Gates' Lawyer Challenges 'The Presumption Of Guilt' When Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested in front of his home, one of the first people he called was his colleague Charles Ogletree. In The Presumption Of Guilt Ogletree argues that the incident should serve as a lesson on the abuse of power by police.
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Gates' Lawyer Challenges 'The Presumption Of Guilt'

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Gates' Lawyer Challenges 'The Presumption Of Guilt'

Gates' Lawyer Challenges 'The Presumption Of Guilt'

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

It was one of the stories of last summer: The arrest of distinguished Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., in front of his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, set off a national debate on law enforcement, race and class. Then it escalated after President Obama said the Cambridge cops appeared to have acted stupidly. The controversy only simmered down after the Beer Summit at the White House.

After his arrest, one of the first people Gates called was his friend and Harvard law professor, Charles Ogletree, who defended Gates against the disorderly conduct charge that was eventually dropped.

Now, in a new book about the arrest and its meaning, he argues it should serve as a signal lesson on the abuse of power by the police, and their systematic suspicions about black men.

Later in the hour, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologizes to several senior officials he and his staff dissed in print. Tomorrow, he gets the chance to apologize to the president in person.

But first, the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. Almost a year later, does it still matter; 800-989-8255 is our phone number. The email address is You can also join the conversation at our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Charles Ogletree joins us now from the studios at Harvard's Holyoke Center in Cambridge. His new book is "The Presumption of Guilt." Nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

Professor CHARLES OGLETREE (Professor of Law, Harvard University; Author, "The Presumption of Guilt"): Always a pleasure to be with you.

CONAN: And why is this still important now?

Mr. OGLETREE: Well, we would think that in the year 2010, we would be past these issues of confrontations, particularly between professional black men and police. And in a circumstance like this, where professor Gates produced not one but two forms of identification, in his home, it would have resolved the matter.

But the reality that this clash occurred and I say in the book it's as much about class as it is about race means that we still have a long way to go.

CONAN: You say in your book - and other people have said it, too - that essentially, the charge of disorderly conduct in this context usually means contempt of cop, and perhaps that Henry Louis Gates was not arrested for disorderly conduct but for mouthing off to a police officer.

Mr. OGLETREE: He did mouth off to the police officer, and there's no denying that. And he said it over and over again. The interesting thing is that this book contains, for the first time, all the police reports; the call from the 911 witness, who said, I think the man may live there or might be working there.

She never identified an African-American, as the police officer had in his reports. She never said people had backpacks, as the police officer had in his reports. And Gates said, you know, if you don't believe that I live here, call the chief, meaning Bud Riley, the Cambridge police the Harvard police chief, who knows him.

And I think that's the problem, that there was he was frustrated because he gave his Harvard ID, which has his picture; gave his driver's license, which has his picture and his address; and still the officer did not say: Mr. Gates, we're sorry, we came looking for a burglary. We want to search your house anyway.

But it escalated because, according to professor Gates, he never once got what he asked for: Why are you doing this? Give me your name. Give me your badge number. I'm going to file a complaint.

That's what he said over and over again - angrily, never cursed, never seemed demeaning, but had this righteous indignation that he was not respected in his own house by a police officer who could have called the Harvard University Police and verified that he was in his own house, that he was not a burglar and in fact, that he had the keys, that he had his ID, and that there was no burglary in progress.

CONAN: And you argue in the book that race had a lot to do with that.

Mr. OGLETREE: It did, but it's also class, and I want to make that point as well. I think that some of this is a traditional town-gown problem. You have a hardworking, working-class police officer who is doing his job, and you have a hardworking African-American who has come from the humble environment of West Virginia, graduated from Yale with a Ph.D., is a university professor, which is the highest title one can receive at Harvard University, lives in a Harvard-owned house that he leases, two blocks from where he works, and is not only nationally and locally and globally known but really is someone that people respect and admire.

And I think the clash of those personalities on July 16th is what led to the escalation and the ultimate claim that Gates was engaged in disorderly conduct and was placed under arrest. And the charges, as you know, were dismissed four days later.

CONAN: And there is a report that was in the Boston Globe, that a review of the Cambridge Police Department's handling of disorderly conduct cases from 2004 to 2009 found that the common factor linking people who were arrested in Cambridge for disorderly conduct is that it was, as you said in the book, contempt of cop.

