Have you checked out Jeffrey Wright's recent CNN column regarding racial bias and the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.?
The actor draws parallels to his own arrest in Shreveport in July 2008 at a downtown bar. To refresh, "W." was holding its wrap party at the Stray Cat, and actors Wright, Josh Brolin and five crew members were arrested after an incident.
Wright offers a clear first-person account, so I'll leave the details to him. He writes on CNN.com:
"I was arrested last July in Shreveport, Louisiana, outside a bar where dozens of members of the cast and crew of the movie 'W.' and I had gathered to celebrate the end of filming. There was no bar brawl as widely reported -- nor even a pre-election political argument.
"Nine police cars and a fire engine responded; seven people were arrested. Two of the seven suffered minor head wounds at the hands of the Shreveport police. Josh Brolin and I were pepper sprayed by cops, and while face down in the street, I was made to feel the business end of a Taser.
"The truth of what led to the whole morass has never been accurately reported. I was asked to leave the bar by a white female bartender who took exception to a comment I made.
"As with Professor Gates, the police in my case backed unquestioningly the suspicion of a white woman that the black man she accused must be guilty of something. Once that die of accusation was cast, a ghost of racial bias, misperception, and the potential abuse of police authority was set free to make mischief."
I urge you to read the entirety of Wright's column to clearly understand the context of his statements. It's a supremely interesting read.
Also, take note of Wright's account of a private conversation with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover. Wright writes:
"Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover is known as a law-and-order mayor. The day after the encounter, in the presence of his police chief, Glover apologized to me and privately acknowledged that while most Shreveport's cops were good, there were some 'devils' among them.
"In public meetings regarding the 'W.' incident, however, he held fast that the responding officers acted appropriately. Either Glover's public statement was dead wrong, or the joke was on us."
PHOTO 1: Jeffrey Wright (Wikipedia Commons).
PHOTO 2: In this bystander photograph taken on the night of July 12, 2008, actor Josh Brolin (left) holds onto his "W." costar Jeffrey Wright on a Shreveport sidewalk outside the Stray Cat bar. The pair were sprayed with pepper spray just after this was taken. (Submitted photo to The Times)