.)

It was Gates who immediately started screaming about Black men in America and playing the role of provocateur.


Your bias is obvious when you uncritically accept Crowley's uncorroborated claims while rejecting Gates' reciprocal claims.

The officer is under no obligation to comply with any demands, lawful or not, until the situation has de-escalated.


What "situation?" In his TV interview, Crowley explained that after seeing Gates' ID, Crowley was eager to get on the radio to tell "all the responding units" that they were not needed at the scene. So there was no "situation" at that point. That's why he called off the other units, and that's why he prepared to leave. So at that point, what was preventing him from complying with Gates' lawful request?

================
nieporent:

Gates asked the officer for ID, and instead the officer left.


Indeed. And as he was leaving, Crowley told Gates that any further discussion needed to take place outside. In my opinion, this tends to create the impression that Crowley intentionally lured Gates outside in order to set him up for a DC arrest.

And since I know JBG likes to jump on words, when I say "asked the officer for ID," I mean, asked the officer to identify himself, not asked the officer to show his ID card.


But according to Crowley's own account, Gates did both of those things. Gates did indeed "[ask] the officer to show his ID card." In his police report, Crowley said that Gates asked Crowley to "show him identification." There seems to still be undue confusion on this point, even though loki explained it days ago, here.

The same fact is established in Crowley's TV interview. He said "he asked me for identification … I did start reaching for a photo ID that I have" (see video at 6:07).

Crowley understood that Gates was asking to see Crowley's "photo ID." But Crowley makes no mention (either in his police report or his TV interview) of ever showing it to Gates, and says nothing to explain why he failed to show it to Gates. Crowley's own words are enough to establish that he violated 98D.

================
johnny:

Crowley has been told not to make further statments


I don't know when he was told that, but he gave a long interview pretty recently. And I think he hung himself in various ways.

================
leo:

maybe you can tell us if jet fuel burns hot enough to melt a grassy knoll.


Good one.

Don't tell anyone, but the grassy knoll is exactly where Obama's Kenyan birth certificate is hidden.

================
zarkov:

I can imagine that someone having a severe tantrum on the porch, would attract a crowd


Crowley said there were "at least seven" people standing there, when he came out on the porch. Some "crowd." He also said there were "many" Cambridge and Harvard officers. And who knows how many cruisers. I think it's likely that cops outnumbered the "crowd." And I wonder if you think a scene involving "many" officers would not be more than sufficient to attract a "crowd" (especially if "crowd" is defined loosely as "at least seven" people).

Where is there any evidence at all that the "crowd" was attracted by Gates, and not by the presence of so many police? Why shouldn't we believe that it was the police, by their numbers, who were disturbing the peace? Shouldn't Gates have made a citizen's arrest of them, for the sake of protecting the peace and quiet of Ware St?

And if there was a "severe tantrum" that was witnessed by a "crowd," where are the witnesses? It's a surprise that they are so well-hidden, since every reporter in Boston is chasing this story. And plenty of reporters have flown in from other places for the same purpose.
7.27.2009 1:17am
loki13 (mail):
Zarkov,

So - just to make sure- your claim isn't all crime, it's certain type of violent crime. And blacks have a 7-10 higher "rate of crime" than whites. I wouldn't mind seeing some evidence for this claim. I checked out the DOJ site and couldn't see where you were coming up with it.

First, I assume you mean per capita, and not in toal numbers.
Second:
rate of charges filed?
rate of convications for those crimes?
some type of polling? (aka, Mr or Mrs. Doe, have you been murdered in the last year? Yes? And what was the race of your murderer?)

I would like to see the stats. Not saying you're wrong. Just saying I'd like to see the evidence.
7.27.2009 1:19am
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

In this case blacks have only twice the rate of whites despite the popular delusion that most serial killers are white.

Hm. I thought La Griffe du Lion had indeed shown that in one of his articles.
7.27.2009 1:50am
David Tomlin (mail):

jukeboxgrad:

I especially like the part where Gates exercised mind control over Crowley, forcing Crowley to violate 98D.

My favorite is when he bribed the passerby to make the 911 call.
7.27.2009 6:06am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Cato The Elder:

Hm. I thought La Griffe du Lion had indeed shown that in one of his articles.

La Griffe du Lion cites Walsh, African Americans and Serial Killing in the Media. Walsh dispels the popular idea that whites have the highest incidence rate for serial killing. So how come the pubic thinks otherwise? Wash says
The mass media (newspapers, television, movies) are the major
sources of public information and perceptions about crime and criminality (Jerin & Fields, 2005). The media are the gatekeepers of what the public is entitled to know,and the media are very anxious not to attract accusations of racism by zeroing in on heinous crimes committed by African Americans with the same zealousness it exhibits when such crimes are committed by Whites (Greek,2001; Perazzo, 1999). Charges of racism and all the negative consequences that accrue when such charges are made may feature prominently in the maintenance of this double standard. As Walsh(2004) opines, “Even the most conservative media types
will be exquisitely sensitive to charges of racism under such threats [boycotts, demonstrations]and will maintain the‘conspiracy of silence’ about such matters” (p. 53)
La Griffe du Lion sets up a mathematical model to explain why the serial killing rate for blacks is only twice that of whites instead of the usual factor of 8 for general homicide.
7.27.2009 6:33am
David Tomlin (mail):

subpatre:

Posner cites the wrong statute.

Posner cites 'Mass. G. L. ch. 272, s. 53'.

Near the top of Crowley's report, after the date and time, under 'Incident Type/Offense':

'1.) DISORDERLY CONDUCT c272 S53 -'
7.27.2009 6:56am
A. Zarkov (mail):
loki13:

"So - just to make sure- your claim isn't all crime, it's certain type of violent crime."

I think it's all violent crime.

"I checked out the DOJ site and couldn't see where you were coming up with it."

Try the Department of Justice Statistics, their homepage is here. From there you can go down two routes. Surveys of victims, and pick your favorite year. This is a good route because it concentrates of what victims say, and is independent on arrest and incarceration data. In particular look at Table 42 which gives the victim's perceived race of the offender. But note the following in using these tables.

1. Before 2005 the "white" category included some Hispanics. This has the effect of increasing the white crime rate. Best to use tables after 2004. You learn this from a footnote buried somewhere in the methodology section.

2. The rates are estimates for the general population which are extrapolations from a large representative sample of the US population. Again read the methodology section to see how you get the confidence intervals.

3. You won't find homicides in the tables because the victims are in no condition to report what happened.

4. Some kinds of crime have such a small incidence rate that zero counts appear in the sample and no estimate is possible with the methodology they use. For example, white male rape of black females is so small in the general population zero cases appear in the sample. Had they used a Bayesian methodology they could have gotten an estimate.

The second route is to look at incarceration statistics. Look at Prisoners in 2005, Tables 10 and 12. You might also look at Criminal Offender Statistics-- Lifetime likelihood of going to state of federal prison. In particular note
Based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 32% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17% of Hispanic males and 5.9% of white males.
This is a pretty amazing statement. Essentially 1/3 of black men will spend time in jail at sometime in their lives. This is why the race industry makes such a fuss about policemen.

There are many other sources for crime statistics. Sourcebook of Criminal Statistics provides a huge compilation from 100 sources and presents 1,000 tables.

One thing comes through loud and clear no matter how you look at the data. Black crime rates compared to white are gigantic. White crime in the US is comparable to Europe and is stable (see the Trends section in BJS). If you want to understand crime then you need to study who commits the acts. Using highly aggregated statistics for inter-country and interstate comparisons can be very misleading. Unfortunately European governments refuse to report crime enumerated by race, making analysis difficult.

Finally, I'm not surprised you are skeptical. The race industry has intimidated the press to downplay non-white crime and the public does not realize the magnitude of the disparities.
7.27.2009 7:40am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tomlin:

My favorite is when he bribed the passerby to make the 911 call.


Good point! I didn't think of that. And it figures that they would be in cahoots, since she works for Harvard Magazine.

Near the top of Crowley's report, after the date and time, under 'Incident Type/Offense':

'1.) DISORDERLY CONDUCT c272 S53 -'


But if you understood the situation as well as subpatre does, you'd realize that Crowley wrote all that under the influence of mind control. Gates thought of everything. So it doesn't count, natch. Kind of like how certain words in 98D don't count. Like "upon."
7.27.2009 8:10am
subpatre (mail):
David Tomlin writes:"Posner cites 'Mass. G. L. ch. 272, s. 53'. Near the top of Crowley's report, ..."

You are correct. I apologize to Posner and anyone alarmed by this.


Although it seems odd for that charge to be placed, it also means a Disorderly Conduct charge can be placed —reinstated— with or without DA concurrence by Crowley [or any on-scene cop].
7.27.2009 9:14am
subpatre (mail):
Jukeboxgrad writes "The law does stipulate "immediately" or "at the time." That's what "upon" means. But feel free to tell us about the special GOP dictionary where "upon" is defined as 'eventually' or 'much later' or 'whenever the officer feels like getting around to it.' "

So Jukeboxgrad goes back to his pet theory that police —in the middle of a gunbattle with bank robbers— must immediately stop and produce ID upon the robbers request. Next!
7.27.2009 9:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
So subpatre goes back to his pet theory that inconvenient words in statutes (like "upon") should be ignored. I notice you haven't bothered telling us what you think that word means. But that's no surprise, because you've also been ducking lots of other questions.

And Crowley was "in the middle of a gunbattle with bank robbers?" I had no idea. And since he wasn't, what is the point of raising your extreme example?

And "upon" doesn't mean "immediately." It means 'immediately or very soon after.' 'Very soon' is subjective and would vary with the circumstances, but as a matter of common sense I would expect it to mean 'as soon as possible or practical.' And as a matter of common sense that would mean not until the officers' safety is assured.

Is that simple enough, or are you still determined to be obtuse?
7.27.2009 10:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
What fun. Whalen now says she did not mention race. Her lawyer said "she didn’t report seeing black men and she didn’t know the men’s race when she called 911."

And Haas agrees, and gamely tries to explain why Crowley nevertheless wrote in his report that Whalen reported seeing black men:

That reference is there, said Haas, because the police report is a summary. Its descriptions - like the race of the two men - were collected during the inquiry, not necessarily from the initial 911 call, he said.


But this is what Crowley said in his report:

She [Whalen] went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch


So according to Crowley, the information "collected during the inquiry" included a statement from Whalen "that she observed what appeared to be two black males."

I wonder if Haas will tell us how many other statements in Crowley's report are wrong. Or is Whalen fibbing? Something doesn't fit.
7.27.2009 10:41am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
More emphatic language from Whalen that contradicts Crowley:

“This woman is 100 percent clear on what she said,” said attorney Wendy J. Murphy, who is representing 911 caller Lucia Whalen. “She never said she saw two black men. She said, ‘It never crossed my mind that there were two black men.’ ”


Mysterious.
7.27.2009 11:11am
subpatre (mail):
Jukeboxgrad writes: "I wonder if Haas will tell us how many other statements in Crowley's report are wrong. Or is Whalen fibbing? Something doesn't fit."

It sure doesn't fit . . . it doesn't fit your 'narrative'. It doesn't fit the jukeboxgrad narrative claiming: "I think she was unduly influenced by the fact that the two people at the door happened to be black. "

It doesn't fit jukeboxgrad's narrative that "I think Whalen was relatively new", when in reality she worked there for 15 years.

When there's a Massachusetts law with an accepted meaning to thousands of judges, lawyers, and police; 'it doesn't fit', so Jukeboxgrad hammers it to fit the narrative.

Instead of accepting reality and apologizing for slanders or slights, Jukeboxgrad suggests "is Whalen fibbing?". That is simply pathetic.
7.27.2009 11:46am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
It doesn't fit the jukeboxgrad narrative claiming: "I think she was unduly influenced by the fact that the two people at the door happened to be black."


Silly me. I did indeed make the mistake of thinking that when Crowley said "she [Whalen] went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males" that it was actually true that Whalen actually "observed what appeared to be two black males." In other words, I assumed that Crowley was correctly recounting a true statement made by Whalen. Live and learn. Now I know that either Whalen or Crowley has stated a falsehood, which means their various other statements should be taken with a grain of salt.

It doesn't fit jukeboxgrad's narrative that "I think Whalen was relatively new", when in reality she worked there for 15 years.


Yes, I assumed she was new because I find it hard to understand why a person who had spent a lot of time 100 yards away would be totally clueless about the identity of who lived in that house. Especially since Gates is a Harvard celebrity whose photo has been published many times in the magazine Whalen works on. I did find that hard to understand, and I still find that hard to understand.

When there's a Massachusetts law with an accepted meaning to thousands of judges, lawyers, and police


Where is your evidence that "thousands of judges, lawyers, and police" believe that the word "upon" in 98D should be ignored? And when are you finally going to tell us what you think that word means?

Jukeboxgrad suggests "is Whalen fibbing?"


Either Crowley conveyed a falsehood, or Whalen conveyed a falsehood. There are no other possibilities. Do you know which one told the truth? If you do, I hope you'll tell us, because I don't.
7.27.2009 12:20pm
loki13 (mail):
Zarkov,

I looked through the stats. I don't want to get to involved in this sub-topic with you (already 300 comments, and this is OT), but a few things for you to consider:

1. When you start talking about the "race industry" people like me will tune you out.

2. There are statistics, and there are statistics. As a famous example, someone showed that ice cream sales were higher on days when there were rapes. Ergo, ice cream causes rape. In truth, rapes were more likely (for whatever reason) on hotter days, as were increased ice cream sales. Thir variable. *None of this data* controls for income. It has long beeen established that poverty is a leading indicator of crime, and it is well known that blacks have a higher rate of poverty. If you cannot tease out that effect, you will not be able to tease out any other effect. For example, if I was to say that "whites are responsible for the vast majority of white collar crime, in a far higher proportion than they represent in the population" would that be evidence that whites are prone to criminality?

3. WRT incarceration rates, another effect that would have to be teased out is the well-known stranger rule. AKA, blacks commit a disproportionate number of "stranger" drug sales that lead to arrests, even though surveys show that there levels of drug abuse are the same. In addition, this leads to an enhanced police presence in their community, and incarceration for other crimes.

There are serious issues to be discussed. There is a pernicious intersection of poverty, structural racism, "the war on drugs", and, yes, perhaps some cultural issues. Laying everything at the feet of the "race industry" and inplying a black propensity to violent crime is not the way to have that discussion.
7.27.2009 12:21pm
loki13 (mail):
Dude, the UnderFather is here for more unintentional comedy!

Let's see...
1. Calls out the OP for cititing the wrong statute. OOPS!
2. Doesn't understand the wording in legislation of "Upon....shall..." OOPS!
3. Quotes a police regulation. Doesn't realize that:
a) a police regulation doesn't supercede a statute.
b) the police regulation still required information Crowley did not provide.
c) the police regulation didn't apply because it was a different jurisdiction.
OOPS!
4. Misunderstands the difference between civil causes of action and criminal complaints, gets called on it, and, uh, well.... let's just forget about it.
OOPS!
5. Keeps talking about the statute as being understood in a certain way by judges, lawyers, and police officers EVEN THOUGH the OP and commented have shown him that BY CASELAW it could not be applied as used here, hence the nolle prosequi.
OOPS!

