Thanks A Lot Lynn

So last night President Obama gave a press conference that was supposed to be about healthcare, but what is being talked about today? Obama's answer to the last question at the presser about Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s arrest and the fact that he said the officer acted "stupidly." Now it's come out that the officer (ironically enough) teaches the racial profiling class at the Police Academy.

The white police sergeant criticized by President Barack Obama for arresting black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his Massachusetts home is a police academy expert on understanding racial profiling.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class about racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The course, called "Racial Profiling," teaches about different cultures that officers could encounter in their community "and how you don't want to single people out because of their ethnic background or the culture they come from," Fleming said.

To me this is representative of what our press has become. It's all about politics and playing the "gotcha" game. It never fails, at EVERY press conference someone tries to force Obama to talk about race. This time Obama was commenting on his friend, he even pointed out the bias he had in answering the question. Instead of focusing on all of the important things Obama said about racial profiling, our increasingly inept media chose to focus on the least newsworthy comment. No one who has commented or reported on this situation before knew all of the facts. Here's the video of the question and the answer:


Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts.

What's been reported though is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so...


... it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago.


Here, I'd get shot.


But so far, so good. They're -- they're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate what happens.

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is, is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house and, at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause.

And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be.

Taken in context, I honestly don't think the statement is that bad. Obama (contrary to popular opinion in the press) does NOT have any authority over local police departments. He gave his opinion, one that is shared by a lot of people, that a man shouldn't be arrested in his home after showing that it was in fact his home. Gates himself said he's glad the neighbor called the police because if someone was breaking in, he'd want them stopped. There's no problem with the police responding to a call, the issue arises when it's mentioned that Gates was arrested. At this point I doubt the truth of what happened is ever really going to come out because now it's become a media circus. In fact, the Cambridge police will be giving a press conference later today.

So instead of this being the teachable moment it could have been, it's now going to be a reason for people to yell over each other on TV while trying to get their point across (like I just saw on CNN with Roland Martin trying to get a word in edgewise on CNN). Now we are going to have all of the "race experts" out there all over TV talking about why the President was right or wrong to say the police officer acted "stupidly." It's all going to turn into one giant headache all because Lynn Sweet could't stay on topic during the HEALTH CARE presser.

[UPDATE] Pres. Obama responds to non-troversy:

"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement because I think it was a pretty straight forward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.


"I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do," the president told Moran. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion."

The president said he understands the sergeant who arrested Gates is an "outstanding police officer." But he added that with all that's going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, "it doesn't make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he's not causing a serious disturbance."


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