After following the Henry Louis Gates arrest, I believe the racial component isn’t the issue, but perhaps the distraction.
Undoubtedly, people-of-color are unfairly targeted everyday by police. Since a 911 call was placed with no clear mention of race, I believe the arresting officer was abusing his power to ‘discipline’ Gates for his verbal taunting of the cop. Because Gates put up a VERBAL fight, it sounds like the cop went for the “let’s teach this guy a lesson” move that I’ve seen too many cops take.
By focusing on the more obvious issue of race, I’m afraid we’ll miss the opportunity to ask some important questions about how police have so much unchecked power, and how they can be better trained and held accountable to respecting civil rights.
I’ve seem too many folks arrested for saying things like “Why are you arresting him?” I’m afraid Henry Gates is another victim of saying too much. The big problem is, there’s absolutely nothing illegal about what he or thousands of Americans do every year when they ‘talk back’ to police. Even though charges may be dropped later in court, often times the damage is already done. This type of reactionary justice on the part of our police has to end.