Re: 5-0

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Didn't we just have this thread?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 6:58 PM
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I called the cops once in 1995, when my apartment had been burgled. They commented on my roommate's lingerie, which the burglars had strewn all over the place, and told me they couldn't really do anything useful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 6:58 PM
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What did they think of the lingerie?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 6:59 PM
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I'm calling the police right now.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:02 PM
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It was actually kind of unpleasant. She had a lot of pretty underwear of various degrees of raciness -- the cop picked up something black and lacy, and asked "So, what does your roommate do for a living?" I'm not sure that he was implying anything -- I was kind of upset at the time by the whole burglary thing -- but I'm not sure that he wasn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:06 PM
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Yeah, lingerie is generally not intended to do anything useful. The useful kind is usually called underwear.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:08 PM
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Called the cops for the first time a month or so ago because my work got broken into and I was the responsible person on duty. They were about as helpful as you might imagine, given a break-in where nothing was stolen and the vandals were long gone. And then I found out we don't even have any insurance that would cover the damages, so there was really no point in calling them at all.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:09 PM
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Wow, the cop sounds like an asshole.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:09 PM
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Lingerie is intended to do something useful, it just isn't intended to do the same useful thing that underwear is intended to do.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:09 PM
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6 to 2, 8 to 5. I'm really slow today.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:10 PM
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You already know, if you read the thread in which it came up, that I didn't immediately call the cops when I was mugged for $100 at the ATM.

The only time I've called the cops was when some idiot tried to break into my second floor apartment in the middle of the day while I was home. He was so stupid, pretending that he'd been trying to visit a friend in some other apartment. It all turned out for the best: he'd been randomly trying doors all around the neighborhood. Several of us in the neighborhood had called in, and 30 minutes later the guy was apprehended a block down the street. Though I was called upon to be present at the court hearing, it was interesting to watch how many cases were clearly handled between prosecutor, defense and judge without any need for actual testimony.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:11 PM
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I never have. I take care of my own business, so long as said business is within the meager caretaking capacity of one lazy, easily-distracted nerd. I think I would call the police in the event of violence (fight, breaking lock or window, etc.), an apparent threat of violence or a particularly unattractive nuisance, but I wonder whether I would quicker to call (i.e., more suspicious, non-confrontational, subconsciously racist) than I like to believe.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:12 PM
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We usually call 911 after hearing gunshots (happens maybe 4-5 times a year in my neighborhood). It doesn't seem to do any good. Much creepier than random gunshots was the night there were no gunshots or anything, but suddenly several cop cars were cruising the neighborhood with all lights (including headlights) out.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:13 PM
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A couple of times when a mob turned up to attack my next door neighbour when I was a teenager.

Once when my car was stolen.

Once when there was an attempted rape/assault in the shared house I lived in. [I've mentioned this before, I think]

Once when some kids burned out a stolen car in front of my first house in Oxford.

I think that's it. I didn't phone them when I'd been attacked myself, and never when it was 'neighbourhood' violence and petty crime growing up.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:13 PM
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I'm calling the cops right now because Inter Milan is in the process of robbing F.C. Barcelona, my football club, blind.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:22 PM
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I don't think I've ever called the cops in the course of my everyday life. At work I'm often responsible for running radio dispatch, so in that context I call law enforcement all the time. Very rarely for anything crime-related, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:23 PM
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Only once--domestic violence next door.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:25 PM
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I can't think of any time that I've called the police. There are a few times when I was a kid and was around when the police were called (crazy dude down the street standing outside his own house and shooting at, gunshots near my grandmother's house) but nothing since. I had money stolen out of a bank account once, but it was somehow done electronically, the bank noticed and replaced it, and I suppose they handled whatever police-contacting had to be done.

I guess this means my life has been pretty sheltered.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:27 PM
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I have called the cops a few times; what I'm willing to call for definitely depends on where I am and my opinion of the cops.

I believe the first time was when my car stereo got stolen - I called largely for insurance reasons. Very nice, pleasant man came out, we had a good conversation, he tried to get me to bump up the value of the things taken from my car, and thanked me for saving him from having to be the one who took a call that came in while he was with me, regarding a body dumped in the middle of a busy road. Ah, Stockton.

Second time, someone hit my friend's car in a parking lot and then took off. She was freaking out about it (it may have belonged to her parents, not her?) so I dealt with everything. Again, good interaction.

I feel like there might have been more but I really can't recall. Oh, yeah. I called the cops when I saw men storming the house across the street with guns. Turned out they were cops, too, only they weren't marked as such. (This seems not smart).

Conclusion? It's good to be a white middle-class person reporting a low level property crime for insurance reasons.

(Also, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I've called the cops in my nice suburban town when a party was still going completely out of control at 3 am across the block and all I wanted to do was sleep and no amount of cajoling would get them to SHUT THE FUCK UP).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:28 PM
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I must have called the cops when my car was stolen (from my high school!) because it was later recovered. (Also my car was broken into, at school.) But I don't have any recollection of that, or any other time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:30 PM
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Oh, teo reminds me that I had to call the cops a number of times while working as a manager at the theater. Fights, lost children, etc, etc, etc.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:30 PM
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1. When I was about 10, and the fork of my bike broke, and one of my classmates said his dad could weld it, and not only did he not weld it but his son also stole my brand new banana seat. That they did jack about this obvious injustice informed my view of the cops.

2. When a later bike was stolen. Again, thanks for nothing, officer.

3. When I saw a guy getting beat up by two other guys against the hood of a pickup. Unfortunately, this was in rural Oregon, so it took me a while to get to a phone, and these guys all looked pretty feral, so I thought it inadvisable for little me and my little gf to intervene. Sorry, getting-beat-up guy.

4. When I came across an old guy and his wife who'd just been mugged and were pretty shaken. One of the cops politely got out of the patrol car and filled out a report, while his partner sat in the car, rolled his eyes and all but said, don't waste my fucking time.

5. After I chased a guy out of our kitchen at 4 in the morning and later discovered that he'd nicked my wife's purse. Nice cop, very polite, but basically told us we were out of luck.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:31 PM
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My brother was the president of his fraternity.

One time, the entire frat put donuts on their penises and took polaroid photos of their crotches. Next, they sent a box of donuts over to their rival frat, with a note that said, "Love, your sister sorority!" Then, a week later, they mailed over the polaroids.

On a weekday afternoon, the frat is mostly empty, and my brother gets a phone call from a raging guy from the other frat. They had just recieved polaroids. "WE'RE COMING OVER AND WE'RE GONNA KILL YOU GUYS!" he says.

So my brother gets off the phone and calls the cops (ie, appropriate for this thread), and says, "A bunch of guys are on their way over to beat us up, we'd appreciate it if you would break up the fight."

By and by the other frat arrives, and there's some yelling and futzing around, and then the cops arrive, looking thoroughly annoyed. The one cop says (wearily, I'm sure), "What's going on here?"

The head guy from the other frat says, "They put donuts on their dicks! AND WE ATE THEM!" The cop looks at him askance and says "Why'd you do that, son?"

That's the story. I find it very hilarious.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:38 PM
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I find it very hilarious.

Oh man. As well you might.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:42 PM
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Were the donuts they sent over the same ones they photographed?


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:50 PM
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I asked that as well. No, the tainted ones kind of fell apart when they took them off the penises.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:52 PM
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Tainted!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:53 PM
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That makes it even more hilarious.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:53 PM
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At least a dozen times for car accidents on the road I grew up on. (Well, that was mostly my parents.)

Two or three times to report reckless driving/possible DUIs. No idea how these turned out; the drivers were so out of control that it's hard to believe they didn't come to grief all on their own.

A couple of times after-the-fact for burglaries. Took reports, not much to be done.

Once recently, and probably several times in the past that I can't clearly remember, on behalf of total strangers on the street who were in severe physical distress. Technically that was just calling 911; the paramedics came rather than the police. They were always responsive and generally helpful, at least as long as I was in sight. (Didn't stay to see what happened.)

A number of times in response to known/recurring issues with library patrons. This is probably the least helpful type of interaction, mostly because the sad cases need families to advocate for them and the dangerous cases can't be usefully charged with the kind of stuff you can catch them committing.

Several times on behalf of someone unable to advocate for themselves, resulting in an absolutely infuriating series of events (being ignored and re-directed all over the city in subzero temperatures late at night) involving three sets of officers, followed by a very positive experience with the last pair (black women, fwiw).

Once in response to a situation involving someone I knew that appeared to be a kidnapping but was not. Five officers were involved; four were middling-to-harmless and one was doggedly helpful, pragmatic, blunt, and not in the least cheerful or friendly -- just very, very effective.

I tend *not* to call when: the victim doesn't want them called; when I'm not sure there is a victim; I'm sure there is no value to calling them; I'm worried about endangering someone else as a witness; the demographics of the situation are such that I think the person is likely to be re-victimized more than helped.

Oh, and the most horrible recent one, involving an in-person encounter in which an excellent witness description of a shooter was completely ignored. Merciful heavens but that was terrible police work.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:53 PM
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28: I had no idea you loved silly puns so much.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:54 PM
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You know, cops like doughnuts.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:56 PM
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Witt says "Merciful Heavens"! My stars.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:56 PM
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Once recently, and probably several times in the past that I can't clearly remember, on behalf of total strangers on the street who were in severe physical distress. Technically that was just calling 911;

Forgot about that category as well. Recently had to do this for a homeless man having a seizure at a bus stop. I was amazed at the response time - they were there in about 2 minutes.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 7:56 PM
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One of my best friends in the world is a Boston cop. I don't call him nearly as often as I should.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:03 PM
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Response time when I was calling as a business manager reporting a break-in was excellent -- no more than 7 or 8 minutes.

The other employee who was with me at the time of discovering the break-in had a hilarious story. It seems his neighbors (in a solidly lower-middle class neighborhood) had their house broken into and ransacked -- several thousand dollars worth of electronics were stolen. Then, the perpetrator called their home number and left a message, with his street name, to the effect that if they called the police, he would come and murder them. Police were duly notified, but alas, this did not meet the threshold for further investigation.

Similar incident, an acquaintance of mine was run down by a car while biking. Since he is a punk rocker, he didn't feel it would be worthwhile to call the police. However, his mother badgered him until he finally relented and went downtown to file a report. Despite the fact that several witnesses could identify the perpetrator, and had taken down the license plate number, and even though he had suffered broken bones and other injuries, he was told, *surprise, sur-fucking-prise* that this hit-and-run did not meet the standard for prosecution. Which was, according to the police, that someone be "killed or almost-killed". And yet people wonder why so many bicyclists have been killed by hit-and-run drivers here in the past few years. Go figure.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:04 PM
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31: American cops like doughnuts. What do cops in Argentina like? What about Chinese cops? The cops in John Woo movies never break from shooting up restaurants, churches and hospitals for crullers, but John Woo movies might (might) not be entirely reliable when it comes to law enforcement snacking mores.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:04 PM
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I called the cops when my apartment was burgled. I don't remember why, maybe the apt manager insisted (a friend my own age) the lock needed replacing with a deadbolt.

Anyway, the burglars and stereo were long gone. My cat was okay. The cop asked if I had insurance, I didn't, and I got the impression I was under suspicion. Cop took descriptions and serial numbers, and those came in handy later, 'cause I saw the items in a retail store and got them back.

The only other interactions I have had with cops is being taken in for my own protection, staggering in the middle of the freeway drunk, freezing.

Well, conversations and seeing them around. I tend to walk the dogs around parks and playgrounds in neighborhoods not my own, so every cop in five cities knos me by sight. We wave at each other.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:05 PM
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People talk about calling the cops as though its some wonderful panacaea. I've never seen the presence of a police officer improve a situation. They make the miserable more miserable and the destitute more destitute. You're better off cultivating the acquaintance of large friends, who might be expected to stand by you if you were actually in danger. Christ knows the fucking pigs never would.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:07 PM
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've never seen the presence of a police officer improve a situation.

What about 23?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:09 PM
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I guess you didn't see it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:10 PM
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38: I wholeheartedly agree. The benefits to the miserable and the destitute of a society in which the person with the most and largest friends wins cannot be overstated.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:17 PM
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Yesterday afternoon I was working the desk when a guy who had been on my tour earlier that afternoon came in and said that one of the other guys who had been on the tour, and who hadn't taken a hat or any water, had collapsed at Pueblo Bonito. Both law enforcement rangers happened to be in the office, so I went back there (no calling needed!) and let them know. They drove out there and helped the guy out, and everything ended up fine.

That's the sort of context in which I usually call law enforcement. Also pulling cars out of the mud when they get stuck. That sort of thing.

We did have a really weird missing-person incident a couple of months ago. I ran the radio and kept the dispatch log. It all turned out for the best, but man, dispatching is stressful.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:19 PM
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I have never called the cops, but I threatened to do so once. The threat calmed the situation sufficiently.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:33 PM
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My brother called the cops when his car was stolen. The cops found the car, and got into a high speed chase with the guy who stole it. This ended with my brother's car getting totaled. The cops arrested the guy, but told my brother that the courts were so backed up where he lived that there was little chance the guy would do jail time. The one thing the cops could do, and did do, was rough the guy up before taking him in. This pleased my brother.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:35 PM
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38: People talk about calling the cops as though its some wonderful panacaea. I've never seen the presence of a police officer improve a situation

Minne, people aren't necessarily talking about calling the cops in that way at all. There are a number of comments here saying that people call the cops only in rare, certain circumstances.

Police officers really can function as keepers of the peace. You are overreacting, my friend.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:40 PM
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Hmm. Twice for post-midnight screaming matches in the street that seemed likely to turn violent. Once as I watched a guy (apparently just some junkie) break into my MIL's car with a screwdriver. Once when, 15 minutes before guests for Iris' 5th B-day party were due to arrive (midday on a Saturday), a carful of people were getting high and dropping the evidence (a blunt in a Pepsi bottle) in the gutter directly in front of my house. I think once or twice for drug activity in the park down the street (more often I've walked through conspicuously with the dog). And once when my apt. with BOGF was broken into by a spiderman-style cat burglar. Oh, and once for theft of a $300 ladder, plus another few hundred worth of stuff, from our porch (that was just for insurance purposes).

The drugs in the park stuff is the only call that is at all marginal in my mind, and it's mostly been because, at various points in the past 8 years, that park (where we walk our dog and swing our children and have picnics) has threatened to turn into an open air drug market. I've certainly seen plenty of marginal to plainly illegal activity that has not engendered cop calls.

I certainly get where T-NC is coming from.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:42 PM
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The cops apprehended Rod Poole's murderer, so that's something.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:43 PM
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Oh, and I was also robbed in my apt. in college - CDs and a $200 leather satchel. Again, mostly for insurance purposes (although we were a bit freaked out, as the apt. was on the 2nd fl. of a mansion, and the place had been full of people. May have been Easter weekend).

Cripes, I've been robbed a lot in the last 15 years. Actually, the guy at the BOGF apt. got almost nothing of value, and BOGF was a past master at bugging insurance companies to cave on paying up, plus that was the impetus for our/my first dog (great Siberian husky mutt), so it was kind of a net win. Still.

Never any breakins at this house. Once someone stole the change from the cupholder of my car (while it was parked iwth the windows down overnight, not secure I know), which led to a lot of indignation.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:47 PM
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So I've called the cops once when some guy asked me to call them to take him to detox. They were sort of patronizing and unpleasant, but they didn't beat him or anything as far as I could tell, although since he was Native I worry more than I might about what could have happened after they took him away.

As far as calling the cops goes, this that I posted in a dead thread after it died but that just broke this week is a cautionary tale. What appears to have started the whole thing was precisely calling the cops. Anyway, it's a horrible story. It's sad to me that though I'm emotionally willing to become a little more of a reformist, stuff like this keeps coming along and reinforcing my DFH beliefs:

I kind of wanted to talk about this the other day but the story was still in process--a friend of mine was doing court reporting on this case where a black MPLS woman was lured/ordered out of the house where she was (where there had apparently been some kind of altercation). She says that the cops followed her and raped her in an alley. She was just convicted of lying about police behavior in a trial with an almost all white jury where one of the jurors went to sleep. It's an insane story, and one of the cops is a rookie and one an old hand with a real reputation. I'm going to cut and paste something from a story my friend wrote here, although the final version is still being tweaked a bit:

[the woman]" sought aftercare at nearby North Memorial Medical Center, which, along with HCMC and Regions hospitals, is known for colluding with police against the will of patients. Despite begging a nurse not to call the cops, the nurse did anyway. Plainclothes officers entered Williams' hospital room; not knowing they were officers, and still traumatized in the hours immediately after the assault, Williams then made the statements for which she was later charged with "false reporting." The nurse, meanwhile, was recorded talking to police officers in the hospital about how to prevent a potential civil suit against the cops, and pressured Williams to speak to the unidentified officers.

Williams' clothes were locked in an evidence room; some of the evidence was later unsealed for use by the defense, but some was missing. Two nearly identical sanitary pads were later analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; how two ended up as evidence is a mystery, since only one was originally collected. The BCA claimed to identify sperm cells on one of the pads that ruled out Gillies and Barnes as perpetrators via DNA evidence. But another lab's investigator found no sperm cells and testified that there is good reason to believe the pad was not actually the one worn by Williams at the time of the rape."

At the trial, things were pretty bizarre:"Before the hearing Tuesday, Gillies, MPD spokesman Jesse Garcia, and other city officials verbally sparred with community members - who outnumbered them greatly - in the courtroom. The surreal scene started when Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson asked community activist Al Flowers if he "took a shower this morning." (Flowers, who is running for mayor, claimed he was targeted because of his politics to have a condemnation order posted on his house due to an alleged lack of water. A city inspector posted the notice last Thursday shortly after Flowers finished showering; Flowers then took video evidence of the water running inside.) The ensuing scene resulted in a Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy calling for backup, and other deputies admonishing the entire gallery to be quiet."

Now, the cops allege that there's a GPS system that shows their car couldn't have been in the area; the woman's lawyers say that those systems are easy to tamper with and in fact often are. This is what the woman's lawyers had to say, which freaks me the hell out: "Testimony during the trial showed how the device can be tampered with. A squad driver pushing the "ARRIVE" button on the dash, indicating he has arrived at the location to which he was dispatched, can stop the recording of GPS data until the car moves 100 feet or more. At that point, an officer could disable the transmitter by blocking the antenna or disconnecting a wire. The officer can then drive wherever he wants without being recorded by the GPS; after driving back to within 100 feet of the original point, he can reconnect the wire, and no record will have been made of his movements."

Fundamentally, I am suspicious of the cops because I have trouble believing that a black woman in this town is going to go and falsely accuse two cops of rape, knowing that the trial will be hideous and that she may be targeted later.

The folks I know who were at the trial have all been just heartbroken over it all week.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:47 PM
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I've called the cops thrice for break-ins. One was at my hippie fraternity house. While the residents of the room in question were out of town, someone smashed in a window and took their cds and stereo. Cops came over, said they were going to ignore it, and left. I pointed out the very obvious, very clear fingerprints left on the window by the intruder, but to no avail.

