Racial Profiling Debate triggered by Obama comments on Prof Gates
Race and racial profiling seems to be front and centre after President Obama commented on the actions of the Cambridge Police Department when asked about the arrest of a black Harvard professor.
As it turned out Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was a friend of President Obama. President Obama accused the Cambridge Police Department of "acting stupidly".
The comments have brought this local story onto the national scene, opening the debate on race on talk shows.
Some conservative bloggers argued that Obama went too far by questioning local police without having the facts of the story.
“I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement,” he said in an interview , “because I think it was a pretty straightforward comment that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home.”
Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley said that the president went way too far by getting involved in a local case without knowing the facts.
The Cambridge Police and the Police Union held a Press Conference today at noon EDT and are fully behind Sergeant Crowley. They say he acted within proper police procedures.
The Union has asked for an apology from the President. The Cambridge Police while not asking for an apology, thought it would be useful if Professor Gates apoligized.
During the daily White House Press Conference President Obama stepped up to the podium and said that he had had a conversation with Sergeant Crawley. No comments were made about a possible apology. The President stated that he stirred up the debate, "I obviously contributed to ratchiting it up", he said, in regards to this issue, while he thought that his words could have been chosen better, he said that this is an issue that is close to the heart of a lot of minorities. He said that he had invited Sergeant Crawley and Professor Gates for a beer with him in the White House. He didn't make clear if Sergeant Crawley or Professor Gates had accepted. The President took no questions after his comments.
Nothing has been heard from Sergeant Crawley yet.
The full text of President Obama's White House Press Conference Comments to day.
Lynn Sweet was the reporter that asked the question. She has received several queries to ascertain if the questions was planted. Here is her story.
U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters in Washington on Friday he should have chosen his words more carefully when he said police "acted stupidly" in arresting a black Harvard scholar who is also his friend.
The remark touched off a debate over race. Obama made the conciliatory comments at an impromptu news conference after a five-minute phone conversation with Sgt. James Crowley, the Cambridge, Mass., police officer who arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates on July 16.
Obama also talked about inviting both Crowley and Gates to the White House for a beer.
"Because this has been ratcheting up and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I wanted to make clear in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically," Obama said. "And I could have calibrated those words differently."
Obama called Crowley an "outstanding police officer and a good man." Both sides —Crowley and Gates — "overreacted" in the matter, he added.
Later, Obama said he had also spoken to Gates, but he declined to give any details about that conversation.
Read also Rhonda's Boston Globe Scrubs Gates Arrest Report.
Sadly, the debate on race is far from over.
A white policeman who trains fellow officers in the pitfalls of racial profiling arrests a prominent African American scholar.
It's a story filled with irony, and now it's national news after Barack Obama, the first black U.S. President, waded boldly into the murky waters of racial stereotyping to defend his friend.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., a prominent black scholar at Harvard University, was briefly detained and charged with disorderly conduct last week after being mistaken by a neighbour for a burglar as he tried to pry open the jammed front door of his home in Cambridge, Mass.
The charges were later dropped. And it might have ended there.
But during a prime-time news conference Wednesday, Obama accused the police of acting stupidly.
A description of what is alleged to have happened to cause the arrest for disorderly conduct.
He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had "no idea who he was messing with,'' the report said.
...The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. "It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,'' the officer wrote in the report.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States