Lucia Whelan: 911 Caller in Gates Arrest Holds Press Conference
Lucia Whelan, the Boston woman who made the first 911 call that led to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. outside his own home, held a press conference on July 29, 2009.
In the press conference, Lucia Whelan fought back tears while admitting she was fearful of "saying anything" after people called her "racist".
Whelan stated that she "did not want to add to the controversy" but, after the audio tapes of Lucia Whelan's 911 call were released earlier this week, she decided that it was "time for her to say a few words".
In contradiction to the police report filed by Sgt. James Crowley in the case, Lucia Whelan did not mention race during the 911 call until she was asked by the dispatcher if the men she witnessed outside of Gates' home "were black, white or Hispanic."
“There were two larger men,” she said in the audio released Monday. “One looked kind of Hispanic, but I’m not really sure,” she said, adding that she did not see what the second man “looked like at all.”
Sgt. Crowley's report, by contrast, indicated that the 911 caller reported seeing " two black males with backpacks".
Ms. Whalen’s statements contradict the police report filed by Sgt. James Crowley, who said Ms. Whalen told him outside Mr. Gates’s home that she had seen “what appeared to be two black males with backpacks” on the porch of the yellow single-family house.
Ms. Whalen said that the only words she exchanged with Sergeant Crowley in person were, “I was the 911 caller.”
Ms. Whalen, 40, her voice cracking, said she was deeply hurt by the reaction to the incident on July 16.
Lucia Whelan said that she hopes that "people can see that [she] tried to be careful and honest with [her] words" and that it "never occurred to [her]...that what [she] saw would be analyzed by an entire nation".
Whelan voiced her support and respect for both the Cambridge police and Professor Gates and hoped that she would not add to the controversy.
On Thursday, President Obama plans to meet with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley, in an act of "beer diplomacy", by having Gates and Crowley to the White House for a drink.
Lucia Whelan said had no thoughts on the meeting but said that she hopes "people will learn not to judge others...and to really base [their decisions] on facts prior to scrutinizing someone".
The woman who made the initial 911 call...said Wednesday she at first hid because she feared for her life but came forward after the news media descended upon her mother.
"I reacted out of fear," the caller, Lucia Whalen, said at a noon press conference in Cambridge, Mass., where the incident occurred July 16.
Mrs. Whalen, at times on the verge of tears, also said she waited until after the 911 tapes were released to prove she did not tell a police dispatcher that the people trying to enter the home of professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. were black.
"Now that the tapes are out you know I am not a racist," she said.
The Boston Globe has links to the audio tape of the call: Listen to Lucia Whelan's 911 call [mp3]
The 911 recording showed the mundane beginnings of a media frenzy. The caller who alerted police to two men entering Gates's house on July 16 told a dispatcher that she had seen two suitcases on the porch and said she wasn't sure if it was a break-in.
"I don't know what's happening. ... I don't know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key, but I did notice they had to use their shoulders to try to barge in," the caller said.
The recording appeared to reflect a relatively routine call, with officers and even the 911 caller mostly calm.
Most Recommended Comment
New York, New York, United States