Latter two were as a home-owner. Kids (most likely) kicked in doors, stole my electronics and my weed. Scattered my porn everywhere but didn't take any, ungrateful bastards. Cops were very solicitous about fingerprinting all likely surfaces, even as they admitted there was little chance of recovery.

Moral of the story is obvious.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:51 PM
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hippie fraternity house

I'm intrigued. But the cognitive dissonance, it burns.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:53 PM
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34 is great.

The cat burglar was caught, convicted, and jailed. We weren't involved because he was caught in flagrante and there was plenty of other evidence. Mr. Screwdriver was also caught in the act. Cop response here used to be awesome, but they moved the station another mile away (to a location that is literally more than half a mile form any residences, and all but a handful of businesses). Grumble.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:54 PM
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49: That is some fucked-up shit. I really hate this society sometimes.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:55 PM
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Jesus, Frowner, that's awful. No wonder you hate cops.

(It does seem to suggest that the Minneapolis cops may be unusually bad, however.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:55 PM
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51: No great mystery, apo and rmmp are members as well.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:57 PM
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Frowner:

I am very cynical about the police (or the po po as our client's sometimes call them).

Yet, I'm just not buying into that woman's story. All of the facts seem to be on the side of the police and she just has conspiracy reasons to justify the facts away.

I am sympathetic to the argument that women do not relish in the opportunity of going through the hell of a rape trial. But, people do stupid stuff all the time.

It appears that the only evidence on her side is her testimony and she has given at least two different versions of that. Maybe she is telling the truth, but I dont see a lot of support for that.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:58 PM
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Oh yeah, when AB & I were dating, her bike was stolen from outside my apt. (but in the building). It was locked to a wood baluster, which was knocked out. I think we called the cops, in anticipation of an insurance claim, but I'm not sure.

I'm starting to feel victimized here. Cumulative value somewhere approaching $1500. Humph.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 8:59 PM
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Oh, Frowner, that's so completely horrible. I hope the victim has good social support. What a gutsy person to go through with a trial.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:00 PM
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56: The second pad, and the second analysis of the pads, don't count?


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:02 PM
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How does that tend to prove that a rape was committed?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:05 PM
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54: The trouble is, I don't know. I've heard people say that we have unusually racist cops here, but I also know that police violence against women, especially women of color, is really under-reported everywhere. And, god knows, police violence against trans-women. (I was just reading something really depressing about that tonight.)

I don't really want to rehash the other thread because I know I at least can get a little DFH-hyperbolic on this subject, but it's things like this that make me believe in anarchism. (That is, anarchism that comes about through movement-building and organizing at the local level rather than through some kind of social collapse. )

The story my friend wrote (which is, as I said, still being finalized) included a part about how there was one black juror and how the white juror who fell asleep was making gestures (while awake) of insult and disbelief while the woman's lawyers presented their case. The one black juror was crying when they gave out the verdict--no telling what went on there, but probably nothing good.

When I was younger, run-ins with the cops had--I admit--a little bit of glamor. Cop stories were a movement credibility thing. But the longer I'm around, the more I realize that for every kid who gets lightly pepper-sprayed and thinks it's some kind of rite of passage, there's a bunch of other hippie and non-hippie people who are seriously beaten and abused with life-altering consequences.

So I'm frowning extra hard tonight.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:05 PM
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I mean, there are three hospitals in Minneapolis with reputations for colluding with the police against their patients' wishes? I've never even heard of a hospital having a reputation like that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:08 PM
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23 is funny

From what I can remember:

Twice for found bodies
Half a dozen times for guys left too beaten to get up by themselves
Same for junkies in much the same state
Maybe a dozen times for homeless people passed out when it was too cold for that to be safe
More recently, erratic drunk driving a couple of times.

Told an undercover once (in person) that someone looked to be getting lynched pretty quick, contra 38 they helpfully rounded up a cruiser, swept in and removed the guy from a pretty angry crowd of about 30. They also suggested dispersing might be a good idea, but there were only two of them so didn't force the issue. The guy really wasn't looking for it, but peoples blood was up.

There's a pretty long list of things I wouldn't/didn't call about, or talk about. Today I'd never bother with a minor burglary, mugging, assault, etc. as they won't do anything constructive about it. Might have to for insurance I guess. Things in progress I guess would depend on the situation.

As someone mentioned above, neighborhood stuff a bit different too.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:08 PM
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I am inherently suspicious of how people remember a trial going. Non-lawyers often do not understand what took place.

So much of a trial involves the credibility of the witnesses, so it is difficult to accurate assess what took place and who seemed credible.

I am not saying it didnt happen. I dont know.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:09 PM
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My feeling about the woman (and this is based on knowing a couple of people who've been present in court for this stuff, so I've heard a lot about how it all went down) is that she was probably a very very vulnerable person, maybe a person who did something unwise, but that doesn't mean that she's lying. It's all a bit faith-based, I know, and I can't replicate the effect of having several of your more solid friends describe what they saw in court.

For me, the piece that's relevant is where she says she asked the nurse not to call the cops. And the weird recording of the nurse.

Plus, someone somewhere in this whole Gates thing pointed out that cops are allowed to revise their testimony about a stop and it's basically okay as long as we're still talking about the police report, whereas if you're a traumatized person who maybe doesn't know her rights and certainly doesn't have a lawyer present and you say something unclearly or incorrectly and then you change it later--you must be some kind of criminal. There are all kinds of times I've told a story and gotten some details wrong while I was upset, honestly. Or said things unclearly so that people misunderstood. I would not have liked to be taped during those times.

It's not that everyone who says anything bad about the cops is right--it's that this particular story seems to recur so often.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:11 PM
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weird, 63 was me. Haven't posted from this computer for a while I think, now I can't remember what anon post that was apparently remembered from


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:17 PM
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cops are allowed to revise their testimony about a stop and it's basically okay as long as we're still talking about the police report, whereas if you're a traumatized person who maybe doesn't know her rights and certainly doesn't have a lawyer present and you say something unclearly or incorrectly and then you change it later--you must be some kind of criminal. There are all kinds of times I've told a story and gotten some details wrong while I was upset, honestly. Or said things unclearly so that people misunderstood

This pisses me off royally. It really does. When police are involved in a shooting, they get time to calm down, review the facts, coordinate the facts before they talk. But, normal citizens dont.

It really angers me.

My point is not that your friends are not trustworthy, but that our ability to recall and our biases influence what we hear and what we remember

I think the terms are selective recall, anchoring bias, and something else that I cant remmeber. That is why I dont trust people's descriptions of what happened at a trial.

I am reading a trial transcript right now from a case that I tried in June. I keep thinking "I said that???" It is humbling to read a trial transcript.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:20 PM
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62: Reputations among anti-police-brutality folks. Now, I used to consider some of that crowd (which is actually very working class and not-just-white-people) kind of over-dramatizing. I felt like they made too much out of little stuff. And I still feel that people's rhetoric could sometimes be a bit more circumspect and get better results. But I ended up meeting some people who were involved with that crowd who were just regular working-class people, not activist milieu types, who had really bad stuff happen to them and to their families. Or people who had minorly bad stuff happen regularly--getting hassled a lot, that sort of thing.

In my experience, a lot of the people on the receiving end of serious police brutality have been the already-marginalized--some people who had been in jail, homeless people, sex workers, trans folks, people who have mental problems. People who are not going to be believed or treated properly or valued. Now, I could believe that all the many many stories I've heard are just crazy talk, just people who drink too much or are sick in the head or think that they can get "revenge" on the cops for being rousted from their streetcorners. But there's such a lot of stories!

And I know someone who is trans who was arrested for something else and was beaten and harassed and put in a chokehold and generally abused pretty much for being trans. That's really scary. It's different when it's someone you see around town, someone who's pretty similar to you in certain ways.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:21 PM
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Or said things unclearly so that people misunderstood.

This, for sure. I've sat in on a number of occasions where it was crystal-clear to me what the person making the statement was trying to communicate, and yet the person taking it down was unable to hear it. Combine:

1. Distraction (it's hard to write and listen)
2. Modern times (people get hand cramp more easily because they don't know how to write/aren't used to writing for long periods)
3. Cross-cultural ignorance (vocabulary used in different ways is one of the biggest issues)
4. Inability or unwillingness to listen (generally due to an accent or limited English)
5. The power of preconceived notions (I thought he was your husband when I first walked in the door, and no amount of hearing "brother" is going to convince me otherwise)
6. Hurry (because there is always another case waiting, whether it's a nurse or a police officer or a lawyer)

...together, and you get a recipe for statements that makes it a pure wonder they're as accurate as they are.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:24 PM
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I have no reason to doubt any of these stories about the Minneapolis police. I'm just wondering how typical they are of police in general.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:25 PM
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I know I'm going on and on about this, but I was just thinking that one might say to oneself, "Gee, isn't it weird that Frowner knows all these dodgy people whose stories so conveniently prove her points while I myself have never met anyone who has been beaten by the cops!"

The thing is, this is so much a social strata thing, at least in all the places I've lived. As a middle class person, I rarely meet other middle class people (except for DFHs) who have had bad run-ins with the cops. It takes work to get out of a middle class environment, or at least it does for me. I do not see a lot of this stuff. I've been lucky enough in the past year or two to make some good friends from different backgrounds than mine who have given me access to what are really different social worlds. Prior to this, although I was a DFH on principle, I did not routinely meet people who were brutalized by the police, had to accept really terrible and often abusive medical care, were often at risk of being evicted because they could not afford rent even though they were working, etc. This may be old news to a lot of people here, but it certainly was a very surprising experience for me to see in the flesh what I knew only from news stories.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:27 PM
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66: Ha. I guessed right.

Roughly speaking, I'd guess that response time in my neighborhood has been inversely proportional to property values as the place has gentrified, but there are too many variables to test whether that's true. And back in the bad old days, they did respond in force when a the guy in the former(?) crack house across the street shot his girlfriend. I happened to be rounding the corner in the car with my younger brother, who'd never been here before, and there were seven or eight patrol cars blanketing the street, all with their lights on. Very dramatic introduction to the neighborhood.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:29 PM
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However, I am going to bed now.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:29 PM
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I've never seen the presence of a police officer improve a situation.

You must live a very sheltered existence, or be unable to stop yourself from picking fights with cops.

In fairness, it did take a while for me to think of the last time I saw the presence of a police officer improve a situation. It was probably the last time I walked down the hill to get a slice of pizza late at night, and there were some new street kids blocking half the sidewalk, halfheartedly trying to play the guitar and sing, but mainly shouting obscenities at people who walked by. My only option as a passerby was to call them assholes, but by the time I finished my slice of pizza and was walking back up the hill, the police had arrived and were rousting them out and looked likely to arrest at least one for dealing weed. They were trying to elicit sympathy from the passers by for the unjust treatment they were suffering, but since most of the passers-by had recently been called fuckers and cocksuckers there was a lot of "hey, that's what you get."

Without the ability of the police to compel behavior via the threat of imprisonment, the only way to move these assholes along would have been physical violence. So I'd call it a win-win.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:30 PM
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I'm just wondering how typical they are of police in general.

The bit about more abuse being handed out to those least likely to do anything about it seems to be pretty typical of every force I've had anything to do with. It's not typical of the average officer, I believe, so much as the training, socialization, and economics of police work makes a safe haven for some small but significant number of people who have I suppose a psychological need for this sort of abuse of power. It remains unchecked, and a pretty safe activity for them, unless they get really out of control or are less careful in targeting.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:34 PM
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I've met people who have been beaten by the cops. As I mentioned in the other thread, the Albuquerque police are famously violent and prone to overreacting. Several fatal shootings a year, the whole time I was growing up. They also seem to have a particular problem with teenagers, even white middle-class teenagers, so I had several rather unpleasant run-ins with the cops when I was in high school.

Even so, however, I have a really hard time imagining something like this trial happening in Albuquerque. I mean, there are incidents of various sorts involving the cops that frequently make the news and sometimes lead to trials, but the trials are generally of the cops accused of misconduct. The idea of someone being tried like this for lying about police conduct is, while not totally unimaginable, really weird for me to contemplate even given my not-so-positive attitude toward cops in general.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:40 PM
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The bit about more abuse being handed out to those least likely to do anything about it seems to be pretty typical of every force I've had anything to do with.

Oh, I have no doubt about that. I'm wondering more about the absolute quantity of abuse, I guess, or perhaps the quantity relative to community population.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:41 PM
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I've called the cops when screaming fights on my street look like they are going to become violent. It stops the shouting and makes me think the woman is temporarily safer. But I don't like to think about what it is going to do to make already yucky lives more complicated.

Called the cops when a drunk driving collision gathered a mob outside my house and I thought the drunk driver was going to get hauled out of his car and beat up.

Called the cops for a drive-by shooting that hit two people.

Called the cops when a guy in a car followed me (at my walking speed) back to my house. (Although honestly, his eye contact hadn't been menacing. But why'd he have to park and watch me enter my house? He was gone by the time the cops arrived five minutes later.)

Mostly I don't understand why I have stories like this when the vast majority of my life is so middle class. Where I lived as a kid, I didn't encounter this stuff. I feel like I'm living the same way, so I'm surprised that to be present at shootings and screaming fights right at my house.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:43 PM
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Working at a psych hospital for one-plus summer, I was never in a situation that required cops, but I dealt with them several times when they brought in involuntary admits. They were pretty damn lax about it - granted the admits were nonviolent, but if you let them the cops would leave almost immediately without seeing them to a secure area or even (IIRC) signing the appropriate forms.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:50 PM
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I've called the cops several times to report car theft/damage. The only time anybody was ever caught was when I was in Durham. I saw a young guy walk out of the office with a laptop. I asked myself if I was suspicious because the guy was black or if I had another reason. I decided it was a 'good' suspicion (i.e., he didn't look like anybody's grad student), so I asked around and found out that a laptop was missing from the path that would have taken the guy by me. So I called the security guy who said he had just seen a guy riding away with a laptop on his bike. With this information, the cops caught the guy before he'd gone six blocks. He didn't even try to put it in a bag or anything.

On the one hand, I felt bad for the kid since the computer he stole was broken and the police were trying to make it a felony so it would be his third strike. On the other hand, three receptionists (basically, broke 22 year-old women trying to figure out what to do with an art degree) lost their purses in the few months before that. I never did find out what happened to the thief as I moved back north.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 9:50 PM
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Oh, and 36: Cops' snack of choice in Tamil Nadu is biryani. But not elsewhere in India, apparently.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:04 PM
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We recently had someone rip the air conditioner out of a window and invade our home. My husband (at home but on the third floor, with A/C blasting he can't hear shit) called me first. My first words were "Where is my laptop?" to which he had to tell me, "It's gone." and then, "For Christ's sake, CALL 911!!!! you should have called them FIRST!"

I've had too much personal crap going on right now that has more important stuff that the loss of a laptop and the invasion of my house is an irritant rather than a tragedy. It's stuff, not people. People are important. Stuff is not.

On the other hand: BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS, BACK UP ANYTHING ELSE YOU VALUE. I lost all the kitten pix I had of Siegfried and Yumi, who were new in 2007.


Posted by: Paula Helm Murray | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:52 PM
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with A/C blasting he can't hear shit

A friend and her housemates once had their stereo stolen while it was playing. Well, technically, it ceased playing when the thieves unplugged it, but everyone in the house just assumed that one among them was just changing the music.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 10:58 PM
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I'm calling the cops right now because Inter Milan is in the process of robbing F.C. Barcelona, my football club, blind.

But you get ¡Zlatan! (I went to the Inter-Club América match last Sunday. As nuts as the América fans were -- singing and drumming the entire match -- by far the biggest cheer of the day came when Zlatan entered the match in the second half.)

As for calling the cops for real, the only time I can think of having done it was when my motorcycle got stolen, and when my car got towed. It was strictly for insurance purposes; I was under no illusions that they'd do anything (although they did end up recovering my bike a few weeks later). Oakland PD was nice enough to send an officer to my apartment to take my statement, which kinda surprised me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-23-09 11:01 PM
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Look Ma, no hands, I'm not even going to read the thread. Has minneapolitan shown up to tell us that police are paid to shoot people and never improve a situation? I've got a cool simoleon on it.

Situations where I've called the cops? Actually, despite coming out in favour of making the call in the last thread we talked about it, never. But I've come close. Someone beat me to it at a house-party where a drug dealer threatened one of our party with a pistol. The police did eventually arrive and the prospect of their arrival did improve the situation in that the guy with the gun left.

There was another long, convoluted situation where two guys in a group I was with wound up in a fight in the parking lot before we even got into the bar, and one maced the other for no good goddamned reason. The latter party called the cops and got the former party charged, and he should have been, it was way excessive. Giving statements until one in the morning wasn't exactly how I'd envisaged my night, but whatever.

There's a few more like that. Cops are sometimes useful in situations that involved drunk/drugged-and-disorderlies where you'd otherwise have to fight the party yourself. Sometimes you have to anyway, so whatever.

I live in the home of the Red Mile, which was a refreshingly fun street party for the first two weeks of its first occurrence and ever since has been more or less an excuse for the poor behaviour of roving bands of drunken frat boys. They correspondingly dialed up the police presence after the first year, which has been to the good.

Never have called a cop on the crack dealers in my neighbourhood. In any case they're in one of those steady-state situations that involves periodic roustings and everybody else returning to the corner five minutes later. Had creepy run-ins with addicts that came close to matching creepy run-ins with cops, which have also happened on well, let's just say more than a few occasions (apparently there's also such a thing as Walking While Black).

As in most places, I suspect, cops here spend a great deal of their time harassing the homeless population, whom city ordnances are set up to illegalize in pretty much every possible place they could go to get warm in a Canadian winter (save the shelters, which aren't near adequate). Never called the cops on a homeless guy, nor would I.

About sums it up.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 12:00 AM
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Oh, and situations where cops can be relied upon to worsen a substantial percentage of the time:

1) A great many situations involving protesters (although they're markedly less Pinkerton-ish here than in cities like Toronto or, from what I gather, Minneapolis).

2) Almost any situation involving a male cop trying to deal with an angry or frightened woman.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 12:05 AM
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"where" s/b "which"


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 12:05 AM
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(It does seem to suggest that the Minneapolis cops may be unusually bad, however.)

Maybe it's the influence of history.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 1:31 AM
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I did once stop a guy running away from the police when I was younger and more foolish. Never got a thank you fromt he fuckers and I still have doubts about whether I did the right thing. It was an impulse decision and one I'm not likely to repeat today. (Young, skinny Moroccan guy running away from police: could be a proper crook, could just be yet another teenager hassled by a Wilders voting pig).

The only time I ever called the police was when we were convinced our upstairs neighbour was beating up his wife/girlfriend; police came and spoke to him, nothing happened otherwise but it did seem to subdue the screaming fights they seemed to have for a while.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:23 AM
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63. For a peanut farmer, you lead an eventful life.

