- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
The Arrest of Leading Black Studies Expert Henry Louis Gates
The well-publicized arrest--soon to become a hot national and international civil rights issue--of Harvard Black Studies Professor Henry Louis Gates will bring new attention to issues of race, racism, and police discretion across the country.
Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct after falsely being accused of breaking into his own house in the upscale Cambridge neighborhood where he lives near Harvard University. Harvard, ironically, has received national attention for using its vast financial resources for generous scholarship program in which the average student gets to pay a tuition of only $10,000 out of $47,000, making Harvard one of the more financially accessible universities in America as well as one of the more academically elite universities in the world.
The Gates arrest for essentially disrespecting the authority of a policeman to challenge him for entering his own house pits the Cambridge Police Department against the "my home is my castle" attitude of most Americans. I have no doubt Cambridge will ultimately drop the charges: the earlier today that they do so, they smarter they will prove themselves to be.
Coming near the beginning of the Domelights controversy--whose ending would ideally be a top priority of the Nutter Administration--the Gates arrest shows the great discretionary power that individual police have, and the importance of them having the community experience, sociological and legal knowledge, and emotional intelligence to keep things in proportion and not escalate minor matters into major ones.
Across the world today, people will be discussing the role of race, racism and police discretion in the making of arrests and the bringing of criminal charges. It obviously matters in some cases as to whom one is in terms of what charges are brought, how they are adjuciated, and what sentences are given.
Would a white wealthy Harvard professor living in an expensive house near Harvard in similar circumstances have been arrested? The odds are prety good that the answer is no. A multitiered system of justice is a limited system of justice.
Cambridge, Massachusetts has long been a liberal enclave. Now it is being cast as the liberal Selma, Alabama. It is unlikely it will stay that way for long, and its likely corrective actions will send a good message to Philadelphia and other cities around the world.
It is amazing that this issue--and the Valley Swim Club issue--both came up in the first year of the Obama Administration. We may well be moving in the direction of a less angry, post-racial era, but we are clearly not there yet.