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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. James

    I would like to know if a crime was committed or if a law was broken in the case of the Harvard Law professor ?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  2. sophie

    Racial profiling really lets look at how many crimes are committed by the different community and see if it is really profiling or just been real. when you and your husband are held up at gun point be three African American do you think i care how many cars the police officer in the area stop to find those criminals the answer is NO

    maybe President Obama should go back to his roots a bit more, when he worked in bad neighborhood in Chicago and remember what happen to him one night when he thought he was getting jumped by as he says in his book "some local brothers" this professor thought he was above the law. Black or white sorry professor you are not.
    Sophia Miami

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  3. William Jones

    If we continue to ask what if; then that will continue until the end of the world. What we do know is that Gates provided the documentation showing that he was the home owner. Any reasonable officer would have left the scene, but it you have another motive then you stay there and make something out of nothing. What abt the right to live peaceably in our homes? Oh, I am sorry, that was created for others.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  4. Kim

    Is CNN going to report on the arrests in New Jersey today or isn't that news?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  5. ginny

    The officer should apologize. Regardless if words were exchanged in Mr Gates home. once he showed his ID to the officer the officer should have thanked him and left. I think once Mr Gates asked for the officer's name and badge # I believe the officer got angry. This man is 58 years old and walks with a cane, what could he possibly to to this officer? I think the officer should have used better judgement, and none of this nonsense would have taken place

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  6. Cheryl

    I believe that racial profiling is alive but cleverly disguised. I can't tell you the number of inspections orders I have received because my African American sons are driving my car. I take the order immediately to the inspection station without doing any repairs and the car passes the inspection! Clearly a reason to stop my sons because of their race.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  7. Natasha

    I have seen police act calmly in situations like this. I think both men let emotions overpower them. I think it's naturally that a person would become upset when police come knocking on his or her door and he or she doesn't know why. I think the police officer should have explain what he needed and why. After requesting and seeing Professor Gates' ID, if more proof is need clarification as to why should be given. I don't know if this was done. I think this is a common courtesy. I don't know all of the details, though.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  8. gl

    Whether you are wrong are not, being in authority as Sgt. Crowley and should have just apology for any misunderstanding. People in higher position know it is always better to take the higher road. We all have a hard time apology because we think it is admitting you did something wrong. Apology just help stop all the rant and rage and make it easier for people to move on. I see the GOP is using this to attack the President. All this is going to do is make the GOP look even more racist then they are ready. Gop have a real problem with pushing minoirty to never vote for their Party. GOP-RIP!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  9. Donnie West

    I think that both men egos got in the way of the whole situation. The professor of him being who he is wondering how this could had happen to him and the officer who probably who somehow could not get control of the whole situation did the next best thing he thought was possible. which was to handle it at the station house. now i dont know how the whole event occurred but to what i heard that a neighbor call because they knew the professor was out of town and they saw what they assume was intruders and call law enforcement. what i think the professor should had let someone known in the area it was him and not a intruder. but thats just my opinoin

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  10. Prince Fizzy Eweka

    did i hear hear y'all say apology from Prof. Gates...well i still don't know what crime Prof. Gates committed that warranted his arrest, poor conduct on the part of the police, they're suppose to lead a good example and not the othe way round.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  11. Steve

    Gates showed his Harvard photo
    identification.. That was sufficient to confirm who he was. The officer is supposed to be a "public servant." He definitely abused his power, l

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  12. harriette

    It is apparent that this officer lost his professionalism and let his personal emotions take advantage of the situation. Every situation that officers are confronted with are not addressed in a policy book. If this police officer has such a squeaky clean record with all the accolades, he should have used some of that "knowledge and experience" to make a wise decision that would not have caused this flaire-up. If he has the experience that people are saying he does, he should have been able to assess the type of person Gates is and conclude that he was "at home" and not a burglar, especially after seeing his identification. It appears that Crowley has been playing a "Dr Jekell and Mr. Hide" with his job (while the mouse is away, the cat will play). He was NOT just doing his job. He was taking advantage of Gates and abusing his authority.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  13. Carol, WC,PA

