Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reggie Lewis' Widow (Sorta) Defends Accused Racist Officer Fingered by Obama

At the end of his listless press conference on health care/insurance reform last night, President Obama took time to address a recent incident in which an African-American Harvard professor was arrested for breaking into his own home (he was locked out and "jimmied" his way in; a burglary report was called in).

"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 he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home... "Separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-American and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. "That’s just a fact. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made."

As Obama and the arrestee fan the racial flames here - Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. apparently cried, "This is what happens to black men in America!” - police report tells a different story (The Boston Globe had a link to the pdf posted, but has since removed it, but a copied account can be found here).

Sgt. James Crowley flatly refuses to apologize for any alleged racism on his part, “I just have nothing to apologize for. It will never happen.”

According to the Globe, "it was not the first time he had a memorable encounter in the line of duty with a prominent black man. Nearly 16 years ago, as a Brandeis University police officer, Crowley desperately tried to save the life of Reggie Lewis after the Boston Celtics star collapsed while practicing in the school gym."

Crowley was a certified emergency medical technician when he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Lewis, to no avail, after the player’s heart stopped on July 27, 1993. In a Globe interview later that day, Crowley said he rushed to the university’s Shapiro Gymnasium, confirmed that Lewis had no pulse, and frantically tried to revive him.

“I just kept on going,’’ he said. “I just kept thinking, ‘Don’t let him die - just don’t die.’’’

Coming to the Sergeant's defense is the late Celtic's widow. From the Boston Herald:

Yesterday, Lewis’ widow, Donna Lewis, was floored to learn the embattled father of three on the thin blue line of a national debate on racism in America was the same man so determined to rescue her husband.

“That’s incredible,” Lewis, 44, exclaimed. “It’s an unfortunate situation. Hopefully, it can resolve itself. The most important thing is peace.”

Perhaps the real issue is that Obama, the noted basketball nut, begrudges Crowley for not doing enough to rescue the superstar back in 1993:

...he [Crowley] still recalls the pain he suffered when people back then questioned whether he had done enough to save the black athlete.

“Some people were saying ‘There’s the guy who killed Reggie Lewis’ afterward. I was broken-hearted. I cried for many nights,” he said.

Who knows.

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Pro-Hat Party said...

Police officer Crowley does not claim to have felt as though he was in danger, and says he believes that Gates was being truthful about it being his residence. So I don't really understand why Crowley stuck around to be yelled at, and it makes me uncomfortable that someone can simply be arrested for the crime of saying nasty things to a police officer under the auspices of "disorderly conduct." I'm not aware of the clause in the First Amendment that exempts police officers from angry criticism. Gates' reaction, if the police report is accurate, may have been inappropriate, but it was understandable, given that he was being accused of breaking into his own home. But if he was arrested simply because Crowley was angry or embarrassed at being mistreated, I don't think that's a defensible reaction.

Hugging Harold Reynolds said...

The fact is, thought, that Cworley was doing his due dilligence as an officer of the law in response to a complaint by one of the Prof's own neighbors in a case where someone was "jimmying" thre way into a residence. Black or white, that's reason for investigation. Someone filed a formal (reasonable) complaint. To peg this guy as a "racist" is unfair. As was it unfair to be hostile (if that was in fact the case) to someone simply doing his job. Should he have been arrested? You're right, probably not, but.

Pro-Hat Party said...

well, obama never called the cop a "racist" so your headline may be a bit misleading.

either way, i'm not disputing that the situation warranted a call to the police. i'd want a neighbor to call if someone was forcing his way into my front door -- even if that neighbor didn't realize it was me.

the prof should have kept his cool, and there was no reason for him to say that crap about "this is what happens to a black man in america."

all that being the case, after the cop verified it was the professor's own home, the cop should have left. end of story.

Will said...

Yes I'd say your headline is misleading about the president. Secondly, I think you wouldnt know a 'thing' about the way a middle aged black man feels in this predicament unless you are one yourself. One comment hit it on the head in the last sentence; "after the cop verified it was the prof. own home, the cop should have left. End of story."
Had the cop done the right thing, you wouldnt have that misleading title and we wouldnt be here commenting on this story period. Kudos to you for getting people to comment on your blog.

Hugging Harold Reynolds said...

He is accused of being racist and an apology's been demanded of him; and the president of the United States called him out during a prime time press conference for acting "stupidly" which preceded a lecture on US race relations. What's misleading?

Pro-Hat Party said...

I'd say "fingered by obama" is 100% misleading. The President hardly "called him out" - the President was responding to a question. "fingered" means pointing out something or someone. Not what happened.

I think it's important to remember what the president didn't say. He did not call the behavior of James Crowley, the arresting officer, racist. He did call Crowley's behavior stupid. And, really, I think it's hard to reach any other conclusion when you consider that Crowley arrested Gates after he realized Gates was "breaking in" to his own home. That's stupid--and Obama's right to say so. Even if Gates did act belligerently toward Crowley, you'd hope Crowley would be professional enough not to respond by slapping cuffs on Gates and taking him down to the station. The "contempt of cop" charge--which is what these disorderly conduct charges are often nicknamed--is really nothing more than an absue of power by the cop.

Back in the Bush years, the left was accused of having "Bush Derangement Syndrome." It's sad to see this blog buying into Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Hugging Harold Reynolds said...

Everyone knows the President only answers pre-approved/screened questions at these scripted conferences.

Hugging Harold Reynolds said...



That settles it. Let's let cooler heads prevail and support our boys in blue.

The point being ignored is that this officer once Frenched Reggie Lewis. Eww.

Will said...

Lets let our cooler head, not our personal biases influence our blog titles in the near future.

The boys in blue have my support. Home owners have my support. This boy in blue went too far, which is one reason why the charges were dropped.

Pro-Hat Party said...

your link proves nothing. certainly much less than the fact that the charges were dropped.

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