UnderFather's first rule of Wrongness- When in doubt, Be Wronger!
7.27.2009 12:28pm
Len:
Jay Jay raises an important point that I have not seen discussed. When the officer asked Gates to step outside, thus opening the encounter to public view, Gates then knew that he was in danger and all the hairs on the back of his neck stood up on end.

This is a serious accusation either about the public in Cambridge generally, or specifically about people who live and work at Harvard. Gates is saying that something about putting the encounter in view of that public posed such a direct threat to him that the danger made his hair stand up.

Jay Jay, you find it reasonable that Gates felt so threatened by a public encounter -- what about people there makes it reasonable to think they posed any threat?
7.27.2009 12:54pm
David Tomlin (mail):

Why didn't Whalen see the driver leave? That's been bugging me, and I haven't seen the question raised in any of the discussion that I've read.

In the TV interview Crowley explains why he asked for the caller to meet him at the door. He says he was under the mis-impression that she was inside the house.

subpatre:

Jukeboxgrad suggests "is Whalen fibbing?"

No. JBG points out that this is one alternative to the obvious inference that Crowley's report is inaccurate.

I apologize to Posner and anyone alarmed by this.

I didn't ask for an apology, but I wonder why one is due only to those 'alarmed', and not, say, to those mildly annoyed by an obvious falsehood cluttering an already very long thread.

Although it seems odd for that charge to be placed,


'Disorderly conduct' is a routine stand-in for 'contempt of cop', as has been pointed out many times on this and other threads.

The alternative you suggest is worded as a directive to police officers, not a prohibition on the conduct of citizens, so I don't see how it could be the basis for a criminal charge. (This is a good time for me to say IANAL.)

it also means a Disorderly Conduct charge can be placed —reinstated— with or without DA concurrence by Crowley [or any on-scene cop].

Given all the other things you've gotten wrong, I don't know why anyone would take your word on such a matter.
7.27.2009 12:55pm
Jimbo44 (mail):
Laying everything at the feet of the "race industry" and inplying a black propensity to violent crime is not the way to have that discussion

You cannot have that discussion by ignoring these issues. Blacks commit more violent crimes than whites (and are more often the victims of violent). The race industry seems to care little about that. They are more concerned about every perceived slight by whites than about black on black violence.
7.27.2009 1:11pm
loki13 (mail):
Jimbo,

I see you've already missed the point. People who start talking about the race industry and key on "rate of racial violence" without at least trying to tease out, inter alia, poverty have already reached a conclusion and are just grasping at supporting facts.

If I told you that whites are more likely to commit "financial crimes" and statistics back this up (which they do) because whites have a propensity to rip people off... and the "white priviliege industry" is trying to distract us from this... well, how credible do you think I would be?
7.27.2009 1:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
loki13:

You have opened up a different topic-- what causes the high rate of black violent crime? That's a whole other discussion, which would be inappropriate for this thread. I brought up the crime rates in response to a challenge to my assertion that Cambridge would not tolerate racist cops. The reason black politicians are so sensitive about policemen is their constituents have frequent contact with the police. The crime rates show that.

"When you start talking about the "race industry" people like me will tune you out."

Do you deny that a "race industry" exits? Again this is another discussion. But I can provide you with ample evidence for this assertion.

"Thir variable. *None of this data* controls for income. It has long beeen established that poverty is a leading indicator of crime, and it is well known that blacks have a higher rate of poverty."


The data is not supposed to. It's there to use in models to investigate causality questions. Causality is a really hot topic in statistics these days, and it's a pretty technical subject. Two key players a Pearl and Rubin.

In some data sets crime and poverty appear to be correlated, and of course correlation is not causation. We also have counter examples such as the Great Depression where poverty went up but crime went down. Crime rates also correlate with IQ, the higher the IQ, the less the crime. There are many variables to explore, but we won't do that here.

Finally I will leave you to ponder why the crime rates and incarceration rates for men are so much higher than for women everywhere in the world. Do you think some kind of invidious universal sexism operates, or are men just more aggressive? If they are more aggressive, how did they get that way? Socialization? Biology? The Kibbutz movement in Israel tried to make girls and boys the same by raising them under nearly identical conditions. It failed. I think most any sensible person realizes that biology plays a big part (but not the only part) in human behavior.
7.27.2009 1:33pm
David Tomlin (mail):

The 911 tape has been released. The tape, or part of it, can be heard at

http://www1.whdh.com/news/main/local/

Video in upper right corner.
7.27.2009 1:36pm
loki13 (mail):

"Let me be clear: She [Whalen] never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy said. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."

She added, "I'm not sure what the police explanation will be. Frankly, I don't care. Her only goal is to make it clear she never described them as black. She never saw their race. ... All she reported was behavior, not skin color."

cf. Crowley's report- talking to Whalen, being told by Whalen that it was two black males...

So.... can I ask one thing now?

All the people who have popped up to defend Crowley, ignoring the fact that Gates was arrested when he didn't commit a crime, and have been lambasting other commenters for having the termerity for even thinking to doubt a word of his report...

Now that the one LEO witness has directly contradicted Crowley's report... well, ya gonna retract anything? At all?

Again-
1. Most LEOs are good people.
2. But they are people.
3. Crowley wrote the report well after the arrest, and after he knew there was sufficient heat in the case. Therefore, it is unsurprising if some things were slanted. That there is an outright fabrication... about the testimony of a witness... wrt. race.... surprises me. But I guess it shouldn't. It shouldn't completely destroy what (to all reports so far) appears to be an otherwise good career. It just sheds light on what happens when an officer makes a bad decision and then justifies it afterwards with an "interesting" narrative.

(And yes, if it shown that Whalen is incorrect in her statement, I will retract what I have said. But I won't hold my breath for y'all.)
7.27.2009 1:38pm
loki13 (mail):
Listened to the 911 tape. Backs Whalen's account.
7.27.2009 1:45pm
David Tomlin (mail):

Tapes of the radio traffic are also being prepared for release.

http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/BO120071/
7.27.2009 1:45pm
cboldt (mail):
-- It just sheds light on what happens when an officer makes a bad decision and then justifies it afterwards with an "interesting" narrative. --
.
How did/does "Whalen told me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of 17 Ware Street" assist Crowley's narrative?
7.27.2009 1:46pm
JB_guest (mail):
I wouldn't mind seeing some analysis comparing Mass. case law to other states' case law and disorderly conduct statutes.

I've had friends arrested in multiple states for disorderly conduct (not Mass. though) for a lot less than the behavior in those cases.
7.27.2009 2:01pm
subpatre (mail):
David Tomlin whines: "...[Juke-is Whalen fibbing-boxgrad] points out that this is one alternative to the obvious inference that Crowley's report is inaccurate."

Given that the her lawyer has access to the tapes, that Commissioner Haas concurs, that the lawyer also made the claim, and that public access to tapes or transcripts is forthcoming; it's an 'alternative' that's extremely remote and unseemly. Especially ridiculous when you look at Jukeboxgrad's obsession with accusing Whalen of racism, stupidity (possibly excused by naivity), or more racism.

If you think Jukeboxgrad's fabrications about the ID law are better than his fabrications about a decent and public spirited employee of Harvard whom Gates himself praised; then so be it. But nobody's produced one cite where police ID must be exhibited immediately upon request. Guess that doesn't fit 'the narrative' either.

UPDATE: Tomlin's suggestion that Whalen is lying was "one alternative" —even a lukewarm defense of same— is now proven to be outrageous and categorically untrue.
7.27.2009 2:16pm
loki13 (mail):
subpatre-


Tomlin's suggestion that Whalen is lying was "one alternative" —even a lukewarm defense of same— is now proven to be outrageous and categorically untrue.


So you acknowledge Crowley is lying?
7.27.2009 2:45pm
loki13 (mail):
subpatre-
Why do you keep showing your ignorance? First, you clearly do not understand the meaning of words like "shall" and "upon". Second, you do not understand how to read statutes. Third, you don't understand why this sort of statute has little value in cited appellate decisions. Fourth, I did provide a case for you where it went to evidence of the officer's motive (in a 1983 case) - he was enraged when someone asked him to provide ID, and beat him, and the statute was introduced to show that he had a legal duty to do so.

What more do you want? Skywriting?
7.27.2009 2:48pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
subpatre wrote:

But nobody's produced one cite where police ID must be exhibited immediately upon request.


"Upon" means immediately or very soon thereafter. Why do you ignore the "very soon thereafter" aspect?
7.27.2009 2:50pm
David Tomlin (mail):

subpatre:

David Tomlin whines . . .

Poor subpatre seems to be suffering an emotional meltdown.
7.27.2009 2:56pm
troll_dc2 (mail):

subpatre:

David Tomlin whines . . .

Poor subpatre seems to be suffering an emotional meltdown.



I am in favor of keeping personalities out of this and limiting the discussion to factual and legal issues.
7.27.2009 2:58pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):

911 Dispatcher: 911, [Eliza Corder??], what's the exact location of your emergency?

Ms. Whalen: Hi, I'm actually at um, at Ware Street in Cambridge, and the house number is 17...Ware Street.

911 Dispatcher: Ok, ma'am, your cell-phone cut out, what's the, what's the address again?

Ms. Whalen: Sorry, it says, 7 Ware, that's W-A-R-E, Street.

911 Dispatcher: So, the emergency's is at 7 Ware Street, right?

Ms. Whalen: No, it's 17, I'm sorry, some other woman was talking, next to me, but it's Seventeen, 1-7 Ware Street.

911 Dispatcher: What's the phone number you're calling me from?

Ms. Whalen: I'm calling you from my cell phone number.

911 Dispatcher: Alright, what's the problem, tell me exactly what happened.

Ms. Whalen: Uhm, I don't know what's happening, I just had an elder women, uh, standing here, and she had noticed two gentlemen, trying to get in a house, at that number, 17 Ware Street...and uh, and they kinda had to barge in, and they broke... the screen door, and they finally got in, and when they had looked, they went, further closer to the house a little bit after the gentlemen who were already in the house; I noticed two suitcases -- so I'm not sure if these are two individuals who actually worked there, I mean, who lived there, sometimes --

911 Dispatcher: You think they may have been breaking--

Ms. Whalen: I don't know, 'cause I have no idea --

911 Dispatcher: So you think the possibility might have been there -- what do you mean by barged in, did they kick the door in? --

Ms. Whalen: Ahm, no, they were pushing the door in, like uh...uhm, like, uh the screen part of the front door, was kinda like cut --

911 Dispatcher: How did you know yourself that the lock was off?

Ms. Whalen: They...I didn't see a key or anything, so I was a little bit away from the door, but I did notice that they pushed their --

911 Dispatcher: And what did the suitcases have to do with anything?

Ms. Whalen: I don't know, I'm just saying, that's what I saw, I just --

911 Dispatcher: Do you know the apartment they broke into?

Ms. Whalen: No, just the first floor, I don't even think that it's an apartment; it's 17 Ware Street, it's a house, it's a yellow house......Number 17.

Ms. Whalen: I don't know, if they lived there...[fade out]

My tentative text transcript of the 911 call, if any of you would like.
7.27.2009 3:01pm
loki13 (mail):
I listened to the tapes. (available at boston.com)

Fairly unenlightening. I am sure they will be zapruderized soon enough. One moment of hilarity- when the dispatch tells Crowley that one of the men might be hispanic. :)

But yeah... I'm failing to see the panic. You can make out smeone (assumedly Gates) in the background, but I couldn't tell if it was raised voice, or regular conversation, or shouting. I will defer to others on those issues, as I couldn't even make out what he was saying.
7.27.2009 3:03pm
loki13 (mail):
Well... here's the analysis:

(from boston.com):

"One thing the tapes didn't show: any obvious background sound that indicated Gates was shouting during the incident. Another voice can be heard in the background of at least three transmissions, but what the person is saying isn't intelligible."

So- suck it, trolls! ;)
7.27.2009 3:04pm
Len:
You were right the first time. Unenlightening.
7.27.2009 3:10pm
loki13 (mail):
Len,

I apologize if the wink did not indicate the gravitas of my statement. There was a time, many, many eons ago, when a certain species of humanoid (we shall call them the "troll" upon hearing this phrase) would occasionally say variants of the following:

1. Just wait until the tapes are relased- then we'll see how out of control Gates was!

*or*

2. The Cambridge Police have heard the tapes, and they must be pretty damning against Gates for them to back a cop. I mean, why would the LEO union back a cop unless there was clear and convincing evidence? Just wait for those tapes!

(So I was being sarcastic. Since fire cannot travel through the intertubez, just large truckz, trolls will never be killed.)
7.27.2009 3:29pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
How do you know he wasn't?

Well, we know that not a single neighbor has come forward to say he was.
7.27.2009 3:32pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
len:

Gates is saying that something about putting the encounter in view of that public posed such a direct threat to him that the danger made his hair stand up.


Except that's not what Gates said.

When the officer asked Gates to step outside, thus opening the encounter to public view, Gates then knew that he was in danger and all the hairs on the back of his neck stood up on end.


Gates didn't say the danger was a consequence of "opening the encounter to public view." Gates' statement seems to indicate he was instinctively fearful of following instructions being issued by an unknown man with a gun who started issuing instructions without bothering to say who he was or why he was there. Especially when the instruction was for Gates to leave the safety of his own home and approach the man with the gun.

Yes, Crowley was dressed like cop. But not everyone who is dressed like a cop is actually a cop. And even if the man dressed like a cop turned out to be an actual cop, it's actually the case that actual cops are sometimes up to no good.

Therefore a well-trained cop will normally identify himself and his purpose, to try to establish trust, before issuing instructions. In this regard it's interesting to notice how Crowley's story has evolved. In the narrative he conveyed via his police report, Crowley said his name only after asked to do so by Gates, which was after Crowley asked Gates to step outside. Whereas in the narrative he conveyed via his TV interview, Crowley said his name before asking Gates to step outside.

I expect that Crowley will continue to polish his narrative, as time goes by.

And it was never necessary for Crowley to ask Gates to step outside, because Crowley was perfectly capable of requesting and inspecting Gates' ID while they both stood at the doorway.

===================
tomlin:

The 911 tape has been released.


I didn't know. Thanks for speaking up and providing the link. I just found some links that I think are more complete:

Whalen's conversation with 911 operator (link).
Police dispatcher's radio conversation with Crowley (link).

Tapes of the radio traffic are also being prepared for release.


That's the second link. Maybe later there will be more.

These tapes clarify some things. I was wondering why Whalen would jump to the conclusion that she was observing a burglary. But in the tape, she communicates appropriate doubtfulness. She didn't jump to a conclusion. She says she noticed suitcases, and this made her think that maybe the men live there. Was this doubtfulness conveyed to Crowley by the dispatcher? Not clear.

