You know what the whole "black professor vs white cop" thing teaches us? Everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath and be a little less defensive. And all the talk shows and talking heads manufacturing some sort of false outrage to boost their show's ratings needs to shut it.
Obama's comment is controversial? Fucking bullshit. I don't know a single person who hasn't sided with a friend over a cop when that friend is ticketed, harassed or arrested. It doesn't matter who was or wasn't there. If the scenario is "Freind vs Cop," everyone tends to side with the friend. Even if that friend is the drunk redneck who starts fights at the bar.
And tell me you wouldn't be pissed off after a twenty-hour flight from China, dealing with our airports and cooped up space for all that time, to get home and have to break into your own house. Then a cop shows up? Gates was already in meltdown mode.
And the cops. I have all the respect in the world for law enforcement officials, and I know plenty of folks who conduct themselves professionally at all times. I have seen officers give people every possible attempt to stay out of jail on some occasions. Most officers I have come in contact with return respect with respect, and have a tolerance for abuse that transcends the normal bounds of humanity. When I hear what they have to deal with during a regular day, I am usually stunned that they keep at their jobs.
That being said, I am SCARED TO DEATH of cops, because you never know which one is pulling you over - the guy who's a professional or the guy who's gonna take you to jail if you look at them wrong. Not a week goes by without some story about a police overreaction somewhere. A 5 year old arrested at a school; an old lady tased in her own home. There's a reason "Don't Tase Me, Bro" is a generational catch phrase.
I mean, was this a case of police overreaction? I don't know because I wasn't there. What I do know is this: if there weren't so many stories and personal experiences of police overreaction, this story would be a lot easier to figure out.
Update: Slate has a good article on this case.