Called the cops two or three times when I've been robbed myself, mainly for insurance purposes. Each time they were courteous and bored, did the paperwork and told me that they weren't even going to bother to investigate because they had more pressing things to do. Fair enough, points for being honest about it.

Once when a couple I shared a house with started fighting when they were out of their heads on booze and speed and escalated it to going after each other with kitchen knives. I went out into the street and stopped a passing squad car. On this occasion, the cop spoke to them like ten year olds and they calmed down straight away and went to sleep.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:26 AM
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I'd have alert the police officer when an old lady got hit by a bicycle on the bike path if other people hadn't done it already.

My BF calls the state troopers all the time about weird debris on the highway.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:55 AM
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My interactions with the police have been mixed. I was on the receiving end of a moderate amount of gratituitious hassle and aggression from them as a teenager, and I've seen them behave like dicks many times since.

On the other hand, when my friend was burgled the cops that turned up were very sensitive and nice, and pointedly turned a blind eye to the obvious spliff-ends in his ash-tray. And I've seen them handle violent situations pretty well, too.

With the attempted (date) rape I mentioned above, I stopped it from happening, and called the cops. However, pretty clearly, when they turned up they had no intention of doing anything. They made the guy leave and that was basically it. In retrospect, they probably already knew what was going to happen: which was that she dropped the charges and took the asshole back.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 6:00 AM
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DS,

Where are you in Canada? I'm heading up to Ontario today and may manage to get a day or two in Toronto. I'll be in Kingston tonight. Anybody in that neck of the woods, please e-mail.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 6:06 AM
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Also next weekend I'll probably leave by way of Ottowa.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 6:07 AM
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pointedly turned a blind eye to the obvious spliff-ends in his ash-tray.

Same experience. I suspect this would be less likely in the home of the brave and the land of the free.

OT. I spent the morning writing a process manual for fairly wide distribution, which included a lot of screen caps. Only when I was doing a last read through before sending it off for management approval did I notice that each one featured a task bar button announcing "Unfogged".


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 6:18 AM
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The only time I've had a useful result from calling the police was in London when a friend and I were visiting another friend and a drunk guy showed up at the house insisting he wanted to see someone who nobody had heard of. He grew increasingly agitated until we called the cops at which point he ran away. When they left he returned, even more belligerent, at which point the homeowner called the cops and my friend Y, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, kicked him full force in the chest, throwing him backwards a good 5 feet off the front steps. By the time he recovered the police had shown up (they were really fast the second time) and took him off to the drunk tank. He was surprisingly composed after the kick, which must have broken a number of ribs. Once the booze wore off he probably felt pretty bad. Fortunately Britain has decent health care, a little noted advantage of which is that you can beat the hell out of people without worrying about their medical bills.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 6:33 AM
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You dodged a bullet there, OFE.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 6:41 AM
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Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec Canadians, please e-mail me.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:04 AM
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In a previous thread I wrote about reporting a domestic threat by the neighborhood drug dealer against his girlfriend, which resulted in him leaving in a police car never to return.

Aside from that several reports of thefts over the years, solely for insurance purposes. Once my wife saw a man just inside our front door, and he grabbed an unopened UPS package and ran. To our amazement, the police caught the guy within an hour, riding the bicycle he had stolen from a neighbor, with the contents of our package in his back pack. The police gave us the stuff back, but were disappointed that it was worth less than $200 Apparently there are longer sentences depending on the value of the theft. They also showed me the very nice watch he was wearing at the time of arrest and were disappointed when I declined to claim it.

At work I reported on the dumbest thief ever. A laptop and a checkbook were taken from my office, inside a locked floor of a locked building. The laptop had a lojack and it reported back in from the apartment of a member of the office cleaning staff. That's not the dumb part. The dumb part was that she had also taken a checkbook with ten unused checks, which had receipt pages showing that checks of over a thousand dollars are written from time to time on the account. She had it for over a week. She wrote exactly one check. It was for less than one hundred dollars. It was written to the local cable TV service. For one month's basic service. TO HER OWN APARTMENT.

She was fired, the company that hired her was fired (not my decisions), and I undertand she pleaded guilty.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:23 AM
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For a peanut farmer, you lead an eventful life.

Not these days. The stuff I mentioned was mostly locational. If you live in the right (wrong?) places, this stuff just happens around you regardless.

Gatineau, Quebec

Are you going to get into the park, BG? It's beautiful.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:43 AM
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I've called police several times over the years, for household burglaries; and also once when there was an attempted mugging in the laneway outside my house. They've always been fine - actually I was very impressed with the sensitive way they interviewed the shaken Chinese student who'd had been threatened with a knife.
They did apparently catch the mugger who'd been preying on Asian students. But with the burglaries they just went, 'so, your guitar was there huh? You won't get that back'. And indeed I didn't.
I'd think more than twice before calling the police on people who are crazy or indigenous (or both). They have a bad track record with those constituencies.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:44 AM
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He was surprisingly composed after the kick, which must have broken a number of ribs.

What makes you think that? Nasty bruises, yeah. Broken ribs, not so likely. Especially if it's the sort of kick that pushes someone back 5ft [rather than the kind the drives the toe of the boot right into the floating ribs at an upward angle, say].

I've been booted full in the chest by people wearing shoes in competition. Quite impressive bruising, no breakages.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:46 AM
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102: agreed. IME people aren't very composed after their ribs have been broken. Adrenal doesn't really work if your very drunk either .... I suspect there's a pretty small window between drunk enough to not be really shook by that, and sober enough to walk.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:51 AM
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102: I'm not a specialist in these things, but the kick in question landed extremely hard and the guy didn't stagger back, he was propelled through the air. It's possible he didn't break anything, but I'd be amazed if all he ended up with was bruising. I've been on the receiving end of that exact kick* from Y delivered at 'just messing around' force and it left me with visible bruises.

* a skip-in side kick


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:59 AM
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he was propelled through the air

Somewhat counter-intuitively, this can actually be better (for the recipient). It means a lot of energy has been converted to motion, one way or another. Doesn't mean he didn't break anything, but still.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 8:01 AM
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103: He was really shook, enough that he spent a fair amount of time on the ground prior to getting up. Could have been just the booze plus being winded, of course.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 8:03 AM
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I sometimes demonstrate those sidekicks on beginners: partly to show them how to do it as a thrust kick rather than a 'snap', and partly to show them why bouncing up and down too much or having too square a stance is stupid.

FWIW, it's quite easy to knock someone back 4 or 5 ft without even leaving much of a mark, never mind breaking ribs. As soup says, there's no correlation between their movement and the chance of serious damage.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 8:10 AM
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107: Also with a side kick it makes a huge difference how you distribute the force over your foot. There's easily a factor of three possible variation in the area over which the force is distributed.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 8:28 AM
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I've called the police twice, IIRC. Once for a car accident. I stopped at the stop sign, the person behind me kept going and rear-ended me. I was a bit self-conscious about my driving ability, especially since the van I was driving was owned by my parents, but when there's a stop sign and I stop and the person behind me doesn't, it seems like I don't have much to feel guilty about. We pulled into a parking lot on the other side of the intersection and made our reports for insurance purposes.

(Also, remember the bit upthread about inconsistent statements and stuff? I'm sure a cop would enjoy my previous paragraph. At first, I said I stopped at a stop light until I noticed my mistake and corrected it. In a police statement I wouldn't have had the chance to correct myself, even though it's just a thoughtless mistake that could have happened on the scene. Or maybe there was both a sign and a light?)

The second time I called the cops was last summer. A neighbor knocked on my door to ask me to call 911, there were dangerous dogs loose in the neighborhood. I can see dogs, so I make the call. While we wait, I go out there and yeah, the dogs are loose and are barking a lot and don't look too friendly, but they don't actually do anything to me while I just stand still and move carefully, but the neighbor is fending them off with a long narrow shovel. Which came first, I start to wonder, the aggressiveness or the shovel? The police show up in less than 10 minutes. One officer gets one dog into a car, firmly but gently, and the other officer tries to follow or corner the other dog. All in all, uneventful.

A police officer lives on the end of my block, which probably contributes to my neighborhood being safe. I've never met the guy, but I'm told he lives there and his car is parked there most evenings and weekends.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 9:32 AM
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||

Off-topic, and maybe belongs under "blood-boiling", but: I hadn't been paying much attention, and just now learned that the CA budget compromise involves drilling for oil off the Santa Barbara coast. Seriously? Motherfuckers.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 9:36 AM
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110: It's worse: CA won't be taxing the oil (or something to that effect - maybe there's a fee to drill, but no tax on the opil extracted? Crazy, regardless).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 9:43 AM
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I was woken one hot summer night by a banging sound down in the garden area below my flat. I looked myopically out and saw figures moving around, four floors down. They appeared to be getting into an open window in the block that diagonally faces mine.

I called the cops. It must have been a quiet night, because they sent about 15 cars, which "parked" all at angles and all over the street. (I can actually see the police station from the same window, through a gap between various buildings. It's about three streets away, so sending the cars seemed a little unnecessary.) The figures had long vanished.

Cops started swarming all over the garden, clumsly scaling fences. They also rang me back -- would I mind going to the front door of my block to talk (the front door is on the opposite side). I went blearily down and opened the door. A policewoman was standing on the step, grinning -- behind her were about 12 cops, looking cross.

Turbned out I'd called the entire Hackney force out -- tugh it was their decision to make it the entire force -- because my downstairs neighbour's ageing rabbit, in its outdoor hutch, had gone into panic mode when it smelled a fox, and noisily thumped on the hutch-wall till I woke; along with my downstairs neighbours (owners of the rabbit) and the people whose window I'd seen someone getting into. Someone getting into their own window in other words.

I apologised. Still grinning, she told me I'd done the right thing. Behind her, the 12 other cops looked crosser than ever.

Clearly I am the moral equivalent of the "neighbour" in the Gates affair. Luckily the rabbit had stopped being "tumultuous" by the time the cops arrived en masse.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 9:54 AM
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Hey, people should check Crooked Timber on this stuff -- there's a guest post from an NYPD cop/philosophy grad student on relevant policing issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 9:57 AM
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110: and just now learned that the CA budget compromise involves drilling for oil off the Santa Barbara coast. Seriously? Motherfuckers.

Heh. But having Bank of America intervene in the situation wasn't a political move!

max
['But in Cali, R's are in the real majority.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 10:17 AM
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Also in New Orleans, when I saw someone suspicious climb in the first floor window of a house.

Skip! What a surprise to see you here!

Anyway. The last time I called the cops was after I discovered a card-skimming device attached to the ATM I was about to use; I removed it and was immediately assaulted by two very angry card frauds who wanted it back. Perhaps I should have concentrated on leaving, rather than examining how the thing worked...anyway, I hit one of them in the balls but I had to abandon the thing in order to fight, which was a pity.

They ran like hell; I phoned the cops; a few minutes later I noticed that all the ATMs in town had been switched off. The police phoned back a few minutes later and left a voicemail message with a cop's phone number, but they never did ask anything and the number turned out to be a general desk line, and as the cop didn't trouble to give a name or a badge number it was impossible to find the bugger. Not impressive, as I could have given a very full description of both the thieves and the device.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 10:22 AM
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In retrospect, they probably already knew what was going to happen: which was that she dropped the charges and took the asshole back.

This sort of thing is a real problem not just with police but with other social service providers if you happen to be in minority that really does want help and really will follow through.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 10:32 AM
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93: I'm way out by the Rockies, but have fun!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 10:34 AM
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There is an argument for not calling it in, motivated by maintaining good street cred and property values.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 11:28 AM
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I'm way out by the Rockies, but have fun!

lucky bastard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 11:35 AM
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I really should work instead of reloading all the threads about Gates and getting angry at every new set of comments.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 11:43 AM
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I've never called the cops myself, though when I was a kid, they were called to our house more than once for domestic violence. Ditto my grandmother's house, when her husband was drunk, beating my grandmother, and shooting his rifle at random things. Never did the cops help the situation in the long-term, often they nudge-winked at my dad for putting his wife "right," even though he was usually high as a kite on some drug or another. (Eventually, after their divorce, he was arrested for drug trafficking. He was never arrested for assaulting my mother.)

I do remember once that the cops helped us get away from him: my parents were separated but not yet divorced, and we were in the parking lot of a gas station when he drove up and started screaming at my mom. I was maybe 10, my older brother was 13, and my brother's friend was brave enough to exit the car and go into the store to call the police, even though my dad was hammering on the car windows and threatening my mother the whole time. When the cops arrived, that distracted him well enough that we could leave. They searched his car and found pot, I think. (We were mainly worried he'd follow us home, and then know where we were living at the time. The threat of "if you ever leave me I'll find you and kill you" is a strong one.)

Another cop story: this year, a friend of mine joined (and then quit, 4 months later) the police academy. In one of his ride-alongs during training, he said the senior cop he was with started harassing a prostitute. The sr. officer pulled up, told her there was a warrant out for her arrest. She protested that there wasn't, couldn't be. He insisted there was, until she finally was convinced she was being arrested. Then he pulled the "ha, ha, just kidding" thing. My friend seemed to think this was funny, and when I pointed out how horrible it was, he said "But she was really stupid. Like, retarded even!" Like that made it better, more acceptable to fuck with her.

My friend dropped out of the academy because no one liked him or included him in this fraternity-like clique thing they had going, not because he found such harassment objectionable.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 11:50 AM
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120: They do angry up the blood, don't they -- I've been sniping at the NYPD philosopher-cop over at Crooked Timber, and getting really annoyed. And I'm sure he's a decent guy, he's just not addressing what happened to Gates.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 12:06 PM
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I quit reading the Gates threads. There seem to be plenty of people capable of arguing calmly about it, and the only possible contribution I can make is to insult people for being fascists, so really the world is better off all around if I stay away.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 12:30 PM
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Pam at Pandagon has some interesting thoughts about the class angle on the Gates thing.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 12:50 PM
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I've called the cops for insurance purposes after one burglary and one smashed car window, and I've called 911 upon seeing a plume of black smoke coming from the roof of an apartment building. There was a very scary (to me, but my experience of these things is blessedly limited) domestic argument on our street a few years ago, and while we were trying to decide whether we'd be right to intervene, 4 cop cars pulled up.

A friend of ours in Boston came out of the shower once to see a figure exiting through the bedroom window, laptop with un-backed-up thesis in hand. Fortunately the friend lived upstairs from a Dunkin Donuts.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 1:31 PM
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118 was Doug Rushkoff reporting from Brooklyn.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 1:44 PM
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I've been thinking today about Minneapolis's peculiar situation with cops. (At least, I assume we're not so peculiar compared to NY or LA or Chicago, but compared to mid-sized largely-Democratic US cities teo is probably right that we seem unusual)

It occurs to me that not only is Minnesota really politically divided between the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro and pretty much everywhere else but we're a state that was super-duper white until very, very recently. I moved here in the late nineties (and moved into one of the less white parts of town), when there were already many Hmong immigrants, many Somali immigrants, a large Vietnamese community, a recently-begun influx of Mexican folks and folks from South America and a moderately-sized African-American community, so Minneapolis has always been a diverse city to me. But all that's really recent; if you were a kid here in the eighties that would have been before the Hmong and Somali people were here and when there was a much smaller black community and very few people here from Mexico, Equador, etc. And I imagine that those cops who grew up in the city grew up in a pretty white place. Also, given our rather lax residency requirements, probably a lot of cops don't spend much time around POC when they're not on the beat.

And then we do have a pretty significant Dakota community here in the city. (There's one instance where saying "community" isn't actually unsatisfactory--talking about the black "community" elides a lot of differences but there's much more geographic and cultural closeness among the Dakota folks here, I think). And then AIM. So there's this history of beating up on the Native folks and messing with their organizations that has certainly paved the way for what's going on with other communities today.

But the mere fact that we have more people of color here than we did twenty years ago, although it probably has a lot to do with our awful policing, is really no excuse.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:01 PM
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I've never called the police, like with phone, but I have run down to the corner store to physically get a police officer because the owner of the house next door kept moving my trash can off my lawn and onto the sidewalk. EVEN THOUGH I ASKED HIM POLITELY TO STOP. Then I might have yelled "Don't touch my trash can!" and maybe stomped my foot a little bit.

True story. Proud moments.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:07 PM
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At least, I assume we're not so peculiar compared to NY or LA or Chicago, but compared to mid-sized largely-Democratic US cities teo is probably right that we seem unusual

Seriously, you seem to have more bad cop stories than I'd expect from a New Yorker of your class/politics/habits. I may be being naive, but I'd expect a couple of bad anecdotes, not lots of them. The demographic shift you're talking about may explain it -- while there's certainly lots of racism in NY, like everyplace else, the presence of lots of people of color is certainly nothing that's new or that the police are adjusting to. Or possibly Minneapolis just has a (more) hostile police culture for random historical reasons?

Or maybe I'm being naive about NY, and if I were in a different demographic I'd think of the number of bad experiences you know about as unsurprising.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:09 PM
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Seriously, can I stop opening comments with "seriously"? I get on my own nerves.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:10 PM
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has made non emergency calls about smokers in non-smoking zones and cars parked on driveways sidewalks. In gradschool days I was in a much rougher town, but did not need to be the n+1 th person to phone in the random gunshots from a block away.

/* BREAKING. */ NYT says Barry says he mispoke about Gates. Should have taken the green pill.


Posted by: Econolicious /* BREAKING */ | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:10 PM
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Also my best friend's brother is a [good] Minneapolis cop. He says they're generally bad but not as bad as Atlanta where he used to work.

St Paul isn't so great either.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:16 PM
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and if I were in a different demographic I'd think of the number of bad experiences you know about as unsurprising.

Probably. At one point nearly everyone I knew in smaller metros than NYC had at least some instance of police behavior towards them that was unambiguously illegal. I don't mean technicalities, either, I mean things like beatings, robbery, rape, extortion. Which doesn't mean it was a daily occurrence, or anything like that. Just that if you'd been around there for a few years, odds are pretty good it had happened to you at some point -- almost regardless of your personal situation. By which I mean it was predicated on your perceived inability to do anything much about it far more so that your perceived involvement in things that might make you fair game on grounds you were a "bad guy".

That's a long way from here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:18 PM
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Obama was stupid to ever get involved in the Gates thing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:20 PM
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And of course I can vouch for all those stories. But I can vouch for the ones that happened to me, and the ones I witnessed, and I'd venture a fair few people I knew were telling the truth about certain incidents too. There was a lot of bullshit talked too, and some pretty ridiculous claims about what police had done (or failed to do). After you throw that out though, there was a core of some pretty nasty stuff that was hard to discount.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:20 PM
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I only have good firsthand data about one city, but I've talked to Frowner-type activists in other places enough to feel confident that whatever particular history and wrinkles Minneapolis may have, it is not especially unusual in the type or extent of its negative police incidents.

