Monday, July 27, 2009

GAWKER's Legal Review of Gates v Crowley

John Cook takes a look at Massachusetts laws related to the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates by Sergeant James Crowley--and finds strong evidence from existing accounts that Crowley, not Gates, broke the law when he arrested Gates for asking him to produce official identification:
Badge numbers are assigned for a reason, and Massachusetts requires its cops to carry ID cards for a reason: Cops can lie about their names, making it difficult or impossible for citizens to file complaints about their behavior after they've departed a scene. If every police officer was assumed to be honest and forthright in all instances, those laws wouldn't be on the books. What's more, there are a lot of people in the Boston area named Crowley, and a lot of them are police officers. Gates asked Crowley to comply with Massachusetts law by furnishing his full name and badge number, and all Crowley told him was that he was a sergeant and that his last name was Crowley. In other words, he did not comply with Gates' request.
There's also contemporaneous evidence that race was indeed an issue at the time of the arrest:
It's not clear who Gates was calling on the cordless phone, but according to Crowley, Gates was asking asking for "the chief" and said he was dealing with a "racist police officer." He was apparently trying to go over Crowley's head and make a complaint.
BTW, why couldn't the ACLU have told me this on Friday?