Official Frank Serpico Blog
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
For openerers we lact a system of journalism that has integrity.
Our government is spying on us from every sector and we are all busy nit picking.
Racism, ego or class struggle
At the beginning of the Obama-McCain campaign, I sent an e-mail to Tavis Smiley. He was to host the presidential debate between the candidates. I asked Mr. Smiley if he would ask the candidates a question from me as a retired police detective and expert on the subject of police corruption. I wanted to know what either of the candidates planned to do about police/community relations. Neither he nor his staff found my question worthy of neither mention nor my request warranting a response.
When a white policeman recently shot and killed Omar Edwards, a black police officer in civilian clothes, people asked if the shooting was racially motivated. A young, dedicated police officer last his life. To my knowledge Mr. Obama chose to remain silent.
When Henry Gates, a prominent black Harvard professor had difficulty opening the door to his home, a concerned citizen notified the police of a possible burglary in progress. The responding officer, Sgt. James Crowley, followed proper police procedure. The police report indicates that Mr. Gates became indignant and that the officer was subjecting him to this treatment only because he was a black man in America. When Crowley asked Gates to come outside, he replied, “I’ll talk to your mama outside.”
Can we really believe that if the police were responding to a similar situation and the subject was white that the police would not follow the same procedure and ask the subject to identify himself?
Phillip Martin, former NCAR race relations correspondent and friend of Gates also living in Cambridge said the president acted instinctively. Martin also had occasion to deal with the Cambridge police. When his burglar alarm went off accidentally he was confronted by police. He cooperated fully, providing the police with his id and the situation was diffused.
Mr. Gates however chose to pull the race card. Mr. Gates not only pulled the race card, he pulled the privilege card by providing his Harvard id card, telling officer Crowley, “You don’t know who you’re messing with” while attempting to reach the Cambridge chief of police by phone.
The key phrase in this dispute is Harvard professor. As if a professor is entitled to special privileges under the law.
Police officers who risk their lives every day should not be subject to threats and abuse when they are just doing their job. Any law abiding citizen, let alone a Harvard professor, should know this.
There may be a question of racism, but on whose part?
In this case the situation escalated. Mr. Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct charges that were later dropped when cooler minds prevailed. If the situation could not have been averted, it should have at least been minimized. But Mr. Gates, a member of the Harvard Old Boy’s Club reached out to his cronies for support, one being the President of the united States. With the economy in shambles, mr. Obama found the time to intercede, weighing in on a racial issue that was so non-racial that it was ridiculous. The Gates case has become the first significant racial issue created by Mr. Obama since becoming the nation’s first African-American president.
The president was personally outraged by the arrest of his Harvard crony but to my knowledge silent on the death of officer omar Edwards. Another club member to weigh in was the president of Harvard himself, feeling obliged to come to the rescue of Mr. Gates. Perhaps officer Crowley who has “a fine track record on racial sensitivity” could have been more tolerant, but he chose to arrest him.
Professor Gates, a prominent black scholar, could have been more cooperative, but the President of the United States should have known better than to have gotten drawn into a local-level issue, commenting that the police acted stupidly.
The police were not as the media, stoking the fire as usual, suggest breaking into a home in a prominently white neighborhood. Rather, they were simply investigating a report that a possible burglary was in progress. The police would have responded no matter what the color of the suspect.
I was honored to lecture at Harvard Law School on the subject of integrity, and quite frankly, I saw no difference between a Harvard faculty or a City College faculty other an elitist attitude.
Yes, I voted for Obama. Yes, African-Americans are sensitive to racial issues as are white Americans. We all have our own moods, emotions and frustrations, but I expected more from the leader of the free world than to get involved in a cronies personal dispute.
But it seems as exemplified in this case, that the problems we face in America go far beyond race to an issue of class and privilege. There are black Americans wrongfully accused languishing on death row. Mr. Obama I would venture to say would never have gotten into this self=created national drama if Mr. Gates were the average hard-working class laborer, white or black.
May I suggest that Mr. Obama begin by taking his own advice, “instead of flinging accusations,” “be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity,” before crying wolf.