    What I'd like to know is: How long has Gates lived this neighborhood, how well does he know his neighbors and was the neighbor black or white. I think I can answer at least one of these questions and that's if his neighbor was black the media would have announced that right away. I think these questions are important to this issue and they should be answered.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  14. Kerry

    Oh and if Gates were white and race was not playing a role, would more people feel an apology was in order?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  15. T. Will Kirk

    I believe the entire situation with Gates and Crowley was a power struggle. Gates with his position in society (professor at a prestious university) along with personally knowing the President used this situation to try an prove a point that Racial Profiling can be done to the best of us. The police have a differcult enough job as it is identifying criminals from the good guys, everyone is or could be a suspect until they have been identified. I would be absoultly terrified being a policeman in this world that we live in today. I don't believe that officer Crowley owes him an apology when he was just doing the job that he is paid to enforce. I do however believe that President Obama is getting pulled into so many areas of conflict that he should not be involved in. President Obama please take Colin Powell advice and stop getting involved in so many petty issues. Black In America

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  16. Kevin

    Let's change the players! Assume the same exact circumstances except it was a black officer who arrested Matt Lauer in his home. Do you think people would still be saying the black officer was following proper procedures?
    On a business trip with a white colleague, a white officer stopped me because the rental car I was driving had expired plates. The officer asked me to exit the car. He proceeded to tell me I would receive a ticket. I calmly informed him that was fine and I would deduct it from my rental car bill. He became agitated with that response and proceeded to threaten to arrest me. I responded that it was his decision but I am sure my company would bail me out. Over the next 2-3 minutes, he alternated between issuing me a ticket and arresting me. At that point, I became agitated because this was getting out of hand. At no point did this office question or address my colleague. Fortunately, the back-up officer arrived and convinced the first officer to drop the issue. The second officer, who was also white, was extremely professional. He told me to inform the rental car company about the plates when I returned the car.

    I don’t believe race was an issue when he initially stopped us. There was no question that the plates were expired. However, it was his behavior subsequently where I believe race became an issue. I believe the officer became irate when I appeared to be questioning his authority. Was he a racist? I do not know but I believe his stereo type of black men influenced the tone of his communication with me.

    The police officer in the Gates situation should have simply walked away.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  17. C. Owuor

    I am inclined to stick with President Obama's original comments that this officer's actions were stupid because he allowed the situation to escalate into an argument. In light of the fact that he had to have known the house belonged to Prof. Gates and unless he has been living under a rock, he should have recognized Prof. Gates upon seeing him; having said that, the officer was from that point obligated to make sure Prof. Gates was not in any danger and leave. But instead this officer chose to exercise a superior position rather than protect and serve, i.e., I dare you question me because you are just a citizen, and since you are black I will show you by arresting you. Believe is this was Donald Trump it would not have gone down like this. This was stupid because as a nation, we all should recognize that we are moving away from this mentality.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  18. nakia

    Sgt Crowley shows his arrogants by his refusal to apologize. I believe he arrested Prof. Gates, not because Gates did anything wrong but as an attempt to demean and belittle him.

    Crowley did act stupidly.

    If you are white. Don't comment if you have never been a victim of racial profiling

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  19. Robert J. Anderson Jr

    Crowley and Gates had simultaneous bad hair days, and tangled under the backboard. Gates assumed (unfairly, I think from what I think I know) that Crowley was motivated by racism; Crowley unwisely – but not unfairly (again based on the public record) – went by the book. We've all been involved in situations where we know that the wrong choice of words can lead to things going where we don't want them to go...with members of our own race and with members of other races-with no racial factors invovled. I think Gates went the wrong direction – perhaps for understandable reasons (travel-who get's off an airplane happy these days, then you're locked out of you home, then there's this cop who wants to investigate), but I think Gate's assumption of racial profiling was probably the trigger here.
    Some – e.g., your Soledad O'Brien – fault Crowley for inadequate sensitivity to the racial profiling overtones despite his expertise on racial profiling. Does that mean Crowley should book me (II'm white)_for obstreperous behaviour but give Gates a pass? I hope not.

