poisonwood's Diaryland Diary

Date: Jul. 23, 2009 . Time: 1:57 p.m.

harvard Entry:



It's hard to say how much racism was involved in the Har vard professor incident. It seems likely that if the prof and his driver had been white (assuming the driver was in fact black) that the police might not have been called in the first place. The officer, of course, had nothing to do with that part. I think what Obama had to say about it was pretty reasonable:

But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.

If in fact the professor had produced identification, the officer should absolutely not have arrested him, even if he was acting angrily or belligerently. The man was inside his own house and being hassle by cops! Any normal person would become angry in that situation, especially if they were exhausted after a long trip. The officer, even if he's done nothing wrong and was only responding to a call, should apologize and get off the guy's property.

To me, there is possibly racism here, and then there is also police overstepping bounds. Being rude to an officer inside your own house should not be grounds for arrest. I've heard the crime he was arrested for, "disorderly conduct", is often jokingly referred to as due to being not polite enough to an officer.

I lost my temper with police once, in Ireland. I'd been slogging around in the rain via public transport trying to get a passport so they'd stop taking my paycheck in taxes, and the cops wouldn't sign the form because they didn't know me personally. I found this outlandish, and was exhausted, frustrated and needed my paycheck, and just completely lost it. I start literally yelling at the officer. A lot. Did he arrest me? No. Could he have? Maybe. If it had been the US, would he have? Maybe. Should he have? Absolutely not. If someone behaves angrily in a situation that would make any reasonable person angry, that should not be grounds for arrest.

1:57 p.m. - Jul. 23, 2009


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