Here are the most important events in Sgt. James Crowley’s arrest of Dr. Henry Gates:
- Crowley arrives at Gates’ home, after a report that two men — one probably hispanic, the other of an unknown race — were attempting to break in.
- Crowley rapidly observe that Gates his black
- Gates produces identification, indicating he lives on the premises
- Crowley does not leave Gates’ home when asked
- Gates is rude to Crowley
- Crowley orders Gates to leave his home
- Crowley arrests Gates
The Wikipedia page has a good article on contempt of cop – the abusive police practice of abridging the first amendment rights of citizens — which mentions this:
At a person’s home, by asking a citizen to “step outside” the doorway, that person can be considered as “being in public” and then could be arrested, after making defiant remarks, for “disorderly conduct” in public. [citation]
It is clear that Gates was rude to an uninvited stranger in his own home. That is his constitutional right. Gates may have been rude to an intruder in his home, but Crowley acted like an armed thug, inflicting “regrettable and unfortunate” vengence on those who did not kowtow to him. By standing up to this thug, by recognizing it is better to stand for one’s rights than avoid harm and trouble, Gates is an American hero.
Indeed, Gates’ stand for his rights against the clumsy brute may make his hometown safer for everyone. One of the most shocking parts of the story are serious allegations that Crowley is a liar at best, and was engaged in a criminal effort to ‘plant’ evidence at worst. Crowley first claimed he received a report that two black males were trying to break into a home. Thankfully, a recording of the 911 call exists, and reveals this to be untrue. Crowley then changed his story, claiming the 911 caller came to him in person and claimed she saw two black males. Thankfully, the caller was not terrorized by Crowley’s arbitrary arrest into keeping silent. She held a press conference, and told the world that this claim was also untrue.
It goes without saying that Crowley being on the streets with a badge is a pulbic danger. Innocent citiznes may be arrested because he dislikes them. Further, any criminal case he is involved in will be under a cloud of suspicion. If Crowley would manipulate evidence and frame a Harvard professor to defend an absurd disturbing the peace charge, what would he do to put away someone he thought was an actual criminal? A burgler? A rapist? A murderer?
For defending his Constitutional rights against an unreasonable assault, and then publicizing the case in a way that may save others the same pain, Professor Henry Louis Gates is an American hero.