    Soledad....you're very pretty dear, and a wonderful anchor, but your analysis of this strikes me as ... well, racist. .

    ,

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  20. rod scott

    It's a fact that white cops hide behind their procedures, hide behind the badges to humiliate and try and penalize Black men for standing up to their secret white supreamicist ways of life, white supreamacy is alive and well and mainly in the police forces all across this country where it's legal to practice.

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

    For those of you slinging blame on both sides, you should realize that both parties could have handled this situation differently. Both of them acted like immature children both wanting to win a game of cops and robbers.

    LET IT GO

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  22. Diane

    Same situation but Gates as a white Harvard professor and Crowley as a black police officer, do you still stand by your comments? Let's keep colour out of it and form opinions based on facts between two people.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  23. Sheila

    Professor Gates showed his ID. If there were no restraining orders or history of domestic violence at that residence to indicate the professor could have been a husband coming back to kill or harm his wife (as Boyce Watkins mentioned) then the officer should have apologized for the inconvenience and left. To officer Crowley . , , Never say Never!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  24. Ranbo

    We do not know all the facts about what happened in the house. What we do know is the officer behavior left himself opened to suggestions of racism. How do you confuse a 60 years old black men with two young black males. I say two young black males because this is what the caller told the 9ll dispatch. The police saw a black man and arrested a black man without considering common sense. Also no one has yet to question the neighbor. This is the real racist act. They saw a black man at a door, then fabricate a sterotype to police to get them there.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  25. Jackie Scott

    I was watching the exchange tonight between the quest, Roland and Rroyce the college prof. They had different views to say they both where black men. I feel that we as black people will never agree on one singele thing. I fear the police I do not trust them. I was taught that a long time ago. I have seen how they racially proflle black men it is nothing new, but when complain we are stirring things up. It is so unfair how the media jump on what president obama said. He was criticised,for one word. But think what woyuld have happened if he had said nothing. So just get over it. I am watching everything on tv. we refused to believe that racism is dead it is jus hidden better now, But with the economy is the state it is whites are finaly seeing what the poor have always seen. it is not easy.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  26. Lora

    Once again......let's use the "racial excuse". It is evident, that this cop did not care if this guy was purple, pink, or brown....he followed police procedure and requested that Crowley not only show his ID, but "step out of the house". This is procedure! Because he is of a different color, does this excuse him from having to follow police protocol?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  27. Judge U

    Crowley was doing his job but there was allot of inaccuracy in his statement , and he was certainly being bias when he discovered Gates was the home owner, and that he was Gates. Crowley, made three mistake in his approach. One, arrested Gates in his house, two being bias, and three, acting stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  28. robert

    what was the reason for the arrest? What ? He pissed the cop off? Is that a crime? That the point that everyone is missing. The police work for us. They are not our parents. They should not be allowed to put us in "time out" when we piss them off. The whole thing is an abuse of power. Better wake up. This is what Black America lives with, soon it will be on your door step.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  29. Blondel

    The officer abused his power, As a Nurse it is illegal to restrain a patient unless he or she is a danger to himself or others, not because I am upset with what the patient says to me. The Police Officer needs to understand how to deal with hurt ego. The Police Officer should have acted in a more professional manner. His behavior is typical of impulsive behavior. He needs a class in anger management, and impulsive behavior.
    Thank you

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

    First time doing this so here it is. I'm 63 year old white man.

    I think Mr. Gates did this to split the country like it is doing right now. Also I think Mr. R Martin can only see one color by the he is acting on the interviews. I am an independant voter and I voted for Obama. I have to tell you the way Obama made those statements last night he will not get my vote the next time. Also I read somewere that the 1st lady does not like white's is this true?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  31. Patricia

    Professor Gates absolutely owes Sgt. Crowley an apology. It's so obvious the Prof. was looking for a fight. This is getting old....

