Friday, July 31, 2009

Time to Take Out Some Trash

Ramblings and rants that have been bouncing around my brain lately:

1. As an employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our state reps and senators for doing an amazing job in Harrisburg. Truly.

By sticking to your convictions that it's better to be a good republican or a good democrat over all else, you've guaranteed that I won't be getting a paycheck for the foreseeable future. God forbid you actually work for the citizens of this fine Commonwealth instead of working to protect the little letter after your name.

You are all a bunch of complete assholes.

2. Wawa, I sing your virtues on a near-daily basis. I enjoy your coffee and the ease with which you allow me to purchase items quickly. I take baths in your buffalo blue cheese sauce.

So why you playing me like a fool? Extending Hoagiefest until August 9th?? Making sure both versions of the hoagiefest songs stick in my brain for another week?? How could you????

3. I think we need a better definition of racial profiling. Police officers responding to a call of an attempted break-in are not racially profiling anybody if they pull up and find a black guy inside a house which he entered through a window after not being able to open the door, EVEN IF THE BLACK GUY LIVES THERE! Police officers stopping a young black man who stands about 6 feet tall, weighs about 200 pounds, wearing blue running pants with a yellow stripe and a grey t-shirt an is doing nothing other than jogging at 11 pm are not racially profiling anyone IF THEY RECEIVED A DESCRIPTION OF A RAPE SUSPECT WHO WAS A YOUNG BLACK MAN WEARING RUNNING PANTS AND A GREY T-SHIRT AND IS 6 FEET TALL AND WEIGHS 200 LBS!

(The second one actually happened to a friend of mine in college. He never claimed racial profiling, but many of our friends did. He's a cop now.)

I worked in law enforcement for many years going back to my college days and I work in law enforcement now. Racial profiling DOES happen. There are bad cops and DA's and judges out there who jam people up for being black or Hispanic. BUT, what everyone calls racial profiling is usually not. The examples above are not profiling and the media needs to stop calling them profiling.

The police are given the task to respond to problems that we cannot deal with as regular citizens for, mostly, safety reasons. The Cambridge police receive a call of a possible break-in and the person in the house happens to be black and live there? How is that racial profiling? And taking it a step further, if you mouth off to a cop you are getting arrested. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever. That's a fact.

Had the Cambridge police been driving by and saw a black guy sitting on the porch and they stopped and bothered him, we could all cry racial profiling.

This very same thing happened in my own family. A relative was having a house built and decided to go poke around the construction site on a weekend. A neighbor saw a car parked in front of a house site and a guy poking around in all the stuff there and called the police to report a possible theft of construction supplies and equipment. The police rolled up and demanded to see my relative's ID and demanded to know what he was doing there.

Did I mention that we are white?

The police were doing their job. It doesn't matter what color any one is in that situation, the police have a job to do. Just because the perpetrator or the guy breaking into his own house is a minority does not make a situation one of racial profiling.


Anonymous said...


Once he identifies himself as the owner, the cop has no right to anything other than say "have a nice day."

If the guy was white, the call 1) probably doesn't get made, and 2) once he identifies himself as the owner of the house, the cop doesn't arrest him.

The cop was an idiot. That's why the charges were dropped. Period, end of story.

p.s. If the cop arrests you for not being respectful, though you are not breaking any law, he/she shouldn't be a cop.

I live in America, not Iran.

FFJewbacca said...

Poor misguided Anonymous.

If all that happened was the guy identified himself as the owner of the house, to the satisfaction of the police officer, then yes the police should have said, "have a nice day" and left.

That's not what happened though. The homeowner did the same thing that my relative did and made a massive issue out of the situation. You cannot create a public disturbance and not expect to at least get cited for disorderly conduct and that is usually what happens. My relative was probably about 10 seconds of mouthing off away from a citation but luckily backed off at the right time. From all reports, and face it, neither of us were there unless you happen to be one of the parties involved, Mr. Gates became irate and was doing what an old dispatcher in the town where I worked called "felonious hootin and hollerin." This was how he described situations where a citizen was approached by a police officer, asked for information, and proceeded to raise a ruckus instead of quietly providing the info.

