Arrested for coming home

Henry Louis Gates’ arrest for “breaking in” to his own house doesn’t surprise me at all.

Almost every day, people in our neighborhood call 911 whenever they see someone they don’t recognize on their street. These people include a young man with a lawn mower, asking residents if they need their lawns mowed; a car driving slowly, with people inside it looking at houses on the street (my husband and I did exactly that when we were house hunting); and anyone deemed “suspicious” by the overly alert self-appointed neighborhood watch teams.

So I can see why any man, hurling himself against a door, trying to gain entry, would arouse suspicions. I’m mildly surprised that the neighbor who presumably called the police to report him didn’t recognize Gates. He’s a high profile professor at the world’s most famous university.

But it seems as though anything at all out of the ordinary would prompt a neighborly call to emergency services.

This evening, when I went to pick up a Pottery Barn Kids Critter Chair that a neighbor no longer wanted, I was on my guard. People were staring as I sized up the floppy eared stuffed chair. A woman walking her dog on the other side of the street stared.

I carried the blue puppy shaped chair quickly, waiting for a voice to come through a megaphone, saying: “Drop the critter!”

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