I think this is just a data-point problem. This blog has two outspoken people from one geographical location and that makes it seem as though that location is especially unusual.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:21 PM
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133: Yeah, what I'm saying is that the NY cop misbehavior stories I know are from the news or three-degrees of separation, rather than first or second hand. There are some, but not enough that most people have some kind of story. That may be about how sheltered I am, but it seems possible it's about a somewhat more restrained police culture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:22 PM
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I've called the cops for crimes not-in-progress (my parked car was damaged in a hit-and-run and the insurance required a police report, for instance); I've been the second person called after the cops for domestic violence (proximity meant I was there before the cops were).

With the hit-and-run, I'm not sure the cops even tried to do anything other than the minimum to give me a number I could give to my insurance company. With the domestic violence complaint, Officer Testosterone behaved unbelievably badly (essentially threatening the wife who'd just been punched in the face by her husband, who is known to the neighborhood cops to be both alcoholic and an occasionally belligerent drunk). Officer T. didn't want to file a report at all because the wife admitted that she'd reached into her husband's pocket for her own wallet, which she saw sticking out, and thus according to Officer T. she had in fact assaulted her husband first.

There was a second officer there who had a much better disposition than Officer T., but who for some reason let Officer T. do all the talking.

Ages and ages ago I was an RA in a college dorm, and we were under strict instructions to call campus police whenever there was a threat of physical violence or if there was alcohol present. It was a strange hierarchy where the first responders were usually the student officers, who had uniforms but not guns; if they perceived risk to themselves they'd call the actual campus police; if they showed up and were outnumbered they'd call the city PD. I had to call a lot, but I think I only ever saw two people get cuffed.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:22 PM
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non emergency calls about smokers in non-smoking zones

This is a joke, right?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:23 PM
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134: Oh, [rude remark deleted]. People asked him about it -- does he have to walk on eggshells rather than saying what's perfectly obviously the case?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:23 PM
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128: WTF? I don't suppose you got an explanation from your neighbor about why obstructing the sidewalk was a good thing, did you?

I've run into some very strange passive-aggressive neighbor stories, but that's just plain bizarre.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:23 PM
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I wish Obama hadn't backed down. He didn't personally insult the officer. He said the police had "acted stupidly". And they did.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:26 PM
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137: I guess what I'm saying is that I'd be really surprised if there weren't some demographic in NYC that looks exactly like that. But mind, this isn't really a working class vs. middle class, let alone upper middle class thing. I'm talking about the parts of a city that were about as rough as those cities got. Which wasn't nearly as bad as some spots. However, whenever you hit a demographic of people who are unlikely to effectively resist predation by police, you'll find some police who take advantage of it. And I suspect the police who are likely to take advantage of it tend to migrate to those posts, too. I suppose there may be police cultures that are really serious about stopping this sort of thing to the degree that it's entirely unlikely to run into, but I've never run into one.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:29 PM
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probably a lot of cops don't spend much time around POC when they're not on the beat.

Prophets Of da City?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:29 PM
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140: I think it was a mistake from the point of view of timing. Pretty much sunk media coverage of the health care issues he'd been talking about. I also think it was a mistake to be too specific.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:30 PM
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He didn't back down much -- "could have calibrated my words more carefully" isn't total surrender.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:31 PM
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143: Yeah, come to think of it, my reaction could all be about how sheltered I am and my acquaintances are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:32 PM
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I get on my own nerves.

Did you bicycle today? My kid is in a different day camp, have to drive this week every day. I hate all of humanity as a consequence.

An HS friend is a cop. Joined NYPD after 9/11, also after kicking the heroin. Now in Albuquerque, still a cop.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:39 PM
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141: He didn't want the trash can near the entrance to the basement apartment of his building. Since they're DC row houses, anywhere in my yard was too close for him.

The exchange was very weird and irritating- at first, he (or his girlfriend/wife, not sure) was moving it when I was inside. Since I was unloading groceries, I made a few trips, and each trip moved the trash can back. When I would come back out, it would be on the sidewalk again. Finally I knocked on the door to ask them to stop and then we had a fight.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:39 PM
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145: Yeah. I was listening to the press conference on the radio and periodically losing the station; it came back in in time for me to hear Obama talking about Gates, and all I could think was What? What does that have to do with health care? Don't let the discussion be derailed!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:39 PM
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148: Left my bike in my office last night because it was raining -- I should bike home tonight though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:40 PM
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That's some pretty passive aggressive bullshit, Cecily. Hope you got it sorted out.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:42 PM
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Well, I threw a tantrum! Then I moved away. So, problem solved.

That was the only time I ever saw that guy- he was the owner but not a resident. I got along really well with the people who actually lived there. They had a really nice roof deck.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:44 PM
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144: People Of Color.


Posted by: the Other Paul | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:44 PM
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||

I am witnessing someone having what feels like a psychotic break on their friend's Facebook page. Even the ToS makes more sense than she does, and she seems genuinely distressed even as she posts more and more ridiculous, rambling, incoherent, paranoid statements about the government. Weird.

|>


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:46 PM
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155: Suspicious. Have you ever seen her and the TOS in the same place at the same time?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:47 PM
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she seems genuinely distressed even as she posts more and more ridiculous, rambling, incoherent, paranoid statements about the government.

I feel this way every day after I read the paper.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:52 PM
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My Facebook page is overrun with idiots these days. There was the person who posted "____ is full of ____ (guess what I'm thinking!)" and got lots of gleeful "Obama is full of shit! LOL good one!" responses. And then there's a lot "health care DE-form huh huh amirite? loL" type stuff.

Basically, I think I need to cull almost everyone who didn't escape my hometown when they had the chance.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:53 PM
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149: I realize it was upsetting at the time, but there's something really quite funny about the image of someone lurking in wait for you to move the trash can back so they can run out and move it again.

Of course, the best plan would have been to hide inside the can so you could burst out yelling loudly when he tried to move it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:54 PM
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142 &c: Not only did he not back down, he ended up handling the situation adeptly. He was asked about it; he gave a good answer without mincing words, even though it was guaranteed to piss some people off; he called both Crowley and Gates and then immediately talked to the press about it, qualifying his initial remarks. And the three of them may get together for a beer. I'm as disappointed by him for other reasons as anyone else, but not in this case.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:54 PM
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Have you ever seen her and the TOS in the same place at the same time?

No, she's a friend of a friend so I've never encountered her before. I'm just amazed at the sheer crazy going on there. She started off calling Obama a communist so I dismissed her as a talk radio type person and moved on. Then she busted out with the if we have universal health care we'll have to limit our families like China does and then kill all girl babies. Again, I was like, zwa? but moved on, and she continued with some sickeningly racist characterizations of China. Now, she's ranting about freeway ricky ross, the assassination of 2pac and John Lennon, Gideon Yago, how Canada's universal health care is bullshit, and the censoring of YouTube. All at once. This lady is all over the map, I tell you. I can't begin to make sense of it all.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:56 PM
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Wow. That's a really special kind of crazy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:58 PM
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159- It was infuriating, but even at the time also partly hilarious. DON'T TOUCH MY TRASH CAN.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:59 PM
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160: Yeah, after reading a bit more I'm not so bothered by it, but the form the headlines are taking are a bit annoying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 2:59 PM
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161: There was a LaRouchite manning a table in front of the Maryland MVA the other day; his pitch had something to do with how health care reform was really a backdoor means to fund Wall Street bailouts, all part of a carefully orchestrated plan to rob us all blind. And did I want to know more?

I considered asking the staff inside the MVA whether it was really legal or appropriate for political advocacy to be going on outside a state facility, but became distracted by the business at hand. It was all I could do not to snarl at the man as he approached again when I was leaving.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:04 PM
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Did nosflow just delete a whole thread in a fit of pique? I was kidding, dude.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:09 PM
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Obama backed off adroitly today and handled the brouhaha very well. But I don't see any justification for the President jumping with both feet into a situation that he doesn't fully understand or know the details on and is not his responsibility anyway (local government matter). It was a stupid political move. There was little or nothing to be gained by it and much to be lost. Every word a President says is a choice about how he wants to use his political resources, and every word either increases or diminishes those resources.

As far as a "teachable moment" on racial profiling...I don't buy it. A white homeowner who blew up at a police officer the way Gates did would have been treated the same way. It's a police behavior issue generally, and that's not something any public official (Obama included) is going to really talk about.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:10 PM
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166: I'm sure he's going to blame it on the bot.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:10 PM
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It wasn't a fit of pique, but rather a conclusion reached after deep and entirely untroubled deliberation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:12 PM
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Honest.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:17 PM
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Oh, and to top it off, she's a 9/11 conspiracy theorist!

(What worries me is that she used to be in the Army. I hope she gave all her guns back).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:17 PM
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Ironically, I think I finally did figure out the problem.

Paren, how do you know this person?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:17 PM
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I don't know her, she's a friend of a friend. I'm reading what she has to say on a high school friend's page. I can't tear my eyes away.

(I know that she was in the Army as she alludes to serving with my friend).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:18 PM
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Oh god. It's getting better. Impeach Obama, install Ron Paul. Or Ralf (sic) Nader. We're going to hell in a hand basket, all because of the dumbing down of the American people! (Oh, the irony).

Ok, sorry. I am quite sure that this is not half as scintillating to everyone else as it is to me.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:23 PM
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I actually kind of like being reminded that these people are out there. Since I can't stand to actually go to the Freepers' site, when they crop up now and again in other circumstances, well, good reminder.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:29 PM
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174 - I dunno, sounds pretty entertaining to me. Unfortunately it also sounds like she needs a serious professional intervention.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:30 PM
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174.last: it scintillates, it is impervious, it... eh, that doesn't work.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:31 PM
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Unfortunately it also sounds like she needs a serious professional intervention. job on talk radio or at a thinktank.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:32 PM
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175: It tends to make me depressed about democracy. It doesn't help that last night I stayed up too late watching The State Within, which made me awfully depressed. (I've decided no more tv for awhile that dramatizes executions. They make me cry).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:35 PM
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someone having what feels like a psychotic break on their friend's Facebook page

I have an acquaintance who, since I saw her last, has apparently gone full-blown schizophrenic and is on Facebook constantly. Nothing makes a whole lot of sense, but she has a handful of themes that she pounds again and again. It was bizarrely compelling at first (and still is from time to time) but mostly it has just turned kinda sad.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:40 PM
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It tends to make me depressed about democracy.

Yes. I go through phases during which I'd rather not know about the level of sheer idiocy out there; I assume everyone does. It comes and goes.

I'm wondering a bit whether there's any core mindset from which the crazy ranting Facebook woman is speaking. What is she, a libertarian (yes)? But what else? Evangelical? Racist (yes)? It's pretty damn frightening that she was in the Army, but maybe that was before she became unhinged.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:46 PM
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My best friend from childhood is now schizophrenic. He started unravelling in middle school. I mourned and got used to the fact that the person I'd been so close to no longer existed, and then, after that, it was a strange shock to me that this new person continued to exist, and that his mother (who is a close family friend) would continue to have to take care of him for the rest of her life. (This seemed very strange to me when I was college age, at least. That when my friend ceased to exist, the whole thing wasn't over.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:49 PM
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Some theories about Mpls. cops:
1. Minneapolis cops have more of the "Fort Apache complex" than cops in other cities because the political scene is overwhelmingly liberal. Especially if they live way out in Forest Lake or something, they get the bunker mentality from their neighbors, despite the fact that Minneapolis is not exactly the South Bronx in the seventies. We've only had like 5 homicides this year. "Murderopolis" huh?
2. Although Minneapolis is not as geographically segregated as, for instance, Milwaukee or Detroit, it is economically stratified on racial lines to a greater degree than Mississippi (I believe that's the right statistic). That is, if you are an African-American in Minneapolis, you are more likely to be poor than people almost anywhere else in the country. That disparity also plays out in educational attainments. The city schools overall aren't particularly awful, compared to lots of other places, but if you're African-American or Native, you've got like a 20% chance of graduating with a traditional HS diploma. The persistent, permanent underclass in Minneapolis is very much made up of people of color, which engenders more racist policing than if things were less stratified. (Bonus factoid: In the 1980s and early 1990s the infant mortality rate in my neighborhood was worse than that of Bangladesh. Thankfully, this shamed the liberal establishment and they built a couple of good clinics and pushed the pre-natal care really heavily for awhile.)
3. I think if you looked at the current demographics of the MPD, you'd still see a lot of white ethnics -- i.e. the people who used to live in North and Northeast Minneapolis, who left in huge droves for the working class suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, and who are now moving far out to the exurbs as those inner-ring suburbs become more integrated. If fear of a black planet was good enough for their folx, it's good enough for them.
4. Finally, we don't really have no-go zones here. There are a couple of stretches where you'll see police willfully ignore visible crimes in progress, but they're still around and they're not consistent in their laissez-faire attitudes. My impression of the other big cities in the US is that most of them have a significant no-go area where, were the police present, they would be busting heads all the time, but they've decided it's not worth their trouble. "Over-policed and under-protected" is very much the rule here.

Postscript: There's less official corruption in Minneapolis than a lot of other places. Cops here might not be "honest" but neither are they paid off to any great extent. So they don't have a positive incentive not to fuck with people.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 3:55 PM
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We've only had like 5 homicides this year

Holy cow, I went and looked up the FBI stats (2007).

Homicides per 100,000 people:

Albuquerque: 9
Minneapolis: 13
New York: 6
Oakland: 30
Philadelphia: 27
Portland: 4
Raleigh: 6

Statistical weirdness notwithstanding, sometimes I forgot what a violent place Philadelphia is. I had to go look up Detroit to be sure things could be worse (46).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:05 PM
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Baltimore's right there with Detroit at 45.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:13 PM
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It always seems so weird to me how comparatively safe NY is. I mean, scarier than Portland, but not much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:13 PM
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184: Huh. I know perfectly well that Baltimore is way up there, but I'm surprised to see St. Louis (40) and ... Newark? 37? What's going on in Newark?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:14 PM
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186: Right, although that's part of what I meant by statistical weirdness. New York is a big, big place. The boundaries are much more expansive than other old East Coast cities.

If Philadelphia did what it did once already in the 19th century, and annexed some of the neighboring counties, our rate would drop pretty substantially.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:15 PM
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Also, I noticed that New Orleans and Gary aren't on the list. IIRC, they have the #1 and 2 per capita rates in the country.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:21 PM
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188: Huh. I do not think of the most geographically far-flung bits of NY as the safest. I mean, some yes, but there's bits of Queens that are worse than anything in Manhattan. You think Philly would look a lot safer if you rolled in the inner-ring suburbs?

I don't actually know --I'm just thinking that everything in the five boroughs seems pretty urban to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:23 PM
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188: Also, for places like St. Louis, look at the population (about 350,000). So you are looking at what used to be a largish city center, and the only people left there skew heavily to low SES. Same issue with Detroit, I expect.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:23 PM
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You think Philly would look a lot safer if you rolled in the inner-ring suburbs?

I'd stake my house on it.

Semi-OT: Clicking around trying to verify Apo's contention (which I think is correct, although Katrina is a monkey wrench), I came across this error message:

The link you just selected could once have been available from the White House web site during the Presidency of George W. Bush. This link has not been maintained because the web site is a historical record and is no longer updated.

Huh.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:27 PM
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It also always surprises me a bit every time I look at how high the murder rate actually is in the US. I mean, violent crime has been in a strong decline for many years and the murder rate itself dropped by nearly 45% in the last fifteen years, and it's still three times that of Canada (in many ways the most natural national comparison). Overall crime rates are not nearly as impressively different between the two.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:29 PM
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Newark? 37? What's going on in Newark?

Is that terribly surprising? I don't know a whole lot about Newark, but it does have a high poverty rate and has been in decline for most of the last 60 years. (And was the site of some of the most horrific rioting in the country in the late 60s.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:29 PM
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188.2: Good point. A lot of east coast cities feel larger than they technically are; you have 'greater Boston', and certainly there's a greater Baltimore area. One of the problems with Baltimore is that state money is sucked up by the immediately surrounding areas rather than dispersed through the city, as it should be; one result is an economically stressed environment that leaves city dwellers depressed and angry, prone to domestic violence, drug use and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:31 PM
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Toledo's arson:murder ratio is remarkable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:31 PM
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194: Ah. I didn't really know anything about Newark.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:34 PM
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194: Yeah, fwiw, my total outsider's perspective on Newark (I've never been there) is to think of it as a poor, violent city.

it's still three times that of Canada

Yeah, I'm heading out and can't research this now, but I always wonder about how much the widespread ownership and use of handguns has to do with this.

Access to good trauma care notwithstanding, guns are pretty lethal. Although I'm always depressed to click on the homicide map and see how many "Murder Weapon: Hands" are listed.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:35 PM
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Sorry, I know the thread's moved on, but: At this point two family friends and a colleague have had psychotic breaks. One of the family friends has managed, through some miracle of therapy and drugs and supportive family, to find a stable place on the other side; I don't know that she'll ever work, but she's safe and can sustain relationships. The others... Parenthetical, I'm so sorry for what your friend must be going through, watching her friend spiral down. If it's any use, Elyn Saks' The Center Cannot Hold is a worthwhile read. It's the kind of situation that beggars the imagination, and reading a first-person account of madness is useful, if terrifying.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:38 PM
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One of the things that has depressed me is seeing what appears to be (this might be just anecdotal) a rise in domestic murder-suicides and murders in general here in California (I presume as a reaction to the economy). A few weeks ago, I caught two minutes of coverage of a local hostage situation and from the description knew I'd wake up the next day to headlines about a murder-suicide even though no one mentioned the possibility. Sadly, I was right.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:38 PM
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199: I perhaps shouldn't have used that phrase so casually. I'm not sure there is actually anything mentally wrong with her, I was just struck by what appeared to be a whole lot of "crazy" in layman's terms. I was going to send my friend a message, though, about it, and I'll pass along the book recommendation to her if she's concerned or if the friend is really displaying unusual for her behavior.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:41 PM
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Yeah, I'm heading out and can't research this now, but I always wonder about how much the widespread ownership and use of handguns has to do with this.

There isn't much good research on this anywhere, as far as I know.

Canadian gun ownership is fairly high internationally, but nothing like the US. I thing the total numbers are estimated something like 30/100 ppl vs 90/100 ppl. However, this is total guns over population, not number of gun owners. I expect this latter number will be closer.
quite a bit closer to par. So say 2x the number per capita. Which still leaves a lot of available guns in Canada.

So it's not just availability of guns, but that might be a factor, except international data doesn't show a strong correlations between the two, iirc.

The statistics for murder weapons are nearly mirrored. 30% guns CDN, 70% in USA.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:44 PM
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201: I know, it can be hard to tell what's going on, and I hope this woman is just nutsy in the casual usage. I'm fairly sure that my colleague's illness had been going on for a while before we cottoned on; I blame the Bush administration, frankly, for jacking up the level of paranoia needed to raise red flags.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:57 PM
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I blame the Bush administration, frankly, for jacking up the level of paranoia needed to raise red flags.

