A correction

Writing at Phi Beta Cons yesterday, Robert VerBruggen initially sympathized with but then criticized Officer Crowley: “Yeah, the yelling and carping about ‘racism’ is obnoxious, but when you’re arrested for breaking into your own home, don’t you get a little leeway?” I then posted an entry about VerBruggen in which I wrote:

VerBruggen is wrong. He doesn’t know the basic facts, because he hasn’t read the police report. Gates was not arrested for breaking into his own home. He was arrested for disorderly conduct, and the arrest occurred after he followed Officer Crowley out of the house to the street and continued yelling and screaming at him in front of the neighborhood and calling him a racist police officer. Crowley twice warned him that he was behaving in a disorderly way and told him to stop, and he didn’t stop. Then Crowley arrested him.

At Phi Beta Cons today, Dave, a reader whose comment was posted by the NRO staff, points out, correctly, that I got something wrong. When Crowley walked to the sidewalk, Gates, contrary to what I had said, did not follow him there, but continued yelling at him from the porch. In fact, Crowley’s report does not actually say that Gates “stayed on the porch,” but that, after Crowley gave Gates two warnings and Gates continued to yell at him, Crowley “then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates.” That’s the first we find out that Gates was on the porch rather than the sidewalk. Thus Dave is overstating things a bit when he says, “According to the police report, Gates never left his own porch.” The report does not actually state that Gates never left the porch, though that seems to be the case.

I was writing from memory when I wrote the entry and got the part about Gates going “to the street” wrong, and I’m sorry I led Candace de Russy to repeat my error in her entry on the subject. However my error does not affect the fundamental issue and could be corrected by simply leaving out the three words “to the street.” Without that phrase, my summary of Crowley’s report is completely correct.

Since so few people have read Crowley’s report in part or in full, it would be useful to quote the relevant section:

As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him. Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates’s outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest. I then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates.

Dave, however, thinks that the difference between being on the sidewalk and being on the porch does materially change the rights and wrongs of Gates’s behavior and Crowley’s arrest of him:

To my mind, where Mr. Gates was yelling at the officer was clearly not “the street,” no matter how rude he was. Would an old grouch yelling, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn,” from his own porch be arrested for disorderly conduct?

Astonishingly, Dave equates a man yelling at kids to get off his lawn with a man yelling insultingly and intimidatingly at a police officer, repeatedly calling him a racist, doing so in the hearing and sight of several passersby and police officers, and continuing the behavior despite the officer’s repeated warning to him to calm down or be arrested for disorderly conduct. Imagine a society in which people can carry on in this manner against police, and the police can do nothing except walk away with their tails between their legs. Police officers would have no respect, they would have no authority, and they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. It would be, in short, the fulfillment of Henry Louis Gates’s preferred vision of America, and Dave seems to share that vision.

And what about Mr. VerBruggen? In his post today, he does not acknowledge his error about the cause of Gates’s arrest, in fact he doesn’t even acknowledge having made the statement that I criticized. He insists that he had the basic facts right. How can he say this, when he wrote, and I repeat, “but when you’re arrested for breaking into your own home, don’t you get a little leeway?” Why doesn’t VerBruggen admit his error of saying that Gates was arrested for breaking into his home, when in fact he was arrested for carrying on like a maniac in front of the entire neighborhood?

The main point of my post, however, was not to point out Robert VerBruggen’s mistake, but to show that that such wholly false and damaging beliefs about the Gates incident have been running rife in our country because of the liberal media’s distortion of the truth and its suppression of the police report.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 22, 2009 08:00 PM | Send

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