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July 24th, 2009
09:42 PM ET

Evening Buzz: The President, the Professor & the Cop

President Obama on Friday explains to reporters the details of a phone conservation with Sgt. James Crowley.

President Obama on Friday explains to reporters the details of a phone conservation with Sgt. James Crowley.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

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!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Ed

    I stand behind the cambridge police with the arrest of profeessor Gates. This case had nothing to do with race in my eyes, it had to do respect for the law. Gates was out of line shouting at sgt. crowley and shouting at him about his mama. I'm surprised Gates didn't get Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton involved. Would all of this been made national news if this was a white professor involved? If Gates was courteous and respectful of the law, we wouldn't be talking about this today.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Walter- Mount Pocono Pa

    As a retired police officer, i feel compelled to give my opinion. On numerous occasions when responding to incidents I found that using common sense and compassion helped me in deciding on what to do in particular situations. This Sgt Crowley DID NOT use common sense- he failed to do his job. He made a terrible mistake worse, then hid behind the fact that he teaches sensitivity to others. He should perhaps resign from doing that.

    Sgt. Crowley was wrong and those defending him should know that he will do this again and perhaps has done this before. She should have walked away-once it was cleared up that the Prof was in his own home.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  3. Krys

    The oficer awas doign a good job until he placed those cuffs on the professor. That was the "Stupid act" that Obama referred to. The officer had an ID. All that he had to do was to run the info to confirm who it is. Being a race relations instructor and a decorated office doe snot mean that he cannot act on a power trek. He did.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  4. Sue B - Illinois

    Perhaps if they all apologized to each other we could move on from this and quench the fire. Crowley should apologize to Gates, and President Obama should apologize to Crowley. If this is what it takes to put the fire out, then everybody be a man and apologize. It doesn't matter who's comments are right or wrong. Now, if the neighbor that called the police in the first place really knew his neighbors, he would have known that Prof. Gates wasn't breaking into his own home. So, it really speaks to the neighbor starting the entire raucous.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  5. ViTo

    Yes, this case is all about race! From the initial call made reporting the incidence, to the actual arrest, race played a tremendous part in how things were handled. A "black man" invasion, positive identification not enough to satisfied the officer–wouldn't be because this is a ""black man?" Had it been a "white man" attempting to get in his house an officer never would have been called, and surely, positive identification would have suffice. As far as the black police officer who was present, he has a job he wants to keep!

    July 24, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  6. Kathleen Bowman

    Police officers are supposed to be trained in detention and arrest procedure no matter how the alleged detainee acts. Once the professor produced his Harvard ID and driver's license and the address was verified, the police officer should have immediately backed off and explained that they had a report of a break-in and then conveyed their regret if not an apology to the professor. For some reason, they continued with their tack instead of trying to calm the situation. If the professor was disorderly, he couldn't have been disorderly in his own home; therefore, he was asked to step outside for the purpose of arresting him. He could not have been arrested in his own home and the cops should have and probably did know that. If a police officer asks a person to step outside, chances are, it is for the purpose of arrest. It makes me sick to hear such ranting and raving about our President's words and also about the professor because I know there's a lot of truth to what they are saying. Unless someone has walked in another person's shoes, they really don't know how it feels to be treated differently or less than.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  7. Jayne Freeman-Washington

    The President should have listened to ALL the facts, before making any judgmental criticism. I APPLAUD Sgt. Crowley and the Cambridge Police Dept. for the professionalism portrayed in today's press conference. It seems to me that Prof. Gates is the one guilty of arrogance and racism!

    July 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  8. McSwain

    I think it was very important for President Obama to retract his statement about the Cambridge police. As commander in chief, his choice of words can fuel or put to rest a sensitive issue like race. I hope everyone learns a valuable lessson from this incident; that eventhough racial profiling continue to exists in the United States,it is important to know tha facts rather than making assumptions.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  9. chicago

    Good evening Mr Anderson,
    I watch your program daily. I want President Obama to stand up and stop apologizing for what he think is right. He need to stop showing weakiness. He should not had apologize for the statement he made about the police and Mr. Gates. I think the police was racist for arresting Mr. Gates at his home. Had he been a white man he never would had been arrested. Mr. president, you're the boss.
    BB.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
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