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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. Ronni

    I find it hard to believe that Sgt. Crowley would have provoked a confrontation if Prof. Gates had just shown his ID when asked. It makes more sense that the incident occurred because Prof. Gates took offense and refused to show his ID. On the other hand, the arrest was truly stupid.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Marcus Edwards

    I believe that race did play a part in what happened. I remeber once my house was broken into and I called the police. When they came they asked for my ID to prove it was my address but at the time my ID was not current so the officers allowed me to show pictures in the house that proved I lived there. To me the officer could have done more on scene investigation to allow Gates to prove it was his house.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  3. Tyrone Robinson

    California has profiling all the time. This is something that is all over our wonderful nation.
    Sacramento, Ca

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  4. SerDee

    Sgt Crowley should apology he was wrong

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  5. dave

    Stop and frisk report always. Sensitivity training regarding potential verbal, non-threatening, non-physical, comments that are emotionaly based, should be and is practiced as a regular part of basic training. This means an officer with obviously superior destructive power should be trained to subdue their passion as a matter of course. Racial profiling factuality....see recent cop shooting of a cop in N.Y.C. Huuuuuuuuumm!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  6. lane

    Why is it that people don't like the truth. Let's bring this problem out in the open, this happens everyday in every state in the United States.My daughter was pulled over because he thought she was drinking. Then he saw she was not, but he goes on to ask her where she is going, how much money she has and searched the car. She was on the phone with me when she saw she was about to get pull over. She told him she was on the phone with her mother and he made her hang up so I could hear what he was saying. This happen yesterday. Whites do not get it . Blacks are upset because this is something that happens all the time. We all know police stand up for each other, I am not saying all police are wrong, but we know they cover for each other. When we ask for the police name and number we are going to get arrested. The news do not hear all the stories that are out there. I am 66 years if I am out late and ask to pull over and I am by myself I will not stop but go to the nearest police station and more than likely get arrested for not stopping. The judging of people on how they look has got to stop. They are mad at Obama because he told the truth. When someone does something stupid tell it like it is because I have heard a lot of stupid questions ask on news shows.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  7. PJones

    you guys are missing the point. Prof Gates showed the officer his IDS!! At that point, the officer should have said case close. Even if Gates was upset about the incident, so what!! Did Gates threaten the officer, did he physically assault or attempt to assault the officer?? NO!! If Gates was upset, so what. Let me rant. The cop should produced his ID to Gates then left the scene. To arrest and handicuff the guy was just plain ridiculous AND a waste of taxpayer money!! I agree cops should be given respect BUT I disagree w/ standing at attention for a cop.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  8. Germaine Lane

    I feel all in all if he really wanted to he could have left; but I didn't which in turn is what I think looks so bad

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  9. Y. White

    From what I've read, there was a 'woman' who made the call to 911. Who was she? And what did she say to the 911 operator?

    Depending on what she said could have exacerbated, helped, hurt (either way) influenced the incident. I'd like to know who 'she' is. Does she know that Gates lives in that house? Or did she, make an assumption based on race, that a black man was 'breaking and entering' a home, he must be a criminal and not the home owner.....

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  10. shadezz of a Poet

    The only people who can give a correct answer to racial profiling will always be BLACK!
    The question for the officer would be why was he arrested once the correct documentation was provided?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  11. Latonya C.

    The sad thing about this whole thing is that when someone hears news about a black man being arrested by a white officer outside of his own home, they automatically start screaming racism without fully knowing the whole story.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  12. Steve

    It's strange to me that the professor was handcuffed with his hands in front of him and not behind his back if he was a threat to himself or others. I think it is police SOP to handcuff suspects with their hands behind them. Were the handcuffs just for the cameras or to embarrass the professor. Racism is very, very subtle these days.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  13. Nahom

    I believe cooler heads should have prevailed. Seriously, Police mess with everyone. It doesn't make it right. I understand there's money to be made by arresting people. It not a color thing, it's a war on the classes. Why is it that celebrities, wealth people, politician, and other police get away with everything. Yet the working people of America are squeezed.

    To protect and serve!! Is that what you call it.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  14. Frederick Scott

    I think that we are missing something and that is that we should first look at the person that called the police, thinking that the professor was breaking into his own home. It is weird for a neighbor not to know what his neighbor looks like to make a judgement.

