Obama on Gates Arrest

On Monday, I wrote about Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates being arrested at his home for "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior" when police, who were called by a neighbor because Gates had to fiddle with a jammed door to get in, refused to leave after he provided proof of residency. Charges against Gates have since been dropped.

Last night, during his press conference, President Obama weighed in on the case, and he did not hold back:
The Gates arrest came up in the final question of the hourlong news conference in which Mr. Obama largely stuck to familiar talking points about why the country needs to overhaul its health care system right now. Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times asked him about the case and what it said about race relations in America.

Mr. Obama paused, then said, "Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here."

Then he made his only joke of the evening, as he speculated about what would happen if he were seen trying to force the door of his own home? "I guess this is my house now," he said, "so it probably wouldn't happen." Then, after a beat, he added, "Let's say my old house in Chicago. Here, I'd get shot."

..."I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in [the events]," Mr. Obama continued. "But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That's just a fact."
I really love him for saying that so plainly and unapologetically. And what an amazing thing to have a black president able to say that with an authority that a white president never would.

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