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July 23rd, 2009
10:13 AM ET

Obama: Police who arrested professor 'acted stupidly'

(CNN) - President Obama said that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "acted stupidly" in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor last week after a confrontation at the man's home.

"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played," Obama said Wednesday night while taking questions after a White House news conference.

Cambridge authorities dropped disorderly conduct charges against Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Tuesday.

Obama defended Gates on Wednesday night, while admitting that he may be "a little biased," because Gates is a friend. Obama: Police acted 'stupidly' Video

The mayor of Cambridge said she is going to meet with the city's police chief to make sure the scenario that caused Gates' arrest does not happen again.

"This suggests that something happened that should not have happened," Mayor E. Denise Simmons said on CNN's "American Morning." "The situation is certainly unfortunate. This can't happen again in Cambridge."

Watch: 'It was terrifying,' Gates recalls Video

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Elaine

    Somebody's trying to muddy the waters to deflect from the police.

    Let us be clear, Gates vs police is about citizen's rights.

    See: Gates-Crowley Battle Not About Race, but Rather Citizens' Rights
    by Ray Hanania

    A lot of white people have lined up ready to defend the police; yet with the election of Barack Obama, millions of white folk rush out and purchase guns because they fear that their civil and consitutional rights will be eroded by government. The police are the government, and I would bet that anarchists, libertarians, NRA members, etc. would have done exactly what professor Gates did (which was to get upset). You are a man in your own home (property rights), you’ve done nothing wrong, and you don’t want anyone telling you what to do in your own home.

    As far as the African American community is concerned, and members of minority groups around the world are concerned, they all fear the police; and everyone fears police states.

    So let's be honest about who we side with in this instance and why we side with them.

    July 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  2. Elaine

    Somebody's trying to muddy the waters to deflect from the police.

    Let us be clear, Gates vs police is about citizen's rights.

    See Huffington Post: Gates-Crowley Battle Not About Race, but Rather Citizens' Rights by Ray Hanania

    A lot of white people have lined up ready to defend the police; yet with the election of Barack Obama, millions of white folk rush out and purchase guns because they fear that their civil and consitutional rights will be eroded by government. The police are the government, and I would bet that anarchists, libertarians, NRA members, etc. would have done exactly what professor Gates did (which was to get upset). You are a man in your own home (property rights), you’ve done nothing wrong, and you don’t want anyone telling you what to do in your own home.

    As far as the African American community is concerned, and members of minority groups around the world are concerned, they all fear the police; and everyone fears police states.

    So let's be honest about who we side with in this instance and why we side with them.

    July 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  3. Nathaniel Booker

    I can guarantee that a majority of these comments are made by people who are black americans. Everything that has happened on this issue so far has been absolutely ignorant. Obama is still barely into his presidency so everybody who voted for him is defending his clearly WRONG actions and words, rather than admit what he did was was bad. For those that say it was racist what the "white men" did, obviously have ignored the fact that several black officers on the scene said their was no racial malice. The guy has an upstanding record of being a good officer who has even trained other officers on racial discriminination. People have also focused on the fact that he was arrested on his porch for "disorderly conduct". All officers on the scene admit that when the officers tried to disengage he followed them out and wouldnt stop his aggressive behavior. People are also argueing that since they dropped the charges that is an admission that Gates didn't actually do anything wrong. But, as a criminal justice major in my 4th year I can tell you it is a common practice to take a person who is clearly irrate and possibly bordering on doing something worse, and putting them in police custody for a little while before release. Not only were they were facing the displeasure of the president of United States, but the arresting police officer was being labelled by the professor and the president as a "racist". Rather than take even more heat they backed down like any normal person would in that situation. What happened was racism yes, reverse racism is what happened here, on the part of the proffesor and the president. The President weighed in a local matter, and undermined the authority of the criminal justice system. Not only that but he personally insulted a upstanding police officer, and every police officer who backed him.( which includes black officers) The president has now gone on to give a half apology that doesn't even remotely begin to fix the damage he did, and then tried to save face by inviting an officer to his office to impress the public. At this point in time I no longer have any faith in this presidency 2012 couldn't come sooner.

