(An edited version of this post appeared in The Charlotte Observer Forum on July 26, 2009)
When I covered the police and courts beats for The Charlotte Observer back in the ’80s I was amazed at the number of “resisting arrest charges” which appeared, without any accompanying charges for which the defendant would have been arrested in the first place. Most often, the defendants were young black males.
I never got a decent explanation as to how you charge someone with “resisting” an arrest that never took place. Dr. Gates “disorderly conduct” charge was a way for the officer to justify his actions and intimidate Dr. Gates.
If Dr. Gates was a poor young black male from the ‘hood he would find himself explaining that arrest, and probable conviction, on his next job interview, assuming he got as far as an interview. Fortunately for him, he’s not only a noted historian, but a friend of the president.
Most of us are not so lucky.