During the wonderful press conference President Obama gave last night… now you have The President of the United States vs. the Cambridge, MA Police Department:
That question during last night’s press conference prompted this statement from President Obama that has been controversial:
"Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof he was in own home.”
Now prior to making that statement he said that “he’s bias” as Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a friend. He also said that he didn’t have all of the facts in the case. But yet he’s certain that Cambridge police “acted stupidly.” Maybe everyone yells at the police and expects no reaction from them.
Perhaps the police involved are racist. I don’t want to say that police never are. I know that some are not and have witnessed racism by police first hand while doing a ride-along (I won’t divulge where). But we can’t just keep pulling the race card every time something like this happens.
But this isn’t racial profiling according to William Jacobson, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School:
They received a call of someone trying to force open the door to a home. They asked the person
attempting to force the door openwho he was. Had Gates answered, that would have been the end of it.
Racial profiling is a serious issue. Gates’ accusations of racism and racial profiling not only are not serious, they are damaging to real victims.
President Obama said that Gates had his ID out. The arrest record doesn’t indicate that. Gates insists they were racial profiling, but Cambridge, MA isn’t exactly crime free and they responded trying to protect his property. Did the Cambridge Police Department overreact to Professor Gates’ behavior? Possibly, but then they also dropped the charges.
What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.
If it were a clear, documented case of racism among the police department fine, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
So what is a fact is that President Obama should have said, “because I don’t have all of the facts in the case, no comment.” Instead he further enflames a situation that should have been dropped. We expect this from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, but not from the President of the United States.
On a Boston radio program this morning, Bill Cosby suggested that President Obama spoke too soon on the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.
“I’ve heard about five different reports [on the details of the arrest],” Cosby said on Boston’s WZLX. “If I’m the president of the United States, I don’t care how much pressure people want to put on it about race, I’m keeping my mouth shut.”
“I was shocked to hear the president making this kind of statement,” Cosby said referring to the president’s remarks during last night’s press conference.
2nd Update: President Obama backtracks… kind of.