Friday, July 24, 2009

Update on Gates Controversy

I can't believe this has gotten to the point where Pres. Obama speaks to that and only that at the White House presser today.

What brought this on is the statement from Mass. Police Union:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A multiracial group of police officers on Friday stood with the white officer who arrested a prominent black Harvard scholar and asked President Barack Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick to apologize for comments the union leaders called insulting.

Obama said Wednesday that Cambridge police "acted stupidly" during the disorderly conduct arrest of his friend, Henry Louis Gates Jr., in his own home near Harvard University. Gov. Deval Patrick said Gates' arrest was "every black man's nightmare."

Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said Obama's remarks were "misdirected" and the Cambridge police "deeply resent the implication" that race was a factor in the arrest.

Obama said that the issue had gotten out of hand and perhaps that speaks to racial issues in this country. But in reality it would not have gotten the national press it did receive had Obama not addressed it in his healthcare speech during the questions after.

It's strange state of affairs when a union is asking a Democrat President for an apology.

The problem here is that although the case can be made for Pres. Obama's original statement regarding the arrest of black men in this country, this incident was not indicative of that. Sgt. Crowley, by all accounts, followed protocol and has a past that reveals an outstanding officer who has even taught a class on racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black.

In other words, it was the wrong incident and the wrong policeman for Obama to use to make his point.

Pres. Obama is realizing that today, and that is why he made his statement, saying that he spoke personally with Sgt. Crowley, and although he didn't outright apologize he did say he wished he'd "calibrated those words differently."

It was a nice statement and should smooth things over. I still find it a bit ridiculous that this was a national issue at all.