I met Reginald Lyles in September, 1998 when I was Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Kansas, a mostly white church in an ethnically changing neighborhood. We had called Marcus Goodloe, a young Black man, as Associate Pastor for Community Outreach and Children and Youth Ministry. Marcus was a member of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, where Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. was pastor. Dr. Smith came to Kansas City to speak at the installation service for Marcus. Several Allen Temple members came along, Reggie among them. I got to know Reggie over that weekend, and to appreciate his heart for racial reconciliation. So I sit up and pay attention to anything he has to say regarding race relations.
Charles Kiker, Friends of Justice
As a retired 30 year cop (Captain) I was offended by our President’s backtracking in the latest example of racial profiling that occurred to Dr. Henry Louis Gates. I understand the politics. I realize the track the President is currently pursuing may be best for his political goals. However, I am still offended that he is being forced to backtrack on his original statement that the Cambridge police officers acted stupidly.
The officer who decided to arrest Dr. Gates did act stupidly.
Only a Black man can be accused of disorderly conduct (actually insulting a policeman) in his own living room and end up in jail. Dr. Gates, a Black man, eventually identified himself (whether quickly or slowly is immaterial). That identification proved that Dr. Gates was Dr. Gates, he was in his own home and he was employed as a professor at Harvard University. Yes, Dr. Gates was talking loud and was possibly insulting to the police. That may not be the wisest thing to do on the streets, in the wee hours of the morning, in an isolated area. But Dr. Gates was in his own living room! Not to mention, Dr. Gates is 58 years old, he has a degenerative hip and he walks with a limp and a cane.
Dr. Gates, while attempting to get the name of the investigating officer, was baited to come onto his own porch. Ah ha! Once Dr. Gates was on his porch he was not in his home but, in theory, in a public area where he could be arrested for disorderly conduct.
You see how totally disengenous the police officers were acting? How do you act disorderly in your own home? How do you disturb the peace in the middle of the day? According to the police officer, Dr. Gates was not disturbing the peace of the community, he disturbed the peace of that particular police oficer. Who in the neighborhood complained of disorderly conduct or of their peace being disturbed? No one!
Fortunately, the law doesn’t have a statute on insulting a police officer. A police officer’s peace cannot be disturbed. That is why the case was immediately dropped.
It is interesting that we do not hear of episodes where Black police officers are accused of arresting White folk for disturbing the peace in their own homes? Every Black Police officer knows there is no defense for arresting anyone for disturbing the officer’s peace. Nevertheless, Black officers must go along with the decision of this partcular Cambridge officer in order to keep the peace for themselves and to protect their own careers.
The President is a law professor and he was initially right. It was momentarily refreshing for me to hear, for once, a Black male being validated for experiencing the racial profiling we all have to endure. Unfortunately, by backtracking the President has left American Black males in a worse position. Popular culture now believes that police officers can arrest someone in their own home for disorderly conduct when only the peace of the officer has been disturbed. If an officer is offended for any reason any action he takes is justified, if not by law then by some street morality.
The police officer in the Dr. Gates matter should apologize and Dr. Gates should consider civil action against the City of Cambridge.