AC360° Contributor and CNN Political Analyst
As I spent my rainy Sunday in New York watching all the well balanced, politically correct and diversified panels discuss the arrest of Professor Gates, I was struck by the glaring reality that no one on the panels that I observed was a member of or associated with the police profession.
Yes, there were political pundits, sociologists, media commentators, radio talk show hosts, the occasional academician and the inevitable author or two. Many sounded like they were reciting their favorite scenes from Law and Order as they tossed around phrases describing the arrest and their interpretation of why the charges were dropped. Almost all agreed that they did not know what specifically precipitated the arrest, the reasons for it or how race was a factor. However, there was a conclusion among many that race was a factor. This was a particularly stunning conclusion considering the exemplary career of Sergeant James Crowley. For five years Sgt. Crowley taught a class on racial profiling at the Lowell Police Academy. He was hand-picked for that assignment by former Police Commissioner Ron Watson, who is African-American. President Obama described Sgt. Crowley as an "outstanding police officer and a good man" and said that he has "a fine track record on racial sensitivity."
Racial profiling or biased policing is a well documented, shameful and tragic aspect of law enforcement history. It also exists in many other aspects of our nation's culture and society. In examining this issue, I took the daring initiative to actually speak to a respected member of the police profession on this matter. In fact, I spoke to one of our nation's most highly regarded and successful leaders in policing, Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton. In addition to his present position and serving as the President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, he formerly served as the New York City Police Commissioner and the Police Commissioner for the City of Boston.
We know Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was with him the day he died. He was heard on the 911 call. Did he provide the drug that may have killed Jackson? We have breaking details on the investigation.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
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Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, administered a powerful drug that authorities believe led to the death of the singer, a source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to CNN on Monday.
Murray, a Texas-based cardiologist, allegedly gave Jackson the anesthetic propofol - commonly known by the brand name Diprivan - in the 24 hours before he died, the source said.
The doctor's attorneys in a statement Monday said they wouldn't comment on "rumors, innuendo or unnamed sources." In the past they have said Murray never prescribed or administered anything that could have killed the pop star.
Last week, Texas authorities searched Murray's Houston medical office and storage unit, looking for "evidence of the offense of manslaughter," according to court documents.
Those who seek a tasteful, restrained tribute to Michael Jackson may soon have an alternative – diamonds made from the singer's charred hair. A company called LifeGem has announced plans to make jewelery from Jackson's seared locks, recovered at the scene of a Pepsi commercial where the King of Pop's head caught fire.
"Our plan is to give people an opportunity to own a diamond made from Michael Jackson's DNA," Dean VandenBiesen, founder of LifeGem, announced.
But LifeGem's tissue sample hasn't come directly from the Jackson family, rather the source of the company's DNA was collected at the 1984 commercial shoot where Jackson was severely injured by faulty pyrotechnics. Executive producer Ralph Cohen used his Armani jacket to extinguish Jackson's burning head – and then saved the charred hair that fell to the floor.
Program note: In the wake of a standoff between the New Black Panthers and the KKK last week during a rally over the death of Brandon McClelland, racial tensions run high in Paris, Texas. Gary Tuchman visited the small town to gain first hand insight on the current climate in a city plagued by explosive race relations. See his report 10p ET on AC360°
Gretel C. Kovach and Ariel Campo-Flores
To his loved ones in Paris, Texas, Brandon McClelland was affectionately known as "Big Boy," a 284-pound gentle giant. He was a devoted family man—babysitting his little cousins, caring for his mother after she suffered a stroke and a heart attack, cooking up dishes of "Mexican spaghetti" for his disabled grandmother. He had a large circle of friends and regularly invited them over to play dominoes and to barbecue in the front yard. He always looked out for them, making sure the ones who had a little too much to drink got home safely. Though he was African-American, he didn't pay much attention to race. He had acquaintances of all colors, and, in fact, his best friend was a white girl he met at church.
One day last September, McClelland, 24, went to work hanging Sheetrock with two other white friends, Shannon Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley, both 27. When they finished, the three men went out drinking and, later that night, decided to go on a beer run in Finley's pickup truck. What ensued is unclear, but McClelland never returned. Just before dawn, Texas troopers found his mangled corpse on a deserted country road miles away from Paris. His head was cracked open, and his body was dismembered and partially disemboweled. Finley and Crostley told authorities that the three had argued about whether Finley was too drunk to drive—at which point McClelland exited the truck, and they drove off. But prosecutors allege that the two intentionally ran over McClelland, whose girth caused him to get lodged in the undercarriage and dragged along. In December Finley and Crostley were indicted for murder. (Both men have pleaded not guilty and are in jail awaiting a trial expected to start this spring.)
Tonight we have breaking news on the Michael Jackson death investigation. The focus is all on Jackson's personal physician. For the first time officially, Dr. Conrad Murray is being directly connected to the drug that may have killed the "King of Pop." Once again, 360's Randi Kaye is revealing new details on the investigation for you tonight. Don't miss her report.
Also tonight, new developments in the arrest of distinguished Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The professor and the police officer have two different takes on what happened 10 days ago when Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct after breaking into his own home. We have new insight on what happened that night from the 911 phone call that started this whole thing. We'll play part of the 911 tape for you and let you be the judge. Did cops do the right or wrong thing?
And, the NFL is reinstating quarterback Michael Vick with conditions. After serving nearly two years in prison for bankrolling a dogfighting operation the NFL says Vick's "margin of error is extremely limited". If he can find a team that will sign him, he must follow these conditions: He can participate in all preseason practices and two preseason games. But he won't be eligible to play in the regular season until October pending full reinstatement by the league. Do you agree with the commissioners decision? Share your thoughts below.
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin delivers her farewell speech as she officially resigns during the annual Governor's Picnic July 26, 2009 at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. Sean Parnell was sworn in as the new Governor and Craig E. Campbell the new Lieutenant Governor. (Photo by Eric Engman/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
UPDATE – BEAT 360 WINNERS:
Will you see more of me, now that I’ve quit my day job? You betcha!
I quit with only this much left in my term.
CNN State Department Producer
It was the US government's version of the ticker in New York's Times Square, blasting Havana's main seaside strip with anti-Cuba propaganda in five-foot high crimson letters. It symbolized the tit-for-tat diplomatic row between Washington and Havana.
But the ticker at the top of the US interests section in Cuba has gone blank, yet another signal the past half century of animosity between the two countries is easing
State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said the ticker was turned off in June because it was not considered an "effective" as a means of delivering information to the Cuban people.
The scrolling electronic sign, fitted across 25 windows of the US interest section, ran quotes from American heroes like Martin Luther King's, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up" and Abraham Lincoln's, "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."
Transcript of the 911 call:
LUCIA WHALEN, WITNESS: I don't know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key, but I did notice that they kind of used their shoulder to try to barge in and they got in. I don't know if they had a key or not, because I couldn't see from my angle. But, you know, when I looked a little closely, that's when I thought...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Are they still in the house?
WHALEN: They're still in the house, I believe, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they white, black or Hispanic?
WHALEN: Well, there were two larger men. One looked kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure. And the other one entered, I didn't see what he looked like at all. I just saw it from a distance, and this older woman was...