Gates's run-in with the law was tame compared with other incidents, one says in an interview.
As debate unfolds in the media over whether the arrest of prominent Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. was a case racial profiling, some young African-American men are considering it in the real-world context of their everyday lives.
"I understood Gates's humiliation," says Hayden Frederick-Clarke, a public-school teacher in Boston. Beginning when he was 11 or 12 years old, he says, he has been stopped, questioned, or harassed by police more times than he cares to count.
"But into the second or third day [of media coverage], I started to wonder why this case was getting more attention than the more egregious ones," he says.
Mr. Frederick-Clarke, who lives in the predominantly black neighborhood of Roxbury, rattles off names that include Oscar Grant, Robbie Tolan, Amadou Diallo, and Rodney King. Unlike Professor Gates's run-in with the law, these minority men were severely beaten, shot, or killed as a result of questionable police force. Racial profiling has been a heated issue in each case.
"It's almost like you have to be affluent, well educated, or well connected to receive any attention from above," Frederick-Clarke says, referring to President Obama's comments Wednesday when he described Gates as a friend and criticized the actions of the police in Cambridge, Mass.