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  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments Off on Wow! Slam Dunk Racial Profiling

Check out Gates Case Shocker. Here’s the money quote:

The 40-year-old woman whose emergency call to Cambridge police sparked the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a raging national debate on race relations claims she never said “black” men were breaking into his house.

“This woman is 100 percent clear on what she said,” said attorney Wendy J. Murphy, who is representing 911 caller Lucia Whalen. “She never said she saw two black men. She said, ‘It never crossed my mind that there were two black men.’ ”

Whalen said she couldn’t have reported the color of the men’s skin, because she was too far away and viewing them from behind, Murphy said.

Well, put that together with my legal translation of “Would you step onto the porch” (= “I think you are a perp …”), and what we have here is slam dunk case of racial profiling. No “probable cause” to overcome the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against cops entering our home — as Sgt. Crowley did when he entered to follow Gates into the kitchen. Nothing here but an ugly case of “the nigga must have done it”.

Will be interesting to hear how the ring-wing nut jobs spin this new twist in the story.

Still looking forward to the beer on the lawn.

UPDATE; Check out the video that commenter Jason provides on the post called Henry Louis Gates: The System is Racist. That video has the 911 audio which makes out an even clear case of racial profiling than does the quote above.

Check out the video at 0:33. Officer Crowley recounts his version of the incident with Prof. Gates. He says, in a calm, non-threatening, voice: “I asked him if he could step outside and speak with me”. He says this as if the request is an entirely reasonable and straightforward one. Maybe Crowley even believes that himself.

But the lawyers who set up the police operating procedures know that that is no straightforward request. It has huge legal significance. Sorry to quote myself from a couple of blog posts ago, but here is the legal translation:

Cop says: “Would you step outside onto the porch.”

Translation: “I know you might be the owner/resident of this house. But there seems to be something fishy about you (e.g. maybe you’re running a drug lab inside). The 4th Amendment requires that you be outside in order for me to legally search you.”

There’s no reason why Crowley couldn’t speak with Gates across the threshold of Gates’ home. Gates didn’t need to “step outside” simply to speak with Crowley. Asking Gates to step outside just “to speak” is a euphemism for “I see you as a potential perp”.

So when Crowley says this in a completely innocuous way, it makes me wonder. Is he just a simple-minded cop? Does he ask this of every resident of every home that he approaches in Cambridge? If so, then truly there is no racial animus here, systemic or otherwise.

But I’m picturing a little old white lady, in a grand old house, standing inside the house, across the threshold, opening the door to a cop like Crowley. Would the first thing out of Crowley’s mouth be: “Would you step outside onto the porch”? I have a hard time believing that.

I guess we’ll never find out.

  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments Off on Did Crowley Ask Gates to Step Onto the Porch?

For me, the whole Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest story comes down to the first 10 seconds of the interaction between himself and Sergeant Crowley. In Gates’ own words, those first ten seconds went like this:

So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger.

Is that true? Were those the first words out of Crowley’s mouth? I don’t care how he said those words. I care only whether he did say those words. Because if he did, then we all but have our answer about systemic racism. The reasoning boils down to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 4th Amendment prohibits cops from entering your house without your permission without a warrant issued by a judge. Obviously, a week ago Thursday, Crowley did not have a warrant to enter Gates’ house.

So what it did it mean for Crowley to ask Gates to step out onto the porch?

Read the rest of this entry »

In my last post, I call the Henry Louis Gates arrest a perfect story and a “matchstick”. The reason I call it “perfect” is that:

  1. No reasonable person could confuse Gates, a short, 58-year-old, handicapped, egghead, with a perp.
  2. No reasonable person could confuse Crowley, an intelligent professional, with an honorable track record, with a racist.

Yet, despite these reasonable facts, Crowley did treat Gates as a perp, and Gates did treat Crowley as a racist. How the hell could that have happened?

The simple answer is these two men have huge egos. They’re both arrogant. And what happened last Thursday is really just about two arrogant men butting heads.

The more interesting answer is that the dance that these two men performed last Thursday is the most stark illustration we have of America’s racist legal “justice” system.

It’s a brutally circular dynamic. Congress passes laws mandating sentences for crack cocaine to be 10 times longer than those handed down for the same amount of powdered cocaine. Why? Because black men sell crack; white men sell powder. Racism is at the core of the drug laws.

So then what we have is black men incarcerated at rates many orders of magnitude greater than white men. So now we have our “proof”: black men are all criminals at heart. It’s “in the genes”.

