I am happy there is a stink over Henry Louis Gates getting arrested.
Do I think he should have been arrested? No.
Do I think the officer was doing his job? Yes.
Was it “stupid” to arrest this man at his own house? YES!
Gates was born in 1950 in West Va. That place still has race problems, like so many other places in the USA. I cannot even imagine having to grow up in the 50s and 60s in that place, but Gates did do it and he rose up the ranks to eventually becoming a Harvard professor.
As a black dude in America, I am often targeted by C cipher Powers. I work everyday. I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or go to clubs. I am stopped for various frivolous reasons on a pretty regular basis—the last time I was stopped for my tag light being out (actually, based on skin color, I was in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time). When Five-O pulled me over, he asked for my ID. I did my best Annette Benning “American Beauty” impersonation (the tiki torch scene) and politely handed them over. In the process of him running my ID, he took the liberty to shine his flashlight all over my backseat and the floor of my car. He sent me on my way with a warning. After the ordeal I felt violated, as I always do.
But, standing in my house, I cannot do Annette very well. And after playing the role over and over again away from home, I am sure Gates found it hard to hold in all of those years of being targeted based on melanin. His door was already jammed and he was already pissed. But when po-po showed up asking for some ID while he was already at home—oh my.
Could he have risen above the occasion, just gave his ID and bowed down? Sure.
Could the officer have let the old man vent and just bounced? Sure.
Why is Gates the one who should have let it go? HE WAS AT HOME! Gates was not arrested for refusing to show ID, he eventually did. He was arrested for following the officer out of his home and asking for the officer’s ID (gosh darn right gosh darnit) and making a scene. The officer could have just gotten in his Caprice and bounced—but his fellow officers probably would have made fun of him back at the station.
“It’s harassment and the complex you carry when you’re running shit” – Slug, Scapegoat
As ideal and unbiased as I try to be when I look at life in America, I am a prisoner of my experiences. I am not a big fan of the police (though I do like “Zenyatta Mondatta” and “Synchronicity”). Many of my peers feel the same way I do. Only the police can fix this.