July 23rd, 2009
08:06 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Professor profiled? Cop fires back

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/23/officer.gates.arrest/t1home.gates.split.wcvb.cnn.jpg caption="Sergeant James M. Crowley (left) said he will 'never apologize' for the arrest of scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. (right)." width=265 height=239]
Jacob Smilovitz
AC360° Intern

We’ve got another big show tonight on the heels of the second installment of Black in America 2.

In Massachusetts, the police officer who arrested Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is speaking out tonight and telling his side of the story. Sergeant James M. Crowley finds himself at the center of a heated debate over the state of race relations in this country. With Gates, a preeminent scholar on the topic of race in America, and even the President questioning his actions, Crowley says he will “never apologize” for the incident.

"That apology will never come from me as Jim Crowley, it won't come from me as sergeant in the Cambridge Police Department," Crowley told Boston radio station WEEI. "Whatever anybody else chooses to do in the name of the city of Cambridge or the Cambridge Police Department which are beyond my control, I don't worry about that. I know what I did was right. I have nothing to apologize for."

What do you think? Does Crowley owe Gates an apology?

Tonight, CNN contributor Roland Martin and Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University Professor and the founder of YourBlackWorld.com, will share their thoughts on this story. And at the “Magic Wall”, Tom Foreman will break down the raw data, taking a closer look at the prevalence of racial profiling in America’s police departments.

In L.A,. new details are emerging in the mystery surrounding Michael Jackson’s death. This time they come from Rolling Stone magazine and their contributing editor Claire Hoffman, who will join us live tonight.

Among other revelations, Hoffman reports that Jackson was aware of how the public had come to perceive him and eager to replace all the gossip over his lifestyle with talk of his work.

Plus, in court today lawyers for Katherine Jackson made a request for money. We’ll have those new developments for you.

Also on our radar, a disturbing internet video now surfacing of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews apparently shot without her knowledge in the privacy of her own hotel room. How easy is it for something like this to happen? Erica Hill enlists the help of a private investigator to get us some answers.

All that plus a recap of tonight’s edition of Black in America 2 when you join us for AC360° at 10p ET.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson • The Buzz
soundoff (576 Responses)
  1. Shevonne Alexander

    I heard this strory when it firat happened and it hurt because I recently had a bad experience with racial profiling and the police and I have had no sucess in seeking justice for what happened to me. I was followed by undercover cars from a gas stattion where I had gotten a cup of coffeee on my way to work. I was so scared I pulled over on the side of the freeway hoping the car would pass me up and as soon as I got to the shoulder of the road lights started flashing everywhere. I am a young black woman, never been arrested, never been in trouble before but I had 15 male police pointing guns at me yelling telling me to get on the ground. I kept asking what was going on and what did I do, they never told me why I was pulled over. I was cursed at and the 'lead investigator' on the scene told me I was going to prison for a long time and I almost had a heart attack. Agagin asking what I did I was told to shut up. They searched my car, my trunk, my purse, my wallet and my cell phone. They never once asked me my name. After about 15 minutes of being scarred to death he told me I was free to leave. At that point I was having a panic attack. The 'lead investigator' told another officer that was there to sit wit me until I stopped shaking so that I could drive away. They never offered me medical attention. I did indeed have a panic attack on the side of the road. They never identified themselves nor did they explain to me why I was laying face down on the highway at 4am while on my way to work. In going down to the police station to find out what had happened and why I was targeted I was never given an apology and bascially told I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The 'lead investigator' even threatened me and stated if I filed a complaint he would have an officer send me a citation in the mail. I submitted a complaint anyway and 2 mos later I recieved a ruling that the officers were exonerated. When I called about the decision I was talked to very rudely by the internal affairs officer and they sent me a unsigned compaint form. According to the form at the bottom in the shaded area it is supposed to be signed by who recieved the complaint as well as a signature form the watch commander and both areas were blank there was even white out on the top of the form like they were hiding something. How can they come to a decision of exoneration when a watch commander hadn't even viewed my complaint. I feel violated and this situation has dramtically changed my life. Are the police allowed to just treat people any kind of way and get away with it, Even when they determined that I wasn't a suspect I never recieved an apology. I need help with sharing my story so that this does not happen again. The police are supopose to protect us from criminals but who protects us from them?

