American Morning

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July 28th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your Comments 7/28/09

Editor's Note: With the release of the 911 tapes from Professor H.L. Gates, Jr., arrest, American Morning's Tuesday audience weighed heavily in favor of the professor over the police.  The majority believed that racial profiling was evidenced by the transcripts from the 911 call.

  • Arlene:  It doesn't matter the caller didn't use the words "2 black men." The caller clearly stated it may be the homeowner entering his own home. The police should not have harassed Mr. Gates in light of this admission. Nor should they have entered his home without a search warrant and he should not have been arrested without committing a crime. Annoying a Police officer is not a crime. He was an American on his own property and is guaranteed a right to freedom of speech. We do not live in a police state yet.
  • Jacque:  It's hard to say racial profiling did not play a part in the Gates arrest when even the dispatcher on the call first asked the caller if the suspects were black or Hispanic.  He did include white the first time around, but natural instinct in America that criminals are either black or Hispanic made him as the question just like he was thinking.  Gates overreacted but the cop gave a false account of what happened.  I have no reason to believe anything the cop is saying at this point.  Both of their actions were probably racially motivate.

With the release of the 911 transcripts, has your opinion changed about this situation?  What do you think about the revelation that “race” was brought up by the police rather than the neighbor who was reporting the incident?

Most felt the Cambridge policeman, Officer Crowley, should have diffused the situation and walked away, once Professor Gates’ identity was established.  Rather than racial profiling, many recognized that unprofessional attitudes for both the professor and the policeman played a part in the escalation of the incident.

  • Larry:  I am a teacher, and in our profession, the person who has the most power in the situation should be the one to diffuse it. There should not have been an arrest of Robert Gates. The officer should have walked away
  • Al:  The truth is positive.  The police man from NJ is wrong when he says there is no police culpability.  They did their job.  Ask anyone who is charged with similar jobs.  Investigate and deal with ruffled patrons.  ER staff, bouncers, firefighters, emt's.  We do it all the time w/o arresting anyone.  All you have to do is back up just a second,  act respectfully and people calm down.  The problem is the attachment to ego and authority. Granted that some situations are inherently dangerous and require immediate command action but this should not have been necessary.  This is about status, class, privilege, power and, race.
  • Gloria:  Clearly, Prof. Gates took offense.  Perhaps it is understandable:  he was just back from a long trip and he couldn't get into his house.  Still, that doesn't change the fact that he took offense.  This was never about race.  This is about someone who let the situation get away from him and did not cooperate with the police.  Prof. Gates did not act very professorial, unfortunately.
  • Marcia:  why was a drivers license and a harvard id not satisfying to officer crowley not enough he was still requesting harvard police to respond to verify the id. great threat from a man walking with a cane. police do have a difficult job which is undisputed. however, when not faced with a life and death situation they can exercise better judgment than that displayed in this situation. a person who does not walk in professor gate body or the one i walk in may have a different opinion because they view and experience  this part of life from a different angle. i work in healthcare and sad enough it has a color too. one would believe that healthcare would be exempt because we are aware of the fact that all human are  can fall prey to the same illness and diseases. gates probably think he was exempt based on his accomplishments. this has nothing to do with living amongst people .as a great nation i honestly believe  race relations will continue to improve as we strive to hold the status of being  one of the most  civilized nations on earth
  • Tommy:  If it had been a black police officer, we wouldn't be hearing all of this. The easy way for blacks is to play the race card. I grew up in the '60's and it seems that we are going back to them. It is reverse discrimination today.

Was it the professional responsibility of the police to keep the situation from escalating into something dangerous?  Do you believe, as the last viewer remarks, that had the policeman been black, this situation would have never arisen?  How do we as a society move forward in race relations when such issues still exist?  What do you see as a solution?


With the President’s White House invitation for both Professor Gates and Officer Crowley, some interpreted the invitation as an affront to the police and remarked “we are now being told to disrespect law enforcement.”  Others wondered, somewhat facetiously, if the neighbor, Ms. Whellan, was also invited for a “beer.”

