Atlantis Alumni

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Obama And Professor Gates

What Professor Gates did wrong: he went in your face with a cop.

What Obama did wrong: He weighed in, then came down on the wrong side of Gates vs. the cop.

We live in a thinly veiled police state. The police have unlimited power because they are rarely held accountable for their actions.

Rule: when you find yourself in a situation with a cop, play it cool. Trust me: I've been there.

Mansfield Frazier has it right:

While I doubt that the Harvard professor was ever in jeopardy of getting a cap busted off in his ass, one thing young inner-city blacks learn at an early age is that the police have guns, they are licensed and trained to use them, and are rarely, if ever, held accountable for their actions. The problem is, when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail...Welcome to the real world, Professor Gates.

1 comment:

Barbara Ann Levy/The Barbara Ann Levy Gallery said...

The other night I watched the media beat a dead horse over the Obama comments. I agree with Obama. It was a stupid handling of a situation. Perhaps it was not diplomatic but then again cops are rarely diplomatic in minority communities. He is the President. I agree with Jim that we live in a thinly veiled police state today. I would not have agreed if I were still in NYC where the police have bigger fish to fry but I now live in the state of Florida. I also live on the cusp of a minority community. My building is well integrated. I have had unfortunate experiences while living here and with the police.

There is no privacy in Florida. In my building alone one can find three police vehicles. We have a resident cop. I don't know about the others, whether they live here in the building or not. Their police vehicles in our residential parking lot are symbols of the state of our union. In NYC they are kept at the station. Cops become residents when they go home and leave their role at the station where it belongs. Not in Florida and this should be a heads up for the rest of our country. Florida is one of those red states.

I have seen numerous police vehicles breaking the law in Palm Beach County; going through lights, making wrong turns; there is a paternalistic culture here" as I say, not as I do." If you are as smart as I am this is beyond the beyond..obnoxious abuse of power...I notice these abuses. It's unethical behavior, like stealing.

In 2008 I was an exhibitor in a high end art fair in Miami, Florida. I got lost in the wrong part of Miami and tried to get assistance from a passing cop to help me by honking my horn and waving to him. In NYC a cop would have stopped his vehicle to find out why I was doing that and to see if he/she could help. Not here. He totally ignored me. It was hard to do that since we were the only vehicles in sight. Instead he passed me and turned into a gas station so I followed him there. He came over to my car and instead of asking me if I needed help, started to write me a ticket. He became abusive when I tried to explain what I was doing. My intention was not to break the law. I did get angry at his lack of compassion and abusive stance. He told me that if I didn't stop talking he would arrest me. Mind you I followed him! This was a serious abuse of power and not one that I recognized as being American but instead like the product of a military dictatorship. I had been entrapped. I didn't go to jail and have never been arrested in my 60 years of life but it taught me a lesson. I will never return to Miami and most likely leave this red state.

The Patriot Act was the key to the current abuses you see by police departments that deny racism, sexism, homophobia and any other discrimination against people with little economic or any other kind of power. Add the immigrant experience to the mix and one can find police behaviors informed by cultural norms that are not customarily seen as American. This is frightening to me. I grew up in Ohio and so saw the police as my protectors and as public servants.Times they are a changin'.

I had another experience in recent years in a community where there is excessive corruption in all forms of government to include the police. It is a well known fact by the local papers and citizens that the county has these sort of issues. Most people there continue to live in denial and/or pussy foot around the people who are the abusers. When I became vocal about some of these problems and started to complain about them I was pulled aside by an abusive cop in the community and who told me to "...mind my own business" with a threatening demeanor and vocal tone. Intimidation was used to silence the voice of a lightening rod who challanged the dysfunctional status quo.

So who are the police protecting these days?