Anyone who didn't already know that there is a different standard of policing in low-income and minority areas will learn absolutely nothing from this incident. It is apparent from the comments here that few people following this situation in the media or cyberspace have ever been accosted by the police simply because of what they looked like or where they happened to be. For a significant part of the population this is simply business as usual. And before it happened to Skip Gates, he was more or less blissfully unaware of the prevalence and pervasive nature of this type of police work.
And now in light of Dr. Gates personal experience, we will have yet another disjointed and eventually aborted attempt at dialogue about racial profiling. When the problem is not, at it's core, racial profiling. The problem is that we live in a police state; and most of us support the police state because we have been convinced by mainstream media and lying politicians that society is one short step away from anarchy and the only way to save ourselves is to outlaw everything, and allow the state power over freedom, life, and death. Of course, the people who support all the wars on various crimes, and the implementation of more and more laws believe this is the only way to keep themselves safe, and they further believe that only criminals suffer from the application of criminal law, and of course criminals deserve to suffer.
80% of the so-called "crimes" prosecuted are economic crimes. That is they are motivated or exacerbated by economic distress and difficulty. For example the police don't routinely run roadblocks in more affluent areas because they realize that affluent people are less likely to have status offenses like no insurance or unpaid tickets. These types of offenses criminalize poverty and have little if any impact on the state of law and order in any area. As example again, the only kind of insurance that is legally required is literally insurance to cover health costs in an accident, and in a country that should have universal health care, that type of insurance should be totally unnecessary. But having all these b.s. laws on the books gives the police an excuse to interpose themselves more or less indiscriminately into the lives of the people in the neighborhoods they are tasked to control. To pretend that these incursions against personal freedoms are somehow tied to a desire to lower crime rates is intellectually dishonest at best. It is common knowledge that affluent Caucasion Americans use and distribute the most illegal drugs, but it is equally well known that poor Black and Brown men are the overwhelming majority of those investigated and institutionalized in the fictitious war on drugs.
Dr. Gates wasn't a criminal, and yet he was made to suffer because of the mentality that permeates the police forces in America. It's a mentality that portrays them as the last line of defense against the ever encroaching hordes of murderers, thieves, rapists, and druggies. It's a fallacy, and the real problem is too many laws, and too many police unleashed on depressed and deprived neighborhoods in an obvious effort to keep those people in line.
And In the category of "I couldn't have said it better myself", this article from Bob Herbert, and this one from Colbert King, are pretty much all the follow-up that is needed to this story. Hat tip P6 for both links