  • Ginspelts:  The White House is sending out  bad messages to the American people. I was taught you obey law enforcement and  do not interfere with them from performing their job. We are now being told  we can disrespect law enforcement. We can scream, yell, curse  at them and that gives them no right to arrest  us.   My mother now believes the surgeries  she has had over the years were performed unnecessarily so the doctors could  make money. She has come to this lame conclusion after hearing our President say  that doctors will ripped out your tonsils when nothing is wrong with them in  order to make more money.  The White House needs to stop sending out  bad, negative messages. It is becoming very  worrisome.
  • CJ:  Hello,  Has Ms Whellan been invited, by the Police Chief and the persons responsible for maligning her, to share a beer?  🙂  Just asking.

Do you believe, as the first viewer, that President Obama has called on the American people to ignore law enforcement?  Is the invitation to the White House a good idea?  What do you hope will be discussed as the situation moves forward in the White House?  How can we encourage open dialogue on race?

Michael Vick’s partial reinstatement by the NFL generated mixed response, as some stated that Vick had paid his dues; others asked why he should be  given a second chance when he had not provide one for the abused animals.

For Vick’s Return

  • Roger:  Please stop lying about Michael Vick.   I just watched Kirin Chetry and her guest – I missed his name; an African American man – agree that if they did what Vick did they would not get their jobs back.  Hello!  MICHAEL VICK IS NOT GETTING HIS JOB BACK!  His job was with the Atlanta Falcons under a 130 million dollar, 10 year contract.  THAT IS GONE.  He lost his job.  He is NOT getting his job back.  He is doing exactly what Kirin would be able to do-looking for another job.  We don't know if he'll get one.  And he'll make a lot less money.  A lot less.  Same as Kiran would. There is no difference in treatment.   STOP LYING!
  • Phoebe:  Cultural heritage has already been at least mentioned as an explanation for M. Vick's behavior; some might even accept it.  Even if they don't, the man has done his time, paid his dues, received his punishment.  Theoretically, in this country, that is supposed to allow one to move on.  SO LET HIM MOVE ON.
  • Carlene:  I am bit curious to understand what Carol Costello meant this morning when she indicated that dog fighting is "cultural" for Michael Vick. As a lifetime member of the African-American culture (and a dog lover), I have no knowledge that this heinous activity is, in fact, culturally based. Having said that, Michael Vick has done his time. He served two years in federal prison and he now has the right to live his life. Is it fair and/or appropriate to continue to punish this man? He's apologized. He has done his time. Leave this man alone to live his life.

Against Vick’s Return

  • Susan:   Please let the voices of those who are horrified by this decision be heard. How can fans be asked to support a person that can ENJOY the acts he participated in? That is just too much to ask of fans. He is a SICK and twisted person and does not deserve his "celebrity" status. Goodell had said he intended to clean up the NFL and have a zero tolerance policy for past criminal behavior.....now this?  Shame on Goodell.  He had a chance to send a message to players to THINK BEFORE YOU MAKE THESE BAD CHOICES because your opportunities may be effected if you don't.  Instead, he has said once again that these behaviors are forgiven with a slap on the wrist.  There is STILL no consequence for criminal behavior in the NFL.  Well done, Roger. These crimes were inexcusable and totally within Vicks control.  He squandered his great opportunities now expects the fans to buy tickets and help him get out of debt?  Why are you in debt, Michael? and why is that our problem?  I give up on the NFL and all of us as Americans if, in the same week we reinstate Vick and give "THE OCTOMOM" her own TV show.  Maybe it is just too late for us.  I can't be a part of either.  bye bye NFL.  There are much better guys to support at the College level. At least there is hope for them.
  • Anita:  michael vick should NOT be allowed to be back at football on ANY team. everyone says give him a second chance, what about the animals he hurt-where are the second chance for them? he is vicious, and only "sorry" because money is involved.
  • Karin:  Reinstatement of Vick to NFL is an insult to every living creature on earth.  Vick, I don't care especially what you do for a living (keep it legal) but stay out of public eye because you make us sick, just to look at you!

Has Michael Vick paid his dues to society for his conviction on animal cruelty?  Is “dog fighting” a cultural issue or was this a money-making scheme for Vick?  Do you believe he should be given a second chance?  Are there other alternatives that would better “satisfy” you regarding Where do you stand on this sensitive issue?


