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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


The arrest of Henry Louis Bates

Wait, isn't that Henry Louis Gates? No, that's the Black professor in Cambridge. This is a hypothetical "regular" Black man in San Jose, CA. His experience with the police, under circumstances identical to that of Gates, is imagined (based on very real experience and statistics, no real "imagination" necessary) by Raj Jayadev, a local activist.

Jayadev notes how Gates got off easy, only being charged with disturbing the peace. The average Black man in the same circumstances would have been charged with resisting arrest as well, and, based on his verbal threat to the policeman ("You don’t know who you are messing with"), might well have been charged with a felony - making a criminal threat to a policeman.

With those charges hanging over his head, after three days or so in jail he would have met with his public defender minutes before heading into court. Quite likely he would have been pressured into a plea bargain, being told that it was his word against the cop's and, if he fought the charge, it might go badly for him at sentencing.

That's a brief summary of Jayadev's article, but read it for yourself for a perspective on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates that the media has been careful to avoid.

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