I was also wondering why Whalen didn't recognize Gates, given that for 15 years she worked 100 yards away (and given that his picture had been in her magazine many times). But now we know that she didn't get a good look at them. She wasn't close enough to know they were both black, so therefore she wasn't close enough to recognize Gates' face (and if she had asked a coworker to help her recognize the unknown men, that coworker wouldn't have been close enough, either).

So those questions are answered, but a new one pops up: why did Crowley say that Whalen told him the two men were black?

(Cato, nice job with the transcript.)

===================
loki:

Let me be clear: She [Whalen] never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene


Wow. I hadn't seen that. Here a link:

Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene. "Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy told CNN by phone. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."


Wow. So it's not just that Whalen didn't say they were black. It's that Whalen didn't even have a conversation with Crowley at the scene. But Crowley said he did have a conversation with Whalen at the scene. Quite a major discrepancy.

===================
len:

unenlightening


The tapes are definitely unenlightening, to the extent that we hoped to hear Gates (but maybe other tapes will emerge, made during the period when Crowley used his radio in Gates' kitchen). But the tapes are important because (along with the statement from Whalen's lawyer) they create a major credibility problem for Crowley.

===================
cboldt:

How did/does "Whalen told me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of 17 Ware Street" assist Crowley's narrative?


To the extent that someone else told him that the suspects were black, he had somewhat more justification to view and treat Gates as a subject. To the extent that he was advised "race unknown" (and we hear the dispatcher saying those words to him), then it looks more like he was applying his own bias that a black person would probably be a suspect. Racial profiling.

As Tom Maguire said:

As to why we care - Crowley's defenders, and others, have pointed out that he could hardly be accused of racial profiling if he had been told to look for two black intruders.


Presumably you are familiar with Maguire's politics.

===================
subpatre:

it's an 'alternative' that's extremely remote and unseemly


What I said before is that either Whalen or Crowley is looking like a liar. It's not "unseemly" to point this out. It's merely logical. What's "unseemly" is to lie, or to defend a liar.

I look forward to your explaining how you reconcile the contradiction between Whalen and Crowley. This is one of many questions you're ducking.

Jukeboxgrad's fabrications about the ID law


What "fabrications?" The one who pretends the law doesn't say "upon," or that this word has no meaning, is you.

his fabrications about a decent and public spirited employee of Harvard


Except that I expressed no "fabrications." I expressed speculation and opinion that was consistent with the information that was available at the time. I'm glad to see new information that sheds light on the questions I was trying to answer.

nobody's produced one cite where police ID must be exhibited immediately upon request


If 'upon request' doesn't mean 'immediately or soon after the request is made,' then what does it mean?

Tomlin's suggestion that Whalen is lying was "one alternative" —even a lukewarm defense of same— is now proven to be outrageous and categorically untrue.


If it's categorically untrue that Whalen is a liar, then it's categorically true that Crowley is a liar. Unless you have some clever way of reconciling the contradiction between the two accounts. As loki said, you seem to be ackowledging that Crowley lied.
7.27.2009 3:36pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Yes, I assumed she was new because I find it hard to understand why a person who had spent a lot of time 100 yards away would be totally clueless about the identity of who lived in that house. Especially since Gates is a Harvard celebrity whose photo has been published many times in the magazine Whalen works on. I did find that hard to understand, and I still find that hard to understand.
Apparently, that's sort of JBG's way of admitting he was wrong, without actually apologizing to all the people he has attacked over the years for making "assumptions."

It's also sort of a way for JBG to, rather than exactly admitting he was wrong, attack Whalen for making him wrong as though she's the unreasonable one rather than him.


As long as we're on the subject, what I find hard to understand is why you think that most people -- even at Harvard -- would recognize Henry Louis Gates on sight. (He's a "celebrity" in academic circles, sure -- but for his work, not his face. I certainly knew who he was, but I doubt I had any idea what he looked like before now. Now, I'm not at Harvard, but I wouldn't recognize most celebrity professors on the much smaller Princeton faculty either.) Or why you think working on the same street that someone happens to live on (and do we know how long Gates has lived there?) makes it likely that one will recognize that person.

As for his face being published in the magazine, I don't know how often that was, or for that matter how often she looks at the thing. (She's on the money side of the magazine, not the content side.)
7.27.2009 3:41pm
David Tomlin (mail):
Cato, thanks for doing the work on the transcript.

There's another transcript here.

It includes the end but for some reason omits the beginning.
7.27.2009 3:45pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
These tapes clarify some things. I was wondering why Whalen would jump to the conclusion that she was observing a burglary.
Right, and I kept trying to point out that there was no basis for your jumping to the conclusion that she had jumped to that conclusion, because the normal thing to do in the case of doubt is the same thing to do in the case of certainty: call the police.
7.27.2009 3:50pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Cato, thanks for doing the work on the transcript.

There's another transcript here.

It includes the end but for some reason omits the beginning.
So she does say one "looked kind of Hispanic." Don't know how that got turned into Crowley's report of two black men, though I think police assume that people can't accurately discern whether someone is a dark-skinned hispanic or light-skinned black at a distance.
7.27.2009 3:53pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I look forward to your explaining how you reconcile the contradiction between Whalen and Crowley. This is one of many questions you're ducking.
One of them is lying or mistaken, something that you never seem to grasp as a possibility. Perhaps Crowley heard it from the other bystander -- who, despite living there, also didn't recognize Gates -- and mistakenly remembered it as coming from Whalen. Perhaps Whalen, in the excitement, forgot what she said and to whom. Memories, even in the short term, can be imperfect, particularly when adrenalin is flowing.
7.27.2009 3:58pm
David Tomlin (mail):

Crowley's report says nothing about the 911 tape. It says that Crowley heard a 'broadcast for a possible break in progress at [redacted, presumably 17] Ware Street.'

The report attributes the descriptions of the suspects entirely to the alleged conversation with Whalen.
7.27.2009 4:01pm
David Tomlin (mail):

David M. Nieporent

Perhaps Crowley heard it from the other bystander -- who, despite living there, also didn't recognize Gates -- and mistakenly remembered it as coming from Whalen.

Crowley's report doesn't mention taking a statement from any witness other than Whalen.
7.27.2009 4:09pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
You know, it's worth saying that even if we look past Crowley's obvious exaggerations and believe his claims that Gates was actually involved in disorderly conduct, he still shouldn't have arrested him. The reality is that even in cases where the guy is disturbing the neighbors, if the incident can be defused by the police leaving, that's the proper solution.

We have to remember that disorderly conduct is a very minor offense, that should not consume huge amounts of police resources in investigating and prosecuting. The police are not protecting anyone in Cambridge when they arrest Gates for disorderly conduct. They are just protecting their own egos.

Officers should be instructed in no uncertain terms to NEVER arrest someone who is talking back to them unless a serious crime is actually committed or they literally cannot do their jobs or cannot end the disturbance in any other fashion. Police officers who disobey this directive should be kicked off the force. Society needs to take a very strong stand against ANYONE in a police department who thinks his badge gives him the right to arrest people for backtalk.
7.27.2009 4:16pm
cboldt (mail):
-- To the extent that someone else told him that the suspects were black, he had somewhat more justification to view and treat Gates as a subject. To the extent that he was advised "race unknown" (and we hear the dispatcher saying those words to him), then it looks more like he was applying his own bias that a black person would probably be a suspect. Racial profiling. --
.
I don't see any advantage to Crowley on the basis of treating the person in the house as a "subject." That is, he has justification to view whoever is in the house as a suspect, regardless of their appearance; he likely thinks he has the correct address by house number "17" and "yellow house" descriptions.
.
As you point out, by asserting "black man" out of his imagination (or even misattributing time or source), he opens himself up to be accused of racial prejudice and profiling.
.
It's not important that I understand loki13's statement, -- It just sheds light on what happens when an officer makes a bad decision and then justifies it afterward with an "interesting" narrative. --, but I still don't see how Crowley's actions are any more or less justified by the error in the report, assuming the truth of the witness's report never comes out.
7.27.2009 4:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Possibilities:

1. Whalen added the "two black males" embellishment because the other witness told her that after she made the call.

2. She never said that to Crowley, and he simply made a mistake.

We don't have to assume anyone is lying including Gates. Ever hear of false memory? Human memory and cognition are fallible, and that's why witness testimony is often in error.

BTW this thread seems to be degenerating into uninformative name calling. Why don't you guys act like adults and stop insulting people just because you might disagree about something?
7.27.2009 4:29pm
David Tomlin (mail):

David M. Nieporent:

. . . the other bystander -- who, despite living there . . .

Are you basing that on the bit of the 911 tape when Whalen says 'she was a concerned neighbor, I guess'?

That's not a firm basis for concluding that the other woman lives in the neighborhood. She could have been another worker on lunch break. A vast number of commenters have wrongly characterized Whalen as a 'neighbor' of Gates, and some continue to do so.
7.27.2009 4:30pm
David Tomlin (mail):

Until now, Gates was the only person disputing the accuracy of Crowley's report. Now Whalen, through her attorney, is alleging that the report contains a huge inaccuracy that is hard to explain other than by outright fabrication.

This is what the report says:

'As I reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I turned and looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified as Lucia Whalen. Whalen, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand and told me that it was she who called. She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of [redacted] Ware Street. She told me that her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.'

There has been no indication that there was more than one 911 call, so it doesn't seem likely that Crowley spoke to another woman whom he later confused with Whalen.
7.27.2009 4:55pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Thank you, Jukeboxgrad and David Tomlin.
7.27.2009 5:03pm
subpatre (mail):
Dilan Esper wrote: "Officers should be instructed in no uncertain terms to NEVER arrest someone who is talking back to them ... "

LEGISLATURE

Prosecutable laws will be used by the police. Will be used. The way to 'instruct cops' is to retain laws that need enforcing and eliminate laws that don't. Ya know, that libertarian stuff.

Dilan Esper continues:"... unless a serious crime is actually committed ..."

There ya' go again. Aren't there already laws for 'serious crimes'?
7.27.2009 5:17pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Prosecutable laws will be used by the police. Will be used. The way to 'instruct cops' is to retain laws that need enforcing and eliminate laws that don't. Ya know, that libertarian stuff.

There's a difference here between "is" and "ought". Indeed, police officers all the time exercise their discretion NOT to arrest someone, especially for very minor offenses like disorderly conduct.

So the point is, where the alleged disorderly conduct consists of criticism of the police, they should be instructed NOT to arrest people except in very rare circumstances. Even if the law was violated. And their head should be on a platter if they violate that.
7.27.2009 5:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Are you basing that on the bit of the 911 tape when Whalen says 'she was a concerned neighbor, I guess'?
Yes; that's what my reference was to.
That's not a firm basis for concluding that the other woman lives in the neighborhood. She could have been another worker on lunch break. A vast number of commenters have wrongly characterized Whalen as a 'neighbor' of Gates, and some continue to do so.
I think one could use the word "neighbor" loosely to describe someone who works in a given neighborhood as well as someone who lives there. (Certainly in this context, in which JBG was arguing that people who work for Harvard magazine should know who lives in Gates's house, the distinction is immaterial.) I guess a stronger objection might be that we don't know that she really was a neighbor; that description was rather tentative.
7.27.2009 5:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
You know, it's worth saying that even if we look past Crowley's obvious exaggerations and believe his claims that Gates was actually involved in disorderly conduct, he still shouldn't have arrested him. The reality is that even in cases where the guy is disturbing the neighbors, if the incident can be defused by the police leaving, that's the proper solution.
Yes. This.

Officers should be instructed in no uncertain terms to NEVER arrest someone who is talking back to them unless a serious crime is actually committed or they literally cannot do their jobs or cannot end the disturbance in any other fashion. Police officers who disobey this directive should be kicked off the force. Society needs to take a very strong stand against ANYONE in a police department who thinks his badge gives him the right to arrest people for backtalk.
The New York Times interviewed some cops on the subject over the weekend; most of them agreed (shockingly) with Crowley, though a retired black cop from NY agreed with you. Most said things along the lines of the notion that cops feel like they need to command respect among the public, and that if they let things like this go, they'll lose face with the public. So, basically, it was, "If this happens in private, we may just walk away. But if it happens in front of other people, we'll arrest him just to send a message to the whole crowd of people that we demand respect."

(One cop did say that if someone is being obnoxious to a third party, he'll arrest the guy to make sure it doesn't escalate, but if that person is being obnoxious only to the cop, then he'll just walk away to defuse the situation.)
7.27.2009 6:02pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Most said things along the lines of the notion that cops feel like they need to command respect among the public, and that if they let things like this go, they'll lose face with the public.

I have to say, the first thing that strikes me as is a convenient excuse for them to do something they want to do anyway.

And the second thing I would say about it is it is the sort of thing that surely isn't applicable to every situation. One can certainly imagine some tense situation where a crowd is about to riot and an officer needs to command respect. But 95 percent of the time, there's no benefit whatsoever conferred to the public based on whether the officer is commanding respect or disdain. The only benefit is to the cop's ego.
7.27.2009 6:24pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Officers should be instructed in no uncertain terms to NEVER arrest someone who is talking back to them unless a serious crime is actually committed or they literally cannot do their jobs or cannot end the disturbance in any other fashion."

So, should the suspect get two shots at the cop before he does something, or just one?
7.27.2009 7:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So, should the suspect get two shots at the cop before he does something, or just one?

No shots. But all the verbal abuse he wants to heap at the police.
7.27.2009 8:06pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
This doesn't seem to bother anybody else. Crowley claims he was told backpacks. From the dispatch tapes we now know Whelan said suitcases to the 911 operator and the police dispatcher said suitcases to Crowley.

Do you Americans use the words interchangeably or is this another example of Crowley's creative imagination, or what?
7.27.2009 8:48pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"No shots. But all the verbal abuse he wants to heap at the police."

But now you put the cops in an impossible place. If they stop things *before* there are shots, then they are Gestapo. If they stop things *after* there are shots, they are incompetent.

If you are willing to say "no shots," then you have to be willing to allow them to use judgment about when they believe things are getting a little dicey and when to step in to stop that first shot.
7.27.2009 9:05pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Do you Americans use the words interchangeably or is this another example of Crowley's creative imagination, or what?"

It shows that a cop's memory is almost as bad as a non-cop's memory when recounting a stressful event. The literature on eyewitness testimony and memory of stressful events is pretty large. It is what it is.

The bottom line is that people -- cops, non-cops, etc. -- tend to remember specific parts of events and tend to fill in the blanks via interpolation. That's why most folk don't tell a story the same way twice. I'm sure that if Crowley had two days to put his report together and reviewed all the tapes, he would have gotten it closer.

You think this is bad, try interviewing family members at a death scene.
7.27.2009 9:09pm
loki13 (mail):

But now you put the cops in an impossible place.


We don't put cops in an impossible place. The First Amendment, as incorporated against the states, allows us to criiticize police, even (goodness forbid) in negative language, even (heavens!) to their face. Some states (such as Massachusetts) require police officers to provide identification, including their badge number, to inquiring citizens.

