That's the sort of abuse of police power that we're facing in the Cambridge incident.
There was something about the arresting officer's report that had me puzzled until I read David Savage's column in this morning's Los Angeles Times.
Sgt. Crowley's report lets us know that Prof. Gates was arrested outside his house. In that photograph you have all seen multiple times by now of Dr. Gates handcuffed (and by the way, the fact that his hands are cuffed in front of him, rather than behind his back, is the give-away that nobody on the scene thought he was any sort of threat), you will note that Gates is literally just a step outside his own doorway. There could be all sorts of explanations for that, but I think Savage is on to the real explanation.
In Crowley's report, he states that Gates had been "yelling very loud" and accusing him of "being a racist." The report then states that Crowley complained the "acoustics of the kitchen" made it difficult to communicate, and so, Crowley says, he "told Gates that I would speak with him outside." Do you begin to see what's going on here? I've never been in Dr. Gates's kitchen, but I seriously doubt that there's any problem hearing clearly in that room, at least not so much of a problem that stepping outside might be an improvement. Crowley's report makes much of the fact that Gates continued his loud talk outside, while his own report reveals that they were only outside at Crowley's insistence.
As Savage reports in his article on the latitude that "disorderly conduct" laws afford the police, Massachusetts courts, and those in several other states, have held that "disorderly acts or language" must take place in public where others can be disturbed in order for an arrest to be lawful.
And there you have the real explanation for the oddities of Crowley's report and the photograph. Savage quotes Boston University law professor Terry Maclin as saying: "I would not say it's constitutional to arrest someone in his home just for being loud and abusive to a police officer. That's why the cop asked him to come outside, where he could be arrested for being disorderly in public."