Fifty-seven percent of those arrested were white, compared with 34 percent blacks. That's, according to the Globe, a precise relation to the number of complaints that were received. And this has been taken as vindication by some that race had no effect in this arrest.

Mr. OGLETREE: Well, let's just think about it because Cambridge's population is 12 percent black, and yet 34 percent of the people who were arrested for disorderly conduct were black. Cambridge population is 68 percent white, and 57 percent of those arrested for disorderly conduct were white.

The broader issue is this: How often do you see a 58-year-old African-American male, who is disabled, who weighs 150 pounds, who's in his own house with identification, who is not drinking, who is not on drugs, who is going to get arrested for disorderly conduct?

And as professor Gates said, and I report in the book, he didn't go outside to harass Officer Crowley, whom he respects - and they've had a relationship since then. He went out to try to have the Harvard University Police confirm this is my house, you know who I am, and they said, professor Gates, it's not our case. It's the Cambridge police's case.

So I think getting all the facts on the table will be important. It's not going to change minds. I think people are set in their minds, and they see it as a black-white issue, unfortunately, and they see it as a Gates-Crowley issue, unfortunately, as opposed to how do we help police to work more effectively -because they have a tireless job. And how do we make citizens more responsive -because they have confusion about what should be done.

So there are no winners here and no losers. It's just an example, a teachable moment, as professor Gates said, in terms of how we all should look at how we interact with police.

CONAN: There were two other officers on the scene when professor Gates was arrested: one Hispanic, I believe; one African-American. Both of them said they didn't think race had anything to do with this, either.

Mr. OGLETREE: It's very interesting. That's why I put the reports. One is Officer Figueroa. I put his report in, too. He claims that Gates is saying, no, I will not go outside - after Gates is in his house, and Crowley is there, and Figueroa is there.

That's not what Crowley says. That's not what happened. So what was it? If it wasn't race, tell me what it was. Was it class? It was two individuals who both gave no ground, and one had the power, the ultimate power, of arrest because Gates could not do anything except: I live here, this is my house, check with the Harvard University police, here's my identification, here's my driver's license.

And there is a bit of frustration when Crowley says, well, it was too much noise. I couldn't hear what he was saying.

Well, Gates asked the same question: Why are you doing this to me? Is it because I'm black and because you're white? I want your badge. I want your name. I want to file a complaint. And I teach my students I've been teaching criminal law for more than two decades. I said: This is not the way to do it. You never demand identification.

You try to look at the officer's badge and get that information because most often, when you challenge a police officer, you will suffer the consequences, and that's the issue here. The attitudes of both individuals was very clear. And I think it is a teachable moment, and I pray to God that something like that won't happen again.

CONAN: Our guest is Charles Ogletree. His new book, "The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest Of Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Race, Class and Crime In America." 800-989-8255. Email us, And let's start with Sam(ph). Sam's calling us from Ann Arbor.

SAM (Caller): Yes, good afternoon, gentlemen.

CONAN: Afternoon.

SAM: I believe the issue has been overplayed to the point where it's ad nauseum. And quite frankly, I think the way it's being played on the media, and it's being brought up even on your program today essentially exacerbates racial tension in this country already that had been stretched to the limit, if you will, because you look at the situation incidentally, as it happened, between officer Crowley and professor Gates. It should have stayed right there.

It should have stayed right between those two people, those two individuals, and it should have stayed within the confines of the arrest scene because what happened was, there was a lot of misinformation, a lot of particulars of the arrest that were overplayed or maybe exaggerated and really, the facts were not conveyed properly. And by the time it made it to the media, and President Obama weighing in on the situation - which I think was tactically a very poor choice on his part to do that - simply again exacerbated and inflamed the situation.

So I really believe that this is you know, enough is enough. There's racial problems in this country. Yes, we recognize that. We're working and striving to make it better. I think over the last 60 years, they've gotten better, but at the same time, why does everything have to be turned into a black-white issue when there are blacks and whites involved? Why isn't it - not a human issue?

Mr. OGLETREE: Sam's just right. I think he's right on the point, and I think that's part of the reason for the book because it talks about the issues of what happened that weren't really clear on July 16th, 2009. And more importantly, it became a race issue for this reason: It wasn't just a black man and a white police officer. It was a very well-known black man in his house, and a police officer who works hard in that same community.

