Apparently, President Obama is surpised at the uproar over his comments made regarding the arrest of Louis Gates, Jr., an African-American academian from the Boston area.
Gates was arrested after getting belligerent with a police officer who responded to a report of an attempted break-in at his Cambridge home. As it turns out, Gates was returning from a trip and found his front door stuck shut. He gained access to the home using a rear door, then attempted to force or jimmy the front door open with the assistance of his driver. A passer-by witnessed this and, not knowing that it was Gates trying to gain access to his own home, made the report to the police.
Firstly, if Mr. Gates had responded coolly and shown his ID to the police officer when asked, the incident would have been over. However I, like many homeowners, have been in Gates’s position…swearing over an inanimate object that’s giving me problems, and having a chip on my shoulder when some unfortunate soul comes along and undeservedly gets the brunt of my frustration. So, that being said, I have some measure of compassion for Gates.
However, when a police officer requests that you show ID, and he has a valid reason for that request, you must comply! A report of an attempted burglary is certainly reason enough, in my opinion, to make that request. In getting belligerent with the responding officer, screaming, becoming a nuisance, and whatever else Gates did…well, I’m surprised he didn’t get tased!
But this article isn’t about Gates – it’s about the President. So let me take a moment to talk directly to Mr. Obama.
President Obama, you are the chief executive of this country. You ultimately decide what laws are going to be on the books. You’re the TOP COP. Although I give you kudos for not (further) dragging race into the situation, in making the comment about the Gates’s arrest, you publically condemned the officer’s actions. What you’ve done is to cause every police officer in these United States to have to take pause when acting. That could cost officers’ lives.
Let me put it this way – if I made a decision at my job, then the Surgeon General (I work at a hospital, so he’s the closest analogue that I have) made public comment denouncing my action without taking the time to talk to me or my superior about it, I’d be furious, and most of my department would be as well. If you had a problem with the officer, you should at least have spoken directly to him – or to his superiors! Otherwise, a simple, “I don’t know the specifics of the case; I wasn’t there, so it’s very difficult to hold an opinion either way” would have sufficed.
As a State-level politician, you used to know how to abstain (maybe you’ll remember your 129 “present” votes filed while you were an Illinois State Senator)…maybe you should learn to do so on the biggest political stage in the world.