Monday, July 27, 2009

Acting White: Little White Lie?

I thought I was done with this, but...

I just read A CNN article (here), where the attorney, Wendy Murphy, of the woman, Lucia Whalen, who made the 911 call on Professor Gates is emphatic that her client never spoke to Officer Crowley prior to Crowley's approach to the Gates house, as clearly stated in Crowley's police report of the incident. Crowley states in his report that she described two black men with backpacks forcing the door. Huh? The 911 taped showed that neither did the witness (Whalen) identify the men at the Gates door, other than to say they were large and one looked Hispanic. Hmmm... let's see, not black, no backpacks, no sidewalk conversation, and a 'concerned' 911. So the question is why fib the report? And what was he teaching in that academy racial-profiling class, exactly? (Your honor I object to that question - withdrawn). Now I'm not saying anybody is stupid or lying (that would be stupid), I'm just looking for a story that can stand up straight, OK?

James C. Collier

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32 comments:

Anonymous said...

A better question is: why does Whalen feel the need to speak through an attorney on this issue? What is she afraid of?

I've heard the 911 call and I know she didn't say black over the phone. That seems clear. But once again you're taking Gates' side and automatically believing anything that hints at possible wrongdoing by the police. Did it occur to you that this poor crime-reporting lady is now in serious hot water with her employer? Are you aware that the political correctness police employ no independent judges, juries, or executioners?

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note how this story (the real story, not the public perception) has not played out as white vs. black, as everyone wanted to believe, but as Police vs. Harvard.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 3:21, Getting an attorney should not signify greater or lesser truthfulness, but rather protection. If she differs with Crowley on what happened, getting a lawyer is probably prudent. Gates has already praised the previous behavior (of Whalen) that matches what Crowley put into the report, so I do not see why she would feel compelled to re-cast it. Your Harvard threat does not seem to exist. So, again I ask, why would Crowley fib the report?

Anonymous said...

Just saw this on the CBS news and no mention was made of Crowley making any statement about the men being black.......
I would think they would have mentioned it.....

It could have been that he was mistaken about the call.

It IS possible.

We will not know until ALL the story is out.

Honestly it is not as important as many want it to be, especially the ones wanting to make it a racial incident.

James C. Collier said...

I am not saying that Crowley's motivations are/are not racial, but rather asking why would he fib the report (which I reviewed and he does in fact mention being told by Whalen of two black men with backpacks - something she is on record as denying). The question remains...

Anonymous said...

James didn't mean you wanted it to be racial. You run a good, fair blog here and I respect you for it.

The question does apparently remain.

Doesn't make a lot of sense but a lot about this issue makes little sense.

Who knows when we will know the answers to the many questions surrounding it.

I think had the prof handled himself in a decent manner there would be no issue but then again I and maybe everyone interested don't know everything involved.

Anonymous said...

"had the prof handled himself in a decent manner there would be no issue"

Or had the prof been white. Nobody in the modern age ever got the spotlight for mistreating a whitey.

Diogenes said...

The police report HAD to have been fudged, big time. Look at all the stuff that supposedly transpired, according to Crowley, between the time he asked Dispatch to have the caller meet him at the door, to when Crowley says Gates is being uncooperative. Crowley says he had an extended discussion with Ms. Whalen (which she totally denies happening) and enough conversation with Prof. Gates so that Crowley feels he's being uncooperative. And all of that happens in 28 SECONDS, if you time out the police tapes.

Oooooops.

And Crowley is TEACHING racial profiling? How to avoid it, or how to do it?

Samantha said...

Professor Gates has made statements that do not match the evidence.

He claimed he could not yell due to his lung infection. We hear yelling on the audio.

He stated in The Root that the sergeant "clearly had a narrative in his head" about what a black man was doing in the house. How can he read minds?

He also called Sgt Crowly a "rogue cop", which is simply inflammatory and defamatory and is not warranted in this case. Such language does not help his case.

Did Prof Gates deserve to be arrested? Not in my opinion, but you could argue he was impeding an investigation.

He had jet lag coming back from China, he was sick, he was shocked the officer did not recognize his well known face.

To suggest that Ms. Whalen or Sgt Crowly are liars because they have different recollections of a verbal exchange goes too far. Memory plays tricks on all of us, honest people included.

