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. Nat Chandley

    How an officer, in the small town of Cambridge MA, who taught classes to police on racial profiling,not know that he was dealing with Louis Gates is beyond belief. To boil it down to the lowest common denominator, it was simply a matter of the officer using "disorderly conduct" aka "cops revenge" to let the good professor know who was in charge.

    I am astounded that this officer, a teacher of his fellow officers on racial profiling, did not recognize the ramifications of putting handcuffs on a probably beligerent Louis Gates. The President was kind in labeling the officer's actions as "stupidity". I prefer "arrogant lunacy".

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  2. Sirj

    When did it become a crime to challenge an officer ask for their name and badge number. Crowley was angry because someone of color was challenging his authority

    Atlanta, GA

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  3. Buck

    Sgt Crowley ,Thank you for doing your job and standing behind the arrest. Blacks throw out the race card every time something doesnt go their way. The professor & Obama should give officer Crowley an apology. Obama only took the professors side because he was black, isnt that racist?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  4. America

    Simple when a person of color moves into a neighborhood of one particular race, they have several neighbors that have token your license plates number and have (watched), and checked you out already. Before the law abiding officers comes with a chip on their shoulders, if you stand up straight for your civil rights. It's such a violation to act in such a matter to misuse the law. Just because you attend a sensitivity course in most incidents don't mean you will practice them with non bias behavior.


    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  5. Priscilla

    As a black professional woman in America who was stopped by a white police officer while doing home patient care visits in a white surburb and experienced the cop tell a lie with a straight face infront of a judge I am not surprised that the story of the cop differs from Professor Gates' story and that the cop remains defiant about apologizing. And Boyce Watkins talked about waiting for the facts to come out, what facts is he talking about? Who wrote those facts?
    Collins, Illinois

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  6. Max Vogt

    My suspicion is, if this officer is such an upstanding, professional civil servant, why is he refusing to apologize? Anyone who is good at his job, cares about his work and does his best, is always quick to apologize if someone is dismayed with his work or misinterprets something or takes something wrong.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  7. D Johnson

    As a black female who feels that the professor's actions was unwarranted. I found him disrepectful because his statement alone
    implied that he felt his status in society should have been known by
    this officer and therefore should not have been treated like the command blacks. If he had carried himself and the professional he clams tobe this could have been a positive.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  8. Harold

    Well if a professor can't get respect, what does that say for the rest of us Blackmen. I've been profiled at least twice in my life, I hope Gates gets an apology, because I sure didn't. Police don't apologize for their action's, they cover each others back. Group mentality usually prevails.
    I'm involved with black male teenagers, on a daily basis, and I spend most of my time, telling the young men about keeping their mouth shut so they can live.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  9. Mark Stevens

    I have contacted Professor Gates office about having far more serious and too often encounters with the police on my property. The last encounter cost me my business of 30 years and I am now permanently disabled. I am white, and financially well off.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  10. vincent

    If a white professor ran into a white cop at night the professor wouldve have been assisted by the cop, the professor should be thankful that the cop did not shoot him 30 times in the back. If this had been a young black or minority male, the white cop wouldve shot him dead like so many instances across america! I promise! Considering the incident, the black man was lucky to have walked away without injury. I witness police brutality everywhere! It's on UTUBE! it's down the street. 4 god sakes you people used to hang black people by their necks to trees! you used to burn down churches! you used to enslave human beings!!!!!! YOu killed MLK, you killed JFK,the native american and stole his land! you killed the Hawaiian, you kill in the name of what? GOD? then we do not share that same god. I se the evil in you

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  11. Jeff Meade

    I believe that the Policeman abused his authority. Once ID was established and no crime committed, that should have been the
    end of the call that originally brought the Police Officer to the residence and he (the officer) should have left. What happened
    was that Mr Gates comments caused the Officers ego to over
    inflate escalating the encounter. His ego is what caused the abuse
    of authority, thus fabricating a reason to arrest Mr. Gates. Just because the Officer didn't like what was said to him caused him
    to abandon his professionalism and make the encounter personal.
    In reallity, Mr Gates rights were violated.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  12. edward

    If this officer really did his job he would have just walked away. Talk to people who have gone thru this. They will tell you that it is a lack of respect by officers and the embarsment. If this officer really has the experiance this should have ended in a hand shake.


