Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sgt. James Crowley Should Reject President Barack Obama’s Offer Unless He (Crowley) Acted Improperly

--Richard E. Vatz

I have blogged on the publicly available and relevant issues raised in the Sgt. James Crowley-Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. confrontation and President Barack Obama’s reaction. As that blog indicated, when one examines the indisputable components of the evidence, “this was no example of racist police behavior and certainly not racial profiling.”

A most interesting development has now occurred respecting those matters, and it is this: following a clear diminution of public outrage by Professor Gates and President Obama, the latter has invited the 2 major principals, Crowley and Gates, to the White House. As summarized by The Washington Post, “After a phone call from President Barack Obama urging calm in the aftermath of his arrest last week, the black professor said he would accept Obama's invitation to the White House for a beer with him and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley. In a statement posted Friday on The Root, a Web site Gates oversees, the scholar said he told Obama he'd be happy to meet with Crowley, whom Gates had accused of racial profiling.”

Should Sgt. Crowley go?

The opinion here is: not unless Sgt. Crowley believes he acted improperly.

The relationship between the officer and the scholar is, Crowley has indicated, one of a policeman who is executing the law and a man whose behavior warranted an arrest.

Further, the arrest was pursuant to gratuitous vile characterizations of the police officer and his mother, made by the professor.

Sgt. Crowley Crowley said on WEEI sports radio network that it was "disappointing that [Obama] waded into what should be a local issue that plays out here" and added that an “apology will never come. It won't come from me as Jim Crowley. It won't come from me as a sergeant in the police department.” He has also indicated that race was irrelevant to his (Crowley’s) actions.

To meet with Professor Gates, who Sgt. Crowley alleges was unruly and combative from the start, and a president who Crowley argued was improperly involving himself in a local law enforcement matter and who now has retrenched to the point wherein he, the president, says that both parties “overreacted,” would constitute a symbolic reversal of those positions.

A meeting with the arrested man even at the behest of the president of the United States would also level all ranks and would, therefore, be hierarchically inappropriate.

Unless Sgt. Crowley is now prepared to admit he erred in arresting Professor Gates, he should politely and graciously reject the president’s offer.

--Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


Gunpowder Chronicler said...

Dr. Vatz,

I couldn't agree more. Does Sgt Crowley meet with other people he arrested?

It's become clear as more details of the story have come out that Henry Louis Gates a) wildly overreacted, b) made sweeping generalizations not supported by the facts, and c) expected some sort of deference because of his position.

"C" actually bothers me the most, because that attitude is just as nefarious as the involvement of racism arrests. What is the difference in giving deference due to someone's social position when you are arresting versus arresting them because of their skin color?

Both positions are repugnant.

Bruce said...

I am surprised that a frequent critic of government power is so willing to accommodate an arrest of a man in his home (ok, technically, his porch within his curtilage) without probable cause of an actual crime. By remaining on the property at all after he had no more probable cause, the officer violated Gates' reasonable security in his person and home; he was a trespasser and owed Gates deference, not the other way around. I would this a lot differently were this a city corner.

Obama was right; the cop, racist or not, acted stupidly.

By custom, one does not turn down an invitation to the White House except for family illness or death, international travel or attending a wedding.

Jon said...

I have to agree with Bruce. Obama was right... but for all the wrong reasons. Obama was all too ready to accept at face value the story of racist cop arresting a black man without cause. He also admitted he knew none of the facts or evidence surrounding the incident and "shot off his mouth" anyway, despite his statement that he "gathers the facts" before doing so, unlike the previous administration. I believe he said that when taken to task over not condemning the repression of the Iranian protests.

But, Obama was right insofar as Crowley did act "stupidly". It's my opinion that he was simply taking Gates 'down a peg'. I don't think Crowley is a bad person (and certainly not a racist from the available evidence), but most police have authoritarian tendencies, and I think that was what was at work here.

Anyway, I agree with Vatz. It would be inappropriate for Crowley to meet with Gates. (1) As stated, their relationship is arresting officer and arrested individual. (2) It reeks of impropriety because this mediation would occur only because Gates is well-connected -- a man with personal ties to the President of the U.S. (3) It would indicate that Crowley believes he did something wrong. So, if that isn't the case, he should politely decline.

ronnie said...

How do advise Crowley not to meet with Zero?

Gunpowder Chronicler said...

Oh, I disagree with all of you. First, it is not clear at all that Gates presented proper identification with a matching ID. In fact, all we do know is that he presented his HARVARD ID, which does not include an address.

Until that question was resolved, it did NOT constitute trespassing on the part of the police, especially since they were responding to a very specific report of potential burglary by a neighbor.

Second, the President is a man, not a sovereign. We are not to be compelled to visit him under any circumstances. The office may deserve our respect, but the man has no right to command it -- or our presence at his beck and call.

Chester Peake said...

I hope Crowley doesn't fall for this and let himself be used as a tool of the "Photo Op".

focusmoney said...

Mr. President I did not vote for you but up to this point I think you are doing an outstanding job. 80% plus I agree with what you are trying to do for the people (us) some things like 2ed amendment you need to preserve and amnesty for illegal aliens I think you need to be more tough we cannot afford these parasites taking money from the people (us) especially when some of the people (us) cannot get the same benefits!...Also I agree we have come a long way creating things equal for all people (us) but sir in all due respect you made a terrible blunder when you made those statements about what happened to Mr. Gates and Sgt. James Crowley and the Cambridge police dept...if Mr. Gates would have respected the law (when he mentioned a learning experience..all people need to learn this golden rule “respect”) and what they were doing ...there job is to “serve & protect”...which was protecting his property the 2ed time(record of previous robbery attempt in the past) ...Mr. Gates should realize that until you act respectfully and corporate with the authorities (who the people (us) pay to protect & serve) and answer there questions with respect...the officer Crowley & Mr. Gates would have shaken hands and that would have been it...but Mr. Gates was not being respectful or helpful and not corpora ting with the police...the police did NOT act stupidly...Mr. President...I hate to say it but you need to look at your self in the mirror sir. To be honest the health care was taken a back seat after that comment…it lost its luster…sorry, to defend your actions is to dig a deeper hole!...Mr Gates & President Obama need to apologize...Then again…it was said this last question was preplanned so President Obama could get his card out?...also Am I the only one that finds the most unbelievable part to be that his neighbor didn't recognize him? and gave an exact description of someone he supposedly knows ?...….so Was this whole thing planned?...In the end did a lot of people lose respect where there was respect for a lot of people?….and mostly did it hurt relations and set us back 20years rather than forward?......and will President Obama be able to get this cow stuff that he stepped in off his shoes?.... officer Sgt. Crowley should not go for beer if he feels he is not guility because it will be 2 against one….they are not dumb… unless Sgt. Crowley plans on being nice but FIRM on his stance! Period.

streiff said...


I don't subscribe to the whole Amerikkka line on booshwah you seem so infatuated with. I'm sure you can find other places to post that nonsense where you will be welcomed with hosannas.