Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Great Gates Debate, Chapter 1

It is with great satisfaction that I post the FOX network take on the Gates debate:

On Monday, Fox News Legal Analyst and former New Jersey state Judge Andrew Napolitano told to the conservative network’s audience that police broke the law when they arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct during a conflict with police on his own property, but as Napolitano explained, the law only “allows an arrest for being disorderly if you are in public. ...So if Professor Gates was arrested because of the words he used to police inside his house, on the front porch or on the front lawn, it was an improper arrest.” Napolitano added that police violated Gates’ Fourth Amendment rights the minute they entered his home without his permission:

The law says, unless [a police officer] witnesses a felony…or unless he has a piece of paper from a judge—a search warrant or an arrest warrant—saying “you can go in that house,” he can’t go in the house. So when Professor Gates said “no you can’t come in,” and the police went in anyway [the police] violated the federal Constitution.

NOTE FROM MRS. L: Now you know why the charges were dropped so quickly. And why I think wellness checks should be punishable by death.


The Fox website continues:

Ever since President Obama criticized Gates’ arresting officer — who happens to be white — for mishandling this arrest, the right wing has ramped up its racially charged rhetoric against the President, with Fox’s Glenn Beck claiming that Obama’s statement somehow proves that the President “has a deep-seated hatred for white people.” If Beck actually bothered to watch his own network’s legal analysis, he’d know that this attack doesn’t hold water.

Read the police report HERE.


Remo said...

Sorry to pee on your cake but Napolitano is wrong. Police have the right to enter any location under certain circumstances i.e. exigenct circumstances (a report of a burglary, a report of an old woman dead under a pile of dry cleaning,etc...). There is a lot of grey area and a whole bunch of "it depends" in the mix. Napolitano was giving a strict interpretation of the law, which armchair-quarterbacks and bloggers tend to do.

Mrs. L said...

Napolitano's main point was that the cops didn't have the right to arrest Gates for disorderly conduct because he was shouting at them while on his own property, which is not considered a public place under the law. I am sure the cops arrested Gates with the full knowledge that they would have to drop the charges -- just to shut him up.

The fact that they had to resort to arresting means they lost control of the incident and had no other recourse.

Don't get me started on how stupid Crowley was to start his conversation with Gates by basically ordering him to come outside, then telling him he was there to investigate a break in, which any idiot who patrols a predominantly white neighborhood should realize might inflame one of its few black residents.

Crowley should have made the assumption that Gates was the home owner, instead of a possible perp and approached him with deference. The man has a limp and walks with a cane after all.

"Good afternoon, sir, I'm Sgt. Crowley with the Cambridge police. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but are you the owner of this house?

As far as a strict interpretation of the law goes, I hope to live for a time when I can at least expect to have the same rights as a criminal.