    July 27, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  4. joe

    Will the American People finally get a backbone and demand Mr. Obama act like a President – I believe all law enforcement officials, the national guard, EMS, fire man, and ANY person that puts their life on the line for this country should demand an apology from Mr. Obama – the man has no experience and loves to point fingers of blame (the character of someone that is totally incompetent and likes to point to other so he can hide behind the guise of knowing better!)

    Slowly Mr. Obama is tearing this country apart and proving he is working for one class (with his leader Pelosi). He works for ALL Americans and I believe that every single law enforcement official should go on strike until Mr. Obama publicly states; "he was wrong and he acted stupidly".

    Obama is proving he must be stopped – he has proven himself as a socialist and now as a President for one and only one class of people.

    Americans, I implore you to demand he apologize and not over a "beer" in a private meeting in the White House, which is not a frat house Mr. Obama!


    July 26, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  5. Bob (NC)

    I agree with Randy (July 23rd). More over,
    I place the blame for this national incident on the media that just can't wait to blow things out of proportion to make news. The media must have been overjoyed when they learned of a black Harvard professor being arrested; but they had an journalistic organism when they found they could pull 2 words from the President's comments and flash them across the nation – OUT OF CONTEXT! When I saw the President's entire statement I thought it was measured and appropriate (and, I am not an Obama supporter). I do think he should have refused the question – especially since Mr. Gates is a personal friend AND no one seemed to know all of the facts. President Obama was USED by the media.
    This began as a local incident and it should have stayed there.
    Yes, it is important to resolve; but, it's not up to the media to fan the flames so they can have something to talk about 24/7. Wolf Blitzer was stirring the pot even after the President's statement Friday – another measured, reasonable statement. The man tried to calm the situation and CNN yells, "Why didn't he apologize to the police?"....THAT really helped, didn;t it? Thanks, Wolf.

    We don't really know who was right or wrong. Probably never will. The facts will not come out in the media that wants to make something of it to keep us tuned to their channel.

    What I regret is that it seems that we can not have a confrontation between a black person and a white person without someone throwing in "the race card". I am 69 years old, and I think differently from my parents. If the races are going to ever work together on equal ground, I feel the first thing that has to be abandoned is the history and the entitlement feeling of being "owed something more". Those of us today are aware of the history and the wrongs committed, but generally speaking it was not our generation. No one in this generation "owes" another person black, brown, yellow or white anything for something someone did in history. What we do owe one another is mutual respect......., and maybe- just maybe, we should try listening to each other before we start throwing around the blame.

    July 25, 2009 at 8:18 pm |
  6. Terry Ratliff

    This incident has little to do with race and even less to do with racial profiling, unless that applies to the person who reported a break-in attempt. This is all about ego. The professor is insulted that the policeman does not recognize him as a VIP, i.e., legend in his own mind, and goes off the deep end when all he would have had to do was thank the officer for protecting his house. The policeman is insulted that the professor does not recognize him as a VIP, i.e., protector of all things good, and decides to demonstrate his power when all he would have had to do was politely provide his name and badge number, apologize and exit. Then the President allows his ego to get the best of him when his friend is arrested and speaks without thinking. Does anyone not understand how war is the child of pride? The Greeks called this hubris and it seems it has been around as long as we have.

    July 25, 2009 at 2:49 pm |

    Some people who are sworn to protect are rogues too.How dare anyone caution the Prez.The president spoke from his heart on a topic America has chosen to ignore or dilute for years.This country is gravely ill from its wanton disregard of race relations.You can elect a black president but you cant admit you have a diseased race system.WARNING AMERICA ,THIS IS THE VERY ISSUE THAT WILL DESTROY YOU IF YOU CANT FIND A CURE.IT IS YOUR MOST STARK WEAKNESS.

    July 25, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  8. Sarah Rountree

    WHY is it wrong to criticise the police? No police dept is above critcism, no matter how good they are. To say policeman should not be criticized simply because they put their lives on the line every day does not make sense.

