Black racism, truth, and audio tape

Last night Greta van Susteren played the tapes of the 911 call, the Cambridge Police’ response to the call; and Crowley’s radio call saying that there was a gentleman who said he lived in the house but was being uncooperative. Then van Susteren interviewed Michael Giatoppo, Crowley’s former superior. Below is the full transcript of the program. (Video is here.)

Here are the two most revealing points in the transcript. First, Michael Giatoppo relays to van Susteren what Crowley told him about the incident a couple of hours after it had occurred:

… He went up and saw that the door wasn’t crashed open, but that it was closed, and made an inquiry, and Dr. Gates was on the other side of the door and refused to open the door and talk to him. And Jimmy got a little more suspicious when he got the reluctance on the part of the professor to cooperate with him.

It’s not usual—it’s pretty unusual that if you go to an accidental alarm call or a mistaken burglary call that the person on scene, the resident, wouldn’t say, Hey, Officer, you know, why are you here, and can I help you? And, Oh, yes, it’s all a mistake. I live here, and, What do you need? And that’s typically the response you get.

Second, the brief call from Crowley to the police:

SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE: I’m up with a gentleman says he resides here…


CROWLEY: … uncooperative. But keep the cars coming.

Uncooperative. Keep the cars coming.

The meaning of the situation from Crowley’s point of view becomes crystal clear. Lucia Whalen had seen two men breaking through the front door of a house (and the transcript of her 911 call makes the break-in very vivid). Crowley, who happened to be a half block away, hears the call and goes there and sees a man inside the front door. Instead of saying, “Officer, I live here, I had to break in the door because the door was damaged, here’s my ID, it was all a mistake, sorry about this,” Gates immediately starts calling Crowley a racist, refuses to cooperate with him or show him ID, claims to be a big shot and that Crowley will regret “messing” with him, and calls up some telephone number and loudly complains about Crowley. (See Crowley’s report for the fullest account of this.) So Crowley had every reason to be suspicious of him. Just as he said in his official report, he was “confused” by Gates’s behavior. If Gates were legitimately in the house, why was he carrying on against the officer?

As Steve Sailer pointed out last week:

My guess would be that by this point the cop thought it unlikely that this well-dressed middle-aged man was a common burglar, but was, consciously or unconsciously, becoming worried about a different scenario: Q. Why would an extremely angry man break into his own house?

A. Because his wife had locked him out?

Q. What did this enraged man do to his hypothetical wife after he broke in, or what would he do to her after the police left?

When somebody is as out of control emotionally toward a policeman as Gates was, they are often a danger to other civilians, such as their loved ones. I presume that Professor Gates doesn’t watch Cops much, but screaming It’s None Of Your Business, You Racist at a policeman who asks if there is anybody else in the house is traditionally seen by policemen as a warning sign that there might be somebody else, or her corpse, in the house.

This fuller account of what happened should silence the hordes of pious ignoramuses who have kept repeating for the last week, “Once Gates told him that it was his house, why didn’t Crowley just leave?” The answer is that Gates did not provide identification for some time after the interaction began, but instead kept loudly haranguing Crowley and calling him a racist. So Crowley had a suspicious situation on his hands. Then, once Gates had shown his ID and Crowley had determined that Gates was who he said he was, he did start to leave, but Gates kept haranguing him further, demanding his name, even though Crowley had already given it to him, until Crowley finally walked out and Gates followed him continuing his verbal abuse.

People who construct this situation as, “The officer should just have left,” are flapping their lips without knowing the facts.