    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  13. anthony

    Gates said, "I'll meet your momma outside" according to the police report – when asked or told to come outside of his house.

    There's only one reason to mention someone else's momma and we all know what that means. He's lucky he still has his teeth.

    Racial discrimination? Really? Gates is the one who acted stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  14. Ken

    It amazes me when I hear (see) people reference the "race card". Reality check, racism is not a card; but a harsh reality! In reference to this incident, I don't think it was racially motivated. I think it was two tempers in conflict. Unfortunatley, the officer has the "power" to arrest. Was it the right decision, or should he have been empathetic to this gys' reaction?

    I would have been a little ticked if something like this happedned to me in my own home!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  15. Janis

    Someone on this blog stated that there was another police officer present. If this is true, he should be speaking about what happened. The officer should have requested to see proof that he lived there. Although Gates offered his identification, the officer could have asked for his driver's license, a copy of the lease or deed, or mail. The officer didn't do that. Dr. Gates was right in asking for the officers name and badge number. Usually when black people know there rights, whites usually feel threatened. The police are supposed to identify themselves anyway. A "nation divided" is a true phrase. White America refuses to understand the social injustices that still exist and are inflicted upon Black America and now other people of color are somewhat being subjected to it. Obama has a right to his opinion. I don't think he owes anyone an apology. It goes to show you that racism is alive and doing well.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  16. miguel fernandez

    The most fundamental issue is that IS NOT ILLEGAL to express your displeasure to a police officer about how you are being treated.I have personally being abused by police before and it feels humiliating to be talked down.As soon as you ask a police officer for their badge number they go beserk, I guess they feel they are above the law. They are human beings who were entrusted with power, they do not own authority and they should respect the responsabilities that come with it. They work for the people not the other way around. HOw many times have you seen a cop on TV humiliating people in front of cameras, can you imagine what transpires when there are no cameras present. every police encounter should be taped and recorded by law. that would end all speculation and "mistakes". If Crowley didn't do anything wrong then why charges were dropped? Gates shouldd sue Crowley for civil rights violation.that will teach them a lesson.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  17. JoAnn

    My God,it never fails that no matter how disrespected a Non-white American is treated, they always over react. Remember history when Black Americans were punished for looking at a white woman; talk about over reacting. What needs to happen is that people need to be treated fairly all the time by everyone. We need to think before we react and appologize when we are wrong. Police officers are here too protect and serve, not judge, insult, or arrest because you've been pissed off. The professor was at his own home just trying to open the door not trying to murder his spouse. Wasn't there any other crime going on that needed police attention?????

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  18. cn

    Everyone has valid points, so better than others. So there were no clues to who's house it was , you know like pictures on the wall, etc. How about vehicle registration. So the cop(s) did a bad job on that note. and maybe Gates could have lowered his voice, but thats no reason to be hancuffed. Not to mention that the neighbor did not kno who Gates was, or were they white as well

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  19. Abbay A.

    This is nothing discuss about. It's simple. The facts are clear. The 911 call was for possible burglary at Mr.Gates house. Mr.Gates was in his house at the time the police came in. He showed his ID from Harvard as a professor, and also a driver's license with the address of that house on it. It should have ended at that point, if the white police officer was not looking for something else. Call it what you want. This is classic racial profiling. If it was the other way around, black police officer arresting a white professor in his own home, the black officer would've been fired immediately.
    Abbay A.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  20. sandra moore

    wow, I cant believe we are on the race card again. No one knows what accutally happened inside the residence of Prof. Gates. Everyone want to have an assumption. We as African Americans know the feeling of racial disparities in this country. I am not looking for this police office to apologize because he never will. Who really cares if he do. All over America this day, and in the days to come there will be more discord over this incident . Tthis will bring out more racists, and everybody else under the sun who will have any negative comments towards anybody, and try to keep this going. I am a black female in America 56 years old, and have seen very ugly things in my life that have happen in this country. It will not stop just because we have an African American president, but it will get worse.