    July 25, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  9. Lynn

    Think Obama should have left that question out , I say question because as we know the press meeting is scripted . Bothered with the fact that certain questions are to be asked ONLY and he goes on and on (forever) on one question but he opened a can when making a comment on Cambridge situation this made the issue worse. Its very clear how he feels and its sad, why in the world would he even make such a comment, oh yes Gates is a friend but please!! There is a war going in case if he's interested and the Health Care OMG watch out if that passes. Gov't control all over the place.

    July 25, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  10. Robert

    I think this is an important news. I think it needs to be addressed by the citizens. But it should not involve the president of the USA. He got more important problems – health care, war, education, alternative fuels, immigration. I do think that the police and the professor were both proud/arrogrant and with lots of pride to say I'm sorry to each other. Why is it so hard to apologize to someone especially in this country. Also I found that we are not respecting the commander in chief as we should. I thought police have training like everyone in the military and one thing is clear with those people – commander in chief is the man to follow..... I think if the president can make an apology – then the cop and the professor should do it as well to show that they are gentlemen.

    July 25, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  11. grace

    I"m sorry Obama backed off. Let's at least learn from this incident. I happen to be white.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  12. Loren

    I think Obama is the one who acted stupidly–he let a personal friendship cloud his judgement and comment on something he knew little about (other than it was his friend ) who got arrested. When the police are called in on any call they need to question and find out what is going on. If someone ( white ,black , green – whatever) has a problem with that and gets carried away screaming and hollering, and being arguementitive then they need to be arrested .

    July 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm |
  13. DD

    A poliiceman who forced an elderly man out of his house, handcuffed him and took him to jail without thoroughly checking out the situation. The poiliceman acted stupidly. I would bet that a large percentage of the bloggers are police officers once again trying to whitewash anything police do wrong. They stick with their brothers and even let them break the law on the highway and brag about it.

    July 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  14. Monika

    We do not know what really happened in the confrontation of Professor Gates and Officer Crowley. If the professor showed proper id with name, picture, and address then the Officer was wrong to arrest him. If he did not and showed only his Harvard id then the professor was in the wrong. They should get eye witness accounts of the conversation before judging. If the professor thought he was being discriminated against, he should have acted maturally. After giving proper id, Gates should have asked the Officer to leave his property. Later, he should have reported the incident to upper law enforcement.

    Although the president is entitled to his own opinion, he should have not commented at all to the question and sticked to healthcare reform. Instead, President Obama should have answered the question like this: "I do not have all the information, so I would not like to comment right now".

    July 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  15. CJ

    The President made sure that he cautiously answered the question. He took a few seconds repeating that he did not know the facts and that he was speaking as a friend of the professor. He also made a point to say that because he was a friend of the man his comment would have been a bit biased and he said BASED ON WHAT HE HAS HEARD AND READ!!! He did not say that the police needed to apologize, he did not say that are complete mess ups. He said in this case, IF the Police were shown the ID, they acted stupidly by still arresting the man, which should not translated into more than it is. And the entire quote should be read in CONTEXT!!!!

    Do you know in the past few days, his comment and Michael Jackson's death investigation has gotten more on-air time than important issues? Issues like the Stimulus Package, and Health Care Reform and the all out flogging of women protesters on the streets of Tehran.

    I think that the problem is getting more attention than it deserves and the O-pponents were waiting for an occasion to peg the President for a racially charged comment. At this point, there is too much being said for anyone to know the real truth, even a civil suit will be difficult. The officer's extensive knowledge about racially profiling and the idea that he has black friends doesn't automatically give him a pass.

    What we also do not know is what things occurred in the personal lives of each of those men before they met that day, so we can't say for sure if Prof. Gates was overreacting or if the model cop had an off day! What we do know is that the charges were dropped and if the Prof. decides to sue, it would be a civil matter, so all we can do know is wait for that trial. Now can we please get back to Michael Jackson homicide investigation? 🙂

    July 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  16. jerry

    There are only a few people who know what actujally went on at the home of Prof. Gates. After reading most of the blogs, you would think that some of the people blogging were actually there. All of their opinions, stated as facts, are obtained by the media or from other sources. Let"s all wait and see what really happened and make judgement after all of the facts are known. Obama should refrain from making any comment until he has the facts. He made a judgement even though he did not have the facts. Makes me wonder if he makes all of his decisions based on partial information. If so, God help us.

