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article imageOp-Ed: Did Obama Omit Dr. Gates' Reported Rants To Play The Race Card?

By Johnny Simpson     Jul 23, 2009 in Politics
President Obama addressed the White House Press Corps on the incident involving Prof. Gates, whom he called "a friend," and the Cambridge Police, whom he said "acted stupidly." Curiously, Obama made no mention of Gates' reported hostile heated rants. Why?
President Obama Makes Statement on the Arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Gates
UPDATE: The CPD officer in question, Sgt. James Crowley, has sworn never to apologize, Dr. Gates has sworn to sue, the Boston Globe whitewashed the redacted police report in .pdf format from its website, and the White House has now qualified the President's remarks on the case at his press conference last night.
It is also most relevant that many news outlets like The Hill have now observed that President Obama said the cops "acted stupidly," even while admitting he didn't know all the facts of the case. Events moving fast and furious. On With The Obama Show.
From Politico:
"I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home," Obama said in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times's Lynn Sweet.
Gates, Obama allowed, "is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts."
Having watched the embedded video of President Obama's statement on the arrest of Prof. Gates, whom he called "a friend" and by his nickname "Skip," the President clearly related the basic facts as they appeared in news and police reports, from the time Prof. Gates arrived at his home with luggage and jimmied the door open to when Prof. Gates presented his ID as requested by the responding officer, saying only that there was "an exchange of words." At that point, the President said that Gates was arrested directly after presenting his ID, then made the following statement:
"Separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-American and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately," the president said, eagerly engaging the issue of racial profiling, a concern earlier in his career that has seen little White House attention to date.
"That’s just a fact," Obama said of profiling. "That doesn't lessen the incredibly progress that has been made."
At no time during this press conference, where Obama went on at length about race relations and racial profiling in America after reporting the facts of the case as he knew them, did President Obama mention Prof. Gates' reported belligerence toward the responding officer, whereas Dr. Gates was alleged to have loudly and repeatedly called the responding officer "a racist," and was reported to have shouted, "this is what happens to black men in America!" and "I'll speak to your Mama outside!" in the official police report.
Having grown up in Cambridge a stone's throw from Harvard University, and having been arrested myself for disorderly conduct for drunken mouthing-off at Cambridge Police not 200 yards from Prof. Gates' house, I reported my own take on this incident in this DJ OpEd, which CNN contacted me about on July 21st.
Funny. When I was arrested for disorderly conduct in Cambridge years ago, the last two words I said to the arresting officer (who was black, by the way), before he threw the cuffs on and tossed me into a paddy wagon was "Your Mama!" I guess Cambridge Police officers, black or white, don't like people talking about their Mamas. Not.One.Bit. Perhaps the President was unaware of those reports, as he also stated he was unaware of all the facts in the case. You can read the CPD officer's redacted report at Legal Insurrection.
As many of you may know, all parties to this incident at Prof. Gates' house have agreed that it was "unfortunate" and that no one was at fault. The Middlesex District Attorney dropped all charges without prejudice. The troubling aspect here is that the President made no mention of Prof. Gates' reported yelling and combative behavior, which was documented in depth in the responding officer's official report and was allegedly witnessed by many passersby, who began to gather in curiosity as the incident took place.
The problematic part for me in all of this is that the President, perhaps the best-informed person in the entire country, and who seemed to have a command of most of the details of the case, may have intentionally omitted the reported belligerent behavior of Dr. Gates either as a biased friend, or worse, to use the incident to capitalize on the issue of race, even knowing that the professor engaged in heated and perhaps even racist ranting of his own toward the responding white CPD officer during the entire incident.
If so, the President isn't helping matters any regarding the racial harmony he promised us during his campaign. I have written an in-depth opinion piece here at Digital Journal expounding on how these kind of racial straw man episodes are damaging the very fabric of American society and are exacerbating racial tensions in America. It is not promoting racial healing. It is sowing racial discord.
Weren't we supposed to be getting away from all that now, in this new Golden Age of Obama?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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