a blog by josef johann

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Matthew Yglesias on Prof. Gates' getting arrested:

Meanwhile, note that racial motivations or [their] absence have really nothing to do with the nature of Officer Crowley’s misconduct. What happened basically is that Crowley accused Gates, whether for good reason or not, of breaking into his own home. Gates, pissed off, offended Crowley. At which point Crowley, even though he was now perfectly aware that Gates was not guilty of anything, decided to exact revenge by manipulating the situation to create a trumped-up disorderly conduct charge. That’s not professional policing, and it’s not a good use of the City of Cambridge’s law enforcement resources. That’s why the charges were dropped, and that’s why it’s fair to say that Crowley was acting stupidly racial issues aside.*

And the asterisk:

* To consider a race-free instance, I was actually treated extremely rudely by an MPDC officer yesterday. I, wisely, just decided to not worry about it and move on. But suppose I’d decided to respond to him being rude by overreacting and blowing up at him. And then he decided to respond to me being rude by finding some pretext on which to arrest me. Neither the fact that the cop’s not a racist nor the fact that I had overreacted would make retaliating with a trumped-up charge the right way for the cop to respond.

Of course, the fact that the charge was dropped seems to be getting glazed over as though it were an inconsequential background piece (though not necessarily by Yglesias).

But, the charge was dropped. Unless one is committed to the a priori assumption that the officer was incompetent, he probably knew quite well that the charges were going to be dropped but arrested him anyway. There was no arrest for burglary, because the officer knew there was no burglar. There was only a misunderstanding that escalated into a baseless arrest.

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