If you think this makes the job of the police officer impossible, then I suggest-
1) Making sure the legislature of you state allows police officers to remain anaonymous on-duty, so citizens will have to go to the police station to find out the identity of any officer they may have an issue with. (Yes, the police station where that officer is working)
2) Repealing the 1st Am., or having a "guy with a badge and gun working for the government" exception.
7.27.2009 9:13pm
loki13 (mail):
William Oliver,

So that might explain the backpacks for suitcases. How do you explain the fact that Crowley claims to have had an entire material conversation with a witness, when that witness claims to have never spoken with the officer?

As for heat of time passing- he had sufficient time afterwards to work up his report- he certainly understood the stakes when he wrote it.
7.27.2009 9:16pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"The First Amendment, as incorporated against the states, allows us to criiticize police, even (goodness forbid) in negative language, even (heavens!) to their face. Some states (such as Massachusetts) require police officers to provide identification, including their badge number, to inquiring citizens."

Right, so there is *nothing* a cop can do until you draw your weapon and take a shot that doesn't make him a Nazi. I get it.

But in the real world and in real situations where there is potential threat, things aren't as simple. You'll never believe it, I know, but I've investigated those deaths, and they are real.
7.27.2009 11:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But now you put the cops in an impossible place. If they stop things *before* there are shots, then they are Gestapo. If they stop things *after* there are shots, they are incompetent

William, shooting at the police and shouting at the police are simply two different things. One is protected by the First Amendment, and one is a serious crime. The vast majority of the time, shouting at the cops is not accompanied by violence. When there is violence, or the threat of violence, nobody is disempowering the cops.

The simple truth is that we can keep cops safe while also prohibiting contempt of cop arrests. Indeed, it can be argued that doing so increases respect for the police and makes them safer.
7.27.2009 11:42pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Right, so there is *nothing* a cop can do until you draw your weapon and take a shot that doesn't make him a Nazi. I get it.

There's plenty of things between "nothing" and "make an illegal arrest because you exercised your First Amendment rights", including (1) leaving, (2) telling you to calm down, (3) where there is probable cause to arrest, warning you, (4) arresting you if there is no other alternative.

Further, though, remember that you are conflating verbal abuse, which is a sacred right of the citizenry which cops have to put up with whether they like it or not, and violence. We allow lots of leeway for cops when there is even the threat of violence. Absent such threat, they are suposed to take whatever abuse a citizen throws at them, whether or not deserved.
7.27.2009 11:46pm
subpatre (mail):
Dilan - unlike W. Oliver I realize you aren't persuaded and doubt you can be persuaded. It's a class thing; disorderly has always been about "them" and "those people". That's why you (and others) are so upset: Gates is one of us, not them.

Nonetheless, here are some emphasized quotes:

"... 95 percent of the time, there's no benefit whatsoever conferred to the public based on whether the officer judge is commanding respect or disdain. The only benefit is to the cop's judge's ego."

(and)

"... verbal abuse, which is a sacred right of the citizenry which cops judges have to put up with whether they like it or not ... We allow lots of leeway for cops judges when there is even the threat of violence. Absent such threat, they are suposed to take whatever abuse a citizen throws at them, whether or not deserved."

I've already heard the excuses how courtrooms are 'totally different' blah blah. The exchange logic is solid; it's about caste. Substitute 'building inspector', 'public health nurse', etcetera to probe the edges of these class divisions.
7.28.2009 12:31am
EH (mail):
blogger@subpatre.us

Dude, your website is down.
7.28.2009 1:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

that's sort of JBG's way of admitting he was wrong


Yes, I was wrong in my speculation about Whalen (that she was somewhat influenced by the race of the men she saw). My core mistake was trusting Crowley too much, and assuming he was telling the truth when he described what Whalen told him. Fool me once etc.

Making mistakes is part of being human, so I don't mind making mistakes, and I don't mind admitting my mistakes. I admit my mistakes under the following circumstances: when I find out I'm wrong (examples). You, on the other hand, tend to do this when your mistakes are demonstrated: you duck.

without actually apologizing to all the people he has attacked over the years for making "assumptions."


I don't attack people for making assumptions. I attack people for making assumptions and dressing them up as if they are proven facts. A nice example of you doing that is documented here.

attack Whalen for making him wrong


I didn't attack Whalen for making me wrong. I've attacked Crowley for making me wrong.

And when I said I still find it hard to understand why Whalen didn't recognize Gates, it was after I had learned that she had worked on Ware St for 15 years, but before I heard the tape which convinced me that she never saw Gates' face.

There's nothing exotic about this process; I just analyze the information that's currently available, and then I change my analysis when new information appears. And when I find out I'm wrong, I admit I'm wrong. Something you tend to avoid.

what I find hard to understand is why you think that most people -- even at Harvard -- would recognize Henry Louis Gates on sight


I see you can't resist indulging in another straw man. I didn't say Whelan (or someone else at her office) would be likely to recognize Gates merely because they are also "at Harvard." They're not just "at Harvard." They're at an office 100 yards away, which means they frequently walk past his house, which creates a likelihood that they would have seen him enter or leave his house. And they're in the business of publishing a magazine that's about (in large part) Harvard personalities, and that has written about Gates (both with and without photos) many times.

She's on the money side of the magazine, not the content side.


As a fundraiser, Whelan would be familiar with the contents of the magazine (including stories about Gates). It would be awkward to be on the phone asking someone to donate money to the magazine and have the alumnus discover that certain articles they want to discuss with you are articles you never looked at. And a fundraiser like Whalen would also be familiar with Harvard VIPs for the purpose of networking with alumni and other rich people.

It's helpful to recall that Gates is not just another Harvard professor; he has the title of University Professor, which puts his status in roughly the 99th percentile, compared with other faculty.

So there are lots of reasons to expect Whelan (and/or other experienced people at her office) to know Gates, or know of him, and be in a position to recognize him. But in this instance, she was not in a position to recognize him because she was not even close enough to notice his skin color. Crowley's report said something contrary to this, and I made the mistake of taking his report too seriously.

do we know how long Gates has lived there?


No. We know he's been teaching at Harvard for 18 years, but we don't know how long he's lived in that house. I'm simply making a guess that he's probably been in this house for a while, but it's strictly a guess. But even if he just moved to that street, the magazine has been writing about him for a long time.

I kept trying to point out that there was no basis for your jumping to the conclusion that she had jumped to that conclusion, because the normal thing to do in the case of doubt is the same thing to do in the case of certainty: call the police.


Did you listen to the tape? It seems that Whelan would have been inclined to not call at all, based on what she saw herself. At least to some extent, she seems to have been humoring someone else: "this older woman was worried, thinking someone’s breaking in someone’s house." Knowing that she was responding to this influence (at least in part) helps explain why she made the call.

One of them is lying or mistaken, something that you never seem to grasp as a possibility.


I realize that Crowley's apparently false statement (that he had a conversation with Whalen) might just be a mistake, rather than a lie. But if he's capable of making a mistake of that magnitude, then all his claims should be treated as unreliable.

Perhaps Crowley heard it from the other bystander


This is what Crowley said (as Tomlin also cited):

As I reached the door, a female voice called out to me. I turned and looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified as Lucia Whalen. Whalen, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, held a wireless telephone in her hand and told me it was she who called. She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of [redacted] Ware Street.


Crowley is declaring pretty emphatically that he knows he talked to Whalen. Whalen is 40. According to Whalen, "the other bystander" was "an older woman." If Crowley can't manage to ID a witness properly, that seems like a pretty big mistake.

And I think we can rule out the possibility that Crowley made a mistake, because he is digging in his heels and claiming that he didn't make a mistake: "Cambridge police officials, who released the tape of the 911 call, have said they stand by the report."

the other bystander -- who, despite living there, also didn't recognize Gates


It seems to me that both Whalen and the other bystander didn't recognize Gates for the same reason: they were never close enough to even notice his race. And as Tomlin pointed out, you don't really know where the other bystander lives. Whalen said this: "I was just calling 'cause she was a concerned neighbor, I guess." That's not much to go on.

Just noticed this: "Police officials have said the older woman had just moved into the neighborhood."

Perhaps Whalen, in the excitement, forgot what she said and to whom.


I could easily understand if Whalen and Crowley had a conversation and then recounted it somewhat differently. But 'she said they were black' is very different from 'I never said they were black.' And it's much worse than that: Crowley says they had a conversation, and Whalen said they didn't have a conversation (aside from just telling him she was the caller). This contradiction is hard to reconcile. At the very least, it forces us to conclude that at least one of these two people is prone to making unreliable statements (which could be a sign of dishonesty, bad memory, or both).

==================
cboldt:

As you point out, by asserting "black man" out of his imagination (or even misattributing time or source), he opens himself up to be accused of racial prejudice and profiling


But he didn''t assert " 'black man' out of his imagination." He asserted that he got "black man" from Whalen. Even though he didn't (according to Whalen). Why did he think he could get away with that? Who knows. Bear in mind that he did get away with it, until Whalen just spoke up, quite some time after the incident. And only after the uproar escalated way beyond what Crowley was likely to have anticipated. If he calculated that Whalen would be slow and reluctant to speak out and call him a liar, his calculation was generally correct. He also may have calculated (incorrectly) that his report was going to get narrow circulation, and that Whalen would never see his report, or hear about his report.

I still don't see how Crowley's actions are any more or less justified by the error in the report


If someone with the political credentials of a Tom Maguire can't penetrate your denial, then I certainly shouldn't expect to.

==================
zarkov:

Possibilities: 1. Whalen added the "two black males" embellishment because the other witness told her that after she made the call.


Pay attention to the various statements by Whalen's lawyer, which I've cited. Whalen is not just saying she didn't say 'black men' to the 911 operator. She's saying she didn't say 'black men' to anyone.

And your theory doesn't explain why Crowley says that Crowley and Whalen had a conversation, while Whalen is saying that Crowley and Whalen did not have a conversation (aside from just telling him that she was the caller).

2. She never said that to Crowley, and he simply made a mistake.


He is insisting, through the Department, that his report is correct. So it doesn't sound like a mistake. And if he can make a mistake of this magnitude (invent a conversation that apparently didn't happen), then all of his statements are suspect.

Ever hear of false memory? Human memory and cognition are fallible


If there is someone here with "false memory," it's plausible, if not likely, that the someone is Crowley. Which means that all of his statements are suspect.

==================
johnny:

Crowley claims he was told backpacks. From the dispatch tapes we now know Whelan said suitcases to the 911 operator and the police dispatcher said suitcases to Crowley. Do you Americans use the words interchangeably or is this another example of Crowley's creative imagination, or what?


Good catch. No, we don't use those words interchangeably. And this is another example (in addition to something I cited earlier) of how Crowley is polishing his story as time goes on. In his police report, he says "backpacks" (as you noticed). Even though Whalen and the dispatcher both said "suitcases" (as you noticed). But in his TV interview, he mentions both words and mumbles something about how he doesn't have a clear recollection of which is the correct word. That interview was recent. Maybe he said that because he knew the tapes were coming out.

And just like the "two black males" part, Crowley said (in his police report) that he heard "backpacks" from Whalen, at the scene. But according to Whalen, Crowley and Whalen had no conversation at the scene (aside from just telling him that she was the caller).

==================
oliver:

If you are willing to say "no shots," then you have to be willing to allow them to use judgment about when they believe things are getting a little dicey and when to step in to stop that first shot.


Your remark might be relevant to this matter if Crowley had reported that "things are getting a little dicey" and he was worried about someone getting shot. But what he reported was quite different. If he was worried about things getting "dicey," he would not have called off all the responding units, and prepared to leave the scene himself.

in the real world and in real situations where there is potential threat, things aren't as simple


Crowley has made clear (in both his police report and his TV interview) that he did not view Gates as a "potential threat." At no time at all, and certainly not at the time of the arrest.

It would be better if you focused on the actual events of the instant matter, and not some other situation you've decided to drag into the conversation.

It shows that a cop's memory is almost as bad as a non-cop's memory when recounting a stressful event.


If Crowley's memory is so bad that he can remember an event that apparently never happened (Whalen describing the men to him), then this is a big red flag that all his statements are suspect. Especially his other statements in that report.

==================
A lot of news reports are now highlighting the fact that Whalen didn't say 'black men' to the 911 operator, but they are glossing over a related fact that's important: Whalen has also gone out of her way to issue a statement denying that she said it to Crowley at the scene. And this contradicts Crowley's report.

One news outlet not glossing over that second point is CNN:

Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.

"Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy told CNN by phone. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."


Another one is NYT:

Ms. Whalen, who called on her cellphone from in front of the professor’s home, stayed until the police arrived. A report filed by the arresting officer, Sgt. James M. Crowley, said she told him she had seen “what appeared to be two black males with backpacks” on the porch of the home.

Police officials have stood by the report in interviews, but on Monday, Ms. Whalen’s lawyer said she had never mentioned race to Sergeant Crowley.

“She didn’t speak to Sergeant Crowley at the scene except to say, ‘I’m the one who called,’ ” said the lawyer, Wendy J. Murphy. “And he said, ‘Wait right there,’ and walked into the house. She never used the word black and never said the word backpacks to anyone.”

Cambridge police officials did not return a call seeking comment on the inconsistency.


So "never had a conversation" means never had a conversation beyond saying 'I'm the one who called.' Fair enough.

WP also covers this, but I think they are slightly less clear:

[Whalen] had declined to comment until Sunday, when, through her attorney, she issued a statement knocking down a line in the police report filed after the incident. It describes Whalen telling Crowley, who responded to her call, that she saw "two black men with backpacks." The lawyer, Wendy J. Murphy, told CNN on Monday that Whalen did not identify the men by race at any point. Cambridge police officials, who released the tape of the 911 call, have said they stand by the report.


The discrepancy between Whalen and Crowley regarding what happened between them at the scene is important, and it's too bad that many articles are ignoring it.
7.28.2009 1:53am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I've already heard the excuses how courtrooms are 'totally different' blah blah. The exchange logic is solid; it's about caste.

Subpatre, you might compare courtrooms to classrooms. A public university student (we'll avoid the issue of how far Tinker extends for high school students) has an absolute First Amendment right to criticize his or her teachers. But he or she cannot do it during class in the form of talking back to the teacher.

Courtroom speech restrictions work because they are time, place, or manner restrictions: the courtroom is a particular place and restrictions on speech therein leave alternative channels of communication open.

You can't use that justify restricting speech anywhere in the country, which is what a broad conception of disorderly conduct would do.

Finally, while class may explain why Gates is so upset, this is not, ultimately, about class. Anyone who's ever listened to an NWA record can tell you that it is just as crappy when a poor black kid gets hit with a contempt of cop arrest-- it's just that the media doesn't give a crap about it.

In other words, this is just as bad whether it's done to a Harvard Professor or a street kid.
7.28.2009 3:01am
vemc (mail):
It's hilarious that JBG would comment on other people not being prepared to admit they are wrong. This is someone who repeatedly insisted that an newspaper article could not be an editorial because it was labeled "opinion". Yes, really. JBG is quite the brain.
7.28.2009 3:54am
David M. Nieporent (www):
"No shots. But all the verbal abuse he wants to heap at the police."

But now you put the cops in an impossible place. If they stop things *before* there are shots, then they are Gestapo. If they stop things *after* there are shots, they are incompetent.