    July 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  17. John

    Obama needs to keep his mouth shut and work on the failing economy.

    July 24, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  18. Disappointed Deb

    Obama was wrong The police hafe to deal with alot of worrie when they get a call what if someone had been in there doing a home invasion perhaps killing Mr. Gates like what happened to the parents of all those handicap children a week or two ago The police arrive not knowing if they are gonna get their face shot off its no time for someone who has been angry his whole life and will more then likely be the rest of it to make something out of nothing because of who he is ALREADY TALKING ABOUT THE LAWSUIT and then he will make money off a book deal police should take their time getting to his address If ever called again
    Like Obama said he would get shot if he tried to jimmy the lock on the white house door all people should feel so protected you dont mess with security at the white house no matter your color you will be shot they dont play and the police shouldent play either They want to see their kids at the end of the day also Gates should show some respect for the fact that the police are trying to do their job just like security at the white house when their is a chance that someone could be killed the police cannot be to careful and I am sure they are a bit on edge risking their lives everyday walking into the unknown the police officer dident know who Gates was but Gates knew who the officer was Mr.Gates had no reason to be on edge he just felt disrespected and acted like a fool.I say send Mr.Gates into a home where a possible home invasion is taken place and see if he thinks about his race or about will he live to see his family later.I think during a time like that the police should be cut some slack on offending someone hurting their feelings They have a serious job to do ITS NOT A GAME!!!!!!!!!

    July 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  19. Fred

    I have great respect for our President, but right or wrong, he overstepped his bounds as President by giving his personal opinion on the matter. As for my opinion, race should have never been an issue in this whole affair. I just watched CNN reporter Tony Harris comment on the news conference. He appeared to be toning up the issue with his personal remarks and expressions. Tone it down Tony! Don, the CNN man on the scene reporting on the conference, did an excellent job of toning things down, but Tony kept stirring the pot. As usual, the press will make a racial issue out of this and won't let things settle. Regardless of race, if someone refuses to cooperate with an investigating officer they should be arrested. Believe it or not, even white folk have been arrested for not cooperating with an investigating officer.

    July 24, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  20. DPraire

    I live in Cambridge, MA. Cambridge police is ABUSIVE – I see it every day. If you don’t look like the typical Harvard student they look at you suspiciously. God forbid you talk back to them.

    I hope the officer gets FIRED FAST. We need to send a message to Cambridge and to the rest of the country. If race was not an issue in America, Why do you think we are all writing and reading about it?

    July 24, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  21. Krys

    I do agree that the police acted stupidly after being shown ID because they could have requested more info. However, tempers flared on both sides which led to the police acting out on a powertrek. I am not convinced that he acted out of being racist but he would not have arrested the professor had he been white and angry. I do not think so because blacks are labelled "Angry" for speaking up but "Whites are labelled "Assertive" for being angry....Mmmm......

    July 24, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  22. Bee

    I love our hardworking Police Officers and President! Our country seems to be spinning a little out of control. All the debates about the healthcare, maybe wearing down our President and others. I wished
    our intelligent President would have stop, think, and passed on the question about Cambridge. We can't judge any situation until ALL the facts are presented.By using the word,"stupidly, it seemed President
    Obama made a poor choice of word.

    I hope our President and Police Officers will unite together.Lets all remember our President and Police Officers has a stressful and challenging job. Let's remember we are great Americans.

