Ogletree’s book argues that there are several “lessons” to be learned from the controversial arrest of Gates almost a year ago.
For instance the 911 call from Gates’ neighbor Lucia Whalen and the police report that was filed there contained contradictory information about the racial makeup of the alleged suspicious characters seen at Gates’ home.
“There is a good discussion now about how do we improve the work of police and also make community members more responsible and responsive to issues of crime in the community,” Ogletree.
The case drew much national attention, especially after President Obama made comments alluding to the disproportional number of African-Americans and Latinos that are stopped by police.
“The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home,” Obama said.
Ogletree says that Obama’s remarks reopened long-standing racial wounds.
“In their view [they heard] him taking sides with his black friend Professor Gates against this hard working class white police office Sergeant James Crowley,” Ogletree said.
On the other hand, Ogletree states that the incident had a positive effect because Barack Obama was the first president to shine a spotlight on the issue of racial profiling.
“What he said turned out to be important even though it was probably ill chosen words at the time. Why was it important? Because it allowed us to have a larger dialogue when president Clinton talked about it in the 1990s, we didn’t have it [with] president Bush after 2000,” Ogletree said.