I am not Black, but I can relate somewhat to what happened to Dr Gates and the Police. For a while I lived in Northern Vermont and suffered from DWN and LWN. The acronym is driving while New Yorker and Living while New Yorker.
In my brief stay in Vermont I was stopped or questioned by the police around 30 times. I have never been arrested so this level of scrutiny was uncalled for. The town I lived in had a big drug problem and naturally local law enforcement would tend to view this as exported from the big city as opposed to locals behaving badly.
It is frustrating and humiliating and I understand the feeling of Gates. I remember when I locked myself out of the apartment going to my car for my spare and getting questioned by police for hours. I remember giving a ride home to a friend who dropped a cigarette in the front. The police in the next car thought I was getting a sex act while driving. She had a good laugh, but road safety is no laughing matter. Secondly anyone who has seen the World According to GARP knows why that is a bad idea.
A good officer does not profile. I can not guess what goes through an officers mind. Hopefully, it is just one of those errors made by good officers rather than sloppy work. Of course the fact that one of the officers was Black leads me to think that Gates may have been touchy. It is not a good experience.
My time in Vermont made me sadly familiar with being stopped and questioned for no reason.
I remember one time being stopped in Essex Junction. A cop asked me what I was doing there?
I told them going to the local Chinese place. The cop asked me why. I told them JP's ( a local coffee shop) was closed and if it were open I would be there so I could get a decent meal and tip
a breath taking waitress whose name I forgot. The cop knew I was familiar with the area and asked about my plates and I told him the story. He did later see me at that waitress's station later and we laughed about it. I am amazed that I can not remember the waitress's name because her smile and charm were truly amazing.