Thursday, August 13, 2009

Letter to the President

This was actually written by an acquaintance of mine and the original was forwarded to me by my mother who used to work with the author. Obviously the author's name has been deleted, but the content is all original.

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I have taken a keen interest in the incident involving Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. because a very similar event occurred to me a number of years ago. My incident occurred on Christmas Eve. My wife and I had been to my mother’s home for Christmas dinner and to exchange gifts and we were over there quite late and did not arrive back at our home until after 11:00 p.m. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac and our home is somewhat isolated because of that and we left no lights on that evening. When we arrived at the end of the cul-de-sac we saw a strange pick-up truck parked in our circular driveway directly in front of our front door. This frightened us because there had been several burglaries in the neighborhood in the previous two weeks and a strange pick-up truck had been seen in the neighborhood on those occasions. I immediately told my wife to go to a nearby convenience store and call the police. While she was doing that I hid in a wooded area near our driveway to try to get a license tag if the truck tried to leave. Fortunately, the police responded quickly and were on the scene in numbers within 8 or 10 minutes.

The officers basically surrounded our home and illuminated the area with floodlights. While this was going on I came out of the wooded area and apparently frightened several of the officers. Those officers actually pulled pistols and ordered me to the ground. I did exactly what they told me to do. I of course identified myself and tried to explain to them what I was doing in the wooded area; however, they did not appear to readily accept my explanation. Fortunately my wife arrived about that time and she, of course, identified me for the police officers.

Fortunately there was no burglary in process at my home. I found that out when one of the police officers looked in the pick-up truck and then began laughing. On the seat of the pick-up truck was a large Christmas card from three of my clients informing me that the pick-up truck was a gift from Santa Clause. The clients thought that my wife and I were inside asleep because all of the lights were out and they intended for me to find the truck the next morning.

I suppose that I could have gotten angry about being forced down onto the ground when I was at my own home. Two of the officers were black officers so I suppose that I could have accused them of racism or profiling. I might have even accused them of stupidity when they did not readily accept my explanation about who I was and what I was doing there. Frankly, I didn’t think of any of that. I was just happy that there was no burglary and that the fine police officers had responded so quickly and had taken charge of the situation. These officers showed absolutely no fear that evening even when they thought that burglars were in my home. I was proud of them and thanked all of them profusely. I told them that I felt a whole lot safer knowing that they were on the job and that they were able to respond so quickly to an apparent emergency situation. The thought never entered my mind to start accusing them of misconduct.

The very last thing I did before the officers left that evening was to give them a hug.

For some reason Professor Henry Louis Gates reacted completely differently. Rather than thanking the police officers for the service they provide he tried to provoke them by accusing the officers of racial profiling, racism, etc. He even confronted Sgt. James Crowley with street talk about “talking to your mama outside.”

When you found out about the incident you also reacted in an unusual manner. While admitting that you “did not have all the facts” you nevertheless announced to a national audience that the Cambridge police offers “had acted stupidly.” Why would you say such a thing, particularly when you did not have all of the facts? The answer quite simply is that you were friends with Professor Gates and the chip on your shoulder is about as big as the chip on Professor Gates’ shoulder.

Since the incident occurred, a lot of additional information about the incident has come forth. Contrary to the first report, the 911 caller did not identify the men as “black men.” She had no idea as to their race or color. She was just concerned because the men were using their shoulders to force entry into a house. Thank goodness she was civic minded enough to report this conduct to the police. By doing so she was trying to protect Professor Gates’ property.

The 911 caller has also been accused of racism and has been embarrassed and ridiculed because of that. At a press conference the other day this lady was asked about the conduct she observed on Professor Gates’ porch. She replied that there was a lot of screaming going on. She was then asked who was doing the screaming and she replied that “the police officers weren’t doing that.” She also stated that she did not see or hear the police officers do anything wrong. She was very careful however not to accuse Professor Gates directly of any misconduct because she clearly has been intimidated over the whole matter herself.

I don’t know whether there was any racism or racial profiling or stupidity going on on Professor Gates’ porch on the day of the incident or not; however, I hope not. I do know that the police officers were not guilty of any of that. Any racism or racial profiling came from Professor Gates or from your unfortunate comments the next day.

President Obama, wouldn’t this incident have ended up a whole lot better if Professor Gates had hugged the police officers and thanked them for their courage and commitment rather than turning on them? Wouldn’t we be a whole lot better off if you had gotten the facts and hadn’t made your “stupidity” comment? Our police officers and firemen are our finest citizens. They are underpaid and overworked and put their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe, you and Professor Gates included.

President Obama, you and Professor Henry Louis Gates ought to be ashamed of yourselves!

cc: Cambridge Police Department
Henry Louis Gates

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