Sunday, July 26, 2009

Harvard Professor Gates Arrested--When Should You Open the Door to Your Home for the Police

Most people believe they must open the door for the police and allow them in their home. However, the police should have a warrant to enter your home and should announce that they have a warrant. There must be probable cause for a police to arrest you. Probable cause is when the police have reason to believe you have committed a crime. Many times, if a citizen becomes angry and speaks to the officer in a manner that the officer feels is disrespectful and a challenge to their authority, what happened to Harvard Professor Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. could happen to you.

According to Professor Gates, Sgt James Crowley followed him into his house. When he became angry and apparently very arrogant about the officer suspecting him in his own home, the police arrested him. The black officer who was on the scene said he would have arrested Professor Gates too. He said Professor Gates was loud on his porch. However, he was not in the house to see or hear what happened to cause Sgt Crowley to call for back up and arrest him. If you look at the photo that has been splattered over the news, an officer was behind Professor Gates in his doorway. Professor Gates was handcuffed. It appears the officer was escorting Professor Gates out of his house in handcuffs.

I would like your comments on the following questions: What law was violated in Professor Gates' home? If what Professor Gates did was in violation of the law, why did the Cambridge Police Department drop the charges? What crime can you commit in your own home? To my knowledge, arrogance and anger directed at an uninvited officer in your own home is not a crime. So why was Professor Gates arrested? Was it racism, an abuse of police power or was it "over-reaction? Tell me what you think.

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