Harvard Professor’s Arrest: President Sees Opportunity for Dialogue

Above: President Obama has asked police Sgt. James Crowley
and professor Henry Louis Gates to meet at the White House.
Read more at U.S.A. Today.

Video: Black Scholar Accepts White House Meeting Offer

The Associated Press

Audio: Henry Louis Gates Reacts To Obama’s Remarks
during an interview with Gayle King on Sirius/XM radio

Cambridge Police Union President Stephen Killion
“Disgraced” That Obama “Is Our Commander-In-Chief”

The president of the Cambridge Police Patrol Officer’s Association
says that President Obama’s statement that officers “acted stupidly”
when they arrested black scholar Henry Louis Gates was “disgraceful.”
Read more at HuffingtonPost.com.

Obama on Skip Gates‎
At a press conference mainly on health care on Wednesday,
Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asked President Obama
to comment on the controversial arrest. Watch the President’s
comments here or read the text below:

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Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don’t know all the facts. What’s been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys. He jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. so far so good. Right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger in — well, I guess this is my house now so it probably wouldn’t happen. Let’s say my old house in Chicago. Here I’d get shot. But so far so good. They’re reporting, the police are doing what they should. There’s a call. They go investigate what happens. My understanding is at that point Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I’m sure there’s some exchange of words but my understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house. And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped. Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that’s just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn’t lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that’s been made. And yet, the fact of the matter is that, you know, this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause cast suspicion even when there is good cause, and that’s why I think the more that we’re working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we’re eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody’s going to be.

Related: The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. talks about his arrest and the outrage of racial profiling in America.

10 Questions for Henry Louis Gates

By Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“If we all traced our family trees 50,000
years back, we’re all in Ethiopia. There’s no
question about that.”
– Henry Louis Gates

You recently wrote about the complex feelings Abraham Lincoln held toward black people. Could you expand on that? Bill Bre, BREMEN, GERMANY

A fundamental part of Lincoln’s moral compass was his opposition to slavery. But it took him a long time to embrace black people. We were raised with a fairy-tale representation that because he hated slavery, he loved the slaves. He didn’t. He was a recovering racist. He used to use the N word. He told darky jokes. He resisted abolition as long as he could. But in the end, he was on an upward arc, one that was quite noble.

Can you define the word race? Treva Gholston STONE MOUNTAIN, GA.

People use the words ethnicity and race interchangeably. But race is not a biological concept. It’s socially constructed. We are [influenced by] the environment in which we live, but our physical features are inherited from our biology. If we all traced our family trees 50,000 years back, we’re all in Ethiopia. There’s no question about that. Read more.

3 Responses to “Harvard Professor’s Arrest: President Sees Opportunity for Dialogue”

  1. 1 Esther W Jul 23rd, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Obama really should learn the details before he opines on a subject. His inability to speak to the details of his own bill suggests he doesn’t like to “sweat the small stuff” preferring instead to push a socialist agenda without concern for how the citizens of this country are impacted. We wanted change and that’s obviously all he plans for us to keep–about 25 cents on every dollar we earn. Thanks, Barry.

    Mr. Gates would not have been arrested had he only treated the police with the civility he demands for himself. They were doing their job and he acted like a jerk.

  2. 2 Meron Jul 23rd, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Acting like a jerk in your own house is not a reason to be arrested. Only those who break the law should be arrested. I would argue that in this case, the arresting officer is the one who was behaving like a jerk. In fact, he should be investigated for civil rights violations.

    Obama is absolutely correct: racial profiling of minority groups in this country is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Police officers at all times need to act with civility that their job demands. This is a much bigger issue than Skip Gates or the Cambridge Police Patrol Officer’s Association. This is a national matter and I am glad that the President has opened a discussion.

  3. 3 woy_good Jul 24th, 2009 at 3:44 am

    This police officer is a good cop. All he did was arrest Mr Gates. He didn’t tazer him. He didn’t “shoot him by accident thinking he was pulling out his tazer”. He didnt beat him into a coma. I would say that we should give this police officer a medal for showing so much restraint. He is a remarkably outstanding officer.

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