Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Don’t You Know You Should Always Listen to the Police


He should have been arrest for acting like a damn fool.

He should have been arrested for acting like a damn fool.

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.

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4 Comments

Filed under Smack talking

4 responses to “Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Don’t You Know You Should Always Listen to the Police

  1. schukumba

    Does anyone think that HLG milked the situation because he’s got a new book out “In Search of Our Roots” and it made for some free publicity in advance of his book signing tour? Me thinks that probably had something to do with it…hmmmm…

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  2. schukumba

    Mr. Burroughs, my only issue is that an intelligent Black man should always comport himself as such, so that the man doesn’t haul his ass off to jail on some trumped up ‘disturbing the peace’ charge. I’ve seen white folks go off on the police, and the cops just keep it moving. When we do it, our actions are an affront to their authority, and we must be made examples of.

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  3. Dick Burroughs

    Yeah, but in that town, a few blocks from Harvard, in a house that he owned, I take it that Mr. Gates was feeling a bit frisky about not being recognized as a dude that don’t break into folks houses.

    He was agitated about his position in the community not being recognized on sight (it would be similar to arresting Reggie Bush, in his own apartment when he was at USC) he was agitated because even after producing ID, copper still maintained his “who are you to raise your voice at me” attitude and he was agitated most of all because he’s a 59 year old man WHO JUST GOT OFF A 18 HOUR AIR FLIGHT from China and was under the weather.

    Under all those conditions, I’m suprised Big Bank Hang and straight smack a biatch! Black Celebrity Educators ain’t gettin’ no love from a flatfoot anyway…….what’s next, rolling Cornell West for Public Loitering

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  4. Walidah Walker

    First off, Stephen I love you! I had the same reaction upon hearing the entire story which I don’t think too many of us try to ascertain BEFORE forming an opinion. Moreover, I started wondering if perhaps HLG hadn’t been sipping in on some sizzer before trying to enter his home or if there was not an ulterior motive for his actions in the first place… I in no way claim to know the layout of his home but come on man what is this one way in one way out – – – is there not another door or portal of entry in the entire crib????

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