If you are willing to say "no shots," then you have to be willing to allow them to use judgment about when they believe things are getting a little dicey and when to step in to stop that first shot.
This argument seems to imply that people shooting at police is some sort of natural escalation from yelling at police. Now, never having shot at police, perhaps I'm not an expert on the psychology of doing so, but that seems implausible to me.
7.28.2009 5:35am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So that might explain the backpacks for suitcases. How do you explain the fact that Crowley claims to have had an entire material conversation with a witness, when that witness claims to have never spoken with the officer?
To be fair, it's not the witness who claims that; it's the witness's lawyer. Ordinarily that may be an unimportant distinction, but here the lawyer is Wendy Murphy, who has all the credibility of Nancy Grace.
As for heat of time passing- he had sufficient time afterwards to work up his report- he certainly understood the stakes when he wrote it.
But that doesn't make the memories more accurate. As substantial research has shown, memory is not like a videotape; if you form inaccurate or incomplete memories, you can't go back and mentally "replay" them to improve your accuracy. The correct memories simply aren't there. (If you forget something that you once knew, you may be able to refresh your memory, but that's not what I'm discussing.)
7.28.2009 6:15am
David Tomlin (mail):
Johnny Canuck:

This doesn't seem to bother anybody else.

The suitcase/backpack thing has been on my mind since I listened to Crowley's TV interview, even before the 911 tapes came out. As JBG points out, in the interview Crowley says he can't remember if the dispatcher, relaying the 911 info, said 'backpacks' or 'suitcases'. I thought at the time that he probably knew what was on the soon-to-be-released tapes, and was revising his story to conform.

As I've mentioned before, in his report the only information Crowley attributes to the broadcast is the location of the possible break-in.
7.28.2009 6:17am
David Tomlin (mail):

David M. Nieporent:

Wendy Murphy, who has all the credibility of Nancy Grace.

Thanks for bringing up this point. I haven't heard of Murphy before. What I've found so far is - interesting.
7.28.2009 6:38am
David M. Nieporent (www):
So "never had a conversation" means never had a conversation beyond saying 'I'm the one who called.' Fair enough.
Of course, if you were still trying to discredit Whalen, you'd have claimed that this was an significant "discrepancy."

I didn't attack Whalen for making me wrong. I've attacked Crowley for making me wrong.
Crowley didn't make you invent this fantasy about her calling her office or not calling her office, about her being some new person who wouldn't recognize Gates, etc.
7.28.2009 6:38am
David M. Nieporent (www):
And when I said I still find it hard to understand why Whalen didn't recognize Gates, it was after I had learned that she had worked on Ware St for 15 years, but before I heard the tape which convinced me that she never saw Gates' face.
There was never any reason for you to think she had seen Gates' face.
7.28.2009 6:39am
David Tomlin (mail):

I'm still puzzling over why Whalen didn't see the driver leave. Did she stay on the scene until Crowley arrived, or leave and return? If she did see the driver leave, why didn't she tell Crowley one of the suspects had left?
7.28.2009 6:44am
David M. Nieporent (www):

I see you can't resist indulging in another straw man. I didn't say Whelan (or someone else at her office) would be likely to recognize Gates merely because they are also "at Harvard." They're not just "at Harvard." They're at an office 100 yards away, which means they frequently walk past his house, which creates a likelihood that they would have seen him enter or leave his house.
It does not mean that they frequently walk past his house. It does not mean that they ever walk past his house. If they do walk past his house, that doesn't mean that they ever see him. (Why would they? While professors don't keep the same hours as people in most jobs, people at work are generally at work during work hours; people at home are generally at home during non-work hours. Even if he were home during the day, why would he be wandering in and out of his house so that they could see him?)

As a fundraiser, Whelan would be familiar with the contents of the magazine (including stories about Gates).
"I don't attack people for making assumptions. I attack people for making assumptions and dressing them up as if they are proven facts."
7.28.2009 6:50am
David Tomlin (mail):
I've listened to Crowley's TV interview again. This is what he says about the broadcast:

'The call was for a break in progress at 17 Ware Street and there was a brief description of two people that were trying to force their way through the front door. My recollection was that they had backpacks. It was either backpacks or suitcases. I don't have a clear recollection right now exactly what was broadcast.'

Crowley then gives an account of meeting Whalen consistent with the police report, although he doesn't mention that he later learned her name. I don't think Whalen's name is ever mentioned in the interview.

Crowley then says that Whalen 'repeated to me that she saw two individuals at the front door.' He recounts how she described the way they seemed to be forcing the door open, but says nothing about Whalen describing the 'individuals', or mentioning backpacks or suitcases. From the interview alone, you wouldn't even know the 'individuals' were male, much less that either or both were believed to be black.
7.28.2009 8:23am
Johnny Canuck (mail):
I had had difficulty imagining Professor Gates travelling with 2 backpacks. Once I learned he walked with a cane, I thought, well perhaps one but two seemed highly improbable.

Now it seems this was primarily a creation from Crowley's imagination- what would two break and enter candidates look like? Crowley supplies the details:race, black; with backpacks for the loot (perhaps the burglar tools).
7.28.2009 9:13am
devil's advocate (mail):
late to the party although I've been following along.

Minor grievances about the nature of claims here aside, I think Volokh distinguishes itself as being the only forum I've seen where the propriety of Crowley's actions OUTSIDE the issue of race has been discussed at all.

I can't claim an exhaustive search of the recent 'literature', but all the other sources I happen to have read are focused on whether the incident was precipitated by Gates race and whether 'the same thing' would have happened to a white person.

The beauty of this, coupled with Obama's inability to refrain from jumping in, put the final nail in the rush to 1001 pages of health care (act. 1008 or something but I'm not claiming this is a fact filled post).

I tend to think a close call the sobering question of whether this is reasonable police behavior and whether it amounts to a 'demand for respect', or is behavioral modification that is distinguishable from gratifying the enforcers.

I have witnessed (was involved in) just such an arrest of a white person (of lower caste for the class interested) and, was tangentially privy to another such arrest in proximity to the campus of a quite wealthy white individual from outside his own home that was instigated by the Brown University Police - kind of the reverse of the Gates situation, racially and adminstratively.

In the first case a [white] tenant who came home drunk to the residential compound where we live and rent out several flats took exception to being asked to drive more considerately and seized upon the opportunity to complain further about our requests for rent upon which he was two months in arrears. He stormed up to our home, came inside and ranted for perhaps 10 minutes in such agitated fashion and that I was edging around the room to get between him and the kitchen knives that were in one of those wood blocks on the counter.

My wife told him if he did not leave she would call the police. This seemed not to phase him in the least and he continued to rant and refusing to leave while she dialed the phone right in front of him (I don't think we had 911 out in the rural climes back then, I can't remember, she might have dialed the operator and asked for the police).

I finally convinced him to return to his own apartment by agreeing to continue the conversation with him there. My wife tried to convince me not to go to his apartment but I felt that I had made asuch a promise and I felt that his willingness to actually desist and go home ought to be respected as a tiny sign of rationality and while not convinced that he was safe to deal with, i don't think he overtly threatened us as I recall.

About 5 minutes after I entered his apartment, the state police arrived (two offices, white for those who care) and my wife directed them to the location of the moving disturbance.

The police came to the door, knocked and I am kind of hazy on whether maybe the guys wife opened the door and he started in on them. So I was off the hook. I think they came just inside the door. He was on the other side of the room about 10 ft. away from them. He started screaming about the same kinds of things that Gates did, e.g. this is my house, you can't come in here, etc.

They were a picture of decorum and non-combative. they didn't advance further. They didn't give orders. They spoke calmly and deliberately but more or less asked what had upset him and if he could shed any light on the reason they were called to resolve a disturbance.

He continued ranting in a derogatory manner unresponsive to the substance of their inquery. They would slightly adjust the tack of their question, rephrase or move onto some different metric of the situation, calmly and quietly.

I was standing to the side such that I viewed the exchange in profile. I remember thinking at the time that all the wanted was for the guy to say to them, I've had a tough day, might have had a little to drink, and I'm not in a good mood to discuss this stuff. You guys coming into my house upsets me, so I'm going to bed and I'll take this up with the landlord in the morning (it was maybe 10:30 or 11 at night).

They let the guy go on for maybe 10 minutes all told with no threats to arrest or to take any action and only quietly asking the source of his agitation or any possible resolution for the immediate moment. He never skipped a beat in is tirade and literally on some kind of silent cue between the officers, one said to the other even as he moved across the room, "I think that's enough of that". They had the guy in cuffs in seconds and took him out.

Now, I could have retreated under their cover, and I'm not sure they had grounds to think he was a danger to his own wife. I don't know the disorderly statute in RI and perhaps the fact that they had been called and told by witnesses that he exhibited similar behavior outside his home factored into the legal propriety of the arrest (or not, I'm not sure the precise charge they lodged). But it was pretty clear to me they were willing to give the guy quite a lot of rope. Upon reflection on the incident, it may still have been a technical overstep, it might have been of the variety of not being able to escape the ride -- although I regarded their behavior as calm and professional throughout. I simply did not take the sense that what they required of the gentleman varied or that the bar was raised that much by his continuous ranting. They didn't want an apology but some ultimate indication that he was in control of his faculties. I think their implied sense of what would have resolved the situation at the time was quite reasonable, although I'm not sure I agree they had the grounds to demand such a resolution under penalty of arrest.

I don't allege that the circumstances are precisely identical to the Gates matter, but my point is that race never entered the custodial equation. I'm not trying to say that it is irrational for a black person to suspect that their race is driving some confrontation with the authorites. The question seems to have been, as in this experience of my own, whether the person gains control of themselves even if still upset or alleging racial bias.

I think Gates arrest likely falls on the wrong side of defensible procedure. But his immediate focusing on race and inability to bac ways from making this a racial incident sucked in the President and all the rest of his racialist buddies and has virtually silenced, except in obscure quarters (sorry Eugene), the argument over the use of police custodial power as behavioral modification.

The Police asked us for statements the next day but never called regarding appearance as witnesses so I do not know the distinct dispositon of that case (we evicted this wonders of the species immediately thereafter).

Meanwhile, back in the Ivy League, I also manage apartments around Brown University and one of our very uppercrust tenants had a habit of getting into it with University students and faculty who had a habit of parking in private spaces that didn't belong to the university (the block is mostly university buildings and they tend to imagine that any space there belongs to Brown).

One night this fellow had might have had nightcap before the incident and observed someone blocking his car in the lot and got into a verbal altercation that attracted the Brown University campus police whose office is right around the corner.

He refused to desist in his complaints. They called the Providence Police who arrested him somewhere around the boundary of the private parking lot of his own abode and the public alley by which this offstreet parking is reached.

He was as white as the driven snow and might have been a little younger than Gates at the time, but he was obviously not some street person but a well to do citizen. I'm not sure the extent to which either the Brown or Providence Police went to establish his residence, identity or the nature of his agitation, I only know he got the ride. So go figure. Are these the two exceptions that prove Gates rule.

I think he made a horrible error making this about race and he has done no service to anyone of his race or any other by continuing that line of complaint.

Thanks to those on the thread here who have made a reasonable case for suspecting the officer of overreaching in a technical legal sense, and probably in a practical enforcement perspective as well -- although I think there is probably some point at which I would not have a big problem with the police exercising custodial authority even on a weak disorderly charge. See anecdote #1 above as my not a slam dunk but I don't really fault the police.

Brian
7.28.2009 10:09am
subpatre (mail):
Johnny Canuck writes: "Now it seems this was primarily a creation from Crowley's imagination- what would two break and enter candidates look like? Crowley supplies the details:race, black; with backpacks for the loot (perhaps the burglar tools)."

You Canadians are so lucky to have big fruiting imaginations overflowing like that in their heads! Americans aren't so blessed to make stuff up out of thin air, and poor uncreative Sergeant Crowley needed facilitation to make a good narrative. Since America is filthy-rich, a Harvard University professor was quickly obtained to bellow "Race! This is about Black Men in America*! Race! Black men! " over and over unceasingly into the Sergeant's ear.


*©2009, coming to a Public Broadcasting Station near you soon. Special seating and discount tickets available 1-800-555-8844
7.28.2009 10:52am
David Tomlin (mail):

subpatre:

a Harvard University professor was quickly obtained to bellow "Race! This is about Black Men in America*! Race! Black men! " over and over unceasingly into the Sergeant's ear.

Disputed facts.

Gates denies raising his voice, and claims his medical condition made it impossible for him to do so.

No yelling is audible on the radio traffic tapes.

I don't know of any evidence that Gates raised his voice except the two self-serving police reports. (Anonymous statements to reporters aren't evidence.)
7.28.2009 11:36am
David Tomlin (mail):
Leaving aside the question of whether Gates raised his voice, there is also a dispute over how early and often and in what fashion Gates expressed his suspicions regarding race. Gates's version is here.
7.28.2009 11:49am
subpatre (mail):
David Tomlin says:"Gates denies raising his voice, and claims his medical condition made it impossible for him to do so. No yelling is audible on the radio traffic tapes. I don't know of any evidence that Gates raised his voice except the two self-serving police reports. "

If you reject "self-serving statements", then you really have no evidence anything ever happened. Anywhere; and no cause to post on the non-event that didn't happen. But I'm betting you think something actually did happen, and want to aim your pre-judgement at certain folks and not others.

1a) Gates' medical condition requires a cane.
1b) Gates' "self-serving statement" (your quote) would be easy to corraborate, but never has been. Where's a doctor's statement? A prescription? Anything?
1c) Gates' "self-serving statement" (your quote) has varied as to what he said and how loud he said what.
1d) Gates' has an immense financial and positional interest in the issue; as opposed to cops who routinely charge a misdemeanor a day and routinely lose 5%-10% of the cases in court.
2) Something very-raised-voice-like-yelling covers Crowley's speech —speaking directly into the microphone— at 2:19 on the tape. Dispatch center asks him to repeat. Your 'no yelling' statement simply isn't true.
3a) Police reports are actionable records. Lends credibility.
3bi) 3 to 4 cops and about 7 witnesses, including Gates' neighbors. Not one denied Gates' yelling. Not conclusive but adds credibility.
3bii - At least one witness has publicly come forward via an attorney, correcting police on several point, but does not challenge police allegation of yelling. Not conclusive but adds credibility.
3c) The only photograph shows Gates' mouth wide open in a position as if yelling. Defenders claim (correctly) this is after the arrest. See #1, in which Gates' claims he could not do this.
7.28.2009 12:27pm
subpatre (mail):
David Tomlin should have written :"... there is also a dispute over how early and often and in what fashion Gates expressed his suspicions regarding race. Gates's self-serving version is here."

Remember the 'self serving' part, David. (Unless you are a bigot, that is; then you can apply 'self serving' to only one side.)

Fact: There is no "dispute". Gates is making claims. Nobody else —out of 10 or so people at the scene— is challenging anything about Gates' disorderly conduct. When some of those people say Gates acted decently, when some of them say he didn't yell, then we can give Gates some credibility on this.
7.28.2009 12:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
vemc:

It's hilarious that JBG would comment on other people not being prepared to admit they are wrong.