"They're spying on everyone! Nobody is safe!"
"True indeed."
"Especially me! They won't leave me alone!"
"Hmm...."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 4:58 PM
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Well, yes, but (for a long time, anyway) said in a way that left the door open to its being a joke. It's possible to shrug off the creeping notion that a conversation was perhaps worryingly odd when the person you were talking with continues to publish groundbreaking (and, I hasten to add, well-replicated) papers.

Anyway, sorry, everyone go back to talking about violent death.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 5:14 PM
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We've only had like 5 homicides this year....

Garrison Keillor unwell?

/godihateaprairiehomecompanionsomuch


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 5:22 PM
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205: Indeed. We have no idea how long we were dismissing my uncle's developing FTD as a mere uptick in frequency of expression of his lifelong personality quirks. When the symptoms come on little by little, it can be easy to forget how far things have come in the aggregate. After all, he still seemed to be running his lab just fine! Still getting grants!


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 5:26 PM
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Holy cow, I went and looked up the FBI stats (2007).

What the hell is going on with the rape stats in Minneapolis? They have the highest rate by a ridiculous margin. It's 4 times as high as DC's. Is there something else, like people there are more likely to report sexual assaults that happen, or is that real?


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:07 PM
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The Vancouver Sun has been doing a lot of coverage of drug violence in the Vancouver area. I say "area" because most of it seems to be just east of the city proper - I think, based on locations mentioned and a quick look at google maps. I think the violent crime rate is still much lower than in some U.S. cities, but I haven't looked for comparable statistics. Property crime appears to be about the same as in the U.S.

The drug crime seems to be cross-border: drugs and guns coming from the U.S. and Mexico, along with within Canada. One suspect in a multiple homicide was recently arrested in the Phillipines (I think - I've only been skimming the reports). Some supplier was arrested along I-5 in the US.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:10 PM
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208: Well, what's up with the ratio of aggravated assault to homicide in Memphis? Is Memphis a really violent town, but one where people are particularly inept about actually killing their victim?

I'd guess the rape thing is (a) higher reporting by victim, (b) better health care awareness (despite the messed-up stuff mentioned by Frowner), and (c) maybe just a statistical fluke in ought-seven.

Let's google the longer-term rape stats and find out.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 7:58 PM
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Regarding the outlier stats on rape and assault, a few hypotheses:

1. Wikipedia says murder is the only crime that police departments are REQUIRED to report to the FBI. I can readily imagine that that means local departments are sloppier about which records they hand up to the state to hand up to the feds.

2. There is substantial regional variation among definitions of "sexual assault" and "rape." They vary so much from state to state that I'm not at all confident that you can do proper comparisons. At least with murder you have a dead body. But, for example, today a guy got arrested here for holding a woman at knifepoint on the subway while he groped her. He's being charged with "aggravated indecent assault." In another state, that could be coded as something very different.

3. Also, the FBI recordkeeping does not include rape of men. (IIRC the language is something like "carnal knowledge of a female against her will"). Presumably some states collect stats on male victims and perhaps report them to the FBI even though it's technically a violation of their definition.

4. Also, regardless of whether the victim tries to report the crime, there's the variable about how the police code it (or whether they accept a report at all). The Guardian has had some hair-raising stories over the past year or so about dismal rape conviction rates in Britain, and it apparently starts with front-desk police officers downgrading reports and refusing to investigate. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if that is part of what is going on in D.C. We had a big scandal about that here about a decade ago, and I'm not convinced -- whoops, almost forgot about a case I dealt with -- totally convinced the problem has not been completely solved.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 8:28 PM
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Whoops, forgot to say: 202 is useful and interesting. I did say (and think) "handguns" specifically. I have the vague sense that Americans are more likely to own handguns than Canadians, and that murders are more often committed with handguns than other types of guns. Perhaps I am wrong on one or both of these points.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 8:31 PM
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I recommend this 1991 NYT article on consumer discrimination/profiling. (via)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 9:59 PM
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I think the leading mode of murders is that the victim is killed by someone they knew.
Canadians are more likely to own long guns and safely store them out of service
than to personally know a murderer.

ObCanCon:
http://nfb.ca/film/whistling_smith/


NY Map confirms LB's point.
http://www.businessinsider.com/where-to-live-in-nyc-if-you-dont-want-to-be-killed-2009-6

Could have been normalized to population (residential or daytime / night time / ?) density, etc, but it makes the point nonetheless.


Posted by: Econolicious July 24, 2009 10: | Link to this comment | 07-24-09 10:09 PM
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I know this thread is dying/dead/has moved on, but...

(a) "Calling the cops" as a touchstone for thinking about the police is just fundamentally misguided (although this is a very common way of thinking about the police and what they do, it is also a totally wrong way to think about the police). Most people are frustrated after calling the cops, because nine times out of ten, the cops can't do anything when they're responding to a call -- unless the crime is in progress or close to being in progress, you're out of luck. The police, however, aren't properly in the business of responding to calls. Their business is to be in the area where crimes are likely to be committed, and to dissuade them from happening in the first place, and to apprehend criminals when a crime is in progress. That's very different than the idea that the purpose of the cops is to respond to calls from the population. Of course, the police encourage this view. In part for political, in part for wrongheaded strategic reasons, the police have allowed the call-and-respconse idea to dominate the popular imagination of thinking about the police, but that's just a wrong way of thinking.

(b) So much of the popular frustration with the police has to do with the misunderstanding in (a) above. In places where crime is a serious problem, people don't hate the cops because they're brutal -- they would be glad to accept brutality in exchange for a well-ordered, violence free environment. They hate the cops because they're clumsy, sometimes brutal, and largely ineffective. "911 is a joke" is right, and is really the key to the issue. That ineffectiveness has something to do with the general ineffectiveness of the war on drugs, but also with the fact that the call-and-response model doesn't work. In LA, the LAPD has been pretty successful in convincing people in communities that used to hate the LAPD that, while it might not be able to respond to every call, having a regular officer around on the beat is a useful way to deter crime. People like that. Having police departments that work effectively is about 500 times more important to the lives of most people, including most poor people, than most of the standard issues police critics raise -- although, and this is critically important, many very effective policing techniques would not have been implemented were it not for "left" critiques of the police.

(c) The HL Gates (or as I now call him, my buddy "Skip") internet debate pisses me off for the same reasons that internet debates over elementary school education piss me off. This is one of those areas where people with absolutely no knowledge of real world conditions (or the fact that police departments have been thinking about ways to deal with crime) think that they have the ability to redesign policing from the ground up in a blog comment. Policing is just as complicated, and just as difficult, as any other kind of social service. I find that lawyers are particularly bad on this front, because lawyers completely fail to understand that policing emphatically is not the same thing as reaching the correct legal conclusion in a criminal case. To be clear, that's not meant as a defense of the cop's actions in the Gates case, which were clearly stupid, but rather of the general tenor of the debate on both left and right (more at the Crooked Timber thread, which was typically chock full of annoying people, than here, but still).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:10 AM
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I'm with Halford on everything except the "general tenor of the debate" thing. If his actions were stupid, the general tenor of the debate should probably reflect that, and if it doesn't, that should be a problem, it seems to me.

I've been avoiding the Crooked Timber thread, having said that, given the amazing number of reactionary-fuckwits-who've-read-a-smattering-of-philosophy that blog seems to attract.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 3:09 AM
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One more angle on the Gates thing. This is from Stanley Fish's article at the NYT:

As the story unfolded in the press and on the Internet, I flashed back 20 years or so to the time when Gates arrived in Durham, N.C., to take up the position I had offered him in my capacity as chairman of the English department of Duke University. One of the first things Gates did was buy the grandest house in town (owned previously by a movie director) and renovate it. During the renovation workers would often take Gates for a servant and ask to be pointed to the house's owner. The drivers of delivery trucks made the same mistake.
The message was unmistakable: What was a black man doing living in a place like this?
At the university (which in a past not distant at all did not admit African-Americans ), Gates's reception was in some ways no different. Doubts were expressed in letters written by senior professors about his scholarly credentials, which were vastly superior to those of his detractors. (He was already a recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, the so called "genius award.") There were wild speculations (again in print) about his salary, which in fact was quite respectable but not inordinate; when a list of the highest-paid members of the Duke faculty was published, he was nowhere on it.

One thing I found confounding about reactions to all of this is that it seems to assume Gates brought a blank slate (rather than 60+ years of living as a black man in the U.S.) to the incident.

*I* already use the "looks like a duck, quacks like a duck" heruistic and I'm in my 30s. Speaking of the "general tenor" of the debate, I'm taken aback at the number of people who think Gates should have restrained himself from comment on the grounds that it might not have been a duck.

Whatever. I did think Obama's second press briefing was remarkably gracefully handled.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 5:29 AM
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heuristic, that is.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 5:30 AM
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Our downstairs neighbors called the cops on my roommate and me last night. We were watching a movie at moderate volume at 1 a.m., and there were two rounds of their pounding the ceiling and then the cops showed up. When my roommate explained to the cops that he'd been here for eight years and never had a problem before, the cops were suddenly on our side -- "Yeah, a lot of new people moving in around here." People who should really rethink their suitability for city life, IMHO.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:49 AM
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Our downstairs neighbors called the cops on my roommate and me last night.

These delightful people should spend some time with our across-the-street neighbors to recalibrate. I think they're law students? Something not characterized by being poor and desperate, certainly, but their parties sure have a way of descending into really angry and impressively loud screaming matches around two or three in the morning. Lots of "Get the FUCK out of my HOUSE!" These often have the worrying sound of involving some guest who is getting genuinely out of hand, but I figure in a whole house of people who can tell what's actually going on, they are in a better position to decide whether to call the cops than I am.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:57 AM
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Has the Gates interview been linked here yet? I've been busy with parade OT and such.( Pioneer Day )

http://www.theroot.com/views/skip-gates-speaks

"How could this happen to me? Sure, my driver just popped my front door open with his shoulder, but he's in a suit! And I'm wearing a blazer!" "How dare the cop not lead off his felony in progress call with "'Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?".

My driver is a large black man. But from afar you and I would not have seen he was black. He has black hair and was dressed in a two-piece black suit, and I was dressed in a navy blue blazer with gray trousers and, you know, my shoes...
So he's looking at my ID, he asked me another question, which I refused to answer. And I said I want your name and your badge number because I want to file a complaint because of the way he had treated me at the front door. He didn't say, 'Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?'--he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don't think he would have done that if I was a white person.

Gates also recounts the horror of being at the station for four whole hours. Also, when he complains that he's claustrophobic and that the cell is too small, they viciously put him in an interview room and allow his friends to visit him.

I was in jail for four hours. I told them that I was claustrophobic, that I couldn't be in this cell. And a very nice police officer said here are some of your friends and I could talk to them one at a time in the interview room until the magistrate came and signed the form allowing me to leave. I was there just between 1:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., which is an interminable amount of time. I spent the rest of the time in another room, slightly bigger, and my friends just had to sit there and wait. And it was kind of like a Senate filibuster; we had to tell stories in the prison cell.

And now it's time for Thug Life Skip to express solidarity with other black men behind bars, whose experiences no doubt closely mirror his.

But I am determined that this experience, my experience, as horrendous as it was and as outrageous as it was, be used for the larger good of the black community. There are 1 million black men in the prison system, and on Thursday I became one of them. I would sooner have believed the sky was going to fall from the heavens than I would have believed this could happen to me.

Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:55 AM
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Gates hasn't exactly covered himself in glory during any part of this episode, gswift, but so what? The man got arrested in his own home because he was insufficiently obsequious to a cop. He's the victim; there's really no other credible way to tell the story.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:04 PM
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And seriously, you can stick racist shit like Thug Life Skip right up you ass. Actually, forget race for a moment, just consider liberty. Again, Gates got arrested in his own home because he wouldn't prostrate himself before a cop. I'm curious, have you ever been cuffed in your own home and brought down to a police station, denied your freedom in other words, for no reason other than you annoyed a cop?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:10 PM
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He doesn't think it was torture, he thinks it was outrageous, and he calls the officer who was accommodating "very nice". Sarcasm about "the horror of being at the station for four whole hours" is pretty unseemly. I know you think everyone should take their lumps and be glad it wasn't worse, but I doubt you'd be delighted to be put into a holding cell for four hours the next time you went to the airport, say.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:10 PM
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And seriously, you can stick racist shit like Thug Life Skip right up you ass.

Indeed, not good.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:11 PM
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You mean that I left off the "r"? I'm rather ashamed, if that makes the omission any easier to take.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:13 PM
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Now that you've called it to my attention, I don't know if I can ever see you in the same way again.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:15 PM
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Agggh, this is making my head explode. Gates acted like an asshole. The cop acted like more of an asshole because, in that situation, he had more power (or, actually, he thought he had more power, but was wrong). The arrest should not have taken place. This incident of two people behaving badly, one of whom is a Harvard professor, is not a helpful starting point for a conversation about race or policing in America, it is a good starting point for the proposition that people should not be assholes, and that cops should not overreact. End of story.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:16 PM
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No, you see, "Thug Life Skip" is actually anti-racist, as it mocks Skip's idea that he has something in common with other arrested black people. Some of us have gotten beyond seeing race.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:16 PM
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I completely understand your feelings. Mistakes like the one above are exactly why I shroud all the mirrors in our house.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:17 PM
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228: No, Crowley did have more power. His union has told the President of the United States to go fuck himself. Obama reacted by backing down, at least to a certain extent (which was certainly good politics). And Crowley, to my knowledge, is standing by his guns (heh) that he'll never apologize.

Also, 230 to 227.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:20 PM
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230 should have been the extent of Obama's public apology remarks.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:22 PM
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228: Also also, I agree that it's not a good starting point for a conversation about race in the United States, but it's certainly a relevant data point in such a conversation. I can't imagine that you really think otherwise. You only have to witness the reaction to Obama's press conference, read the comments at the Boston Globe's coverage of this (non) story, or take a gander at gswift's absurd cackling above to see the truth in this statement.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:24 PM
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Yeah, I'm actually more neutral than that sounded on the "who has more power" argument; the politics are complicated. I'm sure that the Cambridge police department has told its officers "do not arrest black Harvard professors unless you're witnessing a goddamn murder in process, you jackasses," on the other hand, it's true that a hardcore defense of Gates would be bad politics for Obama. The broader point about this being a really stupid starting point for a conversation about race or policing in America stands.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:24 PM
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it is a good starting point for the proposition that people should not be assholes, and that cops should not overreact. End of story.

I find it a bit difficult to tell from the accounts we have just to what extent who was an asshole. But do you not think that "police should not arrest someone for no reason" is a far more important lesson than "people should not be assholes"? Gates may have overstepped the boundaries of polite conversation after flying in from China and being accused of intruding in his own home. I think that's pretty understandable. The cop lied to him in order to arrest him just to teach him a lesson. That's clearly a lot less tolerable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:26 PM
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The cop acted like more of an asshole because, in that situation, he had more power (or, actually, he thought he had more power, but was wrong).

Possible that the cop acted like an asshole because it was quite obvious that Gates was going to file a complaint, and the cop actually looks a lot better if the complaint-maker was arrested.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:27 PM
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Ah, fuck it. This conversation has been hashed out ad nauseum all over the internet, and hashing it out again isn't going to stop the gswifts of the world from being authoritarian assholes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:28 PM
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And, to 233, I think you're right, but the datapoint it reveals is that plenty of people are extremely interested in rehashing by rote (on both sides) dumb arguments from the 1960s. And actually, on this issue, as on so many other dumb rote rehashing of arguments from the 1960s, Obama has done an excellent job of rising above the fray. In fact, that may be his single greatest skill -- getting people to move on from conversations that are 40 years stale.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:28 PM
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To 235, police should not arrest people for no reason. Being verbally abusive in the presence of the cops is sometimes, not always, more than "no reason"; in this case, the cop made an incredibly poor judgment call about arresting Gates that can't be justified. On the other hand, Gates was (apparently) overreacting himself. That's why this isn't a good starting off point for thinking about the issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:36 PM
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238: Honestly, I sort of think you're half right (is that sufficiently equivocal?). The conversation is being framed in a very tired way. But the issues at hand -- the scope of police power, the way that race shapes interactions between the cops and the citizens they're paid to protect, and the stranglehold that conservatives seem to have on the public sphere -- are all still very important. Beyond all of that, Hussein X, in addition to being a black man, an illegal alien, and a communist, was also a constitutional law professor. He spent much of his pre-politics career thinking about these kinds of issues. Indeed, he made his bones in the IL legislature by brokering a compromise by which confessions obtained by the police should be taped. I actually think he's an excellent person, therefore, to weigh in on L'affaire Gates et Crowley.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:38 PM
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I don't disagree with anything in 240, including that I kind of sort of agree with myself. Maybe. And I do think Obama is supremely qualified to think/talk about this issue.

On the internet, I don't think the conversation is moving in any interesting or useful direction, that I've seen. Well, that cop on Crooked Timber tried a bit, but made the fatal mistake of posting something at Crooked Timber.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:45 PM
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On the internet, I don't think the conversation is moving in any interesting or useful direction

This is the mouseover text for the entire blogosphere, right?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:49 PM
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And yet, we're here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:52 PM
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Wow, I'm now so consumed by existential despair that I'm going to go grocery shopping.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 12:55 PM
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And seriously, you can stick racist shit like Thug Life Skip right up you ass. Actually, forget race for a moment, just consider liberty. Again, Gates got arrested in his own home because he wouldn't prostrate himself before a cop. I'm curious, have you ever been cuffed in your own home and brought down to a police station, denied your freedom in other words, for no reason other than you annoyed a cop?

I've been arrested multiple times, and Gates got treated a hell of a lot nicer than this clean cut white middle class guy did. Gate comparing himself to guys in actual prison is a joke.

Ivy League assholes who respond to a cop doing a textbook response to a felony in progress call with "don't you know who you're dealing with" can fuck themselves with a stick. Rich connected people who get special treatment and their charges dismissed and then talk of profiling can all go fuck themselves with an even bigger stick.

University professors of all stripes who think being asked for your id and a bit of civility during a dangerous felony investigation is being asked to "prostrate himself" best stay on campus lest the real world teach them different.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 1:46 PM
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Wow, who suffered more from that arrest, Gates or gswift?


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:04 PM
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Nice threat, you authoritarian jerk. While I think I understand the class dynamics that infuriate you so much -- again, one of my best friends in the world is a Boston cop, and we used to talk about this kind of thing pretty regularly -- you're way out of line here. That you can't see that, just as Crowley apparently can't admit that he was in the wrong when he arrested Gates, and that you both carry guns at work, is extremely scary. So take what I'm about to say in the spirit it's being offered: as a public service. You should seriously consider getting another job, lest you hurt someone or get hurt yourself one of these days.

Beyond that, the idea that Crowley was in the midst of a "dangerous felony investigation" seems like nothing but defensiveness or a window into how much fear you bring with you to work. By the time Gates was yelling at him, what danger was Crowley in? I mean, really. Are you that poorly trained? Or, again, are you just that scared of, and angry at, the citizens you theoretically serve and protect?