It was that combination of oil and vinegar that did not mix well,that created the crisis. And I say in the book - and President Obama was my student here, when he was a student at Harvard; so was his wife, Michelle Obama. And he said two things: First, Skip Gates is a friend of mine; second, I don't know all the facts.

You'd think that might be the end of the conversation. But he went on to say two profound things that, in a sense, made this issue a controversial race issue. And as I say in the book, the things he said after that blackened him.

He said: The Cambridge police acted stupidly - but that's not where he stopped. He said, when they arrest a man in his house. What all - people heard him do was indict the Cambridge police, and a lot of whites thought that the black president was taking sides with a black professor against the white police.

That made it a loss for the president. At the same time, he said: These stories are not unusual. There are black and brown men who have been the subject of disproportionate police conduct. And when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, I supported legislation to deal with racial profiling. And black people are saying: Did I hear the president of the United States say we have a racial profiling problem in America?

He had not been that clear, that frank, that expressive, that explicit about race anytime in his campaign or since he was elected.

And so there was an applause, that here was the president of the United States saying we have a problem, and we're making progress.

So Sam is right that we've blown it out of proportion, but the book is to talk about - let's have this conversation, this difficult conversation, and help police do a better job, help citizens do a better job. And the real hero here is the woman who called 911, who said: I don't know if they were working there or they lived there. She didn't say that any she never said African-American, she never said backpacks. That's what the record shows in this case.

CONAN: Sam, thanks very much for the call. Charles Ogletree is our guest; 800-989-8255 is our phone number. Email us, Almost a year later, does the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., still matter? Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Skip Gates' arrest last year wasn't the last incident to raise tensions between African-Americans and the police. Just this month, a police officer in Seattle punched a 17-year-old girl in the face after she shoved him.

The officer is white, the teen is black, and while the girl has apologized for pushing the cop and the police department is investigating, many people complained that the punishment did not fit the crime, and that race was a factor.

Our focus today is on what happened to Henry Louis Gates Jr., on his front porch a year ago, and what it might tell us about race, class and crime in America.

If you need a refresher on what led to Gates' arrest last July, Charles Ogletree sets the scene for you in an excerpt from his book at our website, Just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

The book, again, is titled "The Presumption of Guilt," and we want to hear from you. Does the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., still matter a year later - 800-989-8255. Email You can join the conversation on our website, too. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Todd's(ph) on the line from Miami.

TODD (Caller): Hey there. I was arrested about 10 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by a white police officer, and I'm white. And the officer there was a commercial establishment near where my car was parked one evening, and several times in the previous days, the officer had stopped in and asked us to move our car.

We were legally parked. The commercial establishment was trying to get everybody to stop parking where they were but basically, the property is owned by the property owner of where the car was parked.

So a few days later, I was there one evening, coming in to meet my friends and spend the night at their house. And I parked the car. The officer approached the car. I let him know what I was doing. He could have walked inside and seen the owners of the property to confirm that I was there. I showed him identification, everything was registered.

He arrested me, took me to jail, big hassle, two days in jail, and so on and so forth.

I'm white, and the officer was white. I'm not sure exactly what the motives were in the Gates case, but it seems to me that it's a problem with authority, not necessarily white and black.

CONAN: And are you suggesting the police need better training?

TODD: That could be the case. I can I'm not a cop. I don't know. But thing is, it just seems to me that the police have an authority to be able to do things to people without always following, I guess, rules. And again, I wasn't there with the Gates case, but I would've guessed that it's not necessarily anything to do with white or black. It can happen between, you know, a white cop and a white person, a black cop and a white person, and so on and so forth.

CONAN: OK, I think we get your point. And Charles Ogletree, you point out in the book that yes, professor Gates raised his voice and was upset with the police officer. That's not a crime.

Mr. OGLETREE: Exactly. He has a constitutional right to express his outrage and frustration, to be arrogant, to be upset and all of that. I wouldn't advise it. I tell my students to be silent, to observe what you are going through because we don't know what the consequences might be.

But this young man who called is right because there is a bond among police officers and there should be. My sister was a police officer who was murdered more than 25 years ago. And I know the pain of someone - losing their lives as an officer.