It's hilarious that you would suggest that I'm not prepared to admit when I'm wrong, since I've already cited proof that I readily admit when I'm wrong.

So this is your chance to admit that you're wrong.

This is someone who repeatedly insisted that an newspaper article could not be an editorial because it was labeled "opinion". Yes, really. JBG is quite the brain.


It's too bad that you didn't have enough of a brain to bother providing links that discussion. You are talking about an exchange I had with someone using the handle "mzeh." That exchange took place here and here. One particular claim I made in that exchange (a claim that was not especially central to my overall argument) was indeed wrong. After mzeh showed proof that the claim was wrong, I agreed that I was wrong, and I thanked him for correcting me. I said this:

I thought they would make such a change across the entire site, even including older items, but you're right, they didn't. Thanks for pointing that out.


And I also said this:

I made the incorrect assumption that NYT would apply the same format across their web site, even for older articles. And I admitted I was wrong as soon as you demonstrated my assumption was incorrect.


So it's wrong for you to suggest that I refused to admit that I was wrong, because I did admit I was wrong. So this is another chance for you to admit that you're wrong.

On the other hand, mzeh made many specious claims, which I demonstrated. And it's clear he wasn't arguing in good faith, because he ducked many fair questions, and slithered away when I reminded him of those questions.

It's interesting that you remember that exchange, and are choosing to mention it months latter, in a thread on a different subject. It's also interesting to notice that your email address is vemc311@pipeline.com, and mzeh's email address is mzeh228@pipeline.com. How odd that two completely different people would have such a similar address. Do you happen to be him? If so, why are you using a new handle?

========================
nieporent:

So "never had a conversation" means never had a conversation beyond saying 'I'm the one who called.' Fair enough.


Of course, if you were still trying to discredit Whalen, you'd have claimed that this was an significant "discrepancy."


Not without more information. As it is, it's a minor discrepancy. It's a stretch to call it a significant discrepancy without more information. "Never had a conversation" is a quote reported by CNN based on a phone call with Murphy. We don't know what Murphy said just before or after the quoted portion. Omitted context would probably tell us that Murphy either did or did not make it clear that she meant 'never had a conversation aside from telling Crowley she was the caller.' It wouldn't be the first time a reporter chose to simplify a story by leaving out some helpful context.

FWIW, here's another account of what Murphy is saying:

Murphy, speaking on Whalen's behalf, says the only interaction between Whalen and Crowley occurred at the scene when she gestured to him and told him she was the 911 caller and he told her to stay where she was. Another officer asked for her identification, but no officer interviewed her at the scene, Murphy says. Whalen stayed about five minutes and then left, Murphy says.


And here's another account:

Whalen’s lawyer, Wendy J. Murphy, said yesterday her client’s only contact with Crowley was fleeting, with Whalen saying “Excuse me, I’m the one who called,” and the Cambridge cop replying, “Stay right there.”


I would hardly call that a "conversation," so the claim "never had a conversation" is not much of a problem.

Crowley didn't make you invent this fantasy about her calling her office or not calling her office, about her being some new person who wouldn't recognize Gates, etc.


According to Crowley, Whalen was close enough to see their skin color. If she was close enough to see their skin color, there's a good chance she would be close enough to see Gates' face, and recognize him. That part didn't make sense to me, especially when I learned that she had worked 100 yards away for 15 years. But where I went wrong was assuming that Crowley's statement quoting Whalen was something other than a falsehood.

There was never any reason for you to think she had seen Gates' face.


I just explained why I had a reason to think she had seen Gates' face.

It does not mean that they frequently walk past his house. It does not mean that they ever walk past his house.


Of course not. Why would a Harvard Magazine employee ever walk past Gates' house? After all, it's not as if the nearest Starbucks is only about 200 yards from the magazine. And it's not as if the route from the magazine to Starbucks goes right past Gates' house, on the same side of the street. Anyway, everyone knows that magazine employees never drink coffee.

A google map can be seen here. A is the magazine. B is Gates' house. C is the Starbucks. Pay no attention to the Cambridge Public Library, which is a few steps away from Starbucks. After all, people who work at a magazine are not the kind of people who would ever have an interest in visiting a public library. They never do that, just like they never drink coffee.

And whatever you do, don't zoom out on the map. Because then you might realize that the shortest route to most of the Harvard campus also takes a magazine employee directly past Gates' front porch. But Harvard Magazine employees would most likely never need to visit any part of Harvard University, right? And if they did, there would be no need to walk. It would make a lot more sense to just use something like this.

By the way, why was Whalen in front of Gates' house? Because "she was on her way to lunch." But I'm sure in 15 years working there, she had never headed that way before. In fact, I'm pretty sure she's never had lunch before.

Even if he were home during the day, why would he be wandering in and out of his house so that they could see him?


It's a well-known that fact that Harvard professors who live about 100 yards from a Starbucks are strictly forbidden from "wandering" out of their house to visit the Starbucks. Likewise for the Cambridge Public Library, also about 100 yards from Gates' front door. After all, they might bump into Harvard Magazine employees, and we wouldn't want that to happen. Also, college professors keep very strict 9-5 hours. Gates would not come and go at random times. For example, you would never find him arriving at his house during lunch hour on a weekday, because he just got a ride home from the airport. Never happen.

As a fundraiser, Whelan would be familiar with the contents of the magazine (including stories about Gates).


"I don't attack people for making assumptions. I attack people for making assumptions and dressing them up as if they are proven facts."


Most sentient humans would realize that I was presenting not a proven fact, but merely an opinion. Especially because I explained the basis for the opinion. But if you're saying the sentence could be improved if I added a qualifying prefix like "in my opinion," then consider it done. I'm perfectly happy to explicitly acknowledge what was already implied, that I was presenting nothing more than an opinion.

On the other hand, you regularly make assumptions and dress them up as if they are proven facts. And when this is brought to your attention, what you typically do is duck. Except in certain instances, where you end up being forced to stop ducking.

========================
tomlin:

I'm still puzzling over why Whalen didn't see the driver leave.


I think Whalen did see the driver leave.

Did she stay on the scene until Crowley arrived, or leave and return?


I think she stayed. Her 911 conversation ended as follows:

911 OPERATOR: OK, are you standing outside?
FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: I'm standing outside, yes.
911 OPERATOR: All right, the police are on the way, you can meet them then they get there. What's your name?
FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Yeah, my name is (deleted).
911 OPERATOR: All right, we're on the way.
FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Ok. All right, I guess I'll wait. Thanks.


Sounds like she was planning to stay until Crowley got there.

By the way, I think it's possible she saw the driver leave before she made the call.

If she did see the driver leave, why didn't she tell Crowley one of the suspects had left?


Because he didn't ask. According to Murphy, "no officer interviewed her [Whalen] at the scene." And even in Crowley's account of his alleged conversation with Whalen, he didn't seem very interested in talking to her. In that account, the conversation was initiated by her. In that account, she made a few statements and he asked her no questions. In that account, he cut the conversation short because he was alone with his back to the door. (Which doesn't make sense, because if he wanted to continue conversing with her, all he had to do was turn them both around so he could watch her and the door at the same time. From a safe distance at the sidewalk, if necessary.)

========================
subpatre:

a Harvard University professor was quickly obtained to bellow


Still waiting for someone to present an actual witness who actually claims that Gates actually raised his voice, prior to his arrest.

You Canadians are so lucky to have big fruiting imaginations overflowing like that in their heads! Americans aren't so blessed to make stuff up out of thin air


Your irony impairment is severe. And speaking of making things up, let us know when you're ready to tell us how you define "upon."

If you reject "self-serving statements", then you really have no evidence anything ever happened.


Wrong. By all accounts, an arrest happened. And there are lots of other undisputed facts, like the fact that Gates never showed his ID, even though Gates asked him to show his ID.

Where's a doctor's statement?


In China. That's where his bronchial infection was diagnosed and treated.

Gates' "self-serving statement" (your quote) has varied as to what he said and how loud he said what.


Baloney. Prove it.

Gates' has an immense financial and positional interest in the issue; as opposed to cops who routinely charge a misdemeanor a day


Yes, it's quite routine for Cambridge cops to arrest Harvard professors. Hopefully you can tell us the last time this happened. Extra credit if the charges were quickly dismissed.

Something very-raised-voice-like-yelling covers Crowley's speech —speaking directly into the microphone— at 2:19 on the tape.


The transcript is here. The tape is here. The sound you describe lasts a second or two. Why isn't there more? Wasn't there all sorts of "loud and tumultuous behavior?" And how do you know who made that sound? Figueroa was also inside the house. How do you know it wasn't him?

3 to 4 cops and about 7 witnesses, including Gates' neighbors. Not one denied Gates' yelling. Not conclusive but adds credibility.


There are also billions of people in Asia who have not "denied Gates' yelling." Why are you implying that "7 witnesses" were interviewed by anyone? They weren't. And of those witnesses, "not one denied" that Crowley is a thug who made a bogus arrest. That's "not conclusive but adds credibility," right?

At least one witness has publicly come forward via an attorney, correcting police on several point, but does not challenge police allegation of yelling. Not conclusive but adds credibility.


Whalen also did not challenge Gates' allegation that Crowley is a thug who made a bogus arrest. "Not conclusive but adds credibility."

By the way, please notice this:

Murphy, speaking on Whalen's behalf, says the only interaction between Whalen and Crowley occurred at the scene when she gestured to him and told him she was the 911 caller and he told her to stay where she was. Another officer asked for her identification, but no officer interviewed her at the scene, Murphy says. Whalen stayed about five minutes and then left, Murphy says.


It seems that Whalen left before Gates came outside, which means Whalen was not in a position to hear yelling, or attest to the absence of yelling.

See #1, in which Gates' claims he could not do this.


I suggest you avoid med school. Gates' bronchial condition would not interfere with his ability to open his mouth wide. It would just interfere with his ability to make a loud sound come out. And an open mouth can be an expression of shock or surprise, without making a sound.

Nobody else —out of 10 or so people at the scene— is challenging anything about Gates' disorderly conduct. When some of those people say Gates acted decently, when some of them say he didn't yell, then we can give Gates some credibility on this.


With the possible exception of one unnamed person who made a highly questionable statement, none of the non-police witnesses at the scene are challenging anything about Gates' claim that Crowley is a thug who made a bogus arrest. When some of those people say Gates didn't act decently, when some of them say he yelled, then we can give Crowley some credibility on this.
7.28.2009 2:01pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
subpatre:

At least one witness has publicly come forward via an attorney, correcting police on several point


"Correcting?" Really? Not just disagreeing or contradicting but "correcting?" It sounds like you are accepting that Whalen is telling the truth, and that she did not say to Crowley (or anyone else) the various things that he claims she said.

So why did Crowley file a false report, and why has he not corrected that report? He is standing by his report, even after Whalen is done "correcting" him. How do you explain that?
7.28.2009 2:29pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
jbg:"And there are lots of other undisputed facts, like the fact that Gates never showed his ID, even though Gates asked him to show his ID."

You mean "Crowley" rather than "Gates".
7.28.2009 2:38pm
Kevin Camp (mail):
I don't get why we are even arguing. It doesn't matter if Gates asked for Crowley's id. It doesn't matter if he provided it. It doesn't matter if Gates was a complete ass (which I think he most definitely was). It doesn't matter if Crowley talked to the witness before he entered the house or not. It doesn't matter if Gates version is self-serving (of course it is) or if Crowley's is (ditto). Even if every single word of what Crowley says is true, it was still a bad arrest. Massachusetts case law has clearly stated the berating a cop does NOT qualify as disorderly conduct. If this isn't something taught at the police academy, something is wrong.
7.28.2009 2:45pm
Mitchell Young (mail):
No yelling is audible on the radio traffic tapes.

Actually the yelling is quite audible on the tapes background. You'll notice from the long long periods of silence between transmissions (i.e. no ambient noise) that Crowley is using a push to talk mic (or perhaps a voice activiated one), and you can still here Gates yammering in the background -- so much so that control couldn't copy Crowley at times.
7.28.2009 3:06pm
David Tomlin (mail):
subpatre:

If you reject "self-serving statements" . . .

Straw man. I never said this.

Other things equal, self-serving statements are less credible than disinterested ones.

Of course Gates's statement is also self-serving. That is why I have avoided making assertions that assumed Gates was correct on disputed points.

David Tomlin should have written :"... there is also a dispute over how early and often and in what fashion Gates expressed his suspicions regarding race. Gates's self-serving version is here."

Obviously, you didn't need me to point out to you that Gates's statement is also self-serving.

Unless you are a bigot, that is; then you can apply 'self serving' to only one side.

It is I who has been discussing statements from both sides, and you who has been taking statements from one side at face value while ignoring those from the other side.

Gates' "self-serving statement" (your quote) has varied as to what he said and how loud he said what.

I'm only aware of two versions from Gates's side. There is the interview I linked above, and this statement by Gates's attorney Charles Ogletree. I have read both and didn't notice any discrepancies, but I might have missed something.

Are you alleging discrepancies between these two versions, or is there another statement that I am not aware of? If the former I would appreciate specifics, and if the latter a link.
7.28.2009 3:21pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
johnny:

You mean "Crowley" rather than "Gates".


Oops, thank you. I hate it when I make a careless mistake that adds needless confusion to a story that's already confusing. And that aspect especially is prone to confusion because there were reciprocal requests for ID. And the ID-related issues are important.

=================
kevin:

It doesn't matter if Gates asked for Crowley's id. It doesn't matter if he provided it.


It's relevant to know that Crowley violated 98D. But you're absolutely right that it's much more important to know that he also made a bogus arrest, in violation of the 4th Amendment and probably the 1st.

I'm calling attention to the 98D issue because it's almost universally overlooked, and because Crowley's own words are enough to prove he violated 98D. So the violation is clear even if one believes that Gates told nothing but lies and Crowley only told the truth. (The violation is unclear only to people like subpatre, who are relying on a redacted version of the statute and therefore haven't seen that is says "upon.")

The 98D issue is also relevant because it's important to notice that Gates had a legitimate reason to be angry (if he in fact acted angry, as alleged). It's bizarre that Crowley would arrest Gates for showing anger, after Crowley gave Gates a good reason to be angry, by ignoring Gates' lawful request. So the 98D issue is directly related to the main issue: that it was a bad arrest, as you said. Berating a cop is legal, even if the cop didn't earn it. But in this instance Crowley did earn whatever berating he allegedly received. All the more reason to understand that it was a bad arrest, no matter how you look at it.

=================
mitchell:

the yelling is quite audible


The tape is here. Please tell us the exact positions on the tape where "the yelling is quite audible." And I guess you mean so audible that you can tell it's Gates speaking and not someone else. At what positions?
7.28.2009 3:40pm
David Tomlin (mail):

jukeboxgrad:

I think it's possible she saw the driver leave before she made the call.

On the 911 call Whalen says she thinks both men are still in the house. The dispatcher repeats that in her broadcast.
7.28.2009 3:41pm
David Tomlin (mail):

Kevin Camp:


Even if every single word of what Crowley says is true, it was still a bad arrest.