However, even as it becomes even clearer how Gates’s own horrendous behavior created the very suspicions that he claimed were proof of white racism (which is a microcosm of black behavior and attitudes generally), a new mystery has opened up: apparently there was no identification of the breakers-in as black. Van Susteren doesn’t seem to deal with the question, and we’ll have to revisit the issue later. But, for the moment, to respond to the suspicion that Crowley made up the part about the two men being black, it would make no sense, after Crowley’s run-in with Gates and Gates’s accusations of racism and numerous threats to destroy Crowley’s career, for Crowley in writing up his report to make up a story that he had been told that the men were black, since that would give Gates some justification (from Gates’s insane point of view) for the charge of racial profiling—that is, Crowley had been told the men were black, and that (in Gates’s view) had made him assume the worst about Gates and not instantly believe that he was the resident of the house. But if Crowley had not heard that the men were black, then even the specious claim of racial profiling could not arise: Crowley had simply been told that there was a break-in, with no description of the men, he went to the door, and saw a man inside the door who instead of cooperating with him instantly started to call him a racist for no other reason than he, Crowley, was white. After such an event, there would be no reason for Crowley to concoct a tale that Lucia Whalen had told him in front of the house that the men were black; if anything, his belief that the two men were black would make things harder for Crowley from the point of view of fending off Gates’s charge of racial profiling. Besides which, Crowley would know that if he made up anything in his report, then in the high profile case that he already knew this was at the time he was writing the report, any such lie would be exposed. So there has to be some other explanation for Crowley’s statement that Lucia Whalen told him the men were black.

Here is the transcript.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, the tale of the tapes. We have been waiting for them, and now we have them. First, tape of the 911 call placed by a Good Samaritan reporting a possible break-in at Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates’s home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t know what’s happening. I just had an elder woman standing here, and she had noticed two gentlemen trying to get in a house at that number (DELETED). And they kind of had to barge in and they broke the screen door, and they finally got in. And when I had looked, I went further, closer to the house a little bit after the gentlemen were already in the house, I noticed two suitcases. So I’m not sure if these are two individuals who actually work there—I mean, who live there…

911 OPERATOR: Do you think they might have been breaking in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t know because I have no idea. I just noticed…

911 OPERATOR: Well, do you think the possibility might have been there? What do you mean barged in? Did they kick the door in or…

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, they were pushing the door in like—like a screen part of the front door was kind of, like, cut.

911 OPERATOR: (INAUDIBLE) the door itself, with the lock off?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They—I didn’t see a key or anything because I was a little bit away from the door, but I did notice that they pushed their…

911 OPERATOR: And what do these suitcases have to do with anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t know. I’m just saying that’s what I saw. I just…

911 OPERATOR: Do you know what apartment they broke into?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it’s just the first floor. I don’t even think that it’s an apartment. It’s (DELETED) It’s a house. It’s a yellow house (DELETED) I don’t know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key. But I did notice that they kind of used their shoulder to try to barge in, and they got in. I don’t know if they had a key or not because I couldn’t see from my angle. But you know, when I looked a little closely, that’s when I saw…

911 OPERATOR: White, black or Hispanic? Are they still in the house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They’re still in the house, I believe, yes.

911 OPERATOR: Are they white, black or Hispanic?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, there were two larger men. One looked kind of Hispanic, but I’m not really sure. And the other one entered, and I didn’t see what he looked like at all. I just saw it from a distance. And this older woman was worried, thinking someone’s been breaking in someone’s house. They’ve been barging in. And I—she interrupted me, and that’s when I had noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor, I guess.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Are you standing outside?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’m standing outside, yes.

911 OPERATOR: All right, well, the police are on the way. You can meet them when they get there.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now radio transmissions placed by Cambridge police responding to the call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Respond to (DELETED) for a possible B and E in progress. Two SPs barged their way into the home. They have suitcases. R-P 5—SP. Stand by. Trying to get further.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those SPs are still in the house, unknown on race. One may be a Hispanic male, not sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there an apartment number there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Negative on the apartment. Single family yellow house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you have the caller come to the front door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’m sorry, repeat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you have the caller come to the front door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s not her house. She doesn’t live there. She’s a witness in this.



SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE: I’m up with a gentleman says he resides here…


CROWLEY: … uncooperative. But keep the cars coming.