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  32. Troy

    Forgive me if this has been posted, I did not read any other posts.

    Situation for the two African Americans on the show and all those pissed of and calling this racial profiling;

    A Black man is in your home and the police come to the door and ask for proof that he lives there. He does what this professor does, not produce ID. The cops say, "fine you say you live here then we believe you" and leave.
    You come home to a burglarized home.
    Y ou them find out the cops were there and allowed this to happen because they did not get proof that the person in the home was supposed to be there.
    Now what do you say!!!!!
    Racial profiling does exist, happens and will always happen!
    But it is as bad or worse from the Black people, because they perpetuate it and cry racial at any act they feel is negative towards them.
    This same scenario could happen with White, Chinese, Hispanic or any other race.
    Why has common sense and courtesy been thrown out the door?
    And to have a president chime in who is biased in the situation and take sides shows that racism is on his mind, too!!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  33. joshua

    what people have to realize is that for years inside the black community the police have been viewed as being excessive ,offencive and oppresive ,imagine being treated as a perp, suspect because of your race sean bell ,diallo are reminders that you are at the mercy of any officer and your life is their hands

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  34. mary

    If the police officer patrols the streets he should have known all the prominent residents in the neighborhood he patrols.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  35. rooster,fla.

    just saw WATKINS on a/c360 and for once a black man was not playing victom, just streight up common scence. to bad the same can't be said about our president !

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  36. scott

    I always here about racial profilling, profilling is our natural way to protect us from harm. if you are black or white walking with your family then looked down the strreet and you see gang looking members, wouldn:t you use profiling as a survival mechanisms and choose to walk down a different street?

    scott

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  37. Martini

    I believe white officers get offended whenever they come across a black male thats doing the right thing by working a nine to five and using their wealth in the proper manner. Why can't Black men own summer homes or live in a big house($200k-$700k) why not.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  38. Rhoda Brown

    The police officer is straight up a racist.He proved this when he said I will not apologize.Why not ,if this was actually Mr. gates home. I think he was wrong and know he was wrong.Obama was correct when he said that they acted stupidly.This individual said ,I will not apologize,what is he saying to his kids ,don't apologize to a black individual ,even when you know you are wrong.He should lose his job, if this is how he responds as a police officer. He's an arrogant,ignorant,individual who needs some help.Maybe one day someone will arrest him in his home and then he will see how it feels.If he acts like this as an officer on the streets,how does he treat his family at home?Cnn stop siding with this officer,as we know there are so many dirty cops out there,and this is one of them.This is a professor,who was arrested in his home after providing proof,are you serious?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  39. Abu

    One thing that seems to go unstated is where is the respect for an obvious elder by an obviously younger officer. What white folks fail to realize that black males are forever "boys" until they become harmless uncles. I used to use Just For Men on my gray beard but once I stopped, I realize I don't get stopped by the police much anymore. I have coined a phrase to explain my circumstances to unsavory characters – "A black man doesn't get gray hair by NOT paying attention of what's going on around him!" Tell me white folks, could you tolerate a lifelong lifestyle looking over your shoulder?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  40. Kellen Nelson

    I would love to see how people would react to this if the resident were a white man and the officer were black. Lets just say Hypothetically that the white resident made the comment, " why are you arresting me in my own house? Are you trying to prove a point by arresting me, because your black and Im white? (offensive and racist huh?) Ironically my perception would be that we would have the same result BUT, people whould want his badge, and dont let him be un-apologetic the same way this officer is, you would have a horrible publicity brewing. Look the officer Crowley was wrong for arresting him, Gates should not have been mouthy to the officer and provoking him to do so. America is in a state of shock and emotion, and until we start really listening and paying attention to one another, this type of treatment will continue to exist.

