[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/24/officer.gates.arrest/art.obama.gates.conference.cnn.jpg caption= "President Obama on Friday explains to reporters the details of a phone conservation with Sgt. James Crowley."]
Pres. Obama did something no one expected today. He popped into the afternoon White House press briefing to say he called the white policeman who arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. Mr. Obama admitted his "choice in words over the arrest" helped fuel the debate over race relations in America. He went onto to say "I could have calibrated those words differently."
You may recall on Wednesday night during his prime-time news conference Pres. Obama said Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley "acted studpidly" in the arrest of Prof. Gates.
But today Pres. Obama said he still believes based on what he heard about the arrest there was an "overreaction" in arresting Gates. He also believes the professor overreacted.
He hopes by speaking up he's getting Americans to think more about their actions. "The fact that this has become such a big issue, I think, is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society, whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive, as opposed to negative, understandings about the issue is part of my portfolio," he said.
Pres. Obama's comments came a couple hours after colleagues of Sgt. James Crowley spoke out in support of him.
"I've known Sgt. Crowley for 11 years... he's done a marvelous job. And for this to happen to him was wrong. Cambridge police are not stupid," said Steve Killion, Pres. of the Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Assocation.
What do you think of the latest developments in this story? Sound off below.
Tonight, we'll talk to an eyewitness to the arrest. You'll hear from a black police officer who was present when Sgt. Crowley arrested Prof. Gates. Find out if he supports the arrest.
Join us for this and more starting at 10pm eastern. See you then!
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