If Crowley was truthful he can plausibly argue that he acted in good faith, without the criminal intent required for him to be guilty of the crime of false arrest. But if Crowley falsified the police report to justify the arrest, he is guilty of at least two crimes.
7.28.2009 4:04pm
David Tomlin (mail):

South Park nailed it, five years ago.
7.28.2009 4:36pm
David Tomlin (mail):
subpatre:

Nobody else —out of 10 or so people at the scene— is challenging anything about Gates' disorderly conduct.

That raises another interesting point about the two police reports, which got a passing mention upthread. Whalen is the only (non-police) witness named in the reports. As far as we know the police didn't interview the others or even take their names. One thing that suggests to me is that this 'contempt of cop' charge was never expected to go to trial.

At this point there is no reason for any of those people to come forward unless they want to be the center of a media storm. Some people do like that kind of attention, but many do not. I don't think there are any inferences to be drawn from the silence of these witnesses.
7.28.2009 5:00pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The 98D issue is also relevant because it's important to notice that Gates had a legitimate reason to be angry (if he in fact acted angry, as alleged). It's bizarre that Crowley would arrest Gates for showing anger, after Crowley gave Gates a good reason to be angry, by ignoring Gates' lawful request. So the 98D issue is directly related to the main issue: that it was a bad arrest, as you said. Berating a cop is legal, even if the cop didn't earn it. But in this instance Crowley did earn whatever berating he allegedly received. All the more reason to understand that it was a bad arrest, no matter how you look at it.
You're implying that if Gates was angry, he was angry because the cop violated 98D. But there's no evidence that Gates knew about 98D, or that anybody cares about 98D. If Gates was upset, it was about the way Crowley approached him to initiate their exchange, and perhaps about the fact that Crowley hadn't identified himself. But somehow I doubt that Gates was thinking, "If he tells me his name, I'm still going to be angry because I think he should follow 98D and show me his ID."
7.28.2009 5:02pm
Kevin Camp (mail):

You're implying that if Gates was angry, he was angry because the cop violated 98D. But there's no evidence that Gates knew about 98D, or that anybody cares about 98D. If Gates was upset, it was about the way Crowley approached him to initiate their exchange, and perhaps about the fact that Crowley hadn't identified himself. But somehow I doubt that Gates was thinking, "If he tells me his name, I'm still going to be angry because I think he should follow 98D and show me his ID."

As I said before, whether Gates was legitimate in his anger, or even if he was angry at all, is completely irrelevant to this being a bad arrest.
7.28.2009 5:05pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
That raises another interesting point about the two police reports, which got a passing mention upthread. Whalen is the only (non-police) witness named in the reports. As far as we know the police didn't interview the others or even take their names. One thing that suggests to me is that this 'contempt of cop' charge was never expected to go to trial.
While I'm sure they didn't think it would -- not because it was bogus so much as because it's such a minor charge that 99.9% of the time it will be either dropped or pleaded down to a violation of some sort anyway -- I don't think that they'd get the names in any case. The officer has firsthand knowledge of the events; he doesn't need other witnesses. Even if it does go to trial, all the prosecution is going to put forth as its case is the officer's testimony as to what he saw.
7.28.2009 5:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
As I said before, whether Gates was legitimate in his anger, or even if he was angry at all, is completely irrelevant to this being a bad arrest.
I agree; I didn't mean to sound like I was implying otherwise. The story here is not about 98D or race or anything like that; it's about a cop asserting his authority over a member of the public who doesn't show sufficient deference.
7.28.2009 5:13pm
David Tomlin (mail):

David M. Nieporent:

Even if it does go to trial, all the prosecution is going to put forth as its case is the officer's testimony as to what he saw.

That may be true of a typical case. This one is atypical in at least two ways. The defendant can afford a good attorney, and his issues with the police are ideological as well as situational. The case would be more strongly defended at trial, and more likely to go to trial if that depends on the defendant's motivation to contest the charge.
7.28.2009 5:25pm
David Tomlin (mail):

David M. Nieporent:

The story here is not about 98D or race or anything like that; it's about a cop asserting his authority over a member of the public who doesn't show sufficient deference.

The story is about all those things.
7.28.2009 5:27pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
subpatre:

"... 95 percent of the time, there's no benefit whatsoever conferred to the public based on whether the officer judge is commanding respect or disdain. The only benefit is to the cop's judge's ego."

(and)

"... verbal abuse, which is a sacred right of the citizenry which cops judges have to put up with whether they like it or not ... We allow lots of leeway for cops judges when there is even the threat of violence. Absent such threat, they are suposed to take whatever abuse a citizen throws at them, whether or not deserved."

I've already heard the excuses how courtrooms are 'totally different' blah blah.

The law prohibits contempt of court, not contempt of cop. And as someone has said more than once in this discussion,

If you don't like the law; if you think the law is unjust, wrong, or unfair; if you think the law should not be a law; then take it to the legislature.
7.28.2009 7:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't think that they'd get the names in any case. The officer has firsthand knowledge of the events; he doesn't need other witnesses. Even if it does go to trial, all the prosecution is going to put forth as its case is the officer's testimony as to what he saw.

I agree with this as a descriptive matter, though it is worth noting that this sort of thing, though standard practice, is an invitation to police perjury. Making the officer obtain the names of the witnesses creates a potential pool of evidence for defense lawyers calling into question the officer's credibility, which is why they don't do it.
7.28.2009 7:21pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If you don't like the law; if you think the law is unjust, wrong, or unfair; if you think the law should not be a law; then take it to the legislature.

Leo, it isn't that simple. Contempt of cop arrests violate the First and Fourth Amendments. The legislature has no power to make them legal.

In contrast, contempt regulations in courtrooms are a time, place, and manner restriction, and may ONLY be enforced consistent with that ground (i.e., if you see a judge in public and call him a horse's ass, that cannot be punished as a contempt).
7.28.2009 7:23pm
subpatre (mail):
Leo Marvin says: “The law prohibits contempt of court, not contempt of cop. And as someone has said more than once in this discussion ...

Poor Leo, do keep up. The post (cop v-court) illustrates the rank hypocrisy engaged by yourself and most others here —and in the law— that condones unlimited abuse of a societal official in one situation, and demands torturous obeisance to an elite functionary in the other.


And yes, IMO the laws needs amending.
7.28.2009 8:56pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Dilan,

I agree. But the fact that what subpatre would like fails constitutional muster isn't what I was driving at. My point was he said the legislature was the place to complain when he (mistakenly) thought the law was on his side (i.e., he thought it was illegal to insult a cop), but not when he objected to the law as it is (i.e., contempt of court vs contempt of cop). I just followed Supreme Court procedure and didn't opine on Constitutional questions in a case that was easily disposed of on other grounds.
7.28.2009 9:01pm
subpatre (mail):
Dilan Esper says: “... contempt regulations in courtrooms are a time, place, and manner restriction, and may ONLY be enforced consistent with that ground (i.e., if you see a judge in public and call him a horse's ass, that cannot be punished as a contempt).

What a fraudulent comparison! Insults or insolence to a judge on the job —anywhere— will be punished for contempt. Worse, the complainant will also be the prosecution, judge, and jury.

Dilan Esper claims: “Courtroom speech restrictions work because they are time, place, or manner restrictions

Police ‘speech restrictions’ would work for the same reasons: far less time, far smaller place, and far less impact in manner. There are many reasons courtroom restrictions are over-reaching but the predominate and inescapable rationale is one of time: immediacy, urgency and public threat.

Repeating a “time place and manner” mantra is just stating what exists. The criteria isn’t objective, and there’s no benefit or need in court decorum that doesn’t apply equally (if not more so) to law enforcing.
7.28.2009 9:15pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tomlin:

I think it's possible she saw the driver leave before she made the call.


On the 911 call Whalen says she thinks both men are still in the house.


You're absolutely right. I missed that, thanks.

Let me modify my statement to this: I think what happened is that the driver left before Whalen called 911, and she somehow just didn't notice. Maybe because she was distracted by the conversation she was having with the older woman, who was convincing Whalen to make the call. Sounds plausible enough. I guess they weren't that close to the scene, or at least not close to the scene the whole time.

South Park


Something else I hadn't noticed. Perfect, thanks.

=================
nieporent:

You're implying that if Gates was angry, he was angry because the cop violated 98D. But there's no evidence that Gates knew about 98D, or that anybody cares about 98D.


I'm saying that if Gates was angry, it's likely that he was angry in part because he made a particular request (to have Crowley show ID) that was ignored. This would be a legitimate reason for Gates to be angry even if Gates knew nothing about 98D. It would even be a legitimate reason for Gates to be angry even if 98D didn't exist. Why? Because Gates had a right to at least have his request be acknowledged.

Let's say 98D didn't exist. Let's say Gates asked Crowley to show ID. Let's say Crowley then said 'I'm sorry sir, but I am not required to show you ID; you can see my name on my nameplate, and you can see my badge number on my badge.'

In that scenario, Crowley has not given Gates a legitimate reason to be angry (at least within the bounds of that particular exchange, as I have described it). Because Crowley acknowledged the request and gave a polite explanation for why the request was being denied.

Aside from that, my guess would be that Gates is not directly aware of 98D, but that he nevertheless knows that it's common in this day and age (especially in a place like Cambridge) for cops to carry business cards, or to have a practice of showing ID on request. Gates would probably know that his request was not outlandish or unusual, and at least deserved some kind of an answer. But in neither account is there any sign that an answer was given. Therefore it doesn't matter that "there's no evidence that Gates knew about 98D." It is still the case that by ignoring his request, Crowley was giving Gates a legitimate reason to be angry. Even if Gates did not know that Crowley was violating 98D, he still knew, at the very least, that Crowley was violating simple rules of courtesy.

And as far as whether "anybody cares about 98D," we should care, because it's the law, and Crowley broke it. The fact that Crowley broke one or more laws and Gates did not seems highly relevant.

If Gates was upset, it was about the way Crowley approached him to initiate their exchange


My guess is that Crowley began the exchange in a rude manner (and there's evidence to that effect), and that this had a major effect on Gates' response. So I think you're correct to emphasize that first moment. But I think Crowley continued to give Gates other reasons to be angry.

But somehow I doubt that Gates was thinking, "If he tells me his name, I'm still going to be angry because I think he should follow 98D and show me his ID."


According to Gates, Crowley never said his name. I think this is why Gates asked for ID. I think if Crowley had said his name, perhaps Gates would never have asked for ID. Who knows, this is all speculation. I agree that Crowley did other things which gave Gates legitimate reasons to be angry. I realize the refusal to show ID was only one element of many, but I've explained why I think this particular element deserves more attention that it's getting (especially the fact that understanding the 98D problem doesn't require trusting Gates). Because outside this thread, it's getting almost no attention at all.

The story here is not about 98D or race or anything like that; it's about a cop asserting his authority over a member of the public who doesn't show sufficient deference.


As tomlin said, the story is about more than just one thing. I would say that the most important part of the story is that "it's about a cop asserting his authority over a member of the public who doesn't show sufficient deference." And when I mention 98D, I don't mean to suggest otherwise.
7.28.2009 9:49pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What a fraudulent comparison! Insults or insolence to a judge on the job

It makes a difference, sub, that the judge's job is in a particular place. As I noted above, it is also a contempt of court to insult a police officer working in a courtroom.

As a result of the judge's job being in a particular place, the restriction on communication in the courtroom, in the rubric of First Amendment cases, "leaves open alternative avenues of communication".

In contrast, a rule prohibiting criticism of police officers is not limited to one place. It is operative anywhere the officer may be found.

You may not like this, but American First Amendment law draws a pretty hard distinction between restrictions that are operative in a specific place and those that don't.
7.28.2009 10:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Repeating a “time place and manner” mantra is just stating what exists. The criteria isn’t objective, and there’s no benefit or need in court decorum that doesn’t apply equally (if not more so) to law enforcing.

Sure there is, sub. A couple of things.

First, as noted above, the contempt of court restriction is simply less restrictive because it is location-specific.

Second, verbal abuse of a cop does not interfere with the cop's job, whereas verbal abuse of a judge does. The judge has to run a courtroom and implement specific procedures, only one party can talk at a time, and basically the judge needs everyone to respect each other so the proceeding can occur with no hangups.

In contrast, cops can, and are trained to, do their jobs while facing verbal abuse from citizens. It doesn't interfere with their jobs one bit in most instances.

Finally, cops have a lot more power to be arbitrary and do awful things to citizens, because unlike judges their decisions are not reviewed before being implemented. There's always a procedure for staying a judge's decision. If a cop decides to falsely arrest you, there is no such procedure. You are off the jail.

Bottom line, if you don't like cops being criticized, go live in a police state.
7.28.2009 10:24pm
subpatre (mail):
Dilan Esper wrote:
"Second, verbal abuse of a cop does not interfere with the cop's job, whereas verbal abuse of a judge does. The judge has to run a courtroom and implement specific procedures, only one party can talk at a time, and basically the judge needs everyone to respect each other so the proceeding can occur with no hangups."

What a transparent load of horse crap!

It’s an illustration of the left, why Gates got so mad, and why Obama mechanically called cops 'stupid'. Real people can’t tolerate ‘hangups’ . . . but cops are so dirtlike that screaming spit in their face or jabbing a finger in their eye —anything short of shooting— “does not interfere with the cop's job”.(Dilan Esper’s quote)

The issue never was about cops being criticized, it's about consolidating class privilege and booting everyone else into the gutter; a ideology just as fascist as any other.
7.29.2009 12:18am
Whoa:
Gates does not qualify as disorderly because his behavior did not take place in public as required by Mass law. http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/272-54.htm Are there other grounds upon which a warrantless arrest can be made in Mass?
7.29.2009 12:36am
Leo Marvin (mail):
Subpatre's desire to cast Gates as the one overreacting to his aggrieved sensibilities, not the guy who took him away in handcuffs, reminds me of a joke:

Two old Jews are praying aloud, and the synagogue's African-American janitor overhears them while sweeping up. He's so moved by their chants of "I am nothing, I am nothing," he throws down his broom, prostrates himself at the alter and joins in with his own cries of, "I am nothing, I am nothing." To this, one of the startled old men turns to the other and says, "Nu, look who things he's nothing."
7.29.2009 3:13am
Leo Marvin (mail):
thinks
7.29.2009 3:15am
David Tomlin (mail):
subpatre:

Gates' "self-serving statement" (your quote) has varied as to what he said and how loud he said what.

Both Jukeboxgrad and I have asked Subpatre to support this claim. So far he hasn't.

I've re-read Ogletree's statement and the part of Gates's interview that covers his interaction with Crowley, and I found no contradictions between them.

The attorney's statement makes no mention of race. It neither affirms nor denies that race was mentioned by either man.