James C. Collier said...

Samantha, I am simply providing equal time. Plenty has been made of the limitations of Prof. Gates, while Crowley is presented as an exemplary officer. IMHO presenting an errant report is at minimum unprofessional and possible evidence of intent/action that may have led to the violation of rights. Crowley's memory should not be 'tricky', and allowing him this limitation subjects innocent people (likable or not) to unfair arrest and penalty.

Anonymous said...

72 year old white lady tazed by cop:
http://www.syracuse.com/today/index.ssf/2009/06/grandmother_tasered_during_rou.html

Did the President feel the need to comment on this situation? Was this racial profiling?

Anonymous said...

By the way, it's funny that a black man feels the need to give "equal time" to criticizing Crowley when the BLACK PRESIDENT OF THE USA already trashed Crowley in the national media. Permanent victims, indeed.

Diogenes said...

Obama didn't "trash" Crowley in the national media. He originally said that "the Cambridge police acted stupidly" and then, a day or two later, he said that Crowley was a fine poice officer, etc etc.

The fact is, it's pretty clear now that Crowley fudged his report and probably acted improperly -- maybe even "stupidly".

So why the "But.. but.. but.... YOU do it, too" defense? That went out of style in second grade.

There's no "permanent victim" theory at play here. Gates was, in actuality, a victim of a police officer abusing his authority -- nothing theoretical or sociological about it.

Anonymous said...

If Crowley fudged on saying he was told the men were black how would that help him? It would not.

According to Whalen she didn't tell him they were black. If she did that would hurt him.

It's all bassackwards.

It wasn't racial. It was a clash of law v. "I'm a big shot black professor and how DARE you question ME?"

Who's going to agree that had he acted like a reasonable human being regardless of color we would never have heard a peep about this very unfortunate incident?

Diogenes said...

You're right, Gates COULD have handled it in a way that might have placated Crowley. But the point is, Gates didn't HAVE to do so and still remain law-abiding. What Gates chose to do was not a crime.

Crowley, on the other hand, has a job to do. He has to enforce the law, and he should try to defuse potentially volatile situations. He did not do his job.

Crowley filed his fudged report -- which would have made his actions seem perfectly reasonable -- not knowing that all the details would come out. DO you think that his superior officers would routinely check his report against the 9-1-1 tapes? No. He figured it would be his word against Gates, and the cop always wins that discussion. He just didn't figure the President would call him oout on national TV. The more info tat came to light, the clearer it was that Crowley had lied in his report. At that point, the question becomes: "Why lie?"

Crowley said that it was two black guys in his report simply because it gave him a very plausible pretext for questioning Gates as a potential suspect. crowley thought he'd look like a very professional officer who was merely doing his job -- a tough job -- without an ax to grind. He never expected that it would blow up, and his story wouldn't hild water.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Gates did commit a crime i.e. disorderly conduct. He was yelling and screaming in a disorderly way and caused a crowd to gather. Also, the police report said that Crowley arrived at the scene and spoke with the witness who then told him that the suspects were black. How do we know that she didn't place the initial call in her house where she was unable to see the suspects and later after calling the cops, ventured outside and saw more clearly. Also, Crowley said that he radioed ECC and told them that he was speaking with the witness. That can be corroborated because it is a radio transmission. I feel more incline to believe the police over the witness (who is probably ashamed) and Gates (who escalated the incident).

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no idea what happened that day on Ware Street.

Two points though:

1. Regardless of the merits of her client, google wendy murphy, Whalen's attorney. I can't trust a single word she would say. Examine the media matters report of "O'Reilly, guest falsely accused ACLU of supporting child's "constitutional right to have sex with adults"". Then read about her bizarre proclamations and beliefs regarding the Duke false rape trial.

2. I don't know what Gates was doing in his house or on his porch that constituted disorderly conduct. But read this link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-07-28-alabama-taser_N.htm about cops in Alabama pepper spraying, then tasing a mentally disabled deaf man for taking too long in the restroom. And once they were done, they tried to charge him with disorderly conduct to cover up their idiocy.

I can be annoyed with Gates for many reasons, but I can also think that Officer Crowley seems to have no reason whatsoever to arrest him and charge him with disorderly conduct.