All of that said, as I noted earlier, Gates made an ass of himself, no doubt. "Do you know who I am?" is a lousy question to ask anyone, much less a cop who's investigating a break-in at your house. Regardless, your racism and rage are totally unwarranted. I should have a conversation with your mama about your behavior.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:05 PM
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I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Gates and you curse The Police. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Gates' arrest, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me fucking people with a stick. You need me fucking people with a stick.


Posted by: Sgt. Crowley | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:07 PM
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217.last (Obama's second bite at the apple) is exactly right. I especially like the way Obama is able to apologize for his remarks while defending his right to address the issue as part of his "portfolio" as First Black President. The dude really elevates the game, rhetoric-wise.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:07 PM
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Can't we all just get along? (Don't taze me, gswift!)

I've avoided this entire conversation because 1) both sides' arguments seem equally correct to me and 2) I don't much feel obligated to pick a side. None of the parties involved have come off looking good and I don't really empathize with police or wealthy Ivy League professors, especially when (as appears to me is the case) a dick-swinging contest is being elevated to the position of important sociological metaphor.

It may indeed be a teaching moment for lots of people around the country, but it sure as hell didn't reveal anything I didn't know already.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:11 PM
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I love Ari and his blog, but I have to say that I think that 247.1 and 247.2 are way, way out of line and over the top, even if GSwift's rhetoric isn't doing his argument any favors.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:13 PM
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And 250 is right on. "A dick-swinging contest being elevated to the position of important sociological metaphor" gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:15 PM
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251: They're just reënacting the incident in blog comment form. I'm waiting to see how gswift's going to pull off the arrest.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:20 PM
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reënacting the incident in blog comment form

"Yeah, I'll ban your mama on the porch."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:22 PM
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250: Again, apo, you see being a wildly privileged Ivy League diva as somehow equivalent to arresting someone in their own home for having been an ass? If so, it seems to me that among the many things this episode reveals is how much resentment people, even very smart people, seem to have toward dickish intellectuals.

Put another way, I think Gates acted like a jerk. And knowing the guy just a tiny bit, I'm not wholly surprised by that (the "he just got back from China, so let's give him a break because he was so very weary" explanation seems like bullshit to me). But that doesn't change the fact that a cop arrested Gates in his own home after he produced not one but two pieces of identification proving that he was who he said he was.

Given that, the only way that I can understand your (and many other people's) willingness to see the two transgressions as in any way equivalent is to assume that you either hate black people (which I know isn't true) or hate people like Skip Gates (which seems to be the case). Whereas I don't much like people like Skip Gates, I don't think being a rich prick is a crime. Whereas cops who abuse their authority ought to go to jail, even if the criminal justice system makes such a thing unlikely.

Also, Gates hates Duke, so I'm not sure what your problem is. The man is very much a part of your tribe (Mexicans).


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:22 PM
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The unaddressed problem in our midst? The fever for apologies. Always recommended, often demanded, seldom sincere (whatever sincerity might mean), never satisfactory.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:25 PM
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251: This thread is one where gswift has managed to inhabit several characters -- racist cop, anti-intellectual working stiff, bloviating blog commenter -- that I don't much like. That said, I accept your assessment of my behavior and will cool it.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:27 PM
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No, you misread me, Ari. I'm not sticking up for either side, and have no idea whether Gates is a prick or not. I don't hate people like Gates; I don't actually know any all-star Ivy League professors. Hence the lack of empathy.

Of course the arrest was totally wrong. Of course Gates was acting like an ass. On the other hand, Gates *still* got treated better than I would have in the same situation. And I'd get treated better than somebody a couple neighborhoods over who looks like Skip Gates. And a white Ivy League professor probably gets treated better than Gates. Like I said, nothing about this episode is revealing. But if I want a good metaphor for police abuse of power and the role of race in our legal system, I don't have to travel to Cambridge to find it. I live in Durham.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:31 PM
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251: Having just thought more about my reaction, both to gswift and apo, I think I'm feeling particularly sensitive about being a professor right now. Which is to say, my reaction is almost certainly disproportionate. I don't know if I'm feeling like this because so many people (not here, mind you) seem to be saying, "Well, Gates is a snooty Ivy League intellectual, so he had it coming," or because the State of California seems dangerously close to slipping into the Pacific, but not before kicking me and all my colleagues in the nuts a few times, just for the fun of seeing us squirm.

Regardless, I really will dial it back. It's nobody fault here that my job isn't nearly as good as it was a few months ago, and that it's likely to get a whole lot worse a few months from now.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:33 PM
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Eh, there's a point where the police are allowed to briefly arrest/detain you for being an ass and impeding an investigation. I don't think Gates got close to that line, so the arrest was improper, and was a product of excessive ego by the cop. But he was being an ass. Case closed. Pretending that this is some kind of great, representative, or particularly significant civil rights violation, or that the incident itself tells you anything about race relations or general issues of policing, is crazy. "Dick swinging contest" gets it exactly right, and you don't need to be consumed with hatred for ivy league professors to think so.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:34 PM
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258: Like I just said, I'm being hypersensitive and need to get back to writing this chapter rather than picking fights with people who are armed, Mexican, or perhaps both.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:35 PM
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And Ari, I feel your pain in 259. The situation sucks. You guys need a union!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:37 PM
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259: I really don't see why you need to dial it back. Is this incident representative of the worst aspects of police work or racism in this country? No, it's not, it's a fairly minor incident and inconvenience in the life of Gates. And I don't think anyone did claim that this is a tragic event representative of police racism in the way that so many other events are. Is it getting attention only because it happened to a famous person? Yes. Do any number of worse abuses of police power go without this kind of attention? Yes. And I guess that's Halford's point about this being a bad starting point for discussions of policing. But, that said, all this false-equivalence or "he was asking for it" bullshit is, well, bullshit, and I don't see why you should back down from calling it that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:39 PM
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250: Yes, but in fact these touchstone cases and events almost always surrounded by this kind of moral ambiguity despite people's wishes for narratives with moral clarity*. It's almost never saints against devils in these situations; no surprise that the ones that escalate into public notice tend to have provocation and assholishness on both sides. However, in this case, although I decry ari's rhetoric** (on preview: which he has nicely walked back) , his analysis of the situation is spot on.

*I did see Gates described as "the Rosa Parks of racial profiling somewhere". Jesus Christ!

**And I am willing to cut gswift a bit of slack in the face of some of the wildly overblown a anti-cop rhetoric that has flown around here recently.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:41 PM
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260: Okay, having calmed down, I still don't entirely see your point. By your own admission, Crowley didn't arrest Gates because he was impeding an investigation; he arrested him because Gates was being a elitist dick, and because he, Crowley, was trying to show Gates who was boss. That such a thing, or some variant of it -- perhaps not as serious, perhaps more serious -- happens all the time, and that race exacerbates these dynamics, is a serious problem that merits some discussion. Unfortunately, as I noted above, that's not the discussion the country is having. Also, I'd like to go on the record as revising some of what I said upthread: apo actually is a racist.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:41 PM
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I also have to say that the stereotype of Ivy League professors mystifies me, given that none of the Ivy League professors I know are entitled, arrogant assholes in the way that people are assuming Gates to be. Some of them are, to some extent, assholes, and some (not entirely the same group) are arrogant, but not, as far as I can tell, at rates exceeding those in the population at large.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:42 PM
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266: but not, as far as I can tell, at rates exceeding those in the population at large.

But with above average rhetorical skills and access to platforms from which they can exhibit their arrogance to a broader audience.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:47 PM
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263: I think Robert (if I may) was reacting to my entirely uncharitable reading of gswift's completely dickish comment (245, if memory serves), which, while completely dickish, well might not have been intended as either an overt or subtle threat, and also to my suggestion, arising from said uncharitable reading of gswift's entirely dickish comment, that gswift might be poorly trained, violently authoritarian, or both, and thus should seriously consider a new line of work.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:48 PM
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willingness to see the two transgressions as in any way equivalent

I don't think they're equivalent, and the upshot of that is that if Gates decides to pursue a lawsuit against the Cambridge police, he'll almost certainly have a decent-sized settlement coming his way. As a matter of law, Gates is holding all of the cards. As a matter of social justice, yeah whatever. It doesn't even get close to what happens hundreds of times around the country every single day, and those people don't get millions of Facebook status updates in support and the president of the United States offering to arbitrate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:49 PM
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I'm not defending the arrest, and should make that clear. I think you're generally right about the diagnosis of what happened in this case -- that is, that the cop's ego got the better of him. On the other hand, I think the proper conclusions to draw from the case are (a) don't be an asshole to the cops, because they may overreact and (b) some cops are assholes who overreact. Is that anything that we didn't know already? The teachable policy lessons are that (a) cops should exercise better judgment and (b) citizens should be more polite.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 2:57 PM
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The teachable policy lessons are that (a) cops should exercise better judgment and (b) citizens should be more polite.

These are precisely the lessons I think Obama has tried to highlight. That Gates, again, continues to act like a jerk is neither surprising nor noteworthy. Okay, I really have to get back to work. If I don't get this chapter done in the next few days, I'm kind of screwed.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 3:02 PM
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271: If I don't get this chapter done in the next few days, I'm kind of screwed.

Your state's budget and political system might collapse or something!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 3:24 PM
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Gah. Ari, I'm not threatening anyone, I'm just suggesting you live an extremely sheltered existence. Anyways, I obviously got a bit pissed and could have approached it better.

I've already said the arrest was too much. No defense of that.

But what's destroyed any sympathy I might have for Gates is that by his own admission he'd decided to file a complaint before the cop was even done reading his identification, and by his own admission the cop's trangression was that he wasn't sufficiently deferential. And to boot he's now running around comparing himself to guys doing real time and claiming he was profiled.

Anyways, I've got work as well.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 4:50 PM
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259: the State of California seems dangerously close to slipping into the Pacific, but not before kicking me and all my colleagues in the nuts a few times, just for the fun of seeing us squirm.

I hadn't known that things were that bad for tenured college professors in CA. (I think Ari has tenure? I'm not sure.) I certainly have been aware that education budgets have been extraordinarily cut, but Ari seems to be alluding to something more specific.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 5:20 PM
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The cop should have been deferential. He was in the presence of his boss: a citizen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 5:37 PM
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If any given cop doesn't lick my ass on command I burn shit down.

Unless it's at a meetup. No sweat, gswift!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 5:48 PM
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...I'm just suggesting you live an extremely sheltered existence.

This seems to be a recurrent, if not frequent, statement on blogs. Am I the only one who didn't get offered a street cred upgrade with his new MacBook Pro?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 6:07 PM
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Last time I called the cops was when I came home about midnight and discovered my lock had been jammed. That is, I called my local police station, and after the officer had informed me that he could not legally recommend a locksmith, he looked up the name of a local 24-hour locksmith on the internet and gave me the number. Then we had a brief discussion about whether or not it was a good idea to report the jamming of my lock as criminal vandalism, given the likelihood that it was one of my neighbor's kids who had done it, and I conceded that I should wait to find out exactly how badly my lock had been jammed before I formally reported it.

(The locksmith arrived 45 minutes later and it turned out what had happened was that some kid had shoved a candy wrapper into the lock - not sticky, just kind of solidly lodged. Cost me the after-midnight callout fee, but not a new lock. Under the circumstances, I decided that getting the police round to interrogate all the little kids in the neighborhood about who did it was going to do more harm than good: which was pretty much what the police officer had advised when I rang.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:11 PM
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But he was being an ass

Argh! This is utterly irrelevant, and I do wish people would stop bringing it up. Gates has a right to be an ass in his own home to uninvited intruders. Maybe he shouldn't exercise that right, but so what? it is his right. It's basically victim blaming to bring up his exercise of his rights against him.

Also, in what world do you look at `cops use power over citizens in highly inappropriate ways' and decide that the correct answer involves citizens modifying their behaviour to better appease said cops? Surely the cops are the problem, and should change, not the citizenry exercising their rights to express their disapproval of the men with guns.

(Especially given the correct conclusion from this episode should be: `be deferential to Harvard professors if you're trying to pull a fast one, because they know some damn good lawyers...')


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:34 PM
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"'Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?".

gswift, are you suggesting that some variant of this isn't the way an officer should start out with in that situation? The level of civility seems exactly right, if not the words.

If the officer (Crowley, was it?) didn't start out politely, it would go a long way to explaining how things escalated (and, if so, how the officer screwed up).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:44 PM
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But he was being an ass. Case closed.

Well they were both being asses. But regardless of the situation with Gates, as far as I can see policing in the US has a growing problem with being asses (and worse) and the rate of change is in the wrong direction. So yeah, it would be nice if we could have that conversation instead of discussing who was the more wrong in a pissing contest. As for that, it was the officer, case closed as you say, but it's not globally that interesting.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:49 PM
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it is his right.

Sure, it's his right, and nobody (here) has argued otherwise. That's why the charges got dropped, he got an apology, and why he's got a solid case against the CPD if he pursues it.

It does, however, make it difficult for me to work up much outrage about the particular situation or feel like it's worth nearly the amount of discussion it has gotten.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:50 PM
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282.last is key ... it's a real shame that someone hasn't manage to channel all of this media energy and focus into an actually interesting discussion of the problems of policing in this country (from both sides of the fence). Gates himself probably can't redirect it, but I wish somebody could.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 7:52 PM
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It does, however, make it difficult for me to work up much outrage about the particular situation or feel like it's worth nearly the amount of discussion it has gotten.

The guy was arrested in his own home for (paraphrasing) telling a cop to go fuck himself. That seems pretty damn outrageous to me,

The fact that telling cops to go fuck themselves is kind of assholish is pretty immaterial besides the `getting arrested in his own home for exercising his rights' bit. I really can't see why some very minor dickishness on his part weakens the impact of some major major dickishness by the cop.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 8:11 PM
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The guy was arrested in his own home for (paraphrasing) telling a cop to go fuck himself.

No, Gates accused Crowley of racism. asked for name and badge number, and promised to file an official complaint.

Crowley teaches a class on racial profiling. Besides the reputational damage from an absurd Gates vendetta, Crowley might have also seen a loss of income as Gates got Crowley removed from that teaching position.

Could Gates and his allies do this, merely out of spite? I bet they could, with determination and solidarity.

Crowley had the bad luck to answer the wrong burglary call. Cambridge might have known whose house it was, and sent Crowley intentionally as the best cop to deal with the infamous Professor Gates. Somebody had to go, knock on the door, and instantly get accused of racial profiling. They sent the cop with the best reputation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 9:18 PM
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"Okay, we got a phonecall, a black man was seen breaking int Henry Gates house."

"Probably Gates himself, but we have to vcheck it out. You know if it is Gates, we are guaranteed a complaint and civil suit."

"Send Crowley."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 9:25 PM
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What, you think it is coincidence that the white cop in Cambridge best able to withstand an accusation of racial profiling was sent on this call?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 9:31 PM
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I think everyone is understimating how much damage Gates can do to Crowley by filing a complaint, this year, 5-10 years down the line. To Crowley, apparently a cop who has worked hard his entire career on racial issues.

Crowley will now likely never make Captain, never be able to run for political office. Gates can do this on a whim, out of nothing but misdirected spite.

Beside absolutely needing civilian witness to any exchange, Crowley is standing in that kitchen watching this rich asshole turn his life to shit.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 9:43 PM
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bob, these are all special, but 285.last to 287 are extra special.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 9:49 PM
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289"I'm wrong?

I am not denying racism exists, or that cops can be abusive.

But that NYC cop, Brandon Pozo, understands the urban politics here. When an ordinary ctizen makes an false accusation of racism. a cop has a hassle.

When someone like Henry Gates makes a false accusation of racism...the cop is through.

If Crowley had any political ambitions, he can now forget them. He could abandon them in Gate's kitchen. He should look for work in private security.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 9:58 PM
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What, you think it is coincidence that the white cop in Cambridge best able to withstand an accusation of racial profiling was sent on this call?

bob, you are coming across like a complete fucking idiot at best. Do STFU.

First, I doubt the dispatcher knew it was Gates' house, or anything other than the street address.

Second, the best cop to send on such a call would be one who would, oh, I don't know, keep the fucking peace? There was no tumult before the cop got there. There was no disorderly conduct before the cop got there. The cop was not doing his job, period.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:06 PM
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I'm wrong?

You're not even wrong. You're on a different fucking planet.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:08 PM
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If Crowley had any political ambitions, he can now forget them. He could abandon them in Gate's kitchen. He should look for work in private security.

Except that his union is backing him unequivocally (as it should, I think), the President of the United States has now vouched for his good character, and many people think of him as a working-class hero (though he probably clears well over $100k/year -- not that I have any problem with cops making good money). So, if he's interested in politics, one might think that he has a decent shot to be tapped as a vice presidential nominee on the next Republican ticket. Or, as a consolation prize, he can keep his day job, retire at 100% of salary after he puts in his twenty years, and then claim a primetime slot on Fox News's evening lineup. And finally, you're right, there's little doubt that Gates entrapped him. Well played. And viva la revolucion, Roberto!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:09 PM
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291:So you think it was coincidence. The cop in Cambridge who teaches racial profiling. You don't know, and the only known fact is on my side.

291.3:Did Crowley have such a terrible record, with previous complaints, that it was unsafe to send him on that call? I have no information that Crowley has any such bad reputation. Do You?

293:Entrapped him? My point is that Gates was going to cry "racial profiling" no matter what happened. Not really a trap.

I mean, what are you saying that Prof Henry Gates would never ever ever? I though the consensus is that Henry Gates has made a false accusation of racial profiling against Crowley, (which has nothing to do with the "disturbance" and arrest, preceding that loss of temper by the officer who saw his carer ruined) and as far as I know, is sticking with it. Last article on Yahoo says Gates has not backed down aor apologized.

Or are you saying that such a false accusation, coming from one of the most famous black scholars in America, would not do any damage t the person so acused?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:25 PM
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We'll see if Crowley gets disciplined in any way. My guess is that he won't. My further guess is that this incident won't harm his career in any measurable way, though it probably should. He made a huge, albeit common, mistake and should suffer some penalty for his error. As for Gates, he comes off looking like a dick. So what? If being a dick were against the law, you and I would both be commenting from prison.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:36 PM
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Bob, you are a creature of rare beauty.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:36 PM
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I though the consensus is that Henry Gates has made a false accusation of racial profiling against Crowley

Also, I don't know why you think that's the consensus. Among my latté-sipping brethren, the consensus is that Crowley very likely engaged in some form of racial profiling, yes, but that's very much beside the point.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:38 PM
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289 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:40 PM
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My point is that Gates was going to cry "racial profiling" no matter what happened.

Not if there was actually somebody breaking into his house, which is what the police were coming to investigate. That it was a coincidence that Crowley taught racial profiling makes infinitely more sense than whatever convoluted theory you're not quite postulating.

But I don't think you actually believe whatever it is you're sort of arguing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:44 PM
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What, you think it is coincidence that the white cop in Cambridge best able to withstand an accusation of racial profiling was sent on this call?

What, you think that's air you're breathing?