    July 24, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  23. Susan

    Obama and Mr Gates owe the policeman an apology. Mr Gates was being disorderly and thus a disorderly conduct arrest. Simple and well deserved. People like Mr. Gates will turn non-racist into racist and make the existing ones even worse.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  24. Elaine

    This is amazing to me. A lot of white people are lining up ready to defend the police; yet with the election of Barack Obama, millions of white people rush out and purchase guns because they fear that their civil and consitutional rights will be eroded by government. The police are the government, and I would bet that anarchists, libertarians, NRA members, etc. would have done exactly what Gates did (which was to get upset). You are a man in your own home (property rights), you've done nothing wrong, and you don't want anyone telling you what to do in your own home.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  25. Scott

    The facts in this case indicate that if a innocent man questions police in his own home about their policies then he runs the risk of arrest as a means of retribution.
    Further, if civilian authority comments negatively on police procedures, as the President has done, then they are open to attack by those who perhaps, favor a police state in this country. This incident clearly shows the need to reign in the abusive policies of some police departments.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  26. Eric Brito

    I think from what I heard so far that Mr. Gates over reacted. I think that MAYBE? the police officer probably over reacted, but, knowing how some people react towards police, I would not be at all surprised that Gates probably reacted "stupidly" by following the police officer and chastise him for doing his job.
    Actually Mr. Gates shows a very poor character, being that he is a professor of a very well known University. If anything he should had remain calm and find out the facts of the situation that the police officer was under.
    We can keep saying that police is always against minorities. But, lets NOT forget that police departments have minorities as officers. And I will agree that you will always find a bad apple EVERYWHERE, people are making an assumption that ALL police are racist.
    When a police officer approaches you, the last thing one should do is insult them or yell at them. Remember, they put their life on the line for regular citizens. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
    Mr. President, before you say anything for a friend, learn all the facts. As the commander in chief you are obligated to present the biggest example of all for the citizens of this country. I know that Mr. Gates is probably a friend, but that doesn't mean he is not culpable for his actions.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  27. Kathryn

    Manage your expectations of President Obama. President Bush was in office for 8 years and never considered his position in such a passionate manner. There is dialog amongst people since the President was elected. He has been in office for roughly eight months and changes have taken place (whether good bad or indifferent). We as americans seem to take more of a vested interest in our future.

    If you listen carefully to the President’s response to Louis Gates' arrest, you will understand that it was not an attack on the officer. Why is his remark reckless? The President has a platform that can be used. Certainly he uses it differently than it was used in the pass. I think it is time that the “old boy” mold is broken.

    July 24, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  28. Clay

    As an African American, I'm concerned when anyone makes assumptions that Sgt. Crowley is a racist, rouge officer, or anything of the like. It's important for us all to wait for the details to surface from a thorough investigation before jumping to conclusions! I can't stand those guests on the show who immediately bring up the race card – as though each time this we see a story like this, the BLACK man is mistreated! This is ludracris, and I plead with the African American community to examine their hearts when speaking with their emotions.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  29. Marcelia Keene

    It seems evident that both men are at fault regarding this present situation. I believe Mr. Gates acted inappropriately considering the justified presence of the police officer. Yet I also believe that the police officer acted inappropriately by arresting this man simply because he did not 'react gratefully'. In the end, the police officer is supposed to be in control of the situation. After listening to the officer's interviews, he has not described specifically the incident or act that resulted to this man being arrested. He describes him as ranting and raving, but should he have been arrested? Is it policy to arrest in this type situation? I think not, or we would have heard a lot more about this type of procedure long before now.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  30. jim vicalvi

    I was arrested and put in handcuffs on my birthday because I hadn't paid the whole fine on a property code violation on a rental that I owned. Granted, I was wrong. Shortly afterward a tenant that I was evicting for nonpayment sabotaged the furnace in the 3-family house that he had lived in. There were 2 other families in the building with young babies. The temps were in the 20's outside. By the time I could get a furnaceman there and figure out all the things he had changed the temps. inside were in the 40's. I made a complaint but our lazy police dept. did nothing and he is still walking around town. Oh, by the way, I am a 62 year old white male and he is a 30 something old black male. Did I yell race. No. That seems to be an ingrained thing from some people who use the racist word any time that they can't get their own way.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  31. Young Liberal in Texas

    I am rapidly losing respect for President Obama. I voted for him but I am now beginning to wonder why. To openly attack a respected police officer while admitting not to have the facts is just plain reckless, oh yeah and stupid. Would he have done the same thing for an old white friend? I doubt it. The President played the race card. Makes me want to puke.

    A young gay U.S. Navy sailor was murdered in what appears to be a hate-crime. The President obviously feels that a friend who is a black professor who got his feathers ruffled through his own actions is MORE important than a hate crime.