(And I can wish a pox on Wendy Murphy's house for her own peculiar bigotry.)

Diogenes said...

Crowley's report does not square with the police tapes, period.

He says the neighbor told him it was two black guys. he says the neighbor told him that they pushed up against the door with their shoulder, forcing it open. He tells her to step back and wait for other officers. He observes Gates through the glass panel on the front door. He asks Gates to come outside. Gates asks who he is. He identifies himself as Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police Dept., that he's investigating a reported break in in progress. Gates opens the door and says "Why? Because I'm a black man in America?" Crowley says no. Gates yells at him, calling him a racist, saying it's none of his business, picking up his cordless phone to make a call.

Now, the curious thing? If you listen to the tapes, all of the above happened in the space of only 28 seconds!

Quite honestly, we're beating around the bush saying that Crowley "fudged" his report. Call a spade a spade: HE LIED. REPEATEDLY. He lied to cover his butt, to justify why he unjustifiably took Gates in to custody.

And you say Gates "was yelling and screaming in a disorderly way and caused a crowd to gather." Yeah? Says who? Crowley. Only Crowley. The same Crowley who alreday lied in his official report.

But, hey, he's a police officer. He wouldn't lie! Believe him, take his word for it, by all means. And, while you're there, say hello to the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy for me; it's been awhile since I believed them, too.

Anonymous said...

pssst.

Crowley's black partner is on record of supporting his actions that day.

If Gates had such an ordeal as he said why is he now saying he will not sue Crowley as he was originally going to do.........

Cuz the evidence will show he was wrong.....

Diogenes said...

Crowley's black "partner" wasn't there at the time of the arrest. Crowley's report says he was riding alone, and backup hadn't yet arrived.

I don't think Gates suffered an "ordeal", but he was unnecessarily arrested and harrassed. He could, sure enough, sue, but he probably figures to leave bad enough alone. The money damages he'd likely be awarded would be negligible since he wasn't in custody for long.

Gates WAS wrong in overreacting. The point is, he wasn't acting criminally. Crowley overreacted, too, bu it was his JOB not to overreact. He failed.

Ask yourself this (and I wouldn't expect an honest answer from you on a blog):

If Gates were white and Crowley were black... would you be supporting the police officer in that case?

Didn't think so. Nor should you. The cop in this fact pattern is at fault, regardless of his skin color.

Anonymous said...

If a white, pink, green, purple, black, whatever, breaks the law and the officer whether white, green, pink, purple, black, whatever, that decides he has broken the law he has a right and responsibility to arrest him if he sees fit.

If a PERSON gets out of hand with an officer then he is asking for it and his skin color does not matter and neither does the officer's.

A PERSON should use a little common sense, common courtesy, and follow reasonable requests an officer makes. Gates blew his cool and caused the incident. He blew his cool because the cop was white without a doubt.

If he had produced his ID when asked and acted like a reasonable human being the whole thing would have been avoided but no doubt he thought acting like a reasonable human being in this particular
situation (being questioned by a white cop) would be acting white and that was one thing that his makeup would not allow him to do.

No doubt.

Diogenes said...

If a person breaks the law, they get arrested. Gates didn't break any laws whatsoever. It was Crowley's job to walk away, not make a bad situation worse by arresting somebody without cause.

If Crowley was right in arresting Gates, why did they dismiss the charges that quickly? Because Crowley never should have arrested him to begin with.

Anonymous said...

He was charged with disorderly conduct. That was breaking the law. The charges were dropped because of who he is.

A more just charge should have been acting like an idiot but there's no law against that.

He should have been glad the cops were there at all and told them so and gave his ID and calmly explained the situation but instead he pulled the tried and true (by OJ's deceased attorney) race card and it got his discourteous and disorderly butt canned.

Now they have had their beer at the WH and have agreed to look to the future. Good advice I'd say.

Diogenes said...

Well, you're certainly entitled to your own opinion as to what's a crime and what's not. Luckily, you're not in charge.

Just in case you're interested, here's what real lawyers have to say about the illegitimacy of Gates' arrest by Crowley:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/07/when-is-conduct-disorderly.html

Anonymous said...

Disorderly conduct is a crime and yes it is possible Crowley was wrong in making that charge but it is without a doubt wrong for Gates to have acted as he did.