So when a cop sees a black man, he sees a potential criminal. It’s a “rational” assumption given the prison statistics. i.e “I’m profiling because the profile is based on hard, cold statistics.”

And thus the circle is closed. So this is why, I believe, a good cop like Crowley didn’t apologize to Gates for the mixup immediately after Gates produced his ID, and why, I believe, Gates assumed this meant Crowley himself is a racist.

Wouldn’t it be great if this Gates/Crowley story led to revisiting of the drug laws — let alone a repeal?

The only American holiday that I “buy into” is July 4, Independence Day. To me, the rest of the holidays seem either anachronistic and/or contrived, and certainly driven by the retail corporations. But July the 4th will remain live and meaningful so long as there is an America. This is because America is a live, flowing river of ever-present change.

On Saturday morning, my wife and I packed our toddler, and headed out to two different July 4 celebrations in local towns — Saratoga and Los Gatos, California. The one in Saratoga was particularly interesting to me. In addition to the band, parade of town officials, and military folks, there was a troupe of traditional Chinese dancers. They were wearing traditional costumes and doing a “foreign” dance.  It was a WTF?! moment during the proceedings.

But then it struck me. This is the heart of America. Saratoga, which had long been a “white bread” town, is now very mixed, with a sizable Asian population. And so the town is changing. Dramatically so, but gracefully and smoothly.

And this, I remembered, is the genius of America. Ever-flowing change. And I remembered further that one reason these changes happen is that America is a really big tent. We don’t just have all kinds of people here. We have all kinds of ideologies. Indeed, three of these ideologies are represented in three of the national “anthems”:

  1. humanism/oneness (America the Beautiful: “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea”)
  2. religion (God Bless America: “Stand beside her, and guide her, thru the night with a light from above”)
  3. militarism (Star Spangled Banner: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there”)

These are three very different ideologies. But if you listen to the words of these three songs, they are neither strident nor exclusionary. They’re inviting to the other ideologies.

And so this is the DNA of America. This is the reason for our glorious changing seasons.

Every ideology gets full voice in this nation. Some even get their own anthem.

And out of all these disparate voices, particularly the most reasonable among them, a nation moves with the times.

To me, America just passed out of a “God Bless America” phase, and is now in an “America the Beautiful” period. On the horizon, however, looms the “Star Spangled Banner”.

Out of context, this seems like a reasonably interesting video. But in context, it’s moving and powerful. A regime would love nothing better than to find out who this poster is, and crush his skull. They’ve put up every roadblock they could think of up to stop this fellow from posting this video. But he still gets it out.

We’ve read these sorts of stories over and again in the past. But always, in the position of looking back toward a cold history.

But this time, history being made as I write this. I saw a poll on a site asking for a vote on what we think will be the future of Iran. 40% say the reactionaries will triumph, and crack down even harder. 40% say the reformers will prevail and bring light to this dark nation. 20% go ever farther than that.

What will decide the outcome of this nail-biter? The mood of the national army. And right now, nobody knows where that will be.

Amazing, these days in which we’re living.

  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments Off on #iranelection is to Twitter what the Macaca Moment was to YouTube

Back in the summer of 2006, in the heat of the midterm elections, George Allen experienced his infamous “Macaca Moment” which was captured on video and posted on YouTube:

Up until that moment, Allen was considered not merely the favorite for the Senate seat for which he was running, but also for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. But that Macaca Moment derailed Allen’s political career altogether.

This dynamic revealed the truly profound power of YouTube. Up until that moment, YouTube was just the latest fad. A toy for the kids. But the Macaca Moment showed that YouTube reflected a seismic shift in all of public life, not to mention plenty within the private sphere too.

Well, the hashtag #iranelection is presently doing the same thing for Twitter. I think it’s a strategic mistake that Twitter hides that link behind a login requirement. Because the page behind that login gate is truly, historically profound.

Fortunately, Twitter is such a success story already that a growing cottage industry of third party tools and sites expands and embellishes the Twitter ecosystem. Here is a link to #iranelection allowing anyone to see what is going on there: http://wthashtag.com/Iranelection.

What is the #iranelection hashtag? Get on one of these links and find out for yourself. Check out history being made.

Gotta run. People are posting that the Iranian government is onto #iranelection now and is blocking it. Gotta see what’s trending. As I write, it’s 7:08 a.m. Tuesday morning in Tehran. Maybe some of the kids there are up and tweeting again. Hope they’re safe. See ya.


for the money has gone too far

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