Sgt. Crowley entered Mr Gates' residence based on a tip about a possible burglary and found out that no burglary in fact occurred. Mr Gates became verbally abusive and generally behaved like a stuck-up, racist jerk (yes, he was racist - he verbally attacked Sgt. Crowley because of Sgt. Crowley's race, we can be confident that Mr Gates would not have similarly attacked a black officer). Sgt. Crowley handcuffed Mr Gates and arrested him on charges of disorderly conduct.
And here is what I think about it:
We live in a bizarre society where the most trivial aspects of the affair, namely Mr Gates' and Sgt. Crowley's skin color, attract a truly stupendous amount of attention, while what I would see as the only important issue gets totally ignored. In my not-so-humble opinion it is very wrong that a citizen can be handcuffed, arrested, mug-shotted, threatened with further prosecution and generally harassed simply because he screamed racist or otherwise insulting stuff at an officer. The officer is a servant of the people, and after doing his duty - protecting life and property, he should shut up, humbly return to his squad car and leave the citizen to enjoy his screaming unmolested. Instead, he has the authority to destroy a man's existence based on the flimsiest of excuses.
The popular obsession with race diverts attention from the important issue - the creeping expansion of the police state, with ever more SWAT, more surveillance, more officers intruding ever more aggressively into our everyday lives. Where is this going to end?