I've prosecuted this case repeatedly. A police officer comes up on a van with a WHITE guy sleeping in it at 3 am to see if the guy's alright. He is and takes umbrage at the officer asking him questions and decides to scream at the cop about his rights, etc. Well, that's a citation for DC. It's a $25 fine. Or you fight it and hope the officer is a no-show.

And the call does get made regardless of race, if you live in a neighborhood with caring neighbors. The 911 transcript shows that the caller wasn't sure about race and was merely calling because she saw what she thought was a crime being committed. Same thing happened to me in 6th grade when I left my key in my room and couldn't get into my house after school. I climbed through an unlocked window and 5 minutes later most of the local constabulary were in my living room demanding proof that I lived there. Hard to prove when you're 11 or 12 and your name isn't on anything.

And don't read anything about the cop into the dropping of the charges, it happens more than you think in more situations than you can imagine.

FFJewbacca said...

If Mr. Gates can see the light, maybe anonymous can too:

Anonymous said...

Mr. gates sent flowers to the woman, not the cop.

The woman just placed a call. I don't think anything was said about her up there? (try reading it next time.) The cop arrested a black guy who refused to kiss his ass.

The cop said "we agree to disagree" afterward. The cop did not see any rays of light. Neither did the Boston cop who sent a mass e-mail in which he compared Henry Louis Gates Jr. to a "banana-eating jungle monkey". But no, no racism to see here (or up there).

You say you know cops. Whoop de doo. Try knowing some black people before you begin telling them what they know or don't know, or what their lives are like. Unless you are in fact black, in which case you're still wrong, but at least you are in a position to speak.

If you are not black, your opinion is pretty much worthless. But this being America, you're certainly entitled to one. And hopefully you won't ever get arrested for it.


Anonymous said...

P.S. Your assignment for next time, try learning something about the world -- something a little more than your tiny little morsel of it:

Act One. The Fat Blue Line.

While riding in a patrol car to research a novel, crime writer Richard Price witnessed a misunderstanding that for many people is pretty much accepted as an upsetting fact of life.

FFJewbacca said...

1. I know that Mr. Gates sent the flowers. That's the point.

2. The point that you're missing is that this is not a case of RACIAL PROFILING. I don't know what was said between the parties once the police were on scene. I don't know what was emailed by anyone to anyone else. There may have been blatantly racist comments flying back and forth and around the email system for the Cambridge Police. That was not the point of my original comments.

The point is that there was no profiling involved here. The police received a call and responded. They arrested a person for disorderly conduct. That's it.

Did they go too far? I don't believe so, but as I stated before I wasn't there. Neither were you, Anonymous. I'd urge you to read the actual MA crimes code definition of disorderly conduct before you decide whether this was a racially motivted incident.

But how can you possibly say that this is an instance of Racial Profiling? The lazy mainstream media can do that because they know what sells papers (yes I still read an actual newspaper) and ad time on TV. But what in this case leads you or anyone else to believe that Mr. Gates was profilied by the police before they responded to his house? Again, were there racist statements made during the course of this incident? I can't say for sure but I'd imagine that there were. You are confusing a possibly racially charged event with racial profiling.

Profiling was not at play here. Profiling is when the police use what they believe to be someone's natural tendencies and habits to determine if someone is doing something wrong. Yes that definition stinks, but here's an example: a young man is driving a car through a neighborhood late at night. He is stopped by police and questioned. He is released after satisfying the police officer's concerns about his presence in this neighborhood.