    Barack Obama has failed to deliver to many of his constituents on a lot of fronts. He courted the gay community for their money and votes with promises of equality and he has yet to do one single thing for them. He most likely would not have been elected had it not been for their votes.

    He has yet to deliver on healthcare, and as an uninsured American I doubt his ability to do so at this point. Making demands on Congress is not the way to do it. Putting forth a public plan and making attractive to everyone would have worked a lot better.

    It now appears that Barack Obama is a Black Man first and foremost and an American second. Never mind the fact he is half white, was raised by a white family and campaigned on the fact that he would represent everyone. He has failed miserably on this point. As a young white male I feel completely detached from the President and I certainly don't feel he represents me or my community.

    I will not vote for him again unless something changes drastically.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  32. Strycek

    For those you think the officer was unjustified in his actions, please read this artice:

    It sure gave me some insight as to what may have been going on.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  33. Kenneth Wayne Jackson

    Five years ago, I lived in a prodominantly white middle class neigborhood in Charlottesville Virginia. I accidentally locked my keys in my home and had to crawl through a window to let myself in. A concerned and vigilent neighbor called the police, who quickly responded by sending three white officers.
    When they arrived I merely had to produce my Identification, chatted with them in my living room for a while, they appologized for any inconvienence, but I asured them I was pleased with both them and my neighbors for being so caring and concerned, and it made me feel safer.
    I feel that this is the way incidents such as this should be handled, and this police department could train others in such situations. They treated me as a person, without regard to my race.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  34. Megan

    All I heard in Kiran's interview was one, logical man and another man who hates white people.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:28 am |
  35. Stuart

    The President should apologize to the Police. By his own admission he didn't have all the facts, so he should have kept his mouth shut. How do you think the policeman's kids feel since the PRESIDENT called their father stupid?

    If you don't have all the facts, how can you give an opinion? This only makes me wonder if he has all the facts about Healthcare, the economy, etc. He has demonstrated he speaks without knowledge, now how far does that go?

    July 24, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  36. Ward Fantroy

    And one more thing. Let's accept for a minute that we do not know the underlying reason why the police and Dr. Gates clashed in an incident that could have been avoided, such that Dr. Gates was arrested for being ruly and controlling in his own home. It appears that Dr. Gates intends to have the legal system sort out the truth; and that's probably the best place to have the truth sorted out.

    I am writing this additional comment just to encourage anyone who hasn't done so to read the various comments on this blog. If anyone wonders what is the status of race relations in America, he or she might get a good sense of what is the status, at least, in some communities. I don't know what the status of race relations is in the community where Dr. Gates lives and obviously most of us who are writing on this blog probably couldn't afford to live there; but, if the people in his community think like most of those who have commented on this blog and who have such indignation that the President might even comment on the incident, then it seems that Dr. Gates would have had sufficient reason to be circumspect of the treatment he received from the police officer.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  37. Elaine

    I want to say this ... I believe that when the police approach a white male, there is the presumption of innocence; however, when police approach African American males, that presumption of innocence does not exist.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  38. Tonda Walker

    This story has gotten all the negative media attention it needs to start a snowball effect of continued misunderstanding of how this situation was handled. Dr. Gates and the Officer need to talk and discuss how they could have dialogued and showed the world community that we can work at our race problems not let things of the past continue to be an issue. We are one people and not what some in the world view as a divided nation that can't get past our own painful past.

    July 24, 2009 at 8:01 am |
  39. Elaine

    Let’s see if I can get inside Professor Gates’ head.

    Professor Gates arrives home after spending a week in China. He is tired and would just like to jump in bed or relax and read a book, whatever. Instead, he can’t get in his home. The door is jammed.

    Professor Gates is frustrated and angry, but finally he gets into his home.

    Knock knock. Who the heck? … Sees police … Yes?

    Police begin questioning, eventually asking for some ID. The professor clearly doesn’t look like he poses a threat to anyone.