And that's why I talk about it's not just race, it's class. But the officer has an enormous amount of power, an enormous amount of discretion, and they make assumptions.

Let me tell you what happens here and in a lot of urban communities - because he's white, if he's driving into a black neighborhood, they assume he is selling drugs or buying drugs, not because he fits the profile of someone who is a criminal, but his race triggers this sort of reaction as well.

And I think that what his experiences - tells us is that there is a bond among police, which is important, but what this book is trying to do, let's step back, take a deep breath, and figure out why we give them so much responsibility to try to prevent crime and yet don't always give them all the tools they need, like community policing, like having activities with young people before they are part of the criminal justice system, like having some sort of issue of racial sensitivity and gender sensitivity.

And my sense is that if the races were changed or if the genders were changed, I bet the situation would've been handled differently, and that's what I hope we can learn from it.

CONAN: Todd, thanks very much for the call. Frank(ph) from Berkeley, California, wrote with much the same point: Professor Gates was arrested for insults to the investigating officer. Even though professor Gates presented no physical threat to the officer, police should be trained to keep their cool and professionalism in the face of naturally occurring, insulting speech from stressed subjects undergoing questioning.

Let's go next to Zeneb(ph) - and I hope I've got that pronounced correctly - in Jacksonville.

ZENEB (Caller): Yes, sir.

CONAN: Go ahead, please.

ZENEB: Hi there. Yes, I believe it's still relevant because people are in denial. It's not really about race. I think race is made up, and it's only as real as you allow it to be. I have plenty of white friends. I choose to be around my white friends because they are more open-minded, more free-spirited.

My father is African, my mother is black, and sometimes you're not black enough or that people say you act white. And so as I've gotten older, I choose to stay away from that.

But my brother was in Alabama. He was stopped. He was searched on the side of the road, cavity-searched, and he was transporting - kind of like soda; it's purple stuff or something. But they thought he was trafficking drugs.

He knew he wasn't, and so he let them search the car, and he let them do this to him. How humiliating is that? Because it's a stereotype. So it's important because we need to all examine, do we feed into these stereotypes, or do we give people the benefit of the doubt and look at them as humans? So...

CONAN: Well, professor Ogletree, you go in some depth into a case in the state of Maryland...


CONAN: which people were stopped on suspicion of transporting drugs. Searches were conducted, their legality seriously questioned and again, it's the humiliation that was involved here.

Mr. OGLETREE: Indeed, and it's not just people. This is Robert Wilkins, a very modest man, raised by his family, an African-American, came to Harvard Law School. He was my student. He followed my career path, was a public defender in D.C.

He had just come from his maternal grandfather's funeral in Chicago and was stopped on Interstate 68 in Maryland, and the police said that they were checking because they thought he might have drugs - and asked his cousin, who was the driver, to sign a consent form.

And Robert said no. You don't have probable cause to do that. Well, it didn't matter. They called a dog. A dog sniffed through the car, sniffed through the trunk, found nothing. And Robert was angry and sat on it, but he finally got to his office and said, you know what? I can't let this happen to me because it's going to happen to others.

He went to the Maryland NAACP, the Maryland ACLU, and they filed a lawsuit about racial profiling, and he won. He won personal damages. The lawyers won the attorneys' fees, and the state of Maryland also agreed to no longer use race-based drug-courier profiles as a law-enforcement tool.

And I think that's part of it. He won, but how many people don't take it that far? I'm sure the young woman's brother, who was upset, incensed, didn't file a lawsuit.


Mr. OGLETREE: He was angry, but the reality is that what happened to him happens all the time. And my last chapter is called "100 Ways of Looking at a Black Man." I've got stories from Vernon Jordan to Eric Holder to the late John Hope Franklin, to the late Thurgood Marshall to the late Johnny Cochran - people who found themselves in experiences like this; my colleague here, Bill Wilson, with police, in other settings as well.

And it's a reminder that it happens, and we have to be more diligent about addressing it because the police may not even understand that they have, in their mind, a sense about who commits crime.

One of my colleagues, Professor Banaji, has a website for your listeners. It's called, I-M-P-L-I-C-I-T, showing we all have bias: race, gender, age, class. And that's embedded in our brain, and that sometimes causes us to do things that we don't even realize we're doing, and then that might be part of the training that we all need - not just police but all of us, in terms of how to be more sensitive, more caring and less presumptive about people that we run into.