Now where is the profiling? To distill it to it's basest elements, say the young man is white and he's driving an expensive SUV around a predominantly black neighborhood known for its drug sales (and yes, Anonymous, there are predominantly black neighborhoods known for drug sales, that's not a racist comment but a fact of life) -- he was racially profiled because the police thought he was there to buy drugs. Say the young man was black and he's driving a POS around a very affluent neighborhood -- he was racially profiled because he didn't seem to belong where he was at the time. Each man was able to show the police officer that he was in the respective areas for legit reasons and let go, no harm, no foul. BUT racial profiling STILL occurred there. NOT in the case of Mr. Gates.

And thanks for resorting to the "If you are not black, your opinion is pretty much worthless" and "Your assignment for next time, try learning something about the world -- something a little more than your tiny little morsel of it" arguments. I know now what I'm dealing with. I hope when you finish your liberal arts degree on mom and dad's dime that you are able to find a job. Even if it's with the ACLU at least you'd be earning something on your own for probably the first time.

And don't get all huffy about that. I envy you and your bleeding heart. Having spent time on both sides of the law enforcement system and having had to both prosecute and defend cases based on blatant racial profiling I guess that I've become more cynical and less warm and fuzzy to the world -- you know, the one where any time a minority is arrested it was because of racial profiling and not because that person actually did something wrong.

Smitty Werben Jaeger Man Jensen said...

I was stopped on the street while drinking from a double barreled soda drink hat. The police asked me what was in the cans, and I told them it was nerve tonic (which I still think technically was true). But really it was Schaefer Light. Don't laugh, it's making a comeback.

I'm Irish and just happened to be wearing a t-shirt that said, "Kiss my arse. I'm Irish!" Was I racially profiled upon?

Anonymous said...

since you claim to be involved in the law, maybe you want to learn something about it (at least in Massachusetts, where this took place) -- and maybe even develop some respect for this lame little thing we call "rights"

Gates repeatedly requested the arresting officer's name and badge number. Gates says the officer provided neither, although the officer claims that he did, in fact, state his name. Was the officer required to provide this information?

Yes. Massachusetts law requires police officers to carry identification cards and present them upon request. Officers are also required to wear a "badge, tag, or label" with their name and/or identifying number. The law is aimed at precisely the situation in question—suspects who feel their rights are being violated. Few other states impose this requirement on their officers as a matter of law, but many individual police departments, such as the New York Police Department, have adopted it (PDF) as a matter of policy.

Gates initially refused to emerge from his home and provide identification. Was he required to?

No. There's nothing to stop an officer from requesting your presence on the front porch or asking you questions, but he cannot force you to identify yourself or come out of your house without probable cause. (The rules are different for drivers and immigrants, who are required to provide identification upon request.) If you don't feel like chatting, ask the officer whether you are free to go about your business. (If he answers no, you are being detained, which means the officer must acknowledge and abide by your full menu of civil rights, including the famous Miranda warnings if he intends to ask you any questions.)*

The arresting officer alleges that Gates shouted at him and threatened to speak to his "mama." He then arrested Gates for disorderly conduct. What, exactly, is disorderly conduct?

Behavior that might cause a riot. Massachusetts courts have limited the definition of disorderly conduct to: fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition for no legitimate purpose other than to cause public annoyance or alarm. (The statute, however, just says "idle and disorderly persons," a formulation that is, on its own, patently unconstitutional.) Violators may be imprisoned for up to six months, fined a maximum of $200, or both.

The stilted language in the Gates police report is intended to mirror the courts' awkward phrasing, but the state could never make the charge stick. The law is aimed not at mere irascibility but rather at unruly behavior likely to set off wider unrest. Accordingly, the behavior must take place in public or on private property where people tend to gather. While the police allege that a crowd had formed outside Gates' property, it is rare to see a disorderly conduct conviction for behavior on the suspect's own front porch. In addition, political speech is excluded from the statute because of the First Amendment. Alleging racial bias, as Gates was doing, and protesting arrest both represent core political speech.

Anonymous said...

Comes down to this:

Annoying old white guy who walks with a cane in his own house -- doesn't get arrested. Period.

Annoying old black guy who walks with a cane in his own house -- arrested for trying to start a riot.

Period, end of story motherfucker. Peace.