    July 24, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  2. Daris

    Ok. The police came to HIS house (which I heard was in a prominently white neighborhood...) because a neighbor who was white (not a stranger...) thought that "somebody" was breaking into "someone’s" house. Honestly speaking, some blacks I've spoken with about this said, "Because I'm black, I don't look like I belong in this neighborhood?"

    For the folks who have mentioned the "race card", have you ever been discriminated for being black? I mean, I know blacks who've done that, but do you really think that applies here? More than anyone, I hate to bring up that, "What if it was a prominent white male figure?", but there probably would've been a different outcome if that were the case. If it were AC in the same situation, do you honestly believe it would've gone down like this?

    I know I don't have the whole story and wasn't there like many of us, but if you all don't think, that this type of stuff doesn't happens to African-American/Blacks daily, you need a reality check, but then again, if it doesn't affect you....

    July 23, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  3. koonfuroow

    Professor Gates was definitely profiled. How else would you arrest some one for being at his house? Look most white people don't think of this as a serious problem because they don't have to face the embarrassment of being stopped because of your race. It was just last month when I faced this problem. My friend and I were watering a garden which we work for under a summer youth program. We were using a hoes that we extended from the Barron Middle school water system to water the garden. Some white resident near the school called the cops on us and the cops came in a pair of five. Now what made me wonder was not the resident calling the cops on us, it was the cops coming in a pair of five. Any time an incident involves black folks, the cops right away assume the scene to be dangerous. This is not an isolated incident. I heard about hundreds of stories about cops stopping people for baseless reasons in my city only. I believe that white cops should go back to school and learn how to treat people fairly.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  4. Dan

    I agree with Tina 100%. If the police were called to my home for the same reason and I wasn't there, I sure would want the police to do their job. What if I was returning home during such an incident, and I beat the police to my home. Who knows what would have happened! I would definitely want the police to follow procedures for my safety. All Mr. Gates did was cause a "racial" problem for everyone to ASSUME, and we all know what that means.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm |
  5. Mike

    I can only say that I have had to teach my sons how to act with a White police officer if stopped or questioned. Whether or not it was profiling or plain stupidity on the Officer part is not known; but you don't arrest someone for a non -violent act in their home. The Officer could have just left but instead left with the situation he is now faced. There are two accounts but what I find interesting is that cops always defend other cops. For someone who is an expert of racial profiling perhaps the officer needs a course in common-sense thinking to become an expert in dealing with human beings. Personally an apology is not good enough from him or his Chief of Police.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm |
  6. Neil

    Obviously both Gates and Crowley thought their behavior was correct. Who will ever know. I am disturbed that our President chose to comment on the incident during his Healthcare promotion or at all.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm |
  7. Michelle

    I applaud Boyce Watkins for his comments on AC 360 tonight. He made the wise decision not to jump to any conclusions about the Dr. Gates or Officer Crowley. Only the two of them will ever know what really happened that evening. I only wish President Obama had demonstrated the same restraint in his comments – in fact, I wish he had not commented at all since according to him he did not have all the facts. Boyce Watkins said it best, "Not every white officer arresting a black man is a racist". It's unfortunate that neither Gates, nor Crowley was able to keep the situation from spinning out of control. Perhaps the real culprit here is pride and testosterone, rather than racism.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  8. anitra

    Like the President said, " White cops are known to hate on black men and latino's in America! Jim Crow bloodline is still alive!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  9. Sammy

    Once the police determined that there was no crime the police should have left. Even if the professor was loud and offensive, a professional would have just left. It was a power play by the police to show who was in charge and it backfired because that "black" man was connected.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  10. Mary Rose Luceri

    Speaking sarcastically or disrepectful to a police officer should not be a crime. How you can have disorderly conduct on your own property demonstrates to me either that the law needs to change or the cop needs to understand what disorderly conduct is. What constitured disorderly conduct? Did Gates verbally challenge the cop? Is verbally challenging a cop a crime? When the cop realized that Gates was the homeowner, that should have been the end of it. No crime was commited. Whoever said Gates overreacted I suspect has never been confronted by a cop or been arrested by a cop. Police should not get to arrest you b/c you do not show them respect or deference. Respect is earned. Being arrested weather you are innocent or guilty is a very upsetting event and police officers should expect and be trained to deal w upset people. Being upset at being arrested is a natural way to act.