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

    Just want to ask what is disorderly conduct after you've shown your I.D.
    On your property? So if I'm home on my lap top policeman rings the door bell ask me for I.D. i show it to him at what point do I exercise my right to say something to him for being in my property and not be arrested, see where I'm going. Probable cause is gone, now what?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  22. LEE

    There are 3 sides to a story, Professor Gates' side, Sgt. Crowley's side, and THE TRUTH.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  23. John Lindsay, Jr.

    After Dr. Gates presented his identification, the officer should have stated, "I'm sorry, sir. I can understand your anger at having to prove you live here. However, we received a call that this house was being broken into. Again, I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

    Had the officer, an 11-year veteran, spoken these words, I believe the incident would NOT have gotten out-of-hand or escalated into an arrest.

    John L.

    Lexington, KY

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  24. P. Washington

    Profiling is very alive in the US. I live in a very nice neighborhood, which is 99% white and most all of the police officers are white. I've lived there for a little over two years. I drive a couple of nice cars and never have had a problem in my area. I go to the city( North Las Vegas) to visit family and almost every other trip I would get pulled over by black officers all the time, that I stopped going to visit my family. So my problem is not with the white officer it with the ones that look like me.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  25. Bea

    I think Officer Crowley does owe Mr. Gates an apology. It is obvious that Mr. Gates didn't do anything wrong or break any laws. So what is wrong with a police officer admitting he was wrong when he arrest someone who has not broken any laws. It seems to me that people are more upset that they can be wronged and disrespected by police officers without any consequences or apology by an officer or any other authority when they are found to be innocent or never have committed a crime.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  26. Michele

    I think the racial issue is being carrried to far. Many people are looking past the safety issue of a possible burgler in the neighborhood. The cops were responding to call. An investigation is part of their job. If you interfere with an investigation you are at fault. This happened in my own family, and it had nothing to do with race. I realize that the professor is a brilliant man, but he interfered with an investigation. Many people are using race to stur up proplems. I feel that the professor should not have incited a group of people by telling them that all blacks are a target.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  27. jt

    As I read all of the above comments, I have a few of my own. For the record, I am an African-American male. I went to a major State University. My very best friend in the world is a White male. Let me say this, if you have never walked in the shoes, be careful about commenting. I too belive the police have a very difficult job, and I applaud every individual who take his job to provide and protect seriously. I also hate people using the "race card" whenever it is convenient. Having said that, if you have never been a victim of racial profiling, let me tell you, it can be very horrific. Have some of you been pulled over for drivng a nice car and have the officer ask you "where you get this car from, son." Been there with my white friend in the car! Personally, truth be told, both guys were probably in the wrong. I'm interested in how it will turn out.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  28. Kerry

    It's amuzing to hear that we blacks love to use the "race card." Yes, even in Canada it we hear it, all I can say is that it's very easy to say but until that day comes when you pulled over for no reason, ask to present i.d....for no reason etc. you'll never understand.

    Give me a break, whether you're black, white, or any other race and the police come to your home accusing you of being a robber and you are trying to prove otherwise and you're not being listened to, you're not going to be a happy camper.

    Here's one for the "race card files", "There was a robbery and you fit the suspects description." How many blacks have heard this one...How many whites? I rest my case

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  29. Pam

    btw for Pres.Obama to use the word "stupidly" when referring to the police officer was very unpresidental and was lacking in diplomacy.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  30. tom molloy

