While Officer Crowley was pleased to receive a phone call from President Obama last week, more evidence suggests that the full picture of the incident is just beginning to see the light.
In the 911 call, the witness was not even sure she was seeing a crime and she never she mentioned race in the call. Yet, according to Crowley's police report, the witness indicated she saw "two black men with backpacks." What are the implications of this discrepancy? It appears as if the police officer (and perhaps the 911 dispatcher) injected race into the equation. This casts doubt on the validity of the police report and the assumption that we should automatically take Crowley's version of events as manna from heaven.
Of course, the police have a stressful and dangerous job and I applaud those who do it for a living. Still, I strongly disagree with people who immediately sided with Officer Crowley in this incident. As the NY Times reported, when police face heated conversations, their tactics vary. For instance, see this video of a white Oklahoma officer choking a black ambulance driver.
Others surmise that there is much to this than merely race. Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post writes that much of this brouhaha is about class. I mean, how often do police officers run into black professors? Meaning, police officers are unaccustomed to dealing with African Americans from a particular station in society. After all, there aren't that many black professors. (The African American percentage of the total faculty and research staff at all of the nation’s degree-granting institutions of higher education in 2005: 5.9%.) For crying out loud, it was less than two years ago that a black Columbia University professor found a noose outside her office.