    Kellen, Dallas TX

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  41. Candace

    A police officer has lots of power and with that power comes responsibility. No matter how crazy Gate's accusations, and officer of the law needs to have self control, and just leave (because he was on Gates property, without at warrant). That officer only arrested him because he was angry about Gate's ridiculous behavior, and wanted to show him who was boss. He could have just as easily cited that the homeowner was uncooperative and ceased his "further investigation" of the situation. Gates most likely was acting completely ridiculous, but the fact that he was arrested, as our president said, was stupid and unnecesary.

    Also the President has a right to express his view of a situation that was personal to him (Gates was his friend), especially with the disclaimer that he was not aware of the facts. Furthermore, "stupid" is not that harsh of a word, by the way.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  42. Steve D

    Does racial profiling exist? Yes it does. Do I believe that as a Blackman I am more likely to be pulled over because of my skin color then a whiteman, maybe... Mr. Yates is an honorable man and I am sure he was apalled to be thought of as a burgler at his own home. The cop could have just walked away and said I'm sorry have a nice day. Mr. Yates could have laughed it off and understood that the cop was just doing his job and I'm sure the situation would have been different. Blackfolks as a race need to lighten up a bit and take a page from our President and not let things get to us like we used to. Racism will not go away and there are still people out there who do not like Black people. We know that and we need to move on. Forgive but don't forget... Respect because you are rspected...

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  43. Barrett79

    It is true that only the parties involved know what actually happened, but could the situation been handled differently. Would it been too much for the officer to ask for identification, once received run a check to verify there were no warrants or restraining orders from the residence, and then let it be. People are quick to say, race is not an issue, when their race has never been an issue!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  44. Phyllis Royster

    I think this cop was ticked off because a professional black man was questioning his authority. Let's face it, this cop was really pissed when Dr. Gates asked for his badge and ID.

    The real truth is he was arrested for being a BMIA ( Black Man in America). It happens, it's a a reality!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  45. Delores

    To all those who believe Sgt. Crowley does not owe an apology because he did his job, he did not do his job throughly. He does indeed owe an apology. Sgt. Crowley should have confirmed all of the information before taking action. He is not a stupid office but he was acting stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  46. Barbara-NY

    If Gates wasn't a Professor would we be having this conversation, race profiling happen everyday. Why all this drama, because he is a Professor? The President did not call the police stupid he just saying that this whole fiasca was unnecessary. Let it go!!!!!!!!! I wonder what the outcome would be if the homeowner was white. Didn't the race profiling start when the neighbor call the police and say there was a black man breaking in the house?
    Lets talk about something important like the Healthcare Reform......Barbara.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  47. Rob P.

    I believe that there's racial profiling in America, but not on this case. The Police Officer was called to the scene. He did the right thing. The professor was disrespectfull to the officer authority. The officer could had let it go, but he had authority to arrest to professor for disorderly conduct. I support the Police officer 100% and think that he should not appologize. In fact, the professor should apologize to the officer for behaving in such a stupid manner. I'm disappointed at President Obama. Race had nothing to do with this case. Black or whites, everyone must respect police authority. Period.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  48. Willow

    The charges were dropped, which to me equals some type of wrong doing. If the cop claims he was only following procedure why drop charges?

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  49. PO

    Just read some of these comments!!!! Most of you are very ignorant! Yes, it's right for an officer to respond to a call. However the police officer has to behave aptly! Once he realized prof gates lived n owned that house, he should have apologized and left. He shouldn't have stayed long enough to argue with n arrest prof gates, especially for disorderly conduct! Are you serious??? And you people support him!!!!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  50. Brandon

    I am a black male and I'm getting tired of black people always playing the race card where it doesn't need to be played. Sgt. Crowley followed proper procedure throughout the whole incident. If someone was breaking into a house and I was cop, I'd go check it out just like Sgt. Crowley. It doesn't matter what ethnicity he is! If I get call that someone is breaking into a house, I would check it out. I also find it ironic that Sgt. Crowley was handpicked by a black commissioner to teach a class about profiling and now he's being accused of racism. This incident has been blown way out of proportion because Gates did it. I'm not saying that Sgt. Crowley doesn't hold any accountability but I'm saying that Gates is the most at fault.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
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