    Dr. Gaters was at fault. Sgt Crowley responded to the scene after being notified by dispatcher that a break in was taking lace. Officer did not know who lived there and was obligated to ask for proper identification. If Mr. Gates showed proper ID when asked the officer would have left and notified the dispatcher that there was no breakin and owner properly identified. Mr. gates became abusivive causing a distubance outside the house (public place) and was properly arrested. officers should not be treated the way Mr. gates treated Sgt. Crowley. I would like to know why the charges were dropped. Was it because it was a black man . I commend Police Chief for sticking by his Officer.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  31. les

    the neighbor called the police . so no one was profiled mr sharpton. so go back home. gates didnt have to be arrogant .then it would not have escalated his house had been broken into prior to this, the cop should not apologize

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  32. Everett Davis

    Unfortunately, we can't legislate good manners. Professionalism is something we expect from our Public servants. If Sergeant Crowley isn't man enough to admit his mistake, then perhaps the Cambridge Police Dept. can make a six figure apology on his behalf.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  33. Lorna

    In the Gates case – Why is the Police report considered the bible? This would not be the first time in history where police have reported in their favor. This is the reality of Blacks in America.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  34. Lycee

    We can not judge a man or woman until we walk in their shoes. With that said, I understand President Obama's views and his opinion. This is his friend and he cares about his welfare, just like any one of us. Our first instinct is to support our friends. I have been racially profiled twice and both times were terrifying experiences. You feel less than a person and powerless. All you think about is...I was raised to be an upstanding person, I pay my taxes just like everyone else and never been in any trouble. You become angry and you can not think straight.

    I understand Mr. Gates pain, I have been in those shoes. We don't know what was said in the house, we only see what the media allows us to see and hear.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  35. DAVID

    Gates is owed no apology. as a harvard man....he should have taken his actions into account

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  36. Ed

    As a 30 year veteran African American Law Enforcement Officer and administrator, I was a little shocked at Dr. Gates stance on this matter. I feel he could have produced, a better identification than his college I.D. when he identified himself. In addition, having heard Dr. Gates speak, he could have better explained himself to these officers where they may have understood and believed his information at the onset. It was a difficult position originally or the officers, because they arrive at the scence believing the information provided to them from the dispatcher.

    Now, the officers were not without some fault, for I feel that they may have baited Dr. Gates to exit his residence knowing they were going to arrest him for Disorderly Conduct the second he came outside. Bottom line is, I would agree that Dr, Gates controlled his fate of the ending results. This is not a good moment for either side.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  37. SY

    Why was the officer in Gates home. Once he established that Gates was the owner of the house he should have left. The caller stated two black men where breaking into the home. Why was Gates the only person arrested? How in the world could there be disorderly conduct in your own home–the intruder and agressor was clearly the white officer. The actions of this officer were stupid, he's stupid.

    When white folks are systematicly stopped for driving while white. Beat up, have a pipe shoved inside of you, shot 30-50 times and have the perpetrators who happen to be black officers acquitted by a jury of their peers then perhaps you'll see the light.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  38. Danny

    It is obvious that both could have handled this better, however when the officer, his boss and union feel he acted correctly. Then WHY did they drop all charges?
    Danny, Bay Area California

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  39. Dr Will

    I am not surprised Mr Boyce did not answer the question whether the officer should have arrested Mr Gates. As a 16 year police veteran, I can tell you exactly what happend at that scene and what was going on in the minds of both parties without being there because I have been there a thousand times. The officer exercised poor judgment in arresting Mr Gates but whenever race is an issue, white officers lock ranks with a white officer no matter whether he is right or wrong. The officer did what he was trained to do which is to make a citizen a defendant to cloud their credibility once it is clear that they will be a plaintiff; to put them on defense rather than offence. Once the officer verified that Mr Gates was in his home legally, he should have left the property. Professional responsibility requires the officer not to react punitively to a citizen who has become indignant righteously.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  40. Karen

    The police officer was doing his job. The "professor" should have provided the requested ID immediately and been thankful that the police responded. If they hadn't I am sure the "professor" would have accused them of racism because they didn't respond. The apology should be from the professor to the police officer.