FFJewbacca said...

Good luck in the real world Anonymous. And since you were clearly on scene when this was happening you should continue to spread your gospel far and wide.

You still don't get it and you are still accepting what the media calls "racial profiling."

Police responding to a call of a possible break-in: NOT "racial profiling" regardless of what happens after they arrive.

Police (allegedly) using racial slurs: RACIST BEHAVIOR, NOT RACIAL PROFILING

Homeowner (allegedly) also using racial slurs: impolite behavior that WILL get you cited 9 times out of 10 for DC. Doesn't matter that the charges were dropped, it happens ALL THE TIME.

So congrats on continuing to miss the point of my original post that this WAS NOT RACIAL PROFLILING and keep on fighting the good fight by anonymously arguing with someone who has spent time as a police dispatcher who had to take calls from the public (some of which were clearly racially motivated), spent time as a prosecutor who had to make the final call on MANY cases that someone like you would cry were based on racial profiling (and lo and behold some were and I moved to dismiss plenty of DC cases where the police cited someone just because they got in their faces), spent time as a public defender who got to make the racial profiling argument repeatedly (and YES it does happen, just not in the Gates case) and who is again prosecuting and has to deal with racial issues almost every day.

Keep on arguing with your professors and classmates when school starts again and drop me a line when someone finally has enough of you and does something drastic.

AGAIN, to sum up since you were kind enough to do the same so succinctly, the Gates case while possibly having some racial and racist overtones was not a case of RACIAL PROFILING. It was a case of officers responding to a call. Once they were there did they act in a racist fashion? Maybe, I wasn't there. I can't say yes or no to that. BUT they did not racially profile anyone. They did not decide to investigate Mr. Gates because he is black. Had they, it WOULD HAVE BEEN racial profiling.

And again from my original post my old white male relative was about 10 seconds from being arrested for DC for getting in a cop's face when that cop much like Crowley in Cambridge was responding to a call of someone possibly committing a crime at a home that turned out to be his own. But for the actions of the backup officer who was able to defuse the situation my OLD WHITE relative would have been cited.

Racial Profiling? No. Police responding to a concerned neighbor's call that someone might be committing a crime? Yes. Police confronting an angry homeowner who escalates the situation? Yes. Stupid charges that were brought and dropped? Yes.

Racial Profiling? NO.

Smitty Werben Jaeger Man Jensen said...

So about my soda drink hat I have a case? Besides being Irish, I'm also black. Like Donovan McNabb.

Smitty Werben Jaeger Man Jensen said...


Anonymous said...

DAMN! TWO arrests off the front porch, two black profs, SAME cops.

Cambridge's Cops

New context from another black Harvard professor, who, like Gates, was asked to come out on his front porch and summarily arrested on charges of assault and battery on which he was subsequently acquitted. He was never told what he was being arrested for at the time, collapsed at the police station from a heart condition, and was taken to hospital where he was cuffed to his bed. He learned a lesson - do not step out of your door if a you are black and a Cambridge cop is knocking:

“The word around Harvard is never step outside your house with these guys,’’ Counter said in a phone interview. “We advise people not to step out. You call an attorney and stay in your house.’’

(far as opening your tiny white mind about how the rest of the world actually works, YOU'RE WELCOME)

Peace bro.

Smitty Werben Jaeger Man Jensen said...

I'm not even involved in this little pissing match you two have going on, but I have to say - wow! You must have been up all night researching and formulating this retort, my man. Did you cuff one in the sheets when you was done?

Clearly this a-hole is looking for publicity and/or a settlement. It happened three years ago. And he was reported to police by his ex-wife!

And seriously, you're missing the point of the original post. No racial profiling in Gates' case. Get a clue. Get a life. And get the f lost!!

FFJewbacca said...

Thank you Smitty, whoever you are. I was beginning to think I was crazy.

Smitty Werben Jaeger Man Jensen said...

I'm just a scurvy brother with a soda drink hat trying to get along in the world.