    Then put yourself in the officers shoes. He is thinking that he is going to arrest someone for breaking into a house. He may be a little hype and ready to make the arrest.

    The home owner Professor Gates probably felt like he couldn't believe this was happening. So I guess maybe the first thoughts are to think that someone messed up, and that he was a victim of racial profiling. So I think that would of make me a bit upset too.

    One thing leading to another, an action for another can cause both parties to react besides themselve. But being in your house you will feel like your right, and have the right to react the way he did. The officer may feel like wait a minute, I am a officer of the law and your not going to speak to me that way. Then end result is to teach the professor a lesson and charge him for disorderly conduct. Which he probably knew wouldn' hold up in court, but he would get the last laugh by putting him in jail. We should not overlook the fact that this all started by his neighbor or someone in the neighborhood.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  15. Vickie

    We experience a lot of idenity theft, the officer should have double checked the professor's info and not arrest him. The officer went
    a little overboard.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  16. Aunika

    Taking things very personally, I am dumbfounded at Crowley's lack of apathy. The Cambridge police department is more offended by the Presidents comments than they are by the actons of one of their own.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  17. dorothy

    I believe Officer Crowley was using his authority against Professor Gates. You can teach a class on racism and still not have the skills need yourself. Racial profiling says that these officers live above the law and laws do not apply to them.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  18. Race Relations

    How is it possible that a white police officer can teach a class on racial profiling. i think you should have at least experienced racial profiling before you can teach a class on it. That's almost like a police officer talking about how strong the volts are on a taser if he or she has never been tased.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  19. donnie edgar greene

    a proffessional he needs to be humble and apologize for any confusion or miscommunication this unfortunate situation may have brought about. this is the officers duty and he owes those whom he serves this apology. to protect and serve not hide behind his union

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  20. katie

    Has anyone determined why the sgt NEVER gave his name and badge # when asked? It is the law to give that info when asked.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  21. Dee

    I am tired of hearing about racial profiling, lets keep things equal. Black cops harrass white people especially young white men and nothing is ever said about that. The President need to stay out of the situation. I am white and voted for him because he seemed to care about all races but it is beginning to look like he only cares about one race.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  22. les morris

    my question is simply if it had been a white man trying to get in his own house would the call have come from the neighbor and what kind of neighbor doesn't know what there neighbor look like.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  23. liz

    Would the President have said anything if the arresting officer was black?

    Roland Martin is pathetic. He is so outwardly anti-white, it is unbelievable.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  24. donnie edgar greene

    as a proffessional he needs to be humble and apologize for any confusion or miscommunication this unfortunate situation may have brought about. this is the officers duty and he owes those whom he serves this apology. to protect and serve not hide behind his union

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  25. Brenda

    As a mother of two young adult Black men, believe me racial profilling is alive and well. It happens all to often, We live in a exclusive neighborhood that they cannot drive their cars in without being stopped to show their id and followed home to make sure that they live there,

    July 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  26. Shivam

    Can anyone tell me what action did the policeman take or say that made Gates think it was anything to do with color.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  27. Bingo

    I agree with everything that happened up to the point when the officer established that the professor was in fact the resident of the home. Both the professor and the officer over reacted.

    At that point, the officer should have left. But he didn't, he stayed. at the point he established there was no crime committed, why was he still there? It appears based on what the officer wrote in the police report that he stayed because the professor dared to question his motives and requested his name and badge number. Please tell me where it is written that an officer has the right to arrest you simply because he doesn't like what you say about him? And how how can he claim that the professor saying stuff on his porch was a crime? And please don't say that people had gathered because I pretty sure people were gathered before the professor came outside because of ALL the police cars there. The officer was wrong, but of course PRIDE will not let him admit it! as usual!