    That the police have closed ranks and noone will dare criticize the behavior of the cops is in part what's wrong in America. While politicians, the media, and the public at large attack every kind of public servent as incompetent, corrupt, lazy, and/or arrgant, cops are exempt from this treatment by all mainstream media. The premise is all cops in America are perfect. Every single cop does everything right 100 % of the time. Believable?

    Recentlly there was a case of two hispanic men I believe who were arrested for selling drugs to two police officers in a bar. The camera in the bar showed that no drugs exchanged hands. The cops completely fabricated this case. If there had been no camera in the bar, these two men would have spent years in prison b/c two cops lied. This is very, very frightening. An isolated case? Never happened anywhere else ever? Hurrican Carter.

    In SE Texas recently cops were pulling over hispanics and other non-whites and making them sign forfeture documents. America needs to realize that cops are just people. Some good. Some bad. Some corrupt. To preserve freedom for all americans there needs to be an honest evaluation of police forces throughtout the country and bad cops need to be discharged immediately. Honest cops should be given incentives to rid themshelves of the dirty cops. We must strive to have 0 tolerance for corrupt police officers. They have so much power.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  11. Karen

    It is amazing the responses that I'm reading..."black people using the race card", "Gates was looking for trouble"..."Gates is looking for prefreintial treatment because he’s a Harvard professor and black." Are you people serious?! Is this a form of racism? For those of you who are not of color... you can never understand how it feels to be stopped and/or judged because of the color of your skin, or may be you can and that is why you are making these outlandish comments . Let's get all the facts. Let me ask you all, if the gentlemen was white would he have been treated in the same manner, gone to jail and booked? It is time that racsim ceases, wakeup.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  12. elaine

    First of all the officer should have never entered the professor's home without a warrant and having another officer with him. Second, when the officer received proper identification from the professor he should have explained he needed to confirm he was who he said he was for his safety as well as the neighborhood. Apparently, the officer must have said something offensive to make the professor fill uncomfortable. Next, when the professor asked the officer for his id and badge number and the professor may have said some other things this must have struck a nerve. The officer at some point did look at this professor as being an arrogrant black man, not to mention being embrassed among his co-workers. This officer had to prove a point by making a charge to arrest this man and try and make himself look as though he can handle his own. I agree with the president it was stupid as well as bogos, arresting someone you provoked by invading his privacy at their own home after you have resolved the main reason you came out for.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  13. Linda

    It is unfortunate that Professor Gates was arrested in his own home which has raised questions about racial profiling, but it is good that it happened to a renown, respected professor, because now the issue of racial profiling has been placed on center stage for the American people. Hopefully, the issue of racial profiling might be addressed through out the country and illiminated where it exist.

    I agree with Suzanna. Exactly what did Gates do to get arrested? He gave proof that he was the home owner. He was "tricked" into being asked to come outside so they could "legally" arrest him for "disorderly" conduct. – disorderly conduct in his own home!! Crowley only had to accept the evidence that was prevented and thank him for his cooperation and Left instead of inciting him. It seems to be that Crowley needs to put his own self "in check". Maybe he is not the one to be teaches racial sensitivity.

    He failed his own course! He also showed great arrogance in his interview.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  14. julia

    I don't think the arrest was necessary. The problem with cops is that they think they are above the law. If you talk back to them – they simply arrest you for disorderly conduct. The badge and the gun gives them the feeling of a"superman".We have had similar incidents in San Diego but with white cops and white defendants. Its the power!
    What ever happen to the !st. amendment?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  15. Jamel

    Black men are used to cops pulling us over for driving nice cars, driving through nice neighborhoods, riding with four people in the car etc. They pull us and use the same excuse, "you fit the description of a suspect"

    That's all they need say in order to pull you over and illegally search your car. Most Black men have been pulled over countless times, I hope cops have to have more than some flimsy excuse in the future, and are held accountable for the racial profiling that has plagued Black men for generations!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  16. Shingo from CA

