Monday, July 27, 2009

The Gates Case

The Harvard professor who was arrested in his own home has been in the news lately. But I believe the most relevant angle of this case has been overlooked thus far. This is that the professor was arrested for the crime of "disorderly conduct". This is what the police arrest people for when they can't think of any crime to arrest them for. It is rarely the only reason for an arrest, as it was here; rather, it is usually added onto a list of other charges, when the suspect does not cooperate with the police, or is creating a disturbance and won't calm down when told to.

As the officer stated in his own report (stating the law involved), he arrested Gates for "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space." Ah, a public place. But Gates was in his own home!! The standard should be much higher for handcuffing and arresting someone who is in his own home. I believe the officer used extremely poor judgment in arresting a man in his own home as he did, on the pretext that the man was creating a "public disturbance". And it is surely true that a Black man has far more likelihood of being subject to this type of harassment that a White man does.

1 comment:

MakeCulture said...

Well, thankfully, the standard is much higher. My blog posts show that there is clear precedent that what Gates did indisputably did not rise to the actual standard for arrest based on reading the disorderly conduct statute consistent with 1st Amendment requirements.

You are right about police and prosecutorial abuse of "disorderly conduct." Also, writing "tumultuous behavior" is a giveaway that the cop is full of it.

But, the real debate is, considering how often police and prosecutors get away with it, especially with qualified immunity, and based on how the media spins these stories and what people take from them (i.e. shut up and obey), whether what I described earlier (1st Amendment, ect.) is ACTUALLY the law? If we measure law based on people's responses to commands backed by force... then the fact that most people learn the intended message of police brutality and alter their actions accordingly may lead to the conclusion that racial subordinations and arbitrary police force is the law...