    If this officer was so trained in race relations like he claims, then he had an even greater responsibility to defuse the situation, rather that do everything in his power to incite it!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  28. yasemine

    I would be very upset too if someone tried to arrest me infront of my own home!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  29. Helena

    Blacks are not the only ones profiled. Youth are also stopped at a far higher rate, very often without cause but because they 'look' like they could be trouble.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  30. Janice

    If we are ever going to get past the 'racial' issue in our country, we have to look at the facts. Like it or not, the fact remains that you committed a crime, black or white and should you pay the consequences? It does not matter if you are black or white, if you choose to break the law, you should be held responsible!
    If everyone, black or white, took responsibility for their actions, what would it be like living in the USA?
    Every race needs to stop blaming the other race and take responsibility for their own actions?
    If I saw a black or white man breaking into a house, I would call the police. Race is not the issue-crime is! If a policeman was not aware that this person was a highly responsible citizen and did his job? Oh well. If, on the other hand, someone had broken into this man's home and the police didn't do anything about it? Either way, it is a racial issue! I look forward to the day that this blame me because I am white-blame me because I am white issue is over!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  31. Joe, Tampa, FL

    I think I would thank the officer for doing his job and making sure who belongs at the property. I tend to believe there was good cause for the officer to do what he did. Does Gates have another book coming out that he needs all this attention? If I was disrespectful to a police officer I would expect to be wearing hand cuffs. I though Gates was a respectful author, no more.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  32. Danna

    Hi Anderson I'm a big fan of you I just want to congratulate you for your show. You the best. Take care

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  33. Willie Moore

    What if that was Henry Kessinger/Larry Sumner and that black had did the same too? I can almost asure you that he would have been severely discipline or maybe shot by his supporters.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  34. Bill

    Roland is an example of what keeps the division between black and white going. Gates thinks he is an elite Harvard "above the law" blowhard. He is just using this to push himself and his agenda into the press. Disgusting! Copes are killed everyday and domestic locations are the most dangerous. Now this policman's future will always be tarnished, but Gates will use it to "look" the victom.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  35. Shelia

    I think you all should keep your comments to yourself. No one knows exactly why Gates got upset. No one knows why Crowley was persistent after Gates presented his ID. You can't really use a police report as evidence because things may have been left out, not necessarily on purpose.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  36. Keith

    The professor was a huge jerk, but put yourself in his shoes. Someone you don't know is in your home, making you feel like you're an intruder. That's not cool either, so I don't fault Gates for wigging out. The cop should've understood this and defused the situation by merely leaving.

    Instead, here we are, allowing what should have been a non-issue smokescreen the healthcare debate. As much as I like Obama, I can only imagine the moment for his aides, who dedicate their time to helping his presidency succeed, witness their boss totally blowing the previous 45 minutes, and subsequently their collective effort, out of the flipping water.

    Sigh.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  37. ray becke

    This case should be looked at not from a political pespective.we should know that as professionals,we have rules in our job that we must abide,no matter the humiliation sometimes.no matter what the professor said to the sgt after having identified himself,he should have moved back and say I was only doing my job,I will let you be in your house.for example,I really get humiliated sometimes at my job by some of my residents but I can't get upset to the point where I would try to prove the strength of my voice.that's coz I am professionally trained.so in my opinion,the officer should apologise and the professor let the thought of filing a law suit go.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  38. Ed C

    Race is always an issue!
    What happened to the 4th Amendment.
    I'm educated, (an atty) and I'm black.
    I'm not saying every time I've been stopped by the police while driving its been because I'm Black, But I have been stopped without cause or suspicious and asked if my vehicle could be searched or if there was a warrant for my arrest. Not questions most white guys are asked.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  39. yankee452

    I am a black man....born in this country and raised in West Africa and Britain. I have been lucky enough to live in and experience different places and cultures. I have also had to experience the hard lessons of reality as a result. That said, I am extremely weary of a difficult and legitimately infuriating atmosphere being pidgeon holed as a racial dispute. The officer responded to a call as he is required to by his job description. Professor Gates, who quite rightly was irrate over the circumstances and justifiably indignant in getting the officer's name and badge number, is wrong to label the entire incident as a racial dispute. The REAL problem here is that the second the police officer is shown the ID as he asks for, his job at the professors home is OVER. At this point a simple " Sorry for the inconvenience sir / professor...I'm sure you understand we must follow through on such calls. Have a good evening " would have ended the matter Immediately. Why did he not do this ?

