Thursday, August 06, 2009

Justin Barrett

Barrett is suing Boston. If you don't know Justin Barrett, he's the Boston police Officer who sent out a mass email (including one for public consumption to the Boston Globe) in which he called Professor Henry Louis Gates a jungle-monkey (as opposed to a zoo or circus monkey) He believes that while President Obama shouldn't speak about a case when he knew only a few of the details, it was alright for him to pass judgment on the case while knowing even less - after all, a friend of Mr. Gates might be forgiven for thinking they at least know one side of the story, Barrett doesn't know Gates or the arresting officer, Crowley. Still, he claims to know that the situation was handled correctly, maybe even with leniency since he claims he would have used pepper spray on Gates. How would he - a two year veteran - know the situation called for pepper spray? Well, Gates is a jungle monkey. Clearly, pepper spray would have helped things.

In any event, Barrett is suspended and likely to be fired. Of course, some court might find against Boston and for Barrett. But I don't see how he can make the argument that he can still serve as an effective officer. Could he ever arrest a black man? Or any other minority? Wouldn't a defense attorney love having to question Barrett in front of a jury? How would that play out? "Officer Barrett, you've publicly called one black man a jungle monkey. Did you call the defendant any racial names while putting on the cuffs?"

"Officer Barrett, I see you're in your police uniform. Were your klan robes still at the dry cleaners?"

Would Barrett be quick to provide backup for an officer who happened to be black? Even money.

Would he be quick to use a gun against a black suspect? Clearly, since he'd have the pepper spray out to deal with a situation that 15 year veteran James Crowley handled without the spray.

Crowley might have overreact.I tend to believe that a person in their own home can dance drunk and naked without being arrested. Clearly the outcome wasn't optimal for anyone. Still, thank God this wasn't Barrett's beat.


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