The Last Word- Gates, Crowley and Police

copI am going to let this be the last post on the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Henry L. Gates confrontation with Cambridge Police, by saying Crowley lied in his police report using the inflammatory assertion he was sent to the house to look for two black men carrying back packs, using all the frightful  imagery he could to justify his illegal arrest of Gates.  Police officers are not accustomed to people who assert their rights; they prefer people who are cooperative or acquiesce to the abuse which comes with the power of yielding a badge and a gun.   Someone in the comments sections of another post here at Miscellany101. com asked why didn’t the black officer present for Gates’ arrest “represent”, and the answer quite simply is because that black officer sees himself in much the same way as the white officer, who thinks civilians are always suspect no matter who they are or what they have or have not done.  I would hazard a guess that there are very few if any officers on the Cambridge police who would go out on a limb and say what Crowley did was wrong because it would literally be professional suicide.  Their lives depend on whether they have the support of one another, either during encounters with civilians or procedurally, doing paper work that makes false assertions like being called to a home break-in looking for two black men.  An officer like Crowley can have a very successful career with such sloppy police work because he has had the help or the backing of other officers who covered up his abuse.   Unfortunately, such attitude is more common than we may think.

Have you seen the latest about a Boston Police officer who referred to Gates as a “banana eating jungle monkey”?  Obviously you can have any opinion you want of someone, but doing so without expecting any reaction is the height of chutzpah.  Indeed in his missive regarding Gates,  officer Justin Barrett claims he would pepper spray Gates for a verbal barrage he, Barrett,  himself makes without fear of reprisal.  This is the problem with the police; they demand a deferential attitude from civilians who risk the wrath of the State  by way of brutality or  arrest if such deference is not forthcoming to the satisfaction of police.  So this is what Barrett says,

his (Gates) first priority of effort should be go get off the phone and comply with police, for if I was the officer he verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey I would have sprayed him in the face with OC deserving of his belligerent non-compliance.

It’s clear from this quote Barrett doesn’t understand his role as a law officer in relation to the public; instead he places himself the arbiter of the law who exacts punishment as he sees fit.  Barrett was also a member of the National Guard and a veteran and those roles played a part in shaping his attitudes towards members of the public.   While it is not a very intelligent thing to do, writing a media outlet with such overt language, it’s equally not smart to allow yourself to be identified as a member of the police department where you live and the Boston Police department has reacted swiftly, as did Barrett’s National Guard unit, both suspending him pending administrative review.  Good; perhaps Barrett doesn’t need to be in a position where he has to interact with a public he thinks “owes” him and not the law compliance.  However, even if Barrett was not exposed to the public officially he still has issues which make him an anachronism in today’s world.  His letter is directed towards a Boston Globe writer who he calls a “fool” and an “infidel”.  Earlier in the same letter he rhetorically asks if that same writer is still in the 5th grade in Catholic school.  Does that mean Barrett thinks Catholics are infidels or is the “infidel” remark a throwback to the days when he was serving in the military fighting the war on terror and infidels the world over?   Barrett’s world, and I think he has found a home among police officers in the Boston police department, is an encapsulated world where everyone on the inside is good, an “us” and everyone on the outside is bad, evil, against us, and there are no limits to fighting these against us elements who are fools, banana-eating jungle monkeys and infidels.

Our leaders led this charge back so many years ago…….2001 to be precise and they used the same kind of language as Barrett with no consequences for it.  In fact they may still enjoy a public following and there’s no reason to believe a cadre of supporters like Barrett and fellow law enforcement officers who emulate the “attitude” and language of those leaders in the past don’t think they are similarly entitled to do and say the same things AND get away with it!  I was also struck by his xenophobia, towards women, apparent with his remark how the writer should stay home and make him breakfast on Sunday mornings.  While such comments are harmless they show a callous regard to people he doesn’t know, and it is this type of person, an unknown, a stranger who Barrett would most likely would come in contact with as a police officer.  Would he be as callous in discharging his duties towards such a person, like Gates?  Most likely.

Finally Barrett sees nothing wrong with what he wrote; indeed he says that he’s not a racist and most likely believes that.  In an apology he made in response to the aforementioned letter, Barrett again claims he’s no racist and that he treats everyone with respect.  What’s chilling about that is a similar pronouncement was made about Sgt. James Crowley, that  he’s not racist and he teaches others about racial profiling in the police department and this total disconnect from reality, on the one hand one can spew the most specifically targeted racist infective yet claim he/it is not racist is what is surreal about the entire Gates-Crowley-Barrett-police force episode.  Just because you teach racial profiling to a department of like minded people doesn’t make you immune from the affliction, and likewise,  the mere announcement one is not a racist doesn’t mean it’s so, or that you can’t be a bad public servant who shouldn’t be turned loose on the public.

