As a Black man, you instinctively know that if the cops roll up on you, be cool. We know that there is already a very large target on our backs. Our wallets, combs, cell phones and hands are regularly mistaken as guns, knives or some other deadly weapon, and cops don’t even need a reason to unload 44 shots into our asses, stun or otherwise pummel us.
With that intimate understanding of our uneasy relationship with the dudes in blue, I’m perplexed as to why Henry Louis Gates, Jr., an educated man, chose to do other than comply with the officer’s (reasonable) request to provide proof that the residence, to which he was observed attempting to gain entry (and perceived as a burglar) was his.
When I was in law school, I sublet an apartment in Jersey City from a classmate. Apparently, his neighbor, who wasn’t privy to our little arrangement, saw me entering the apartment and promptly called the cops. As I was moving in at the time the fuzz was called, the door was slightly cracked, and I saw three officer coming slowly up the stairs towards the door, guns drawn.
Being the curious fellow I am, I opened the door and asked them if there was a problem. I was told that a break-in had been reported, and asked to produce identification, which I did promptly. They then asked me why I was in the apartment (this is my sublet), if I could prove it (here is my lease) and ultimately apologized for the inconvenience they had caused.
I thanked them and told them I understood why they took the steps the did. I mean, I’d call the cops if someone I didn’t recognize was rummaging through my neighbor’s house. Wouldn’t you?
I did not overreact. I did not get hostile. I did not scream at the officers, and I was not arrested.
WTF was HLG thinking? Let’s look at the facts:
1. HLG is a black man.
2. A white woman observed 2 black men (that she didn’t recognize) allegedly trying to forcibly enter a residence.
3. Said white woman called the cops, who responded to a call about an attempted BNE.
4. When the police arrived, HLG lost his f*cking mind and got his ass arrested.
I hold two people responsible for the incarceration of Mr. Gates: (1) the white woman who obviously doesn’t know who her neighbors are; and (2) Henry Louis Gates, who thoroughly overreacted to the situation.
Hank could have made this go away if he had observed this one simple rule: always listen to the police or (if he hadn’t let his Ivy league privilege go to his head and forgotten he was still black) don’t mess with the po-po.
I’ve said my piece.