    The professor eventually showed his ID. The fact that he had been rude or angry is of no consequence, as long as he followed through on the officer's request. Being rude to a law enforcement officer in your own home or otherwise, is NOT illegal. HOWEVER it is not exactly tasteful behavior. The Officer was wrong in refusing to give a law abiding citizen his name and badge number. The officer has no right to arrest the professor within his premises, for being rude or irritated that the officer would not give him his credentials. That said, I think the professor is wrong in assuming the entire episode is an indication of racial bias. The only point where racial bias would have come into this, is when he had provided his ID. Why did the officer not bring the investigation to an end peacefully and respectfully as he is required to according to his profession? At this point his role as a police officer in the man's home is finished. Would the officer have treated this moment any different had the subject been a white man or woman? These are questions that raise the race issue, and they cannot be ignored. Is it a class ( town vs. gown ) issue? The President's assessment I think falls in line with the majority of Americans, and I agree with him. But I do think he should not have voiced his opinion publicly so soon.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  40. Violas

    It is true that the facts from both sides are critical to getting to the root of the problem. HOWEVER, what would have been the reaction had a coloured police officer arrested a white citizen in their own house? There'd have been hell to pay!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  41. Flint

    It seems the race card was played way before anything ever took place other than the officers showing up on a call and that is what they were paid to do.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  42. sam

    I'm a white guy. And if I were to berate and loudly disrespect a police officer, I would expect to be arrested.

    That's not fair. Police officers shouldn't be able to use their power to punish a person for expressing displeasure in a non-threatening way.

    But, this Gates/Cambridge situation seems to be typical, regardless of the race of the citizen involved.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  43. Phyllis odoom

    Boryce watkins is stupid for attempting to argue with another black man regarding this issue!!! And saying that he 'doesn't mean to call Dr Gates a liar or anything but we don't know what really happened!' does he, boryce, have the facts??? Where did he get the from??? The cop? He's so stupid!!!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  44. vincent

    I am Native american and have been assaulted by the police and many, many friends,family, etc have been violated by police! The fact that it surprises CNN shows the level of evil and racism that white people can't even see in themselves. I have travelled the world, I see racism mainly in white people! Even in cordial meetings, they ALWAYS have this mood of superiority always! No respect to fellow man or nature! I see racism on CNN everyday! YOU are all racists even if you can't see it! I am brown and I see every word, every look. The evidence is all around! I dare you to follow people of color and hidden cameras versus white people and hidden cameras. The country is of color and the people who control gov and CNN are old rich white people with an agenda! Of course racism is prevalent. I see through the masquerade.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  45. Michelle

    it's really hard to say whether the professor was mistreated. Sometimes self made black men think they should be treated differently. We can't really say who's at fault because no was there. However, there is a history of racial profiling...

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  46. kenneth

    lets hear the 911 call it means alot in cases like this.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  47. Lisa

    Does the anger of a man who has proven the ownership of his own home mean that an police officer has the right to arrest? When can you feel safe if not in your own home? We have learned as blacks that you must live daily in a reminder of your skin color though under toned actions from the majority, it becomes clear that one who is black or any other minority must be careful of their actions in everything you do and everywhere you go.

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

    I believe that there should be an apology from the officer. No one is saying that he did not do his job, but once Mr. Gates showed his i.d. there should have been an explanation of why he was there and then the officer should have left. I mean how would you feel if you were in your house being accused of breaking in? I think that anyone would be a little aggitated and upset.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  49. Ashley

    There are a lot of people commenting to the background of Sgt. Crowley, however we need to look at Gates background as well. Has he had a violent history? Has he been a defiant man in the past toward authoriity?

    Lastly, only a naive person believes that all officers follow the rules because they have a "clean" record. If public image of a police force is VIP then why wouldn't the department protect and defend their own and their image.

    perspective is reality in the eye perceived.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  50. Natalie

    Here we go again: Land of the free, home of the brave and oh yeah...world spectacle and embarrassment.

    Professor Gates I honor you and emplore you...
    Sgt Crowley I respect you and emplore you...

    Don't add to the division that has split this nation for far too many years. USE this rare opportunity to come together – even if only to respectfully disagree...but have the discussion that is meant to heal our land. Yours will only be added to the millions of other names of shame and disgrace over racial matters that is the bedrock of American society. YOU BOTH can change this by setting a new standard of reconciliation.

    I am tired of being embarrassed on a world stage by something as archaic and stupid as melanin in ones skin. Our sons and daughters are marrying and bringing up our grandchildren...when will it end?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
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