    As I understand the Prof showed his ID. At that moment the officer should have acknowledged the misunderstanding and left. At the very least it shows he either has not trained in proper conduct or he needs a refresher. As for the officer being an expert in racial profiling what education and experience does he have to qualify that statement? Has he attended the FBI academy? Has he had DOJ training? Just because you teach a class does not make you an expert. However, the officer at this point is coming across as arrogant.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  17. Jeri Slavin

    With towns facing budget cuts, Gates should be happy the city of Cambridge has enough law enforcement on duty to quickly respond and protect his property during a possible break-in. The fact is Gates was appearing to bust down his door and a concerned citizen called it in. When the officers arrived on the scene, they asked Gates for identification. But he responded with anger and refused to comply. This is disorderly conduct and he deserved to get hauled off to the station. Officer Crowley stand tall, I think Gates and Obama owe you an apology!!!! I hope the media follows this case until the truth is found out. Law enforcement risk their lives to respond to burglaries every day to keep us safe and sometimes the wrong people are questioned. I would welcome the police responding to question me in my own home if I was trying to push through a jammed door. At least it would give me piece of mind that I live in a safe community...Gates over-reacted, period!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  18. Mike

    If Professor is so well known why didn't the officer know him?
    Why didn't the officer just leave after he found out who he was?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  19. Mary Johnson

    Thank you Solidad O'Brian for doing Black American segments to help the world to understand our Black Heritage and Black Communities.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  20. Craig

    The Guy Playing the Race Card is Obama.
    Perhaps You Should tend to the country's business Mr. President. Go tell Detroit How to build cars.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  21. steven

    i was driving in mass not long ago and was pulled over by a police my front driver window as down and back windows up the police was sitting on the side of the hwy saw me pass about a half mile afte i looked in my ear view window and he had his lights on me i know i was not speeding i had on my seatbelt and also earpiece for my phone so why did you stop me , he said my windows was to dark. but mind you i had them tent by mass law and he was told that and i had paperwork to show that so he went on to try and find something to charge me for, from drugs to driking to how long i been in mass foor almost 40 minutes. so he had no reason to pull me over even for the windows my window was down. what he saw was black man driving a nice car with nice rims and he even said thats a nice car and how much did you pay for it. so you tell me

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  22. Denise

    To Mr Harman...Wat?? Wow.. I didnt know that happened ...OMG..wow.. again wow.. I am absolutely speechless. I will research that this weekend as my own little personal project. Wow...I believe you, Im just speechless, and they got off?? Wow..

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  23. Lloyd

    I believe the situation should have been handle differently. Once the miscommunication started, another officer should have took over to diffuse the conflict.

    How come no one is saying anything about the neighbor and not knowing that it was the professor at his own door.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  24. ian

    Why is it that when the police respond to a report of two black men breaking into a house they are racial profiling? If there is a description of suspects that includes race should the dispatch omit that info to be pc.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  25. Sherri

    When will you people ever see what is really going on. You people have never experienced what being black is like in the most racist place on the planet. History has proven that, whether you want to admit it or not. You people love to give your unfounded support when it comes to the police doing these kinds of things to another. I wondering will you be so supportive if one day it is your son or daughter that suffer the same fate as many many blacks have had to. Walk one day in their shoes then let me see you blog.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  26. Eleanora B. Feucht

    I think the whole Gates story may have been staged. Isn't it quite coincidental that it happened on the same night that Black In America 2 was being aired. Ordinarily Prof. Gates would have thanked the police officer for trying to protect his home from invasion. Furthermore, the neighbor who made the police report must have been close to the house to see the attempted break in, therefore she must have known the professor inasmuch as he is quite famous. When Gates gave the officer the proof that he was the owner of the house, how did the officer know that he had not just found it after he broke in. Or, how did he know that Gates was not there to murder someone else who was in the home (as was suggested on TV thisn often happens). The officer did not comply when Gates asked for his identification, because many officers are shot when they are distracted by looking for the badge or ID. Prof Gates is too intelligent a person to have acted as he did unless that was part of the script.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
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