CONAN: And if you didn't get that website down, we'll put a link to it on our website. Again, that's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Zeneb, is everything OK with your brother?

ZENEB: Yeah, everything's fine. And we know that God is love, and we're supposed to love. So he didn't take it personally. But I just wanted to let people know that good people, educated people, it happens to them. So it's not about just poor blacks or anything. Thank you.

CONAN: Well, thanks very much for the phone call, appreciate it. Connie(ph) emails: It is sad that you have to be a black person to understand how black people are treated on a daily basis. As a mother of two sons, it's an ongoing situation. When you're in certain stores, whether you are looking or interested in making a purchase, unless there's a black salesperson available, you have to just about - have to request to be waited on. In dining places and other areas, it's sad, to say you have to walk in a black man's shoes to understand this situation.

And let's see if we can get Marty(ph) on the line, Marty's calling us from St. Augustine in Florida.

MARTY (Caller): Pleasure as always. First of all, I think that both men were men of good will, and professor was probably a good man. But I think that he was probably operating under what I'm going to call vicarious chip on his shoulder.

Probably, he was never affected by some sort of adverse action on the part of the police, but his cousin or somebody else - or maybe heard of Bull Connor. He didn't realize I don't know if this was mentioned, but law-abiding citizens have an obligation, even if they know in their mind that they're totally - the charges are false, they have to comply with the police officer's requests.

It's a split-second thing, and he might be conning the cop and pull out a gun, and the cop winds up getting killed. So he has an obligation to comply. What he should have done, what I tell people that I know to do, is if a cop interacts with you, and you think you're being picked on, what you do is do everything that the cop says, and then you in your mind, you don't tell the cop, I'm going to get your badge. But you know about his name and his badge number. And you have recourse - professor, you know that the FBI today loves to investigate police wrongdoing, as is happening here in Jacksonville.

So the thing about it is, everybody has recourse later on if they feel that the police have wronged them. But the cop was operating under an onus, is that he must do the right thing, or he's guilty of omission.

And the other way could have gone that the professor says, this man didn't do his job because he is rendering inferior service because I'm a black person. It could have gone the other way. And then the professor would be making a civilian complaint because this cop didn't do his job - as good a job as he would have done investigating it in a white neighborhood. So that's why I'm saying there were many exigencies that the cop was operating under. We have to take this under consideration.

Professor, your statistics as far as the inequities of the population -statistics, I can show statistics maybe to say that you're my second cousin, if I want to get out the number. So statistics are clay. We can mold them in any way...

CONAN: That's another one of Skip Gates' programs. But anyway...

Mr. OGLETREE: You know, I actually...

MARTY: You know, it's an excellent show and...

Yeah. Let's let professor Ogletree...

Mr. OGLETREE: But also, I want you to listen to this as well, because I think people keep forgetting what happened, because people keep saying, well, this would not have happened if he identified himself. Here's what the officer said - I have his reports in the book. He says - the first thing he says - I'm up with the gentleman who says he resides here. That's the first thing the officer says on his radio broadcast. So Skip Gates says, I live here. The next thing the officer says: He gave me the ID of a Henry Louis Gates. He gave me the name of the resident of Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Harvard property.

When the officer is in his house, he knows that Gates lawfully lives there. And he has three recourses: not believe him and arrest him. Fine. Believe him and say, I'm sorry, professor Gates. I want to search your house anyway. Fine. Or say, professor Gates, it looks like there's no breaking and entering, now I understand it - and leave. But all I'm saying is that - look at the entire record. Professor Gates might have been arrogant. He might have been angry. He might have been frustrated. But that doesn't make him guilty of a crime. And when he goes outside to ask the Harvard University police, who patrol his neighborhood: You guys know me; tell him who I am.

MARTY: Can I say...

Mr. OGLETREE: And he gets arrested there.

CONAN: Marty, if you make it quick.

MARTY: OK, yeah. Professor, I agree mostly with everything you're saying. I think that this thing should have been handled - if the cop was thought to have done something wrong, a civilian complaint should have been issued. And that should have been it - not the president intervening because it just got blown out of proportion.

CONAN: Well, he's already...