Can you also send the Harvard University police this way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can send them in.

CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) ID of a Henry Louis Gates.


VAN SUSTEREN: “On the Record” was on the road today. We went to Cambridge, where Officer Crowley’s former boss went “On the Record.”


VAN SUSTEREN: How soon after—what’s the soonest you spoke to Officer Crowley after this incident went down?

MICHAEL GIATOPPO, SGT. JAMES CROWLEY’S FORMER BOSS: He called me within a couple of hours that day after the incident.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did he tell you?

GIATOPPO: He asked me if I had a few minutes to listen to him, and he said, I want to tell you a story of what happened just a little while ago and wanted to run it by me. And we’ve been close friends. We talk all the time. And he ran it by me, and I said, Jimmy, you got all the probable cause that I think you need, unfortunate as it may have been that you had to resort to an arrest, you did the right thing. And he said, I had no choice.

And we talked a little bit about what kind of fall-out there might be. We talked that any time anybody from one of the colleges, especially Harvard, might get in trouble, you’re going to hear about it in the newspaper and it’s going to be at least a local story. And we figured, OK, it’s going to play well here in Boston in the short term. We never expected nor did we discuss that it would ever reach the magnitude and the significance that it has. But it has.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did he tell you happened?

GIATOPPO: He told me that he was on his way to Harvard Square. He wasn’t dispatched to the call. Other officers were dispatched, but they were not close, and he was a half a block away. Being the officer that he is, volunteering for trouble and wanting to help out any time he can, he could have kept driving and let the patrol people that was being dispatched handle it. He decided, as all good officers should, to stop and see if you can help immediately.

He pulled up. He met a citizen, who I don’t believe was a next-door neighbor, as has been said in the press, and asked what that person saw. And this woman said, I was walking by, I saw two men at the Gates door, whom she didn’t know. And they were talking about getting the door open, and thought that she saw one using force to at least try to get the door open. And Jimmy asked, OK, what do they look like? Do you have clothing, words to that effect. And said, OK, help’s coming. Why don’t you stay here. We’ll need to get your name and talk to you. And he said, Now, just stay away. I’m going to go up and investigate a little closer.

He went up and saw that the door wasn’t crashed open, but that it was closed, and made an inquiry, and Dr. Gates was on the other side of the door and refused to open the door and talk to him. And Jimmy got a little more suspicious when he got the reluctance on the part of the professor to cooperate with him.

It’s not usual—it’s pretty unusual that if you go to an accidental alarm call or a mistaken burglary call that the person on scene, the resident, wouldn’t say, Hey, Officer, you know, why are you here, and can I help you? And, Oh, yes, it’s all a mistake. I live here, and, What do you need? And that’s typically the response you get.

VAN SUSTEREN: And your impression of Officer Crowley? I know he’s a friend of yours. Good guy?

GIATOPPO: He’s a friend of mine, but if he wasn’t a friend of mine, he’s a model officer. And he has a high police IQ, if you will. He is smart. He doesn’t abuse anyone. He teaches use of force. He teaches a lot of these courses. He’s just a good representative of our police department. The people of Cambridge should be very proud of a guy like Crowley.

And I was personally disturbed to hear the word “stupidly” used. I don’t mean to get into that, but it hurt me for a number of reasons, most being that he’s a friend of mine and he’s far from stupid. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a kind guy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if—I don’t think you’re going to hear an apology from Jimmy because he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. But Jimmy is a big enough man to shake a hand, to sit at a table, appear in a meeting, make something good of this, and appear with—you know, and break bread with Dr. Gates, if need be or the parties wanted to. So this isn’t a rogue cop. This is a real gentleman and a credit to the people of Cambridge.

VAN SUSTEREN: When they were exchanging words, Professor Gates and also Crowley, was there—was anyone saying anything particularly offensive to the other? Or who’s—I mean, someone starts something. Did it go back and forth? What—what did Jimmy tell you happened that night?