Posted by: matrix non-inhabitant | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:44 PM
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Gates has a very, very, very, very long history of accusing white police officers of being racist. It's so long that I couldn't do any justice to it by naming any particular examples.

Crawley did the very best he could: a police report unable to articulate how he wound up in Gates's house, no police ID card definitively handed out, and then ultimately a pretty bogus arrest of "disorderly conduct." What are the odds of a police officer doing so well in such an adverse situation? 1 in 100, I would say.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:47 PM
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"Send Crowley."

Dear God, bob, you've brightened my evening.

Gates, diabolical chessmaster that he is, knew they'd send Crowley. It was a setup; maybe they sensed his political ambitions. We'll never know what went down between BO and Gates, because they probably talked over their super-secret Afroplutocrat-o-phones.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:52 PM
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297: the consensus is that Crowley very likely engaged in some form of racial profiling

I haven't seen anybody say that explicitly and I doubt it's true. The lady calling it in was probably (I want to say certainly) engaged in racial profiling.

As little of the actual incident reportage that I've seen suggests that Gates was inside the house and (I assume) the cop knocked, and asked to come inside and/or see ID due to the burglary call. I don't know at what point the yelling about racial profiling started. I do know that if someone reported a break in at a house, and I went there and someone answered the door, I have to sort out what's going on. A burglar might well say 'this is my house!'

The cop went inside and then there was some yelling and some showing of identification and then there was a prima donna collision and the cop invited Gates outside and arrested him. If the cop had thought Gates was a burglar, he would've busted him on the spot, no need to ask him outside. That's the point where the cop was getting vengeful. I don't see where racial profiling by Crowley comes into it.

max
['Being asshole comes into it.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 10:55 PM
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In other old news, someone sent me this. Yo.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:02 PM
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Gates has a very, very, very, very long history of accusing white police officers of being racist.

For all I know, this is true. Much shorter than the history of racism in the police, mind.

This though:
What are the odds of a police officer doing so well in such an adverse situation? 1 in 100, I would say.

Is laughable. Any competent officer should have been able to do better on an average to good day. I'm perfectly willing to believe that Crowley was having a bad day (quite apart from Gates's ).

I don't thing there is much to the racial profiling idea, he very plausibly blew it for other reason.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:03 PM
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super-secret Afroplutocrat-o-phones

They're useful, sure, but not even close to as powerful as what my people have. When we want to communicate something through the network, we just produce a Hollywood blockbuster.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:04 PM
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Is laughable.

Mr. Biscuit, you have a message waiting at the front desk from a Mr. Bridgeplate.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:08 PM
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I knew I was forgetting something at the grocery store today. Should have picked up some troll feed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:08 PM
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Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:11 PM
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20090723/pl_bloomberg/au2pkife2w9i

Huh?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:12 PM
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305:Even I recognized the bitter sarcasm all thru 301


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:12 PM
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that's what i get for commenting while actually paying attention to something else...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:15 PM
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310: Huh?

Those are the same prosecutors that were there before, yes? The cossacks may work for the Czar, but they have force of habit as well.

max
['Guilty guilty guilty! Read the charges!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:18 PM
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309 is some really creative HTML messing-up.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:20 PM
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BTW, I love Groundhog Day.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:20 PM
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not even close to as powerful as what my people have

Dude, don't even pretend that your people aren't in cahoots with those people.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:23 PM
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'Cahoots' is a really great word, don't you think?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:24 PM
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315 -- More than Lammas?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:35 PM
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So, could any of the cop-lovers on this blog tell me why anyone should bother to observe traffic signals when every police officer in the city habitually flips their lights on 3 seconds before a red light, glides through, and flips the lights off again 3 seconds after the red light? Because it seems to me that there's really no point in following those laws when the very people we pay to enforce them, at gunpoint, flout them with a regularity that would make Ex-Lax proud.

And Sgt. Preston of the Yukon can fuck right off if he thinks there's some good, procedural-liberal, incremental-change-is-the-only-way, I'm-so-fucking-mature-and-broad-minded explanation for that.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:36 PM
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Does that happen more than 0 times a year in your city? I've never seen it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:37 PM
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I guess my point is that the minute Gates decided to make this an educational moment about racial profiling, which apparently happened in the kitchen, it no longer mattered what Crowley did, he was screwed.

From thousands of mile away, based on who knows what evidence, or simply because Henry Gates has made some claims, ari has assessed Crowley as some kind of wingnut asshole(293) and a racist (297). And this really has nothing to do with the abuse of power Crowley committed in the arrest, but solely based on Henry Gates's accusations.

The harm to Crowley' reputation was inevitable before he asked Gates to step outside, and Crowley surely understood that.

Why would Crowley ask Gates to step outside? Aparently without civilian witnesses, there is nothing Gates could have accused Crowley of that ari would not instantly believe.

This was a very good cop before this incident. And the tragedy has not happened to Henry Gates.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:39 PM
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313 -- There's really just two or three guys -- who've managed to keep their names out of print, I think -- holding over that make up the difference. In fact, I think you could probably switch out one particular guy and look like you wanted to have a constitutional republic.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:41 PM
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320: I saw it happen 4 minutes before I wrote that comment. And if you're near a police station, especially right around shift change, you can see it happen on a minute-by-minute basis.

Keep in mind, I am generally a pedestrian in these situations, thus both more vulnerable to, and more easily able to observe, this behavior than people in cars.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:42 PM
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321: This was a very good cop before this incident.

And other than that Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy the motorcade?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:44 PM
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I've seen that on rare occasions. Once, rather spectacularly, I saw a police car in Hyde Park turn on its lights, drive the wrong way up Greenwood Ave from 56th to 55th, then turn its lights off and continue down 55th.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:45 PM
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Call him "Skip", bob. Everyone does.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:49 PM
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I guess I am trying to give an explanation as to why this particular cop chose to arrest this particular citizen on a ridiculous charge, knowing who this citizen was.

Surely Crowley knew no good would come of the arrest, especially for himself. A 12-year Sgt would understand the shitstorm coming from Henry Gates in handcuffs. Ego and swinging dicks doesn't cut it for me. Cops get yelled at all the time, and walk away.

The best explanation is that Crowley knew he was fucked over already.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:50 PM
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who've managed to keep their names out of print can be found on Google, but with no hint of the actual role being played. Par for the course.

If Crowley was afraid for his reputation, he'd have played the outdoor scene completely differently.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:52 PM
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it no longer mattered what Crowley did, he was screwed

I know I shouldn't be feeding you, bob, but I love how you go down with guns blazing. Still, don't you think he might have been a bit less screwed if he'd opted for leaving over arresting?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:53 PM
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326:I think Henry addressed that in comments at CT. It is apparently an academic affectation to use first and nicknames instead of titles and honorifics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:54 PM
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Calling people by first names is an "affectation"? Thanks for informing us of that, Mr. McManus.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-25-09 11:59 PM
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329:No, I don't.

Questions I have asked myself this weekend include why the black officer requested Crowley to assist him in teaching the racial profiling class, and why Crowle accepted, or made racial profiling a specialty.

A cop who tries to establish such a reputation for racial sensitivity very well might consider it an advantage for future political ambitions. Otr simply has a self-image that is enhanced by working to decrease racism in the force. Such a cop would be very deeply hurt by unfounded accusations of racism.

And I was thinking mayor, congressmen, Cambridge, Boston, MA rather than national.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:01 AM
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322: There's really just two or three guys -- who've managed to keep their names out of print, I think -- holding over that make up the difference. In fact, I think you could probably switch out one particular guy and look like you wanted to have a constitutional republic.

Yeah, I figured something like that. And it's probably all over the fucking DOJ with Bushie 'leave behinds' doing their reguard thing. I feel sorry for Holder, since he seems to be trying to do the right thing, and he must be up to his eyeballs in illegal, unconstitutional bullshit legacy crap. Going to send someone down there to crack some (metaphorical) skulls together.

max
['Still got six months.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:01 AM
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331:Henry at CT

I have never met Gates, but have never heard another academic or critic use his given name. The same is true of a well known political scientist, Skip Lupia, whom no-one refers to by his given name (Arthur, I think - but I would have to look it up). More generally, professors (in my experience) when they refer to each other, do not typically use titles, except in very formal circumstances, or as a form of mildly sarcastic denigration-by-over-politeness.

Yeah, I think it is an affectation to call strangers by their nicknames in all but the most formal circumstances.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:06 AM
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Why would Crowley ask Gates to step outside?

Because you have to be in a public place to get charged with disorderly behavior, which meant he needed him outside.

knowing who this citizen was

It's pretty obvious that he had no idea who Gates was.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:07 AM
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325: Once, rather spectacularly, I saw a police car in Hyde Park turn on its lights, drive the wrong way up Greenwood Ave from 56th to 55th, then turn its lights off and continue down 55th.

I;ve seen that a dozen times. I haz also been invited to step outside, for exciting fun times with interrogation.

327: I guess I am trying to give an explanation as to why this particular cop chose to arrest this particular citizen on a ridiculous charge, knowing who this citizen was.

Because it probably didn't seem TOO ridiculous, and besides that, who said he knew exactly who Gates was? 'So there's this old black guy and he's yelling like a loon the whole time...' etc. etc.

max
['Crowley thought he could get away it, turned out he couldn't.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:10 AM
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330, 334: "Skipper was telling the most fab stories about Puck and Biffy failing a bunch of working class louts out of their Intro Poetry sections last term. Didn't know what hit them--Texans, sons of policemen and other white trash. Whatever are Tab and his boys over in admissions up to these days?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:18 AM
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who said he knew exactly who Gates was?

We do know that Gates had shown Crowley at least one ID in the kitchen, his University Pass. We also know that Gates had said something like "Do You know who I am?" There moght have been more details exchanged in the kitchen that we don't yet know.

From this, assuming Crowley's intelligence, we can assume that Crowley knew that Gates was a Harvard Professor. Gates being in his 50's rather his 20s makes him a reasonable important Harvard Professor. His expensive house shows something about wealth and status.

Even if Crowley didn't know specifically who Gates was, and since Crowley was speciallized in racial sensitivity as a Cambridge cop. I am not assuming that, he knew a lot about Gates by the time they stepped outside.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:20 AM
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Crowley didn't know, but his superiors who sent him into the professor's house surely knew what he was getting into.

This reminds me a lot of the Vietnam War. Or any war, really. It's a sad story.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:22 AM
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Hell, I knew who Henry Louis Gates was, and recognized his face from TV, and I am not a Canbridge cop.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:23 AM
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We also know that Gates had said something like "Do You know who I am?"

Do we know this? Which is to say, has Gates admitted this? Or are we, including me, just relying on Crowley's word here?

Regardless, you've totally won me over, bob. Crowley is a tactical magician. With visions of the governor's mansion dancing in his head, he suddenly found himself in a no-win situation. Still, he made the best of things by arresting, on a trumped-up charge, a man who he knew to be an incredibly eminent Harvard professor. A real chess master, that Officer Crowley. It's just too bad that he now finds himself trapped in a web of deceit that stretches from Harvard's Af-Am department all the way to the White House. Working class white guys, no matter how decent and hardworking they might be, really can't catch a break in Hussein X's America. Fucking Sharia, right my friend?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:35 AM
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340.last: Canbridge's loss is Unfogged's gain.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:36 AM
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336:Part of what I'm working with here, Max, is that Crowley was a Cambridge cop. Not a Boston cop.

Now I don't know Boston or Cambridge, but I am guessing Cambridge is an enclave like Highland or University Park in Dallas. And I know what the Highland Park cops are like, and the Highland Park cops do defer to their rich privileged residents, including black ones, and do arrest strangers for driving while black. and better damn well be able to tell the difference if they want to keep their jobs.

So I am not assuming any ignorance on Crowley's part.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:38 AM
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Part of what I'm working with here, Max, is that Crowley was a Cambridge cop. Not a Boston cop. Now I don't know Boston or Cambridge...

*my head asplode*


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:40 AM
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A couple months ago I was waiting for a bus on the inbound side of Connecticut Ave. NW just below Dupont Circle (at 19th, I think). A cop on a motorcycle went across Connecticut against the light, used his siren and lights to clear a path through cars caught in traffic who had the right of way on Connecticut, turned against traffic up Connecticut toward the ciricle, then slowly turned to the sidewalk, parked, and walked into Chopt. I eventually gave up on the bus about 10 minutes later and walked up Connecticut to the metro station at the circle. When I went by Chopt, I could see the cop still sitting inside.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:41 AM
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338: We do know that Gates had shown Crowley at least one ID in the kitchen, his University Pass.

Sure. Not quite what I was referring to.

We also know that Gates had said something like "Do You know who I am?"

'Not really, and I don't care either; I'm investigating a reported break in.'

There moght have been more details exchanged in the kitchen that we don't yet know.

Sure.

From this, assuming Crowley's intelligence, we can assume that Crowley knew that Gates was a Harvard Professor. Gates being in his 50's rather his 20s makes him a reasonable important Harvard Professor.

How many people have tenure at Harvard? (Serious question.) Coupla hundred? A thousand?

His expensive house shows something about wealth and status.

Now that I think about, I think the best way to visualize this, is to see Crowley as a Highland Park cop who goes to a house rented by an SMU prof. You know how HP is, and you know how HP cops are.

Even if Crowley didn't know specifically who Gates was, and since Crowley was speciallized in racial sensitivity as a Cambridge cop.

Yeah. But.

I am not assuming that, he knew a lot about Gates by the time they stepped outside.

I doubt he cared.

'This is my goddamn house!'
'I just need to see some ID, someone called it in and I need to make sure.'
'What is this racial profiling bullshit?!'
'I just need to be sure.'
'Goddammit, if I was white, you wouldn't be doing this.'
'Yes, I would.'
'That's what all the racists say!'
'Hrmmm. Look, why don't you come outside...' [etc. etc.]

I can totally see a Parkie cop doing that.

max
['When Privileges Collide.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:42 AM
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346:>i?I can totally see a Parkie cop doing that.

See, I can't. I think you are wrong.

Cheney lived in the Park Cities, and I am betting the Park Cops would learn very early to be careful about rousting someone who could be Secretary of State or a Supreme Court Justice or a Cowboy linebacker. Very careful.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:48 AM
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The genius of that. Crowley went to serve his privileged master by responding to a threat to his property, then turned the tables by arresting the aristocrat himself. He's even craftier than I imagined.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:48 AM
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343: And I know what the Highland Park cops are like, and the Highland Park cops do defer to their rich privileged residents, including black ones, and do arrest strangers for driving while black. and better damn well be able to tell the difference if they want to keep their jobs.

Crossed with 346. Sorry. I am certain that HP cops tend to defer to rich residents. I am certain that they arrest or at least harass people for driving while black, or for that matter, driving while poor. God knows, *I* have been harassed by them. My suspicion is that Crowley didn't care at that point because he was pissed. He set a trap for Gates and Gates walked into it. It might be that Crowley thought he could get away with it because Gates is black, whereas he wouldn't try it with a white professor. He might also have figured that if Gates quote 'acted like a nut' unquote in front of other people, then the other people would back him up and he could say Gates was acting crazy or what have you, and slide on the whole tenured-at-Harvard thing. (Side note: the house is rented, so that may have prevented Gates from being moved into the 'rich person' category.)

That's where I agree with gswift at his most hyperbolic back there, whereever it was: cops get hacked off and bust people for no reason all the time. Shit, that shooting in the BART station was all about getting pissed off at a mouthy black dude, and overreacting to an imagined (or claimed) weapon.

I don't any conspiracy, or evidence for same, just people operating under preexisting circumstances. And I, quite bluntly, see the sort of reaction from Gates that you see from rich white people in Dallas when they get arrested.

'Me? I'm not a criminal! Why aren't you out arresting real criminals?' Uh, if they arrest and convict you, YOU YOU YOU are a criminal.

max
['Most places, getting arrested is enough, conviction doesn't matter.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:56 AM
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Yeah, cops are normally really incredibly careful about arresting privileged people. That makes it really outrageous that the black privileged person blew up when the he gets hassled by the police, and that's why the cop in this case had no choice but to arrest him.

This is just how the system works. I think Obama set up Crowley from the start.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:57 AM
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And we seem to be forgetting that this was no ordinary cop. This was a cop who had been invited by his black peer to help teach a class on racial profiling.

My guess is that such a class would besides racial sensitivity, also teach cops how to handle accusations of racial profiling and accusations of racism.

And in most circumstances, even celebrity encounters, correct procedure would protect the cops from false accusations. That it won't always protect is certainly obvious now.


Posted by: bob mcmanfus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:59 AM
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351.1: And don't forget he tried to save Reggie Lewis too!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:01 AM
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347: Cheney lived in the Park Cities, and I am betting the Park Cops would learn very early to be careful about rousting someone who could be Secretary of State or a Supreme Court Justice or a Cowboy linebacker. Very careful.

Yeah, Cheney has him some Federal ID, I do believe. Different thing. It's an interesting question what would have happened if someone had immediately called the police when Cheney shot that guy. I don't think he'd have been arrested, but that's because there would've been about 87 million Secret Service goons around his house.

max
['So now, not going for the conspiracy thing, not without some evidence.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:01 AM
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My suspicion is that Crowley didn't care at that point because he was pissed

And what would piss off a 12 year veteran Sgt so much that he would take chance on throwing away his career? A veteran who surely has dealt with arrogant elites before, probably on a weekly basis? Whose job description includes pampering arrogant elites? "For God's sake, boys, don't get the University pissed at us."

The general theme has been "Well, assholes cops roust black people." In the inner city, sure. In a fucking University town, the town cops had better not fuck unneccessarily with the Perfessers. That gets you fired.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:09 AM
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352: And look what happened to Reggie Lewis! Next you'll be telling me he tried to revive Lenny Bias. I rest my case.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:10 AM
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I think the problem came from the fact that Gates is one of only 22 University Professors at Harvard.

Even a 12-year-old veteran like Crowley is unlikely to have encountered a University Professor. His prior experience was likely restricted to lesser tenured professors, assistant professors, graduate students, and undergraduates. All of these people are douchebags but none of them can compare to the arrogant elitism of an official University Professor.

Despite a lifetime of training -- despite his efforts to save Reggie Lewis, despite his heroism teaching a class on racial profiling to cops, despite his years of experience working in the People's Republic of Cambridge -- Crowley was unable to subdue the raving all-consuming arrogant power of Henry Louis Gates. (Has there ever been a cop who Gates was unable to personally destroy?)

Think Obi-Wan Kanobe fighting against Darth Vader.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:19 AM
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354: And what would piss off a 12 year veteran Sgt so much that he would take chance on throwing away his career?

Who said he threw away his career. As it stands, Gates got printed, got a mug shot, got embarrassed (presumably), spent hours in jail, and a bunch of white people hate him. Crowley has a job, and the backing of the police union.

