What is in question, is the degree to which Gates -- who perhaps felt himself a victim of differential treatment because he was Black (and we are not sure that the police report itself establishes otherwise) -- over reacted. And why Officer Crowley persisted in making an issue of what was clearly an agitated, perhaps over-reactive Harvard race scholar, after what really mattered -- the "break in" -- was quickly solved.
Colin Powell, on CNN:
[Gates]...might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer, and that might have been the end of it. I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal.Powell implies, particularly from the context, that racism almost either had to have played a role, or that it was reasonable for Gates to assume that, even if, he seems to suggest, it may not have been best exercise of judgment on Gates part to perhaps act it out dramatically. Powell also states: "Once they felt they had to bring Dr. Gates out of the house and to handcuff him, I would have thought at that point some adult supervision would have stepped in and said, OK, look, it is his house. Come on."
This seems sensible to us. As we noted below:
We think the police report itself is dispositive. Gates' allegedly obnoxious behavior, in his own home, after apparently being suspected of breaking and entering into his own home, is rather specious grounds for arrest; something motivated the officer -- whether he was peeved that the resident was giving him grief, or something else -- to unnecessarily continue to be abrupt and unfriendly and unapologetic (perhaps mirroring Gates), and arrest Gates even after the easily rectifiable case of mistaken identity was quickly resolved and the matter was over. (Additionally, racially overtoned inconsistencies in the police report, are noted elsewhere in the link.)From a comment to the Huffington Post article on CNN's interview:
The issue in the Gates' controversy is not one racial profiling but how white police officers treat African Americans in policing encounters. Citizens are not under any obligation to refrain from expressing anger to police officers at perceived mistreatment. Given the large number, and diversity, of African Americans who are confronted annually by white police officers, whether for good or bad cause, it's unrealistic to expect the majority of them to bear perceived mistreatment with a stiff upper lip.As we have said many times, the issue is how Crowley (who was the one with a duty of professional responsibility, and not the one who was being questioned on suspicion of having broken into his own home) -- treated Gates, and why.
And we still don't understand why, after the officer clearly (even by his own police report) realized -- or could have double verified with the head of Harvard Security as Gates suggested -- the matter continued. Gates being upset in his own home over the incident, overreactive or not, is understandable, not a crime. This should be particularly obvious to somebody who -- as excusants for Crowley are otherwise happy to point out, claiming it somehow "proves" that racism can not have played a role -- teaches a course on racial profiling and sensitivity! (Once again, see the link below; for some of the transcipt of the 911 call establishing that there was repeatedly expressed ambivalence over whether it was even a break in or someone returning from travel -- with suitcases -- whose key got jammed, and racially tinged interpretations in the polic report that seem to directly conflict with the evidentiary record. )