Gates' Arrest Stirs Blogosphere

Host Michel Martin and digital media producer Lee Hill talk about the stories that had TMM listeners commenting this week. Today, the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Gates, racial profiling and the minimum wage increase.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening on the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me, as always. Hi, Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel, well, happy Friday to you.

MARTIN: Happy Friday.

HILL: And happy Friday to thousands of workers who will get a raise today, as minimum wage jumps from $6.55 to $7.25. That's 70 cents more an hour. We put a call out there to the blogosphere, asking listeners to tell how us the minimum wage increase would affect their lives, if at all, and we heard from Jenny(ph). As a waitress who depends on tips from customers, she welcomes the increase.

JENNY: I work as a server, making an hourly wage of $2.77. We earn our money in tips, which since the recession has started in full swing, has not been as successful as it used to be.

MARTIN: Jenny, thank you. Lee, we've also been talking a lot about the recent arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The professor was arrested after a neighbor evidently mistook him and his driver for burglars, described to police as two black males. The police responded to a 911 call, and even though Gates presented identification, identifying him as a resident of the home, he was still taken into custody after police say he began to exhibit loud and tumultuous behavior. The language is, of course, from the police report. The charges have since been dropped by the Cambridge police, but the controversy over what happened continues to dominate the editorial pages and the blogosphere.

HILL: And we heard from several people on this, from those who say they, too, have been subjected to racial profiling to those who say they found fault with both how Professor Gates and how police officer James Crowley handled the matter.

Well, here's a message we received from blogger Debbie(ph), who said that what happened really is a training issue.

DEBBIE: The police often need more education, and this is reflected in Professor Gates's situation. If cops have to respond quickly to public situations, they need to have more understanding of the diversity in their field.

HILL: But we also received this note from blogger Brian(ph), who writes: I think it's important to understand that police officers, as the preliminary arbiters of justice, are human and are prone to the same influences on decision-making as the rest of us are. Remember, the officer was there to protect Mr. Gates' property. I don't know why Mr. Gates would be so terribly offended by the procedure. Thanks, Brain.

MARTIN: And thank you, Lee, and remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. We'd still like to know, how will today's national minimum wage increase affect you? Is it enough? If you're an employer, you think it'll break your bank?

To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log on to our Web page. Go to npr.org. Click on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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