I think a good description of it is if it had been in the early 60's and a black cop had went to a racist southern white's home and had made the the same inquiry.

You can imagine how that would have gone and it is the same way it went down with Gates except for the cast of characters.

Gates has some serious soul searching to do.

Diogenes said...

No, sorry. If it had been in the early 60s down South and the races were reversed, there'd be a dead black cop sitting in his squad car with the door half opened.

Can you not distinguish between questions of morality and legality? What Gates did may have been "immoral" in your code of conduct, but it was not "illegal" in the least. If anything, Crowley's actions were "illegal"

But it simply isn't worth trying to explain this any more to folks who think a white cop is always right, by definition.

Anonymous said...

I gave you the point in my precious post that Crowley may have been wrong in making that charge and don't assume I think any white cop is right about anything. I have been pulled without cause and knew darn well the cop was illegal in doing so and could have easily elevated it into something that would have gotten me hauled into jail but I have more sense than to act like a jackass to a cop. Yeah I am white and said cop was white.

As the "white cop" poster said a disorderly conduct charge is under wide interpretation and yes Crowley may well have interpreted incorrectly but many cops white or black may have well made that exact interpretation and the only reason many blacks are going on about it so is because the cop is white. Had the cop been black Gates couldn't have played the race card and the issue would have never happened.

At worst Crowley made a judgmental error.

At worst Gates took a simple police inquiry into a possible b&e and elevated it into a racial issue when it was anything but.

But you still want to place all the blame on Crowley and that is totally wrong and would not stand up in a court of law.

Also you assuming every white southern man in the 60's would shoot every black cop that came to his door is a hideous generalization and to be frank shows racial bias.

Anonymous said...

correction not "precious post"
previous post.

Hey James how about an EDIT feature for us that can't type worth a flip?

Diogenes said...

"But you still want to place all the blame on Crowley and that is totally wrong and would not stand up in a court of law."

On the contrary, Gates would have a very good case of false arrest against Crowley, except that he probably didn't suffer sufficient damages to warrant pursuing it. Lawrence O'Donnell had a very similar case awhile back against the Boston police, and won a judgment against them. But it's probably not worth pursuing in this instance; this has already been beat to death.

As for the off-point 1960s allusion, I didn't suggest that every white Southern man would shoot a black cop. You said, in your original hypothetical, that it was a "racist Southern white", which is why I responded in the way that I did.

Anonymous said...

Every racist southern white from the 60's wouldn't shoot a black cop either.

My point was it is likely that made up person would have been acting in some of the same ways Gates did.


As far as a court case it would have been easy enough to produce officers of different backgrounds that would have agreed with Crowley on the arrest.

Do you think Gates has any responsibility at all in the episode or is it your belief he is innocent of any cause of the incident?

Diogenes said...

In a moral sense, is Gates guilty? Yeah. There's lots of ways he could have worked through this without blowing his cool.

But is he guilty in any legal sense? Absolutely not. He probably didn't act in a manner befitting a Harvard professor, but he was well within the law.

Crowley was not. His mistake, in arresting Gates without legal cause, is a bigger mistake, because Crowley, as a law enforcement officer, is paid to NOT make that kind of mistake.

Anonymous said...

I have seen no information that has defined the arrest as illegal but I have read articles, one by a black journalists, whose opinion is that it was justified.

The dropping of the charges does not make the arrest illegal. Charges can be dropped for any number of reasons on any number of charges. It happens all the time for any number of reasons.

The real issue to me is what would have kept it from happening to begin with and Gate's actions were the main contributor regardless of whether his actions were illegal or not.

Hopefully Gates and Crowley and many others will learn from this.

Another thing I hope some will realize that wanted this thing to be racist is it seems it was anything but.

Gates tried to make it so with his verbal attack and many fell right into the quagmire he mucked up.
I hope he regrets that very unbecoming and unprofessional display that triggered this whole mess.

We can be sure Crowley regrets it but I am glad to see his career shouldn't suffer for it.
If only all people paid to do a job did not make mistakes....
But then those people wouldn't be people would they?

We will not agree on the legality of the event I am sure but perhaps we do have an understanding as to what could have kept it from happening in the first place and that gives me a bit of positive feeling about our discussion.