Both the police report and the Gates interview are somewhat vague about the movements of the two men. In his TV interview, Crowley clarifies that he entered the house before he asked for Gates's ID. When Gates went to the kitchen to get the ID, it seems Crowley followed Gates into the kitchen. The rest of the interaction took place in the kitchen, until Crowley began to leave the house. (I've noticed upthread someone asserting that the men were in the kitchen when Crowley asked for Gates's ID. This is clearly not correct, as all accounts agree that Gates went to the kitchen to get the ID after Crowley asked for it.)

In the interview Gates says that after showing his ID to Crowley he began asking Crowley for his name and badge number. Gates says that after three such requests were ignored he said '"You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer."'

That's the first time either man mentions race in Gates's version of the story, though to be scrupulous he doesn't explicitly deny bringing it up earlier.
7.29.2009 7:59am
David Tomlin (mail):

Is preventing the escape of a burglary suspect an 'exigent circumstance' that justifies warrantless entry? It seems plausible to me that it might be, but really I have no idea.
7.29.2009 8:19am
subpatre (mail):
David Tomlin writes: "[Gates' "self-serving statement" (your quote) has varied as to what he said and how loud he said what.]Both Jukeboxgrad and I have asked Subpatre to support this claim."

There's the small matter of 'not yelling' and now —later— admitting to 'yelling' and 'demanding' outside the house. The Boston Globe tape, 00:31 in the interview. So according to Gates, he did yell, contradicting both the 'not yelling' claims and the 'couldn't yell; was sick' claims.
7.29.2009 9:41am
TruthInAdvertising:
Gates mistake in this case was failing to assert his Second Amendment rights. If he had been a gun-owner protesting his treatment by the police, all of the usual suspects here would be rushing to his defense. The fact that you can be arrested on your own front porch after the police learn that you belong there (if the officer was worried about a burglary, why didn't he search the house?) simply because you have a big mouth tells you all that you need to know about attitudes about race in the US. If Gates had been calling the cops a "gun grabber", many of you would cheered him on.
7.29.2009 9:49am
David Tomlin (mail):

subpatre:

The Boston Globe tape, 00:31 in the interview. So according to Gates, he did yell . . .

Subpatre, you are severely comprehension deprived.

'What I was yelling - quote unquote - was demanding that he give me his name and badge number.'

Gates is mocking the claim that he was yelling, not confirming it.
7.29.2009 9:54am
David Tomlin (mail):

I just thought I would mention that when I found Subpatre's source didn't say what he claimed it did, I was surprised. Then I realized I shouldn't have been.
7.29.2009 9:59am
ckirksey (mail):
OK can we discuss the proper police procedure in responding to a reported possible BE. Both Crowley and Whalen agree that Whalen identified herself as the person who made the 911 call to Crowley. Crowley's police report indicates that Whalen provided him with info that he did not get from the dispatcher. Whalen through her lawyer dissputes this. Now here is the real question:

Did Crowley attempt to get any further info from the 911 caller before he approched the Gates home? If not why not? This was reported as a possible BE. The 911 caller is on the site. Why not interview Whalen to get all the info that Whalen gave to the dispatcher and any additional updates that Whalen may have.

Crowley to Whalen:
What exactly did you see?

Whalen says on the 911 call that the two men might live at the house. So if Crowley HAD talked to Whalen he would have learned that this might NOT be a BE. If this had been done should Crowley had called the dispatcher and determined info on the owner/resident of the house before essentially approcahing Gates and asssuming that a BE was in progrees and that Gates might be a BE suspect?

To the best of our knowledge none of this took place. Crowley apparently reacted to seeing Gates and ASSUMING a BE was in progress and that Gates was a possible SUSPECT.

Because Gates was black?

This I believe is the proper why to read the known facts or maybe not depending on what is proper police procedure in this instance.
7.29.2009 10:08am
David Tomlin (mail):

Gates and Crowley may be relatives.

Seriously.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=8195564&page=1
7.29.2009 10:15am
Horace:
Is preventing the escape of a burglary suspect an 'exigent circumstance' that justifies warrantless entry?


Nieporent doesn't like it when I use fancy phrases like “exigent circumstance” in public.

Let's humor him by asking, “Is it an emergency?”

Well, let's ask if the cop got there using his lights and siren? That'd show some sort of emergency. Not necessarily the kind of an emergency that'd let the cop break into someone's house to stop it. But some sort of emergency with lights and siren.

In the Sixth Circuit, criminal trespass doesn't seem to raise “exigent circumstances.” But, breaking and entering in the daytime might be a hair more serious in the First Circuit.

Yet, if it's more serious, why doesn't the cop wait for backup? If he has two serious criminals holed up in that house, then he's an idiot to tackle them by himself.

When I say “an idiot”, I'm not talking about a deputy sheriff who patrols a county the size of a small nation—filled with desert sage, jackrabbits, and mountains. That's a whole 'nother place.
7.29.2009 10:49am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
subpatre:

a ideology just as fascist as any other


"Fascist" is a good word for an "ideology" which says that armed government agents are free to ignore statutes (like 98D) designed to constrain their behavior. "Fascist" is also a good word for someone who defends law-breaking government agents by conveniently ignoring inconvenient words ("upon") that are part of inconvenient statutes.

=====================
tomlin:

Both Jukeboxgrad and I have asked Subpatre to support this claim. So far he hasn't.


True. And this is just one of many fair questions that subpatre has ducked. A good word for someone who repeatedly ducks fair questions is 'troll.'

Both the police report and the Gates interview are somewhat vague about the movements of the two men. In his TV interview, Crowley clarifies that he entered the house before he asked for Gates's ID.


This is a key point (in a moment I'll explain one of the reasons why). But this point is not just established by Crowley in his TV interview. It's also established by Crowley in his police report. Because in his police report, Crowley gets on his radio and says he's "in the residence" prior to asking "Gates to provide me with photo identification."

When Gates went to the kitchen to get the ID, it seems Crowley followed Gates into the kitchen.


There are basically four accounts. Crowley told his story in his police report (pdf), and then he told his story again in a TV interview. Gates told his story via Ogletree, and then personally. (Gates also spoke again, briefly.)

The Ogletree account clearly asserts that "Crowley followed Gates into the kitchen." This is also implied in Gates' personal account. But I don't think this is established in the two Crowley accounts. In the police report, there is no mention of the kitchen. In Crowley's TV interview, he said this (at 6:07):

He asked me for identification … I did start reaching for a photo ID that I have. He then retreated into his kitchen, what I know is his kitchen. I was just monitoring his movements to see where he was going. And he provided me with a Harvard University identification card.


This implies that Crowley entered the kitchen (consistent with what Ogletree clearly said), but other interpretations are possible. Anyway, it doesn't matter if Crowley inspected Gates' ID while standing (or sitting) in Gates' kitchen, or while in another part of the residence. And it also doesn't matter if Crowley asked for Gates' ID while being in the kitchen, or while being in another part of the residence. What matters is that Crowley asked for Gates' ID while inside the residence. And why does that matter? Here's one reason: this fact discredits the only non-police witness who claims he heard Gates yelling. Because this unnamed person implied that he heard Crowley ask Gates for ID. But that doesn't add up, because Crowley (by his own accounts) didn't ask Gates for ID until after Crowley entered the residence. The unnamed witness was obviously not inside the residence, and therefore was obviously not in a position to hear Crowley ask Gates for ID.

The rest of the interaction took place in the kitchen, until Crowley began to leave the house.


I think this is probably true, but of the four accounts, the only one that clearly asserts this is the Ogletree account. In the other three accounts it's possible (but not likely) that Crowley inspected Gates' ID while in another part of the residence.

I've noticed upthread someone asserting that the men were in the kitchen when Crowley asked for Gates's ID. This is clearly not correct


You're absolutely right. You're noticing a mistake I made here. Thanks for the correction. All I really needed to say (to support the argument I was presenting about the unnamed witness) was that the men were inside the residence when Crowley asked for Gates' ID. I said "kitchen" instead of "residence," and that was a mistake.

all accounts agree that Gates went to the kitchen to get the ID after Crowley asked for it


As I said, this does not appear in the police report. But this was clearly asserted by Ogletree, and then acknowledged by Crowley in his TV interview. What Crowley never clearly said is if he examined the ID inside the kitchen, or in another part of the residence. But I can't think of any reason to care.

Is preventing the escape of a burglary suspect an 'exigent circumstance' that justifies warrantless entry? It seems plausible to me that it might be, but really I have no idea.


Crowley didn't need to enter to prevent escape. He just needed one other officer to help him monitor the small building (front and rear). And it seems that a number of other officers (both Cambridge and Harvard) arrived very quickly.

And to the extent that he was alone, it could easily be the case that he would be better off standing outside, if his goal was to prevent escape. Once he is inside, he can only monitor his immediate area, whatever room he is in at the moment. So, for example, a burglar hiding in the front closet could sneak out while Crowley is inspecting the kitchen. Or vice versa.

Whereas from outside, he can monitor a bunch of windows and doors at once. The main problem is that he can't watch the back door and the front door at the same time.

when I found Subpatre's source didn't say what he claimed it did, I was surprised.


I'm surprised that you were surprised. Fool me once etc.

=====================
subpatre:

admitting to 'yelling' and 'demanding' outside the house


This is what Gates said:

What I was yelling, quote unquote, was demanding that he give me his name and badge number.


As tomlin pointed out, Gates did not admit to "yelling." He was mocking ("quote unquote") the claim that he was "yelling." What he admitted to was "demanding." And here's another sign of your poor comprehension (and/or your dishonesty): Gates did not say that his "demanding" was done "outside the house." Gates said he "was demanding that he give me his name and badge number." This is Gates describing what he did inside the house, not outside the house. What he did outside the house was ask the other officers who Crowley was. Gates did not say he was "demanding" anything from the other officers. Let alone "yelling." According to Gates, what he did inside the house was "demanding," and what he did outside the house was "ask." And what he did nowhere was "yelling."

=====================
truth:

If he had been a gun-owner protesting his treatment by the police, all of the usual suspects here would be rushing to his defense.


This is an important point that hasn't been said enough.

=====================
ckirksey:

Did Crowley attempt to get any further info from the 911 caller before he approched the Gates home? If not why not?


I discussed this here (in the portion of my comment addressed to tomlin). By his own account, Crowley showed little interest in hearing from Whalen. Why? I hope someone asks Crowley to tell us.

If this had been done should Crowley had called the dispatcher and determined info on the owner/resident of the house before essentially approcahing Gates and asssuming that a BE was in progrees and that Gates might be a BE suspect?


Good point. Crowley could have done that before approaching Gates at all. Crowley also should have done that as soon as he found that Gates was being uncooperative. Crowley could have made inquiry via the dispatcher, and/or via the Harvard police who were soon on the scene.

Crowley apparently reacted to seeing Gates and ASSUMING a BE was in progress and that Gates was a possible SUSPECT. Because Gates was black?


I think Crowley may or may not have been influenced by Gates' race. But I think Crowley was very much influenced by hearing from Gates what Crowley perceived as lip. This happened early. From that moment forward, I think Crowley was no longer motivated by a desire to prevent a burglary. He was motivated by a desire to extract respect from a person he perceived as disrespectful.

=====================
horace:

if it's more serious, why doesn't the cop wait for backup?


Good question. The way it looks to me is that once Crowley perceived disrespect, he was in a hurry to get into the house and extract respect, one way or another. If he hadn't been driven by pride, I think what he would have done (when Gates didn't cooperate) is retreat to the sidewalk, interview Whalen, wait for backup, and consider his options more carefully. Keep in mind that Crowley has made several statements suggesting that he knew Gates wasn't a burglar the instant he saw him.
7.29.2009 11:16am
Matt Raft (mail) (www):
1. The question isn't whether Gates could have acted better under the circumstances—the question is what a government worker should do in someone else's house once he verifies there is no threat, no crime, and the owner wants him out.

2. What probably happened is that Gates was outsmarted by the police officer. The officer knew he couldn't arrest him for "disorderly conduct" inside the home, so he beckoned Gates outside, i.e., where he could plausibly argue that the public was affected or endangered by Gates' conduct. In short, instead of de-escalating the situation, the officer seems to have intentionally created a situation where he could arrest Gates for his exercise of speech.

More here.
7.29.2009 12:30pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
matt:

More here.


The material you're pointing to is generally good, but I see a few problems.

he [Gates] was belligerent to a police officer


Outside of self-serving statements by police, I've seen no evidence that Gates was "belligerent." Refusing to step outside, in itself, is not fairly described as an example of being "belligerent." (It's true that the arrest was wrong even if Gates was belligerent. But that's a separate issue.)

Letting his agitation get the better of him, Gates lost the ability to shape the outcome of the encounter


Outside of self-serving statements by police, I've seen no evidence that Gates was 'agitated.' (It's true that the arrest was wrong even if Gates was agitated. But that's a separate issue.)

Gates might not have realized he had to show the officer his state-issued ID, not just his Harvard-issued ID.


He "had to?" Really? It's not at all clear to me that Gates ever had an obligation to show his "state-issued ID" (driver's license). Also, Gates says he did show his driver's license. Crowley says otherwise. Who to believe? Crowley is the one who seems to have been caught in one or more lies. And who has broken a law (98D), by his own admission.

By law, you must produce state-issued ID when requested to do so by a police officer.


Really? Are you sure? I don't think so.

see U.S. Supreme Court decision


You are greatly overstating the meaning of that decision. It only goes as far as establishing that there are circumstances where a cop has a right to hear you say your name. Here are some relevant excerpts:

… (“The suspect is not required to provide private details about his background, but merely to state his name to an officer when reasonable suspicion exists”). As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a driver’s license or any other document. … it is well established that an officer may ask a suspect to identify himself in the course of a Terry stop … The principles of Terry permit a State to require a suspect to disclose his name in the course of a Terry stop. … A state law requiring a suspect to disclose his name in the course of a valid Terry stop is consistent with Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures. … In this case petitioner’s refusal to disclose his name was not based on any articulated real and appreciable fear that his name would be used to incriminate him … As best we can tell, petitioner refused to identify himself only because he thought his name was none of the officer’s business.


American are not generally required to carry or show papers (obligations while operating a motor vehicle are a special case). Especially in their own home. That SC case does not establish an obligation to show ID, even if there is reasonable suspicion you are a criminal. It only establishes an obligation (under certain circumstances) to say your name. And it definitely doesn't say "you must produce state-issued ID when requested to do so by a police officer." That would be absurd. One problem (of many) is that many Americans do not possess "state-issued ID."
7.29.2009 1:40pm
ckirksey (mail):
I believe that the following is a good summary of a citzens obligations:
(“[I]f there are articulable facts supporting a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed a criminal offense, that person may be stopped in order to identify him, to question him briefly, or to detain him briefly while attempting to obtain additional information”); Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 146 (1972)

The police report indicates that Crowley may have had reasonable suspicion (two black men) but that police report is now being called into question.

This whole incident should be reviewed from the beginning to properly understand Gates racial charge. Crowley saw a black person in Gates home and immediately had reasonable suspicion.

The meer act of Gates providing his name would not have proved that he was a resident or maybe just an overnight guest. It is up to the police to prove otherwise.

Maybe obstrution charge? But would seem to be in direct conflict with USSC case.
7.29.2009 2:21pm