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Gates-gate Police Included Crucial False Detail in Police Report
Police apparently lied or accidentally included patently false facts in their written reports after the Gates-gate incident when they said they had received a report that two Black men were trying to force the door of a house. The woman who made the report, Lucia Whalen, has said through a lawyer that she never told the police the men were Black. And the Washington Post reports that the 911 recording confirms the woman's report: She never said the men were Black. (The sound isn't working in my computer, so I'm relying on the Washington Post written report, but the recording of the 911 call is available at the Washington Post.)
Nonetheless, the police report says that a woman called and said two Black men were breaking into a house.
Nearly all of the facts about what happened before Gates and Sgt. James Crowley met at the scene of a possible break-in are now known. The stories diverge when the two men are alone together in the house, navigating what both have since called an "unfortunate" encounter. That encounter exploded into a national incident, one that has since prompted President Obama to discuss the fraught relationship between minorities and police and to invite both Gates and Crowley to the White House for a beer.
A senior White House adviser said the three men would meet at the presidential mansion Thursday at 6 p.m.
When Whalen made the call to police, she told the dispatcher that she and another neighbor saw two men with two suitcases pressing on the front door of a yellow wood-frame house but that she was not sure they were trying to break in. At one point she even entertained the possibility that they lived there.
Whalen, who works at Harvard University's alumni magazine a few feet from Gates's house, had been vilified in online comments and blogs as a racist "white woman" who saw "two black men" trying to enter a home and assumed they were breaking and entering, but she had declined to comment until Sunday, when, through her attorney, she issued a statement knocking down a line in the police report filed after the incident. It describes Whalen telling Crowley, who responded to her call, that she saw "two black men with backpacks." The lawyer, Wendy J. Murphy, told CNN on Monday that Whalen did not identify the men by race at any point. Cambridge police officials, who released the tape of the 911 call, have said they stand by the report. Washington Post
Why would police lie about this detail? They might lie because if the woman told them the men were Black then that would give police more reason to suspect Gates when they arrived at his house. It might make their suspicion, behavior and investigation seem more reasonable. Police often need probably cause, and they often invent details after the fact in order to demonstrate that they had probable cause for the actions they took and the attitudes they brought to the situation.
However, as was apparent in the OJ Simpson case, the practice of "testilying" ultimately makes particularly Blacks trust police less and makes Black jury members less willing to rely on police testimony to return a gulity verdict. Whites, on the other hand, often believe what police say about Black people, even in cases such as Gates-gate, where police clearly reported a critical detail that were not true: that they had been told to look for two Black men.
Although color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior are always involved in interactions in the United States, even between people of the same skin color, we nonetheless often ask ourselves who injected the "racial" angle into a dispute. In fact whoever uses the word "racial" is injecting the "racial" angle, since the very existence of "race" has been conclusively disproven.
As it says at the American Journal of Color Arousal, citing the Human Genome Program,
"DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other."
In other words, the Human Genome Project has proven that, as a matter of scientific fact, that which we call "race" does not exist as a matter of biology, and so all references to "race" are references to a fallacy.
Everyone who uses the word "race" is inappropriately injecting the fallacy of race into a discussion of skin color. In this case, the Cambridge Police clearly incorrectly injected the word "race" into an official police report, reporting incorrectly that someone else had made a reference to skin color. The police should apologize for that, since that particular detail inflamed people across the world. I saw a report about this case on the nightly news in Brazil.
And we all should ask ourselves the following: Is it more useful to ask the caller what "race" the suspect is, even though people considered Black range in color from vanilla to jet black? Or would it be more useful to ask the 911 caller, "What is the color of the person's skin?" That question would illicit more specific answers, like "beige", "tan", "burnt sienna", "oak," "walnut".
This Gates-gate case offers a perfect example of the fallacy of "race" obscuring important details about the description of a person, such as the actual color of a person's skin on a continuum between beige and jet black. If the caller had said the man was of that "Black race", that would have satisfied the dispatcher, but would it mean that the suspect has skin that was beige or jet black.
Color-aroused ideation holds that it makes no difference, but police would never ask a caller whether a stolen automobile was "black or white" while assuming a priori that it could not be beige or brown. How many stolen cars could we identify if we only searched for "white" or "black" stolen cars while excluding all other possible colors? Asking for a suspect's "race" is like asking whether a car is a Cheverolet of a Ford. Even if you know it's Chevrolet that doesn't tell you whether it is a Vega or a Corvette. Likewise, "black or white" excludes a whole level of detail that would be essential in identifying a car or a person.