Filed under: We Listen
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. gjmcrae

    Your blog is informative and has people divided and is there really a right and wrong. Is there a scare tactic involved that has everyone feeling this is a bad ideal.

    March 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  2. ELLIOT B. RIEBMAN

    Michael Vick has paid more then his price,for his role in the dog fighting ring that he happen to be a part of.Certainly it was cruel and brutal,what these poor loving animals went through,and all sponsered
    by Michael Vick.He wasn't subject to the inhumane treatment these
    dogs were going through.He will be haunted the rest of his entire adult life for the infliction of pain these pets suffered.He is just one sadistic,
    human being that has no regard for not only a poor animals wellbeing,
    but his own as well.A person like him,as you look at him,just shrugged off his punishment,as it was just a free ride from the state.
    Little does this coward know,that now he answers to a higher authority,"GOD" himself,and he will be dealt with by "HIS CREATOR"
    Also the judge who presided over his case did the right thing too,
    hit him where it hurts most.In his pocketbook.Let his cruelty always
    stay with the man who inflicked it."MICHAEL VICK"THE ONE WHO IS TRUELY "SICK"!
    THE ORIGINAL "BIG" "E"
    "NO FAME JUST A NAME"!
    Delray Beach,Florida

    August 3, 2009 at 2:36 am |
  3. MELODY

    About Michael Vick returning to his profession: He did serve 18 months in prison for a monsterous crime. The crime it's self shows me his lack of compassion for animals and makes me wonder how he treats human beings. That said, he is going right back to his high profile profession as a role model to our young? What message does this send to our children? Is it ok to do such haneous things to animals, loose money, serve 18 months, and go right back to your high profile profession and life? He should never be allowed to be associated with sports again! He has bad charachter. Pete Rose was banned for gambling, albeit on baseball, he was still banned to this day. Sports and players are supposed to be of good charachter as well as athletes. Why not let paroled murderers or pedophiles play then if they let him come back and play?

    July 29, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  4. Chrissy

    I also think President Obama's stating that the Cambrige PD acted "Stupidly" should go down in American History as the worst and best thing any president has ever said to the American public. My mouth dropped when he said that, and I knew this was going to lead to an uproar that would over-shadow the Healthcare overhaul, and most likely anything else for awhile. Why did that reporter even ask that detrimental question is beyond me. Was it pre-planned? Fate?
    What a coincidence that Sgt. Crowley just happens to be an expert in the field of racial profiling and Gates a Professor with alot of background on this as well. Could this be away of getting prejudices out in the light and tackling with it openly? Is there a higher power working here? God? What a way to expose all the haters and get these enemies under his feet. I have pondered this fateful incident and the latest steps being taken by the Cambridge PD, and think this could be a blessing in disquise. I hope so for all our sakes.

    July 29, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  5. Chrissy

    I would think this is protocol for a law enforcement dispatcher to ask the color of the suspect, as it helps in identifying ones appearances. Also there could be other possible burglaries or break- ins in progress and this would assist in the police linking the crimes. Has this not always been the case in helping the police identify suspects? I think this entire incident is being blown way out of proportion, and once again I state that a few brewski's together may not resolve anything. All parties firmly stand by their actions.

    July 29, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  6. Frank

    I have a statement on Healthcare reform. Will Disabled Veterans be able to drop their VA Healthcare if we are not satisfied with it and get Public Healthcare instead. I for one am sick and tired of the scocialized VA Healthcare and would love to try the scocialized Public healthcare. Also why isnt the news telling the American Public exactly How bad the VA Healthcare system is. I have been told for 5 years I cannot get tested for Charcot Marie Tooth syndrome because it cost too much and I am not worth it. I have been told there is no cure for this so we dont care to diagnose you. Many cancers are uncureable yet people are tested and diagnosed for it everyday. If you really want to know how bad American Public Healthcare will be dont ask someone from England or Canada, Instead ask a Disabled Veteran

    July 29, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  7. nancy

    @ "Tommy: If it had been a black police officer, we wouldn’t be hearing all of this. The easy way for blacks is to play the race card. I grew up in the ’60’s and it seems that we are going back to them. It is reverse discrimination today. "

    I agree with you 100% Tommy.

