Cambridge Cop Refuses to Apologize for Unconstitutional Arrest of Black Professor

So President Obama sat down today for beers in the Rose Garden with professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the cop who arrested him for being uncooperative and making loud insulting remarks to the police while inside the comfort of his own home.  Apparently, Obama felt bad for having called the Cambridge police ‘stupid’ after receiving news of the arrest for what the police call ‘disorderly conduct’.  Many disorderly conduct laws have actually been ruled to be unconstitutional and the idea that a person could be arrested for insulting a police officer while on his own property is frightening.  Anywhere in the United States, a person is free to insult police officers without fear of arrest.  Such speech is fully protected by the U.S. Constitution.  We are also free to not cooperate with a police officer when asked questions or when asked to step outside of our homes.  We can refuse totally without any fear of arrest whatsoever.  Any police officer who arrests someone under such circumstances is breaking the law and is denying someone their clear constitutional rights.  I would not have any beers with such an officer.  I would not attend any meetings with him and the president.  The officer said in his press conference that both men had agreed to ‘look forward, rather than backward.’ I’m really not sure what forward he could possibly mean.  It would be more productive to look squarely backward at his illegal and shocking arrest of a man who simply didn’t like him.

I watch the officer in the video above and I see a person of limited intelligence, with no understanding of his unlawful act.  Harvard University needs to move itself the heck out of Cambridge if this guy is an example of how the locals are thinking up there. What an embarrassment.

Christopher Hitchens has written an excellent short article about why race is not as important a factor in this episode as one’s constitutional right to mouth off at police officers.

Also, in Washington, D.C. this week a young attorney was out with his friends discussing the Gates arrest.  He decided to have some fun and test the constitutional principal which gives protection to people to who express their dislike of police.  He walked past several police cars that had stopped another vehicle and he chanted ‘I hate the cops. I hate the cops.’

According to him, he was immediately rushed by an angry D.C. police offer who pushed him against a utility box and said, “Who do you think you are to think you can talk to a police officer like that?”  The officer arrested the young attorney for disorderly conduct.  The young man now has an actionable claim against the police department and is probably going to sue them and win because, contrary to what the cop thinks, the young man does have the right to talk to a police officer like that.  Many police seem to think that because they protect security they have rights and privileges beyond what the U.S. Constitution provides.  This problem is getting worse, not better.  The fundamental right to freedom of speech and the right of free assembly in this country is under direct and heavy assault from police who see their responsibility to protect security as trumping all other rights and constitutional safeguards.

Police who do not understand that people can insult them and dislike them and say nasty things to them should be dismissed immediately from duty wherever they serve.  And our president should feel free to call them stupid.

Cambridge Police Arrest Famous Black Professor for Breaking No Law

APTOPIX Harvard Scholar DisorderlyWell-known black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was returning home from a trip when he and his driver found that the front door to Gate’s home was jammed. The professor went into his home through the back door and and helped the driver push the front door open. Meanwhile, a neighbor, suspecting a burglary, called the police. Of course, you might wonder why the neighbor didn’t spend a bit more time figuring out that the homeowner was simply opening his own door. But that’s not the real story.

The real story is that when the Cambridge, Massachusetts police showed up, professor Gates didn’t like the way the officer treated him and he did not cooperate fully with the officer.  Remember that in United States we are under no legal obligation whatsoever to cooperate with a police officer who is asking questions.  We don’t have to say anything.  Professor Gates decided that since he was inside his own home the cop had no business asking him to prove that he was in fact in his own home.  This is a perfectly justifiable attitude to have inside one’s own home.  A police officer must be extremely cautious in dealing with a situation like this, especially when it becomes quite clear to anyone of average intelligence that it really is the homeowner the officer is dealing with.  So professor Gates decided to give the officer a good piece of his mind.  He apparently refused to show ID then changed his mind and did.  He apparently told the officer that he was being racially profiled and that he was suffering under the treatment given to blacks by law enforcement.  He may have insulted the officer and yelled at him.  He may have insulted the officer’s mother.

The officer says that there are radio call recordings that will prove professor Gates was yelling in the background.  So, this Cambridge police officer arrested professor Gates for ‘disorderly conduct’ – in his own home.  Disorderly conduct for being angry at a police officer in his own home.  Disorderly conduct is a very vague statute in most states, used primarily to give officers the ability to round people up for simply being uncooperative.  Basically, if a cop doesn’t like you, he or she can arrest you for ‘disorderly conduct.’

I post about this episode at length because it goes straight to the heart of free speech in this country.  Law enforcement versus free speech is the subject.  We are living during a time when law enforcement seems to think it can record the phone calls of American citizens without a search warrant, physically assault journalists during the Democratic and Republican conventions, and harass photographers in public places while attempting to confiscate their equipment.  Police in Minneapolis, Minnesota staged an armed assault on a young peaceful protest group just prior to the Republican Presidential Convention in 2008.  They burst into their house with weapons drawn and made these young people lie on the floor while illegally searching the house because they wanted to prevent the group from protesting near the convention.  Much of this was caught on video and witnessed by onlookers.   Many police officers around the nation seem to have very little understanding of what constitutes protected free speech and what constitutes a real threat.  Some officers actually do understand the difference but choose to ignore the law.

If professor Gates insulted the officer in his home, it’s protected free speech.  If he insulted the officer’s mother, it’s protected free speech.  I he called the officer a racist, it’s protected free speech.  None of it matters in the slightest.  The correct response from a police officer in such a situation is to shrug it off and say, ‘Have a nice day.’  To arrest someone for behaving the way professor Gates did is outrageous and stupid.  Just like president Obama says: the Cambridge police acted stupidly.

Now the Cambridge police department is furious that Obama has insulted them and they demand an apology.  Obama owes them no such apology.  He called them stupid and they most certainly are.  All you need to know about this arrest is that prosecutors refused to press charges and all charges were dropped.  That means it was a bad arrest.  That means the police behaved stupidly and made an arrest that was not supported by law.  They arrested someone for breaking no law.  I cannot think of a better word for it than ‘stupid.’

To arrest a prominent black scholar for expressing his outrage inside his own home to police officers is stupid and might possibly be an act of racism.  The police are now parading a black officer around who was at the scene of the stupidity and says he supports the arrest because ‘Mr. Gates was acting strange.’ Acting strange.  Obviously, being a black Cambridge cop has not prevented this guy from being stupid.  We are not supposed to be arresting people in the United States for ‘acting strange.’ If there’s a cop on a force who thinks that acting strange qualifies for an arrest, he or she should be let go pronto.

So we join president Obama in calling the Cambridge police who arrested professor Gates stupid. They also seem to be poorly trained, insensitive, unaware of legal protections for free speech, and perhaps somewhat racially biased.  The race part really isn’t the important part because we don’t know if anyone on the scene really is racist.  But we do know beyond any doubt whatsoever that the police on the scene arrested someone for exercising his right to free speech.

Officer Friendly sure isn’t working up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Gutenberg Bible Coming Online From Cambridge University

The Gutenberg Bible from approximately 1455 was the first book printed in Europe with moveable metal type.  The BBC reports that Cambridge University is preparing to make a scan of this book available online.  Scholars from around the world will soon have access to one of the first printed books in history.  The university will also release the first printed edition of Homer’s works.

While this is good news, one does have to wonder what’s taken so long.