Sunday, August 2, 2009

He Got What He Wanted

Cop: "What do you want to tell me now, tough guy?"

Tommy: "Bing, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to go f**k your mother!" Ping! pang! Ping!
Goodfellas dialogue

You ever hear of suicide by cop? Suicide by cop is a suicide method in which a person deliberately acts in a threatening way, with the goal of provoking a lethal response from a law enforcement officer, such as being shot to death.

Well, we need to come up with a name with what Henry Louis Gates did last week. Let's start with this working term & definition: "arrest by provocation" which is defined by behavior that is designed to provoke a cop into arresting you. Essentially, you are looking to get arrested. And you will continue to nudge, curse, yell & scream until your goal is reached, which is having handcuffs put on you, and you are run through the system.

Any reasonable interpretation of what happened will lead you to the conclusion that Gates wanted to provoke Sgt. Crowley into arresting him.

Here are the facts that we know of:

Someone calls the Cambridge police stating that two black men pushed their way into a house.
Sgt. Crowley is the first one on the scene. He tells Gates that he is responding to a report of two men breaking into the house. Sgt. Crowley asked Gates for identification.To which Gates reportedly yelled "Why, because I am a black man in America?" He also called the cop racist, told him he "does not know who he was messing with" Gates provided Crowley with a Harvard identification card continued to berate Crowley, calling him racist. At one point, Crowley asked Gates to step outside to talk, to which Gates responded I will go outside to speak to your momma." After repeatedly warning Gates that he was becoming disorderly, Gates continued to berate Crowley, and Crowley then placed Crowley under arrest.

(The one fact I know of that is in dispute is Gates says Crowley refused to provide Gates with his identification, Crowley says he did so at least twice, but Gates was to busy yelling at him and refused to do so on Gates' third request.)

Here is how I see it:

Some people expect policemen to be robots. To have no human emotion. To react to every conceivable situation like they were programmed like a computer.

But they are not. They are human. They are like NBA referees. If you yell at an NBA ref long enough, sooner or later, he is going to 'T" you up. Same thing with a cop.

The idea that Sgt Crowley is a rogue racist cop is no supported by any facts. By all accounts he has an impeccable record, and is even backed by the black police chief.

Say you are a cop. You are told that someone reported two people breaking into a house. You have to go to the house to investigate. You get to the house, and you find two men there.

What are your responsibilities at that point? To just leave? Of course not. At the very least, you ask for identification so the person could prove it is their domicile.

What is so hard about just responding to the officer's request?

Wouldn't a reasonable person at the very least understand that the cop has a job to do in this situation, and at the very most be grateful that the police are looking after his property?

It would be one thing if Gates had used his own keys to get into his house. But he did not. Gates forced his way into his own house. So he knew when Crowley got to the scene that the police had every right to investigate.

Ever forget your keys? Ever force your way into your house by going through the window or ramming through the door? When you did it, I'm sure you said to yourself "this probably looks like I am breaking into this place". I bet you have. So Gates knew that his own actions might look suspicious to others.

So why did Gates act so belligerently from the get- go?

Gates has dedicated his life to racial issues. He studies it, writes about it, teaches it, and is consumed by it. He is a man who does not recognize progress, and is in a time machine.

When Sgt. Crowley showed up in Gates' living room, this was an opportunity too good for Gates to pass up. It's like a guy who studies oceanography his whole life never sees a shark, and all of a sudden, he has a great white shark on his fishing line.

So what did Gates do? He engaged in "arrest by provocation".

He just had to be the victim that he always saw himself to be.

Never mind that Gates is powerful enough to have the President of the United States comment on his behalf, or that Gates has achieved in America world-wide distinction and honor.

His victim-hood validates everything he has stood for.

As for Sgt. Crowley one thing we know about him is before he was a cop, he was an EMT and that he was the first to arrive on the scene when Celtic great Reggie Lewis collapsed from cardiac arrest. Crowley gave Lewis CPR, but it was too late.

Henry Lewis Gates did not show up to try to save Lewis' life. He did not give a black man mouth to mouth resuscitation, that is something that Crowley did.

In fact, when Crowley was trying to breathe life into Lewis, Gates was probably writing another paper on how blacks were victims of people like Sgt. Crowley.

Finally, the President said that he did not know all the facts in this case, but that he did know that the police acted "stupidly".

Which only goes to show you, the President was listening intently during those 20 years of hearing Reverend Wright's sermons.

1 comment:

Legalbgl said...

I could not agree more. Gates acted purposefully, and got exactly what he wanted/deserved.

Moreover, to say the police acted "stupidly" ignores basic police procedure and police safety. The statement shows the president's stupidity, not the police officers.