Friday, July 24, 2009

The "Joe the Plumberization" of Sgt. James Crowley

I don't ever recall any police officer in any situation that has caused controversy such as the Gates incident giving a statement to the press and answering questions. And so begins the "Joe the Plumberization" of Sgt. James Crowley. I'm going to go out on a very strong limb and expect Sgt. Crowley to be glorified by the right.

All one needs to do is watch the video of his interview and his snarky answer to his reaction of President Obama's comments to know where he stands. "I didn't vote for him." Followed up with a smirk. Gee, what a surprise. I'm shocked! Shocked, I say!
But that wasn't the question, Sgt. Crowley. The question was what did you think of the President's comments. Crowley immediately realized what his snarky response might have sounded like and walked it back with "I support the President of the United States 110% but I think he's way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts as he himself stated before he made that comment."
Although I tend to agree that it wasn't the best thing for President Obama to say, the fact that he prefaced his answer with acknowledging he wasn't sure of all the facts and that Skip Gates is a friend and therefore has a bias is something that the media is failing to mention more frequently as the story escalates. At least Sgt. Crowley knew as much to recognize that pretense.
Racism? Who knows?
Whether race played a role in this is anyone's guess. The only one who truly knows that is Sgt. Crowley. But one wonders if a belligerent, grouchy, elitist, caucasian Harvard professor would have been handcuffed and arrested in his own house after facts revealed that he broke in because he was keyless after a long trip returning from China.
Is Sgt. Crowley a racist? I don't know. He doesn't believe he is. Did race have something to do with the outcome of the situation? Quite possibly. As Eugene Robinson states through an interrupting Mika Brzezinski, "I believe that Sgt. Crowley's actions were at least in part motivated by racial bias. That does not mean that I believe Sgt. Crowley is a racist... I don't think of myself as a racist, but I'm certainly capable of acting in ways that are inappropriate that are animated by racial bias and I should be called on that."


Wolfe Tone said...


I also do not know if Sgt. Crowley is a racist, but I have gleaned one thing from all of this:

Sgt. Crowley is an asshole.

Doctor Biobrain said...

The only thing I'd disagree with is that I don't think Crowley knows if he's a racist. As someone else said, there are all sorts of degrees of racism and while I doubt Crowley is the overt David Duke sort of racist, I definitely could see race playing a strong role here.

The worst part is that I think the racial element keeps being put on the wrong angle. The media and Crowley's supporters keep talking as if the racism was the handling of the reported break-in and whether it was wrong for Crowley to demand to see Gates' driver's license. And that is what initially upset Gates, I'm sure. But the proper focus is whether Crowley was wrong in arresting him and whether that was an example of racism. And the media and Crowley's defenders continue to ignore that part. Because that's the part that he was wrong for. He could have EASILY defused that situation, but instead, allowed it to escalate until he arrested someone for being angry on their own property. And that's where the problem was.

Matt Osborne said...

Let's get one fact straight: Gates WAS NOT arrested for "breaking into" his house. He was arrested for embarrassing Officer Crowley in front of his fellow officers.

Crowley entered the house without Gates's permission (4th Amendment) and then refused to give his name or badge number (BIG non-no).

Crowley was incredibly unprofessional on BOTH counts. And when Gates called him on it, Crowley arrested him out of pure spite.

NowhereMan said...

A cop's job is to defuse the situation not escalate it.He was there to investigate whether someone broke into the house.Once he had established that Gates lived there,the investigation is over.It doesn't matter that Gates was acting rude or indignant,he was in his house.There is no law that says you can't yell at a cop.
Like I said instead of walking away,he behaves like a thug with a badge and asks Gates to step to the porch where a still seething Gates feels he was profiled continues to berate the cop but since they are now out in public,the cop uses the excuse he was disturbing the peace and arrested him.Obama was right it was stupid. which is why the police dept.acknowledged they fucked up by quickly dropping the charges.