Friday

'Disgraceful': Cops Angry After Obama Slams Arrest of Black Scholar


This is one of those hot button issues that are capable of erupting into riots and civil unrest. This is one of those issues that are capable of being gamed for political gain. I am fully aware that by weighing in on the issue I will be branded either a racist or a race traitor by extremists depending on what I say. I am neither, and those who know me would attest to that fact; those who do not know me have no standing to make any assessment at all as to my character.

I do not know the facts in this case and can make no reasonable, informed decision as to the motivation of the officer or the professor (A position that Obama would have been wise to take). There are always three sides to every story; yours mine and the truth. The truth has yet to be revealed in this case and I will defer judgment until such time as it is.

What I can speak to is racism as it applies to this white police officer and the performance of my daily duties.

The specter of racism does in fact play into the perception the general public holds regarding police officers. The media and politicians routinely sensationalize cases of racism before the facts are in. What they never do is proffer corrections when the facts differ from the headlines.

This has a very real effect on how I do my job. Perception is reality and the perception that white officers are racist has been reported in such a way as I am now presumed guilty. Even when officers are found to be innocent of accusations the black cloud of the accusation forever colors their careers in a negative light.

I am routinely subjected to “diversity” training as a requirement for maintaining my ability to work as a police officer. To be honest I find this demeaning and insulting. I am not a racist and bristle at the presumption that I am in need of training as proof of this fact.

I have become the victim of systemic racism. The presumption that because my skin is white I bear watching, that I am somehow worthy or suspicion is in fact the very definition of racism. How have we drifted so far from the dream of Dr. King that we have now turned the tables; those who elect to serve and protect are guilty until proven innocent?

I was under the impression that the color of our skin was not the measure, but the content of our hearts.

I have been labeled racist for nothing more insidious than doing my job as prescribed by the law. The word racism has lost all meaning. When the boy cries wolf enough times people become desensitized so that true instances of racism may very well go ignored.

Are there racist police officers? Sure, there are extremists in every sector of life and police officers are no different. What I would argue is that it is the exception to the rule and not the rule. Police officers are reflective of the communities that they serve. There are good and bad people in each community. It therefore stands to reason that there are good and bad people among the ranks of officers as well. Thankfully the screening process is such that the percentage “bad apples” is well below the ratio found in the community at large.

I guess it is simply a matter of wanting the same rights afforded the accused. I want to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt. I want the media and politicians to speak about the facts and not interject their agenda into the issue. I want a president who is honest enough to say that he does not know the facts and therefore cannot speak intelligently on the issue.

I want some deference to the fact that I put my life on the line every day to protect the rights of others not deny them their rights for political or personal gain. I gain nothing in the end by denying the rights of another based on their skin color. I gain no pecuniary benefit from doing the right thing either (aside from my meager paycheck). I do the right thing because it is the “right thing” and in the end it is my conscious and my God that I must answer to not Obama, Jackson, Sharpton or the media at large.

The Fox News article that precipitated this rant follows:

'Disgraceful': Cops Angry After Obama Slams Arrest of Black Scholar

BOSTON — Many police officers across the country have a message for President
Barack Obama Get all the facts before criticizing one of our own. Obama's public criticism that Cambridge officers "acted stupidly" when they arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. could make it harder for police to work with people of color, some officers said Thursday.

It could even set back the progress in race relations that helped Obama become the nation's first African-American president, they said.

"What we don't need is public safety officials across the country second-guessing themselves," said David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, which represents 15,000 public safety officials around the country. "The president's alienated public safety officers across the country with his comments."

The Cambridge Police Patrol Officer's Association president also strongly criticized the president's remarks in an interview with The Huffington Post.

"That was totally inappropriate. I am disgraced that he is our commander-in-chief," Stephen Killion said. "He smeared the good reputation of the hard-working men and women of the Cambridge Police Department. It was wrong to do. It was disgraceful," the web site quoted him as saying.

Gates was arrested July 16 by Sgt. James Crowley, who was first to respond to the home the renowned black scholar rents from Harvard, after a woman reported seeing two black men trying to force open the front door. Gates said he had to shove the door open because it was jammed.

He was charged with disorderly conduct after police said he yelled at the white officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after Crowley demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home. The charge was dropped Tuesday, but Gates has demanded an apology, calling his arrest a case of racial profiling.

Obama was asked about Gates' arrest at the end of a nationally televised news conference on health care Wednesday night and began his response by saying Gates was a friend and he didn't have all the facts.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry," Obama said. "No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3 — what I think we know separate and apart from this incident — is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that's just a fact."

On Thursday, the White House tried to calm the hubbub over Obama's comments by saying Obama was not calling the officer stupid. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama felt that "at a certain point the situation got far out of hand" at Gates' home.

Crowley said he still supports the president, who attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge and garnered 88 percent of the vote there in last year's presidential election.
"I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts as he himself stated before he made that comment," Crowley told WBZ-AM.

Cambridge police Commissioner Robert Haas said Obama's comments hurt the agency.
"My reponse is that this department is deeply pained," Haas said at a news conference Thursday. "It takes its professional pride seriously."

PDF: Henry Louis Gates' Arrest Report

Fellow law enforcement officers across the country sided with Crowley.
"To make the remark about 'stupidly' is maybe not the right adverb," said Santa Monica, Calif., police Sgt. Jay Trisler, who has been in law enforcement for 24 years. "When an incident occurs with a police department, we're not quick to judge."

He lamented negative opinions being directed at police.

"It's unfortunate because there are so many other police cases where an elected official has made a comment that wasn't correct, comments that could have been better worded," he said. "Look at Rodney King. It's a high-profile case, and everyone is entitled to an opinion."

Obama's comments could diminish work done by law enforcement to address racial issues, said James Preston, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Florida State Lodge.
"By reducing all contact between law enforcement and the public to the color of their skin or ethnicity is, in fact, counterproductive to improving relationships," Preston said. "To make such an off-handed comment about a subject without benefit of the facts, in such a public forum, hurts police/community relations and is a setback to all of the years of progress."

Other officers credited the president with using Gates' arrest to highlight the ongoing national problem of racial profiling.

"It wouldn't make any difference whether it was Barack Obama or John McCain. It's appropriate that the leader of this country should still recognize there are still issues in this country in regards to race," said Lt. Charles Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers Inc. and a 38-year veteran of law enforcement. "This is an issue that occurs in every single place in this country, so it is not a local issue."
Trisler said Obama's remarks ultimately would not affect how police officers do their jobs. Police have weathered problems before — from the King beating to local corruption cases — and still find ways to work with their communities.

"I think police officers are going to be professional enough not to be affected by his comments," Trisler said. "Not even getting into the race issues, police officers are professional here in Santa Monica, regardless of when a comment comes from an elected official. We're going to do our job for the community."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.

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