Gates Overreacted

Wendy Murphy, who is representing the woman who called the cops on Henry Louis Gates, says the professor erred by assuming Sgt. Crowley was discriminating against him.

07.26.09 11:14 PM ET

Read other takes on Gates' arrest from Daily Beast writers.

Wendy Murphy, a Daily Beast contributor, is the lawyer for the woman who called the police on Gates last week.

Two things in this case that can both be true: Gates felt discriminated against, but there was no discrimination going on. If the cop had responded by not asking for IDs so as to avoid offending the men based on race—and the guys were robbers and they robbed Gates blind—Gates would not have applauded the cops' race-sensitive response.

Gates was overheated because of his race-sensitivity, as the cop might have been overzealous because of Gates' overreaction. If the cop had anticipated Gates’ sensitivity—and if Gates had the capacity to believe the cop was only doing his job—none of it would have happened.

Wendy is a former child-abuse and sex-crimes prosecutor who teaches at New England Law/Boston. Wendy specializes in the representation of crime victims, women and children. She also writes and lectures widely on victims' rights and criminal justice policy. Her expose of the American legal system, And Justice for Some , came out in 2007. A former NFL cheerleader and visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, Wendy lives outside Boston with her husband and five children.