Hijab allowed in Georgia Courtrooms

hijab-demo-17jan04-741Any form of religious expression which is incontrovertibly linked to a religion should be classified as free speech in America and therefore the bearer or wearer should be allowed to go wherever need be.  It was disgraceful for personnel in a Georgia court room to cite a Muslim woman for contempt of court and sentence her to 10 days in prison for the “offense” of wearing her religiously mandated scarf to court.  She wasn’t scheduled to testify, she wasn’t a defendant or lawyer in court, she was merely accompanying a relative and was met at the door with the State’s infringement on her right to freedom of religion.  That has now changed, for the Muslim citizens of Georgia.

Georgia courtrooms will allow religious headgear after last year’s arrest of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her headscarf in a west Georgia courthouse.The Judicial Council of Georgia voted unanimously this week to allow religious and medical headgear into Georgia courtrooms. It also allows a person to request a private inspection if a security officer wants to conduct a search.

“If this had been a nun, no one would have required her to remove her habit,” said Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, who heads the Judicial Council. “I think this is a good rule, and I think it’s clear.”

The policy shift stems from the December 2008 arrest of Lisa Valentine, who was ordered to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court after she refused to remove her hijab at a courtroom in Douglasville, a town of about 20,000 people west of Atlanta. She was released in less than a day.

Muslim rights activists were infuriated by the incident, pressing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the incident and organizing a protest. The city also said its employees would take sensitivity training classes.

City officials at the time said they were trying to follow courtroom rules that restricted headgear, but the city said the officer who detained Valentine should have sought a solution that “would preserve the spirit of the law.”

Valentine, who did not immediately return phone messages Friday, said she was accompanying her nephew to a hearing when officials stopped her at the metal detector and told her she couldn’t enter the courtroom with the headscarf, known as a hijab.

She said she was stopped by officers when she objected and turned to leave, and that she was later brought before a municipal court judge who ordered her held for contempt of court.

City officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment, but Douglasville Police Chief Joe Whisenant characterized the incident at the time as a miscommunication.

The police department said in a news release that Valentine was found in contempt for fighting with one of the officers, not for wearing a scarf. The city said she was released after it was determined there had not been a fight.

Muslims are just as much a part of the American fabric as any other ethnic group and their rights as citizens cannot and should not be abridged because of personal dislikes or community wide prejudices.  Personal likes and dislikes have no place in determining what is legal and illegal.  The Constitution, and particularly the 1st amendment  says in clear language that the legislative body of this Republic cannot make any law prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.  In this regard we are different and better than our European cousins who bend the rules to satisfy contemporary societal mores usually directed towards those they deem distasteful.  Whether we like it or not, we have become a pluralistic society that is home to people of faiths, colors, creeds that span the entire breath of human existence; we must live under this umbrella of law that has been developed throughout the lifetime of America, sometimes carefully and deliberately, and at other times impulsively yet judiciously.  To do otherwise would make us criminals before the law and before our Creator.

More of the same


McClatchey Papers

The wife of Daniel Boyd, accused of being a terrorist ringleader, said Tuesday that her husband and two sons are “completely innocent” of charges that they plotted to kill themselves and others in the name of Islam.

Meeting at a restaurant in Garner on Tuesday afternoon, Sabrina Boyd sat covered head to toe in traditional Muslim garb, only her brown almond eyes visible. She and her husband, who years ago had military training in Afghanistan and fought with Muslim rebels against the Soviets, were committed to living pure and honest lives, she said. They believed in helping their neighbors and they attempted, on occasion, to help the children of immigrant Muslims hold their faith while growing up amid the pressures of American culture.

“My husband was not plotting,” Boyd said. “It’s premature for everyone to jump on the guilty bandwagon.”

Leaders of the Muslim American Society’s Raleigh branch made a similar point earlier in the day at a news conference held to urge the media not to convict the men before they’ve had a trial.

But Boyd, a 41-year-old mother of five and U.S.-born convert to Islam, reserved her sharpest comments for what she called a cruel trap that law enforcement authorities set up to get her out of her house Monday while agents scoured it for documents after the arrest of her husband, two sons and four other men.

Boyd, whose family lives in the Johnston County community of Willow Spring, described a harrowing experience Monday afternoon when she answered the door to find a man she thought was a family friend wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodied. He told her that Daniel and their three sons, Dylan, Noah and Zakariya, were in a serious car crash. He asked her to get into a Highway Patrol cruiser that would take her to Duke Hospital, where they were being treated.

Boyd summoned her daughter and pregnant daughter-in-law. They wrapped their heads in scarves, grabbed their Qurans and flew out the door. For Boyd, it was a particularly painful experience. Her 16-year-old son, Luqman, died in a car crash near their home in 2007.

When they arrived at Duke Hospital, the cruiser took them to a construction site at the rear of the facility. A man dressed as a doctor came out and asked whether she was the wife. When she said yes, he extended his hand. She told him she does not shake men’s hands. He then grabbed her wrist and handcuffed her.

“I’m not a doctor. I’m an agent and your family is not in the hospital,” he told her. “You’re being detained, and you need to cooperate with us.”

Boyd estimates she was then surrounded by 30 agents who frisked her and asked whether she had weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

They drove her in a car, separate from her daughter and daughter-in-law, to the Johnston County’s Sheriff’s Department, where she picked up Noah, 15, who was not arrested.

