Monday, July 27, 2009

Gates burglary 911 tapes released

The Boston Globe reports on the release of the 911 tapes on the Gates incident adds new factual information, now documented with the real-time recordings: 911 caller in Gates case unsure it was break-in 07/27/09.

The 911 caller described that the two men - who turned out to be Gates and his taxi driver - had suitcases there and might have been burglars or might have just been having trouble opening the door. She also did not mention that they were black, which the arresting officer's Incident Report had said was part of the 911 call she reported to him on the scene.

Bob Somerby is continuing his coverage of the shortcomings of the commentary on this incident, the latest in his 07/27/09 Daily Howler post. I'm not so comfortable with the class aspect that Bob is pounding on. While he's not wrong about the Beltway Village's lazy assumptions, the reality is that the Republicans of FOX News and OxyContin radio, including Party head Rush Limbaugh, are demagoguing this thing as an arrogant (aka, uppity) black man sassing a regular working-class white cop. David Brooks promoted that spin on the 07/24/09 PBS Newshour, which what sounds to me like a Freudian slip:

There are two prisms through which this can be seen. The first prism is through rape -- through race, excuse me, through race, which is we all understand cops picking on minorities. And that is the prism he saw it through and expressed himself.

The second prism is through class. A Harvard law professor, a Harvard law president criticizing a white working-class cop, not even white, working-class cop for being stupid. That is just a mistake. And so those two prisms were totally contradictory, and he got into trouble, and he caused trouble on both sides, frankly. [my emphasis]
The Republicans may have some success in demagoguing this. But we're talking about a police officer on duty making a highly questionable arrest. Whatever the officer's class background was or however socially sophisticated he may or may not be, at that moment he was acting as the agent of the state, not as a model member of the working class, or of his religious denomination, or whatever other group on which he may personally pride himself on being a member. He was acting as a police officer on duty and was required to follow the law. And "contempt of cop" is not a crime.

Also check out Mark Shields' ditzy comment in that Newshour segment. He was seemingly clueless about the actual implications of the event. He was just giving Obama bad theater criticism about his public statements on it. He was particular upset that Obama said the Cambridge police had handled it "stupidly". Shields explained what was to me an entirely new vocabulary standard: "Stupid is one of those buzzwords that we know you don't use about other human beings ..." I can't say I've ever heard that before.

Digby has a post on this that is outstanding even by her own high standards: Gatesgate 07/24/09. She makes the connection with the tasering issue.


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