    Rowland Martin is a racist and CNN gives him a platform. I have never heard him honestly say a word that gave the impression that he is capable of looking honestly at both sides of a situation. His personal stories of racism have no place if he is to be an impartial reporter. We have all been discriminated againest in our lifetime.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  41. tortola

    i have been harassed by white and black police officers for no reason. there was one situation where a policeman pulled me over for running a stopsign. Now I know that I did not run the stop sign because I turned at a T-Junction. I had to stop and make sure nothing was coming so I would not get into an accident. Out of frustration, i questioned the police harassing me. the police man decided if i said another word i would spend the night in jail for reckless driving. I did not respond well to the intimidation and the police officer sent me to jail, but never showed up in court. Police officers use the threat of arrest to discipline members of the community. Urban America (code for black people) has been subjected to this type of treatment for centuries. For white people to acknowledge any current injustice to black people and any white privilege would make them feel bad, and so they always deny it. Gates was being disciplined for being an uppity black man. He was obviously no threat to anyone and obviously upset by the experience. The police officer should have been understanding rather than allowing his bruised ego to push him to the abuse of his position. Would a well-known white professor be subject to the same treatment under the same conditions. I doubt it.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  42. Flint

    I just read another post about "we " do not know what is like to be stopped by racist cops. I assume meaning a minority being stopped by white cops. Try being a white man/woman stopped by black cops and having your car ransacked is that not the same would that be racial profiling or what would that be called exactly? Or maybe the black community sees this as ok. My son and I were on the way from seeing a movie and this exact thing happend so what would that be called?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  43. nikki'

    It seems strange to me that a neighbor in a small community not only didn't recognize their neighbor but also called the police. Why? Did she assume that the houses that were burglarized were done so by an African American?
    Sgt. Crowley's five years of teaching/training does not qualify him as an expert...Again we don't have all the facts including the makeup of the community. If I train officers in racial sensitivity and I only come into contact with a few different races, does that make me an expert?
    It's sad that this is even an issue in 2009.
    Detroit, MI

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  44. sara

    Since when is arresting a person in their own home "doing a great" job. A world famous scholar or a world famous African American scholar. Now that could be a problem. How would Crowley feel if Federal agents arrested him while he was conducting an investigation or sting. He would be pissed off. What threat could Dr. Gates have been ? He walks with a cane. Did he point a gun? Were his pants sagging? What's so scary about a well spoken African American professor . Smart African Americans have always been a threat to white folk . This suck and everybody knows it.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  45. Barbara A. Cross

    I think what should happen now about the professor and the cop. Crowley should go back to the station and shut up. Mr. Adams should stop this also. President Obama did not call the cop stupid. He said he acted stupid. Come on .... the President has a right to free speech also. The person that you news' people should shut up is Rush Limbaugh. I find that he is the one that is keeping this racial game going. Can't you all see that? My advice is to shut up Rush Limbaugh. He is the one that is a ignoramus. Why do they pay this ignorant man $14m dollars.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  46. phillip

    I had locked my house keys in my aptaccidently because i carried one set for the house and car. My billfold was in car so i drove to the nearest hangout of theirs and they told me without license they could not kick the deadbolts in. So at the srevice station they showed me where to kicked the door and sent me on my way. I found it very unprofessional.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  47. EphremJohnson

    You know what really kill's me...I'm reading comments of people saying that the police's comments are the only true facts. NEWS FLASH PEOPLE! Just because a person becomes a police officer does not mean that he is incapeable of lieing.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  48. karen

    I think this is a misunderstandings on both parts and should be forgotten.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  49. Marcia Richardson

    If the professor stated and showed proof he lived there...then it was the officer's job to check the system for a restraining order, and any outstanding warrants. The professor did not flee the scene, which should substantiate his being on the property.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  50. Helen

    I am very proud of Roland Martin , like our dear president ,he speaks , without fear or favor . He calls a spade -a spade . It is time enough that Americans open their eyes to the truth . Race has been a problem and will continue to be until people learn that red blood runs in the veins of both black and white persons . The truth is , there was absolutely no reason to arrest The professor .If sgt Crowley is honest he will accept the fact that his ego got over him . He felt he was BOSS in this matter .I hope God will deal with him and his arrogance .

    July 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
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