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July 20, 2009





I guess someone forgot to tell Dr. Gates' neighbors and the Cambridge cops that America has moved to a state of postracial harmony since Obama's election.


He really has no right to accuse the officer of being racist. If someone calls the cops reporting a B&E, they're kind of required to check it out.

Ann Tye

A friend sent me a copy of the incident report from Cambridge. From my reading of the report, I've concluded that the police officer arrested Skip Gates to protect himself once he realized who Skip was. After producing identification and proving that he was in his own home, Skip requested the officer's name, which the officer repeatedly refused to give following several requests. On several grounds, the arrest has the earmarks of a police coverup. Time will tell.

Mr. Kruger

And his heightened, emotional response reveals the anxiety that so many black men who live in predominantly white neighborhoods still feel--that someone is watching them

So what should the cop have done? His heightened, emotional response might also reveal a serious lack of judgment. Not saying profiling isn't a reality in old milk and toast Cambridge but there's got to be better ways to dealing with that situation.

Jack Klompus

"I guess someone forgot to tell Dr. Gates' neighbors and the Cambridge cops that America has moved to a state of postracial harmony since Obama's election."

And here I thought Cambridge was a "progressive" town? Peace, love, and liberal tolerance.


This one is easy. He was arrested because he graduated from Yale. Who cares if he left Yale after being screwed over or that he is now a professor AT Harvard? He'll always be a Yalie. Go Crimson.

How d'ya like them apples?

Sorry to make light of this incident, Chiles. I just saw Hahvahd and a wicked smaht fella and fawkin' thought "Good Will Hunting".

Jack Klompus

"I just saw Hahvahd and a wicked smaht fella and fawkin' thought "Good Will Hunting"."

For the record:
Fawkin' is New York. Fackin' is Boston.


Having both 1) lived in Cambridge and been stopped and detained for a one-person lineup for "fitting the description" (luckily the victim could tell I didn't really fit the description from 30 yards away or I might not be writing this), and 2) worked as a public defender for years and read literally 1000's of these police reports, I would bet my worth that the most inflammatory comments Gates made were put into this police report and probably the most reasonable stuff left out. I doubt seriously that Gates immediately launched into accusing him of being a racist. Also, I find it strange that he puts many of his statements in quotes, but the most inflammatory, the racist police officer is just kinda described. "accused me of being a racist police officer". Also, "Gates again asked for my name which I began to provide"?? Began to provide? He admits that Gates asked him more than once, yet he was beginning to provide it? How long does it take to provide a name? And also having read probably 500 DisCon arrest reports, I've never seen this detailed of a report on a disorderly conduct. Most of them are 3 lines. My bet: his supervisor or someone told him who Gates was and they sat down and made sure that the police report was made to put the officer in the best defensible light and make Gates out to be a raving race-card-playing lunatic. Look - cops are busy. There are tons of crazies out there, and people get arrested for disorderly conduct all the time. It's the catch-all - you're acting crazy, and although you haven't stolen anything or harmed anyone physically, I'm arresting you because you're acting up - charge. But it's not a serious charge for which you would ever write a 2 page explanation. You describe that the person was out of line, and you scribble down what they did. This situation is so odd it stinks to high heaven. Decoding the police report speak, it looks like he walked outside, saw that there were a dozen fellow police officers and several citizens watching him get called out by Gates, and to save face, had to go make an arrest.


For the record:
Fawkin' is New York. Fackin' is Boston.

I've tried with him already. Could be a lost cause.

Jack Klompus

"Look - cops are busy.

As they should be. Though it's certainly debatable how "busy" some of them are. Nonetheless, that makes the arrest all the more suspicious. If there's one thing I know about cops -- they hate paperwork as much as they like doughnuts.


Yeah, cops don't arrest white guys who yell at them and say "don't you know who I am!!!". Obviously that was due to heightened racial tensions.