    July 29, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  8. Margaret

    Regarding the Gates arrest: I am still amazed and sadden that most people who are not of color, don't have a clue about Racial Profiling in America!! African Americans have been plagued with this behavior,(by police), since before the Civil Rights Movement and it still continues! It seems that as the wheels slowly turn towards change for equality in this country, whereby, there are more prominent Blacks and Latino's, the problem continues to escalate. It is clear that some white police officers, still hold on to the ideology, that Blacks and Latino's should not be able to afford to live in certain communities nor drive expensive cars!! Perhaps, these officers believe on some psychological level, that their bulling of people of color, still gives them some sort of power and control!

    July 29, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  9. JEZEBEL58

    I do believe this whole Gates thing would have died if the president hadn't overstepped.I agree with Pamela ,let's all be people and Susan FYI OCTOMOM would soon be getting her own show.Karin is sure taking this very personal-did Michael kidnap one of your dogs?As for Michael trying to earn a living,when we seek employment is to earn a living which means getting paid for work done unless we are volunteering,so it's all about the MONEY.No one black,white or hispanic should comment about racism unless it has happened to them and we are all speaking from experience about racism that still exists and it has gotten worse since a black man was put in the white house.This is the 21st century and black or white we are all going to die some day,we should be living our lives to the fullest but instead we are all wasting time going back 200 years.

    July 29, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  10. Margaret

    I am a firm advocate for both human and animal rights. I don't see why Mr. Vick should not be given a second chance after paying his dues for the crimes he committed!
    To those who thinks his career should end. What has been voiced,about the Pro Athletes, who were charged and/or convicted of inappropriate sexual assault or domestic violence,that were given a pass? One case in point Kobe Brian!! Where was the out cry to end his career. Are these folks saying that, animal rights abuse, supersededs human rights! I'm just saying!

    July 29, 2009 at 8:01 am |
  11. Eric

    To Tommy: The argument of "reverse discrimination" suggests you are reversing a condition of discrimination, therefore acknowledging that the discrimination existed in the first place. You've just implicitly supported the argument for concern over this incident. 🙂

    July 29, 2009 at 7:42 am |
  12. Eric

    I just wanted to mention that if the arrest of professor Gates was due to his conduct, what about this well known video concerning a police officer and a motorist?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzNX_oEal4c

    The motorist's conduct was over the top, yet he was not arrested and he was in a vehicle on a public road. The last word given was this video was going to be used in training for police officers. Is it being used?

    July 29, 2009 at 7:37 am |
  13. Pamela

    I see and feel so much where we are walking on eggshells, to say the right thing regarding race relations and between each other. I only wish we could be just people, on a level playing field, without discrimination OR reverse discrimination.

    July 28, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  14. MELODY

    Correction about young deaf man tasered. He spent too long in a stores bathroom ( he was dealing with an upset stomach) and police were called. The police pepper sprayed and tasered him becase he took so long to answer them and come out of bathroom.

    July 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  15. MELODY

    It is the police responsibility to difuse situations. They are trained to handle every senario to get the information they need while keeping the situation as peaceful as possible. I realize that every situation calls for a vast variety of skills they are trained in. They are trained not to use deadly force unless it is a threat to others and/or themselves. They are trained to deal with angry people also. How to defuse the situation and still aquire information from them. Had they run address in law enforcement database to find name then run the name in DMV they would have had a picture of homeowner.

    July 28, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  16. MELODY

    If law enforcement would do their job and look up things like address, run related links to see picture of homeowner, things like this would never happen.
    I am an older disabled lady and had a neighbor ( I'm white she was black, no offense nor disrespect intended) whose son was in trouble. We had same last name. The police came to my door took me to station and questioned me for several hours as to where my son was ( I have 2 daughters and 2 grand daughters). They finally did a criminal search on me as I repeatedly requested. They appologized profusely. The search should have been done prior to knocking on my door. My name is clearly listed in the lobby both first and last. Melody is not Margret. They also would have known I am of a different race.
    This would end a significant percentage of what is considered racial profiling. I agree there is still a great deal of racial profiling by some law enforcement officers but, not all of them. They have computers in their cars now so I see no reason why so many mistakes like these happen. Today of a deaf man who didn't understand them and wasn't who they were after.

    July 28, 2009 at 4:27 pm |