In the news, the arrest of a well-known professor of African-American studies, Henry Louis Gates, who broke into his own house after a long trip abroad:
“Gates said he turned over his driver’s license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He said he then followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was handcuffed in front of other officers, Gates said in a statement released by his attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, on a Web site Gates oversees, TheRoot.com
He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.” He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.
Gates, 58, also refused to speak publicly Monday, referring calls to Ogletree.
“He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification,” Ogletree said.”
The initial questioning seems alright to me. It was natural for a bystander to wonder about two men (no matter of what race) trying to break into a house. I’d hope any neighbor of mine would do the same, if I were away.
But what happened after that seems odd. After Gates produced his ID, why was he treated so discourteously? The story about “disorderly” conduct also seems shady. It would be natural for someone to be upset in those circumstances. And if Gates was obliged to show ID in his own house, why did the officers decline to show theirs? Why arrest him?
All this sounds like typical bullying to me.
I changed the title of this post – since the first title seemed to imply a racial motive and the more I look at this, the more it seems like the usual police officiousness.