“This book is about more than the arrest of one man. It is abut how we need to examine our criminal justice system to ensure that fairness, not power, is the currency of our system. When we move from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt, we diminish our sense of community and undermine our democratic ideals.
I examine the race and class dimensions of the Gates arrest by looking at how other successful, prosperous and noteworthy African-American men have grappled with a wide range of encounters not only with the police but with countless everyday citizens and have found themselves being judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character… Ultimately, if we are to move forward as a nation, we must… develop a justice system that is truly committed to the presumption of innocence.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 13)
When Dr. Henry Louis Gates was arrested for breaking into his own home last summer, black and white America’s diametrically-opposed response to the alleged misunderstanding was reminiscent of the two groups’ similarly contradictory reactions to the Rodney King beating, the Amadou Diallo shooting and the OJ verdict. But what made the Gates case more intriguing was the fact that here was a revered Harvard Professor who relies on a cane being carted off in handcuffs like a common criminal, and even after the cops knew full well that they had made a mistake.