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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:Henry Louis Gates Jr.-Police Incident Reveals America's Unresolved Issues of Race and Class
04 Aug 2009
BETWEEN THE LINES Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine
Henry Louis Gates Jr.-Police Incident Reveals America's Unresolved Issues of Race and Class

Interview with David Kairys, professor of constitutional law at Temple Law School, conducted by Scott Harris

Issues involving race continue to be one of America's most stubborn triggers of hatred and conflict, even as the nation celebrated the historic inauguration of its first African American president in January. Questions involving reverse discrimination were the central focus of inquiry during Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Senate Supreme Court confirmation hearings, with white firefighters from New Haven who testified they were blocked from advancement after passing a promotional test when the results were thrown out.

The July 16 incident between Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Massachusetts police Officer James Crowley set the stage for the latest national debate and media circus on the issue of race. Professor Gates, arriving back at his home after a trip to China found his front door jammed. When Gates and his cab driver broke a screen door to gain entry into the professor's home, a neighbor called police to let them know that a burglary might be in progress. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer Crowley questioned Gates and a confrontation followed, causing Crowley to call for back up. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which were later dropped. While the specifics of what the two men said to each other are in dispute, it's clear that the long history of racial profiling by American police affected the outcome of this encounter.

During his July 22 press conference, President Obama answered a question about the Gates incident by stating that the "Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home," words that he later backed away from. Obama, Gates and Crowley plan to drink a beer together at the White House to symbolically bury the hatchet and close out the affair. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with David Kairys, professor of constitutional law at Temple Law School and a leading civil rights attorney, who examines the issues of racial profiling and class seen in the Gates-Crowley incident.

Kairys is the author of the new book titled, "Philadelphia Freedom: Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer."

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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
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Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
©2009 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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