Mr. OGLETREE: Don't even leave yet. Let me just say this, because Gates did not file a civilian complaint.

MARTY: He should have.

Mr. OGLETREE: But do you know that three other organizations and citizens did because they saw this behavior as unbecoming of Cambridge police - not just Crowley, but the broader Cambridge community. And Cambridge is one of the most, you know, middle-class, suburban communities you can imagine. So complaints were filed, and professor Gates had that right. He has not filed one.

The president's intervention, as I say in the book, was unfortunate and unhelpful in the sense that all it did was elevate it. And then the Beer Summit sort of took it off the table and put health care back on the table. But I understand. You speak up for your friend. But when you're the president of the United States, every time you speak, you are the president of the United States of America.

CONAN: Charles Ogletree, the book, "The Presumption of Guilt." You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

And let's get Trevor on, calling from Portsmouth in New Hampshire.

TREVOR (Caller): Hi, Neal. This is Trevor. I think that the clear issue really hasn't been addressed yet, and I think the clear issue is that there is no such crime as criticism of police or bad attitude towards police. The police are given a waiver and an allowance on that on the basis - by people who are knee-jerk for the(ph) police, saying, oh, well. They're human beings. You have to understand that. Yet on the other hand, the rest of us who are not police come before a court or any kind of a review board, you don't get that kind of allowance. And I've noticed this for many, many years getting worse.

I'm 67 years old. I remember being stopped by police officers in Connecticut and even as a teenager being called sir, and them being very polite. I can tell you that it's a much different thing up around the Portsmouth and Dover areas. There isn't as much of that kind of confrontation. I can...

CONAN: OK. I think we've got your point.

TREVOR: ...that they're not being held to the job (unintelligible)...

CONAN: Trevor, excuse me. I think we've got your point that this - again, the police get broad authority on disorderly conduct, and Charles Ogletree writes a lot in his book that they abuse it. This contempt of cop is not a crime.

TREVOR: The whole society, they - you cannot - you get arrested simply for criticism or bad attitude. That's not broad authority. That's beyond authority.

CONAN: Well, they get to interpret the...

TREVOR: That should be curtailed.

CONAN: OK. Thanks very much for the call, Trevor. We just have a couple of minutes left, professor Ogletree, and I do want to ask you something. You write in your book that the black community perceives members of the police department as members of a state-operated institution that criminalizes race. Is that going too far?

Mr. OGLETREE: I don't think so, because that is a belief. It's a firmly held belief. I hope it changes, and it should change. But you don't...

CONAN: Is it an accurate belief?

Mr. OGLETREE: It - well, I didn't say it was an accurate belief. I said it is a belief, and that's the problem. Until we have a sense where police officers are viewed as someone coming to protect and serve the community, it's going to be that divide. And I put this in the book to say, we've got a problem. If people perceive that you're not there to protect them and you're their enemies, that is not good for them. It's not good for the police, who are trying to protect and serve. It's not good for us, who are the distant observers trying to explain why people are stopped. But we have a big problem. In the last chapter in the book, you may recall, it says there's 100 ways of looking at a black man.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. OGLETREE: I'm looking at everybody under the sun who emailed me or who told a story, or who had given a story about their own encounters with police or others who make assumptions about them. And I think that's pretty amazing. And so this is a wakeup call. Let's get better in relating to each other as opposed to having people think every time someone has a gun and a badge, it's - no, that's not good.

We're looking at the Oscar Grant case in Oakland right now, in trial. Sean Bell was killed more than a year ago in New York. Amadou Diallo was shot at 41 times and hit 19 and killed by the New York police. And case after case keeps happening. And the community sees these highly publicized cases and saying, uh-huh, that's what happens to us. And we need to fix that.

CONAN: Charles Ogletree, thanks very much for your time today. Appreciate it.

Mr. OGLETREE: My pleasure.

CONAN: Charles Ogletree teaches at Harvard Law. His new book is "The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America." There's an excerpt you can read at our website. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION. And he joined us today from the studios at Harvard's Holyoke Center in Cambridge.

Coming up next: We'll be talking about General Stanley McChrystal and his comments about the wimps in the White House. He's on his way to apologize. I'm Neal Conan. Stay with us, TALK OF THE NATION, NPR News.

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