“That was an awful dirty trick,” Boyd said she told the agents. “You guys pulled a horrific lie on me and on my daughters. You know we’ve been through this before.”

U.S. District Attorney George E. B. Holding declined to respond to Boyd’s version. “I am sticking to the four corners of the indictment. We try our cases in court and won’t go back and forth before then,” he said Tuesday.

Trips called pilgrimages

Boyd said the many trips the family made abroad, especially to Jerusalem, were pilgrimages to give her sons an exposure to the Arabic language and a chance to experience the daily rhythms of life in predominantly Muslim communities.

“The point of a pilgrimage is to see the Al-Aksa mosque, the Dome of the Rock, to hear the call to prayer and to make a prayer,” she said.

Boyd said her husband and sons attempted to make two trips to Israel. Daniel and Noah were admitted in 2006. One year later, when her husband wanted to take Zakariya to Jerusalem to help him cope with his brother’s death, the two were denied entry at the airport in Tel Aviv. After being detained for two days, they were flown to France.

As to charges her family stockpiled military-style weapons, Boyd said her family enjoyed hunting and shooting. “They exercise their constitutional right to bear arms,” she said.

The Race Card-Again, from Main Stream Media

There was a rally in Jerusalem against Obama’s policies towards our petulant ally, in which he was called a racist.  Big deal.  Israelis are upset at what they think is a slight by the President against their occupation of Palestinian land and have resorted to playing the race card and it’s a much improved choice of words than those on display here.  Check out the vitriol levelled at the President of the United States.  The link provided is the only place you can find this video on the web today.  So much for free speech.

Who Played the Race Card in the Gates’ Arrest?

89236432RS003_The media, that’s who and with the insertion of the word black men, the media played us the public.  It  was able to inflame American passions about a subject we’re known to want to avoid, and embroil the Obama presidency at a time when it needs public support for issues like health care and Afghanistan.  Turns out the word “black” men was NOT used by the caller who placed the 911 call.  In fact when she was asked if the people she saw were black she said she wasn’t sure, so how did this description get inserted into media accounts??  Anyone?

One other interesting point I noticed about what was heard from the released police tapes is Sgt. Crowley asks the dispatch to send someone from Harvard’s police.  Why?  Gates supposedly supplied both his state’s driver’s license as well as his university identification; did Crowley not accept them, were they not good enough, were they suspect, would he only accept the word of a fellow police officer?   Perhaps this was the cause of Gates’ ire; having done everything he was asked to do, i.e. give identification and then some, it still was not good enough for Crowley to stop what at some point must have been considered harassment by Gates. 

The media gets knocked around a lot, and this time, it’s deserved.  If anyone thinks media doesn’t have an agenda, think again.  By touching on a hot button topic, race, the media was able to portray all in a way they determined and at a time and place of their choosing.  That said, this wasn’t an issue of bad policing, as I think it was, but rather a racial issue, which the media made.    One solution to that is to forsake organized, main stream, corporate media and turn to citizenship media.  It has some of the same risks, but it provides you more choices and I am a believer people are their best police, leaders, politicians, defenders, doctors, owners of companies.  Try it.

Harvard Scholar Disorderly

Identifying with the struggle of the people of Gaza

I don’t know why it took so long for this story to come to light, but better late than never, and although I’m not a fan of Alice Walker I admire her integrity for identifying with the struggle of people who are as oppressed as some of the people of Walker’s novels.  Now there are two African American women who have put their lives on the line by defying Israeli authority and going to Gaza to see first hand what it’s like there; the other being Cynthia McKinney.  Where are African-American males on this issue or any other American male for that matter?  You can read what Walker had to say here, at DesertPeace.  Hat tip to them.  Check out an interview with Walker while in Gaza below.

Islamic Law in the UK

The Islamophobes were up in arms when this issue began to receive the press it has, but here’s what they didn’t tell you.

Increasing numbers of non-Muslims are turning to Sharia courts to resolve commercial disputes and other civil matters, The Times has learnt.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) said that 5 per cent of its cases involved non-Muslims who were using the courts because they were less cumbersome and more informal than the English legal system.

Freed Chedie, a spokesman for Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siqqiqi, a barrister who set up the tribunal, said: “We put weight on oral agreements, whereas the British courts do not.”

In a case last month a non-Muslim Briton took his Muslim business partner to the tribunal to sort out a dispute over the profits in their car fleet company. “The non-Muslim claimed that there had been an oral agreement between the pair,” said Mr Chedie. “The tribunal found that because of certain things the Muslim man did, that agreement had existed. The non-Muslim was awarded £48,000.”

Imagine that, a non Muslim going before a Muslim court system in the UK and actually winning!?!?  We don’t know the percentage of cases where non Muslims prevailed against Muslims in Sharia court and is it really important to know?  What counts is it’s a voluntary process that is similar to other tribunals at work in the UK judicial system and it’s only binding if both parties agree and sign BEFORE their case is heard.  So what’s so extraordinary about this development in the UK?  Nothing at all.