Let's try a little experiment. Try to guess the race of the people in this story:

When I was paralegal, I worked on a case that was somewhat similar: the husband of one of the secretaries was bringing some stuff from their home to church with his dad. They got about a block away when they realized they left a few items back at the house. So, instead of driving around the two blocks of one-way streets, the guy hops out of the car and jogs back to the house. As he is bounding up the porch stairs, four guys with guys, who were not wearing uniforms and did not look like the other residents of the neighborhood, ran up behind him, pointed guns at him and commenced to yell. Some said freeze, some said get down, some said hands up. His understandable reaction was "who the fuck are you and what are you doing on my porch?" The men then identified themselves as Boston Police and told him they were serving a warrant for on a house on that street. The problem was that this gentleman lived at and was about to enter another house on that street. The situation was inflamed by the fact that all of the neighbors had come out of their houses to see what was the cause of the commotion. They were less than pleased to see the situation: a law-abiding citizen, known to be active in his church, was being accosted by four men with guns on his own front porch. The cops, taking quick stock of the situation, decided that the only reasonable solution was to arrest this gentlemen for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Thankfully, when the partner for whom I was working had a chance to sit with the DA, the case was dropped.

Any guesses?

There was also the time where I was standing the foyer of my condo building, getting my mail from the mail box, when two BPD officers ran up the front stairs to the building. Standing in between the two sets of doors, I assumed that someone in the building had called them, so I opened the front door to ask them what was going on. One immediately responded "we'll ask the questions" and demanded to know that I was doing. Being somewhat confused, I told them I was getting my mail. They then demanded some ID to prove that I lived there. I produced it and asked them why they were at the door. The less hostile of the two told me that there had been reports in the neighborhood of people's bills, credit card statements and the like being stolen from their mailboxes. Mind you, I had just come from work, so I was wearing a suit and an overcoat. But, being a black man in Boston's Back Bay, I seemed like a likely suspect.

Yeah, we live in a post-racial society.

As a footnote to the Ogletree story, he had apparently just returned from China. As in just a few hours before. And had trouble getting into his house. I don't know about you folks, but that alone would make me pretty damn cranky and less than cordial were a cop to appear at my front door demanding to see my ID.


Charges dropped.


Cambridge definitely has its fair share up straight up racist cops.

Jack Klompus

"Cambridge definitely has its fair share up straight up racist cops."

How about fair share of racist civilians too? I mean, it is Boston we're talking about.


"How about fair share of racist civilians too? I mean, it is Boston we're talking about."

To be fair, a black female acquaintance who lived in Cambirdge from around 1991-1999 received the Gates story by e-mail yesterday and responded something like:

"Wow. What the hell...what else can you even say? Arrested "breaking in" at your own house...I don't recall Cambridge being this way. You're tarnishing my rosy memories."

I read that and can't help but think: Ignorance is bliss.

Or maybe: It doesn't hurt to be hot.


"I’ve heard of driving while black, and I’ve heard of shopping while black. But I’ve never heard of living in a home while black,” said Sharpton, a New York minister

Mr. Kruger

The other side of the story. They're like night and day- not even close. Need witnesses who aren't cops and not afraid to get a parking violation everyday for the rest of their lives.


Saw this posted somewhere else. Newman will definitely appreciate.

Clearly the police wouldn't have responded if the tipster had reported white burglars.

Just imagine the call:

Officer: "Did you say you say black people breaking into a house?"

Tipster: "No, it was a white person forcibly breaking open someone's front door."

Officer: A white person? Well it's probably his house then.

Tipster: I don't know. It was two full grown guys forcing a door. If they owned it wouldn't they use a key, call a locksmith, or even a carpenter to fix the problem?

Officer: I've got more important things than to investigate crazy stories of white people committing crimes. Are you black? Trying to stir up trouble? You know making a false tip is a crime, BOY!

howard in nyc

aaron, thanks for sharing the insight of your experience with police reports of this nature.

i had assumed this report was very carefully written, with supervisory input. and with that in mind, i thought, 'jeez, that's all they could come up with?' very weak story by the cop.

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