Presumably Gates (and all onlookers, which includes the entire world at this point) has been taught the lesson Crowley intended to teach. Don't fuck with The Mouse Cambridge PD.

max
['Crime prevention.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:38 AM
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Old bob bringing the crazy again?

could any of the cop-lovers on this blog tell me why anyone should bother to observe traffic signals when every police officer in the city habitually flips their lights on 3 seconds before a red light, glides through, and flips the lights off again 3 seconds after the red light?

That's a bad practice. Bad PR, unsafe, and a hell of a liability if someone gets hurt when they're blowing through a light for no good reason.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:47 AM
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I forget where I was seeing him, Roots or Burn's Civil War or Eyes on the Prize or or Hill/Thomas. But twenty years ago I thought Henry Louis Gates was seriously fucking cute.

The "Health Care Reform" is freaking me. Open Left has a surfeit of must reads, at least three posts. If we get anything, what we will get will be a fucking nightmare, worse than not getting a bill at all. A "public option" that is guaranteed to fail is the worst possible outcome, I think even worse than the OpenLeft guys can imagine. It must be stopped.

Open Left.

In case they scroll off, the articles are "Bait and Switch on Public Option" about Jacob Hacker; "Waking Up to the Health Care Disaster", and "Democrats Had Better Find Hiding Places"

It's really bad.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:27 AM
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After seeing Gates' Harvard ID, Crowley called Harvard police to come confirm it was valid. He quite obviously didn't have the first idea who Gates was.

But again, I think you're just having fun here.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:37 AM
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but I am guessing Cambridge is an enclave like Highland or University Park in Dallas

Bob, you're hilarious.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 9:10 AM
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Mr. McManus, I mean. Sorry to be so affected.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 9:10 AM
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Does that happen more than 0 times a year in your city? I've never seen it.

I probably see this sort of thing once every week or two, fwiw. On my ~10 min commute.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 9:32 AM
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further to 363: to be fair, I remember being surprised by this when I moved here ... and this is also easily the city where the most non-police (afaik) blow red lights, too, out of the places I've lived


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 9:38 AM
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That's a bad practice. Bad PR, unsafe, and a hell of a liability if someone gets hurt when they're blowing through a light for no good reason.

It's always struck me as pretty minimal gain for the potential loss, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 9:39 AM
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361:Cambridge Demographics

Comparing it to my own town, median income is twice as high in Cambridge. Cambridge has 18 per cent families with children, my town has 41%. Jesus, wall-to-wall SWPL. Cambridge is ten per cent more white than my place. What of the economy isn't university is high-tech.

"Cambridge is noted for its diverse population, both racially and economically." ...of course they think of themselves that way, even my fairly typical town has more minorities. Cambridge does have the King of Thailand.

SWPL enclave.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 9:57 AM
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Interesting. Going a little deeper, Cambridge compared to my hometown.

Cambridge has double the median income, but considerably more people living under the poverty line than my place.

Perfect Limousine liberal town.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 10:06 AM
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"Send Brynner"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 10:39 AM
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368: Yul?

I tried ringing up Standpipe, but his line's busy.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 10:58 AM
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Cambridge was definitely asking for it. Did you see what it was wearing?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 10:59 AM
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370: No kidding.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 11:01 AM
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I understand that my own town is a little high at 40% fanilies with youngf children, and some people wouldn't want their Ipods drowned out or their biketrails crowded with rugrats. I love it, I can hear them running thru the sprinkler as I write.

But 18%? That's amazing. I checked Austin, Austin has 27% families with children.

Does Cambridge have "Sundown" signs? Circled teddy bears with crossout lines? Do they spike the city water?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 11:19 AM
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bob, perhaps if you look at age distribution, and at proportion of the population that is just in Cambridge for a short period to attend Harvard, you might find a clue.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 11:41 AM
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372: But 18%? That's amazing. I checked Austin, Austin has 27% families with children.

See Addison, bob. Near identical composition and income, just smaller.

max
['Bars and hotels instead of a uni. Woo.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 11:50 AM
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373: Yes, I think I may have found the most child-hating town in America, State College, Pennsylvania clocking in at 10.5%. Oh the youthosity!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 11:55 AM
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373:As I said, I compared Cambridge (18%) to Austin(27%). I also checked out Champaign-Urbana, which is somewhat smaller. I am trying to exclude cities that aren't university towns, like Columbus. I know Cambridge has multiple institutions, but I would guess the student population is still smaller than the land-grant mass universities.

Here's Lawrence Kansas. 25% families with children. Madison = 22%. Norman OK = 28%

Maybe it's an East Coast thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 11:59 AM
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Bob doesn't even really have to try anymore, does he?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:03 PM
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374:Addison is barely a city. I am trying to exclude the smaller towns that are totally transient students.

Interestingly, apparently most university towns, at least the ones I have looked up so far, have populations around 100k.

Ann Arbor = 114k = 23% families with children


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:07 PM
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apparently most university towns [...] have populations around 100k

Not Chapel Hill.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:16 PM
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Chapel Hill = 23%
Durham = 29%
Raleigh = 26.5%

I was considering if there was a high-tech industry component to Cambridge's relative childlessness.

Iowa City is 17%, but it's like Bloomington. Is Cambridge so dominated by the student population that it feels like Iowa City Iowa? I wouldn't exactly call a town that is 70 percent students "diverse."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:26 PM
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Well thank goodness bob finally killed this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:35 PM
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Two miles from Cambridge is Brookline Median household income is $82k, median family income is $120k, 80 males for every 100 females, 22% of households are families with children under 18, 81% white, 9% below poverty line, population 57k.

Pretty fascinating stuff.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:37 PM
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His prior experience was likely restricted to lesser tenured professors, assistant professors, graduate students, and undergraduates. All of these people are douchebags but none of them can compare to the arrogant elitism of an official University Professor.

Uh, yeah. You can eat shit and die. I couldn't care less whether or not you get a clue before you do that.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:38 PM
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It looks like marriage broke Blume's sarcasmeter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:40 PM
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We're working up to constant, murderous rage. I mean, we live in Cambridge.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:42 PM
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I'm pretty sure c-i-e was being drippingly sarcastic, Blume. Note the last line in the second paragraph of the comment.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:42 PM
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It's ok, Sifu. We already knew you're douchebags and we accept you.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:43 PM
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Oh, drat.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:43 PM
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Aha. Not reading closely. Apologies. I'm definitely on the side of making fun of mcmanus.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:44 PM
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we live in Cambridge

And you don't have kids yet! See, you're part of the problem. Now get to work on those grandkids, slacker.


Posted by: sifu's mom | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:44 PM
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385 -- And without children too, I bet. You people . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:46 PM
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This thread has taught me to love again.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:51 PM
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[comment insulting McManus, Minnesota, and Crowley redacted. Off to do other things . . .]


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:51 PM
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383:Of course tenured Harvard Professors are just plain folk, like plumbers and carpenters. Salt of the earth. They call each other by nicknames, without even ever having met!

389:We only live to amuse the elites, we flyover blue-collar types. Something like Spanish court dwarfs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 12:59 PM
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I like how, in all of bob's reciting of demographic statistics, he never explicitly makes a comparison of Cambridge to the places he originally compared it to, Highland Park and University Park in Dallas.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:07 PM
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Oops, I called him by a nickname again. I keep slipping and doing that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:08 PM
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395:You know, essear, I really believe you don't get it. I go by "Bob" everywhere

Henry Louis Gates does not publish under the name "Skip." For Henry Farrell, from George Washington University, who has never met or worked with Gates, to insist that referring to the Professor as "Skip Gates" is just the way it is done in academia does betray a false folksiness, a pseudo-familarity that tells me a lot about academia.

"Chip Delany is publishing a new book?" It's absurd.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:19 PM
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bob, for all your working-class bravado, do you actually work with your hands? I mean, is your collar really blue? Not that it matters, of course, but given the depths of your hypocrisy, I've always just assumed that you're a middle-manger at a regional corporation, an anonymous paper-pusher taking his "I could have been a contender" rage out on the entire internet. Have you ever seen King Vidor's The Crowd? Then you know what I mean. But without the upbeat ending.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:21 PM
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Oh, and bob, people call him Skip because that's what he tells people to call him. And I suggested, upthread, that you do the same because I knew it would set you off on a faux populist rant. Gosh, until today I never knew how much fun it could be to troll a troll.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:23 PM
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Mt guess is that fellow academics call Henry L Gates "Skip" but probably insist that students, reporters, and other lesser peoples use the title or a Mister." Skip would have been terrible offended if Crowley had called him "Skip" and at a conference "Hey Skip" from a non-credentialled outsider would offend everyone.

In other words it is a class marker disguised as folksiness, as firm as a German Victorian string of titles. That Farrell can play shows that is all and any academia above the rest of the world.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:28 PM
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bob, for all your working-class bravado, do you actually work with your hands?

Do you think the Independent Film Channel just turns itself on?


Posted by: Not Bob McManus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:29 PM
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395:Right, median family income in Cambridge appears to be maybe 30% of median family income in Highland Park or University Park. Maybe less.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:30 PM
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399:bullshit, ari. If Gates wanted to be called Skip universally that's the way it would have been reported in the newspapers, on his faculty page., on the frontispieces of his books and papers.

Henry Louis Gates does not ask to be called "Skip" by everyone, all the time. He could arrange it easily enough.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:32 PM
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Article from The Root: Skip Gates Speaks . Article written by a reporter, although I guess it's possible that the headline was done by a professor of headlines.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:33 PM
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He actually used to go by "Skippy", believe it or not. I guess he decided that was insufficiently gravitaslicious, so he switched to "Skip".


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:38 PM
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I think I should probably adopt a nickname and insist that people use it. What do you all think of "Wizard Cocksucker Kelman"? Catchy, right? That MacArthur fellowship is finally within reach.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 1:49 PM
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406: Catchy, but not enough gravitas.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:03 PM
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398:Yeah, until recently, I massaged numbers for twenty years. The twentyu before that, when I worked, I worked on assembly lines and in kitchens.

You're wrong about the envy, what, I should want your job? On close inspection, nothing looks so good. Everybody cries. Or to the extent it looks good, and very little looks much better than drudgery and stress, it wasn't possible. I might have accomplished more with affective fantasies,

but you are right about the rage.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:05 PM
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398: an anonymous paper-pusher taking his "I could have been a contender" rage out on the entire internet

Hey now, watch it ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:07 PM
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394.2: it must be sad to fail at your sole purpose.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:08 PM
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IF YOU LOOK CLOSER, IT'S EASY TO TRACE THE TRACKS OF MY TEARS.


Posted by: OPINIONATED SPANISH COURT DWARF | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:21 PM
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409: Oh, I don't have any problem with middle-managers. I mean, the papers gotta get pushed, right? And it's not like I think my job is especially great these days. I was more commenting on my sense that bob's populism always feels a bit forced to me. More than that, though, I was continuing to troll him. And now, I'm off to search for a new digs under a bridge.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:28 PM
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No, I never imagined being a Contender, or baseball player or fireman or writing the GAN or curing cancer. Or marryin or having kids.

It was the meteors striking earth or the nuclear war or just getting hit by a truck that occupied my imagination. Getting fired or getting rejected was where my fantasies dwelt.

But eventually, even tho I knew that nothing in my life would ever really get better in any way, I found a way to get up in the morning and get thru the day with a smile. There was no hope, only work.

And that might be the blue-collar attitude. The unlucky ones get aspirations. I kinda assume everyone else's marriages are facades, their kids are ungrateful wretches, their jobs are compromising traps or futile delusions. I am patient. Truth will out. This too will end badly.

It's like people read the line about quiet desperation, nod, and forget it. I don't blame or envy anyone.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:31 PM
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To be fair, by the standards of Highland Park Skip Gates would be comfortably working class himself.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:34 PM
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413 is really, really good. Despite myself, I feel kind of guilty now. Well played, sir. Well played.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:35 PM
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I never imagined being a Contender, or baseball player or fireman or writing the GAN or curing cancer.

One (and one half, depending how you read it) of these things is very much not like the others.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:38 PM
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E. E. "Doc" Smith. The whole world got to call him "Doc".


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:46 PM
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416:Well, that depends on your confidence level, I suppose. Anyway, Blake says that sorrow laughs and joy weeps.

Brightness falls from the air...nahhh

Born to die, Just to cry, too much thinkin

Great fucking albumGreat fucking album G'day.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 2:46 PM
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Or This


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 3:04 PM
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The only time I called the cops is seven years ago, after hearing the guy behind me on the bus talking on his mobile. He appeared to be a loan shark or other type of gangster, and was advising someone on how to handle their situation, and to deliver someone a paper bag in a restaurant. I knew it was almost certainly futile, I didn't hear any names or adresses.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 3:26 PM
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The gangster must have been the calmest dude I ever heard. Very commanding, and subtly menacing. He had a lazy Scanian drawl, which fit very well.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 3:32 PM
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Yeah, those Scanians. Bad seeds, the lot of 'em.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 3:50 PM
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Pretty much.

You could argue they're the Catalans of Sweden, maybe that explains the Zlatan situation. Henrik Larsson's Scanian too.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:02 PM
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I was disoriented when I read a Kurt Wallander mystery that used the word "Scania", when the numerous others I'd read had translated it as "Skåne".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:02 PM
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"Skåne"
That's stupid. What's even worse is writing Dalarna instead of Dalecarlia, which is the best name ever.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:12 PM
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What's "Kung Över Ängarna" about?

I have put it in many music mixes designed to amuse and confuse people.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:16 PM
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well, the chorus goes:
I am kings of the meadows
I run without baseball cap or shoes
I dance and don't hold back
Shout happily at my cows


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:27 PM
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My cows.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:34 PM
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My cows, my cows, my lovely lady... wows.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:38 PM
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Drängarna was a novelty act based on broad sterotypes of farm life, inspired by the success of Rednex, aimed at 12 year olds.

The theme of the song is: I'm a farmer, like the outdoors, and lead a happy life. The theme is less clear than it could have been due to the lack of effort that went into the lyrics.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:51 PM
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407: Catchy, But Not Enough Gravitas -- isn't that the name of a Culture GSV?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 4:59 PM
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431: I don't know, but there was that SNL skit with Christopher Walken where he kept saying "needs more gravitas!".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 6:45 PM
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319: Walked out my door tonight and not 45 seconds later I saw a cop car flip his lights on for about 2 seconds to go through the red light on my semi-busy street in my residential neighborhood. He didn't even wait to get through the intersection before turning them off.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 8:39 PM
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That was me, of course.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-26-09 8:39 PM
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Back to the original question: to break into my car for me when I've locked it with the keys still hanging out in the ignition...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 11:07 AM
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435 is why I always use the keys to lock and unlock my car.

If I could disable the front door lock on my apartment so it can't automatically lock on closing, I would.

My dad had a horrible habit of misplacing his keys and as a result learned to pick locks with astonishing finesse. He could break into the average car in under 30 seconds starting with just a piece of wire. He was pretty good with typical door locks, though doors with the type of lock that lets you lock the door before closing it usually yield to a trick that doesn't require picking the lock.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 11:33 AM
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My dad had a horrible habit of misplacing his keys

That was his cover story, anyway.

doors with the type of lock that lets you lock the door before closing it usually yield to a trick that doesn't require picking the lock.

Does this trick involve kicking?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 11:44 AM
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to break into my car for me when I've locked it with the keys still hanging out in the ignition...

YOU PROBABLY CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO GET YOUR PWECIOUS WIDDLE KITTYCAT OUT OF THE TREE, DON'T YOU???!!??


Posted by: OPINIONATED LOCKSMITH | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 11:45 AM
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Does this trick involve kicking?

No, it's pushing back the latch with a credit card. (Actually, credit cards are a little too thick and stiff -- you need a thinner, flimsier plastic card. I, like tologosh's dad, lose my keys a lot, and back when I was in high school I broke into our apartment more days than I used a key.)

On one of the million threads about this, someone (I think von from ObWi) was pointing out that nine out of ten times, when you see someone breaking into a house, it really is a burglary. And I thought "No." Didn't see it in time to respond, but even not counting repeat malfactors like myself and tologosh's dad, I know a lot of "breaking into my own house" stories, and very few burglaries comparatively.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 11:52 AM
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437: Sadly, no. Just shoving a stiff flat thing behind the bolt and pulling it back so the bolt retracts as it is designed to do when the door closes. At one lab I worked in the chiller for the magnets was located in a room that only maintenance had a key to, and they flatly refused to give me a key, requiring a two hour to two day wait just to turn the experiment on. Fortunately the lock was of the appropriate type, so we made a little sheet of folded copper that opened the door faster than you could with an actual key.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 11:53 AM
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nine out of ten times, when you see someone breaking into a house, it really is a burglary. And I thought "No."

Yeah, that's too high. Burg in progress is all over the map. Sometimes someone forgot their keys, sometimes a drug deal gone bad, and surprisingly often (at least to me) it's domestic violence. Been on at least two of those in the last week and a half. Yesterday it was a big Polynesian guy getting into it with his in laws. Was a hell of a nice guy too. Gave me a hug at the jail after they uncuffed him.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 12:56 PM
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L-slides work on many doors, but many more have a little tab that prevents that from working except when the door is already open (it's the extra bit of metal on the straight part of the latch's D shape). Of course, it doesn't work if the door is installed loosely, which happens pretty often. These days the most common casual lock-circumvention technique is for doors that have a motion sensor inside them to unlock - stick a flyswatter or couple of sheets of newspaper through the door opening, wave it around, and trigger the motion sensor. Works disturbingly often.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 1:08 PM
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Have people seen the new developments in the Gates story? The witness who reported the break-in never said the people breaking in were black -- she didn't see them well enough. She did see the suitcases and said that she wasn't sure it wasn't just the owner of the house having trouble with the door.

And the tape of Crowley's (the cop) conversation with the dispatcher doesn't sound as if Gates was shouting so loudly that Crowley couldn't talk.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 1:22 PM
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442: Yeah, the little tab thing is AFAICT a direct response to people like my Dad, LB, and me, along with our vast cohort of master criminals. Still not clear to me why it's ever a good idea to have doors with the lock-yourself-out feature, though. Now that I think about it, the people you call to fix the problem of locking yourself out are the same ones you go to for recommendations on which locks to buy. Perhaps this belongs in the conspiracy thread.

The flyswatter trick is new to me, but I like it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 1:27 PM
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I don't think I've ever encountered a motion sensor lock.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 1:31 PM
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A motion-sensor unlocking mechanism is most common on the inside of a door that is secured electronically from the outside - a prox card or keypad kind of thing. It can be pretty subtle - maybe just a little green LED and a click as you approach the door. In addition to unlocking for the user (for doors with magnetic latches or something instead of just a doorknob), the motion sensor lets the system determine when the door is being forced - if the door opens but neither the security device nor the motion sensor was triggered, then someone's breaking in.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 1:41 PM
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445: I haven't ever seen one in a residential, but the building where I work has such.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 1:42 PM
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I broke into my own house on Friday because my kid managed to lock us out even after I left the keys in the lock on the outside. That's usually too advanced a trick for someone who isn't even quite a teenager yet.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07-27-09 3:12 PM
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