GIATOPPO: He said that Dr. Gates started calling him a racist and playing the race card, if you will, and accusing him and yelling. And all Jimmy was trying to do was to get him to cooperate and find out what was going on in that home, making sure that there wasn’t an active break-in and be able to clear the call.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was he—was Officer Crowley—did Officer Crowley tell you he was called a racist when they were still inside the house or when they had both come back out on the porch?

GIATOPPO: My understanding from Jimmy is that it happened initially at the door and it went on while it was inside and outside, made various references. And when he got outside, he put on a little show, I guess, for the people who were out there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did Officer Crowley tell you the exact words he used, or what do you recall?

GIATOPPO: Same words in the police report, being called a racist, and, This is what happens to a black man in America, and you know, You’re harassing me, and this, that and the other. Crossed the line when he brought Jimmy’s mother into it, and if there’s an apology by anybody in this whole thing, Jimmy, Mr. Gates, the president, anybody, Mrs. Crowley is owed an apology. Jimmy’s mom is owed an apology for bringing her into this mess. And that would say—I would say on behalf of Jimmy, that’s the apology that is in this case

VAN SUSTEREN: What was said about his mother?

GIATOPPO: Well, it appears that Professor Gates may have engaged in high school type tactics of, Your mama, your mother, and this, that and the other, things that would do when you were bantering as a high school kid. And to actually come out and insinuate that his mother has any role in this, and what his inference was, was…

VAN SUSTEREN: In what way, though? I’m having a hard time—the mother reference.

GIATOPPO: Well, Greta, maybe in Wisconsin, they didn’t use the term ragging on each other. Maybe they did. But this is…

VAN SUSTEREN: We were—we were rough on each other!

GIATOPPO: Well, all right. All right.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I mean, it’s, like, what did he say about his mother? It’s just that…

GIATOPPO: Jimmy said, If you want to speak to me, you need to come outside. I’m not going to stay in your home. I’m leaving. And he made reference, I’ll talk to your mama outside. In other words, giving him the rag, offensive term of your mother. And your mama this and that. Crossed the line there. So an apology owed. He owes it to Jimmy’s mother, anyways, to bring her into this because God knows (INAUDIBLE) her out on this, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did Jimmy tell you that, that first conversation that was about two hours (INAUDIBLE) the incident, the reference to the mother?

GIATOPPO: Oh, yes. Absolutely. And he said, I was leaving. This guy came out on the porch and he forced my hand. And I would have been down the stairs and we would have been gone, but he just kept on and kept on. And he even brought my mother into it. And I warned him and said, If you don’t go inside, you’re going to be arrested for being a disorderly person and just breach of the peace. And then he wasn’t paying attention. He was carrying on.

And Jimmy actually took his handcuffs out and said, Do you understand what I’m saying? Next warning. Go back inside, stop it, and we’ll leave, it’s over, or you’re going to be arrested. He didn’t. Handcuffs go on.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the racial remarks, did Jimmy make any racial remarks at all?

GIATOPPO: No. None. None.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is—and the racial remarks that Professor Gates made, do you remember precisely? Because that actually (INAUDIBLE) try to sort of sort out exactly what it was Professor Gates said about the race because I got the mother concept.

GIATOPPO: He accused him of being a racist policeman and calling him a racist.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir. Thanks very much. Thank you.

Carol Iannone writes:

Well at least now we know the origin of “big” men in the 911 call. The caller said she saw “two larger men.” So that got translated into the cops at the station telling Gates the caller saw two big black men, and Gates thought that was the worst case of racial profiling he’d ever heard because he’s not big. So at least we have part of that mystery solved, the big part, if not the black part yet. And so Gates should be angry with the caller, not the cops, since it’s the caller who said “larger” men. But Gates has gone out of his way to say that he loves the caller, it’s the cop he’s angry with.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 28, 2009 07:54 AM | Send

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