    Now the Black Male DNA kicks in. Wrapped in that DNA are the vestiges of torture, lynching, burning, castration, unlawful detention, and constant harassment by police, on being humiliated by whites in front of loved ones and children, racial profiling, the “N” word, feelings of being looked down on, being called “boy”, discrimination, of being falsely accused, unequal justice …..

    Proud Professor will not be disrespected and he speaks up and declares his worthiness. The professor does provide ID. He asks the police officer to provide his name and badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’ request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’ home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. A police officer, who evidently needs some additional ongoing racial sensitivity training, doesn’t like the professors demeanor or tone. The police don’t think the professor is humble enough … the professor is humiliated in front of his neighbors, and in his own home. A home, by the way, that he worked long and hard to purchase … while maneuvering his way through the race game.

    The police officer should have simply told the professor that he was sorry that he upset him, … that they were just responding to a break-in report, … after that, the officers should have again acknowledged their mistake and wished the professor a nice day.

    I think the police have some additional ongoing “training to do”.

    The one thing I will do from now on is to tell my friends not to leave their homes if the police show up; but I guess that doesn’t matter because we all know that they will bust the door down and give some ridiculous reason for doing so.

    The President has been very careful not to bring race into conversations during the campaign and during the time he's been in office.

    I am therefore trusting that the President who was asked about the incident, is welcoming a discussion. Almost every African American male has a story or stories of being detained by the police. There are some places in America where an African American male or female cannot go without being stopped by the police. It's a humiliating experience. White guys with African American male friends can tell you stories about how their friends (who had done nothing) were harassed by the police. This is a big problem.

    My African American brother, who is a former assistant district attorney, was shopping with my mother at a mall when he was detained by the police. The police said he looked like a suspect. My brother was of course humiliated.

    One more thing, it’s interesting that Dick Cheney when he shot the 78 year old attorney in a hunting accident, was treated with kid gloves.

    The man shot someone (whether accident or not); all professor Gates did was get upset on his own property.

    So much for justice.

    If you’re white and rich, you are almost always given the benefit of the doubt and you are almost always treated with kid gloves.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:36 am |
  40. Chris

    I am astonished, perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I am. Hearing liberal television commentators defend the actions of an officer that clearly made a poor decision at best is appalling to me. I really feel like the illusion of understanding in America has been unveiled. If nothing else we ask our law enforcement to serve and protect our communities. We ask that they do there best to diffuse situations and resolve conflicts in a just and reasonable manner. Anyone that can honestly look at this situation objectively and say this officer didn’t at the very minimum invoke poor judgment in arresting someone, anyone who is in there own home due to a verbal altercation is ridiculous.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:35 am |
  41. Ward Fantroy

    The policeman who arrested Dr. Gates did act stupidly and the Police Chief who suggests that audio tapes of the incident reflect that Dr. Gates was unruly and out of control sounds about as stupid as his subordinate acted. If a man does not rule and control his own home, then what does he rule and control. The mere idea that a man can be unruly and out of control in his own home is stupid and nonsensical. I understandd the policeman asking Dr. Gates to prove that he lived in the home; but it appears to me that an ID card with his address on it, and knowledge of the contents of the home, and a few photos of himself here or there in the home should have satisfied the officer. If the officer asked Dr. Gates to step outside of his home, it certainly could not have been for the purpose of determining whether he lived there; the proof was inside. Therefore, the logical reason for asking him to step outside was for the purpose of arresting him.

    July 24, 2009 at 7:23 am |
  42. Strycek

    What does the Rev Al Sharpton have to say on this? I don't think I've heard any comments from him.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  43. Gina

    He is the PRESIDENT, he can say whatever he wants to. Time and time again white america has the nerve to be offended when called on the carpet about their actions. Race issues are alive and well in America and is a prominent issue. Professor Gates and every other black man in society who has been subject to it's ugly head need to speak out and not let it be swept under the rug.
    We are supposed to be leaders of the "Free World" but who does that actually apply to. Stop pretending as if this is Neverland and face the facts there are many racist cops who use their badge to push people around.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  44. Cowboycoffee

    Mr. Gates seems like an elitist hothead who always wants his way. President Obama, I lost a great deal of respect for you. You have just given the neo-cons the cookie that they have been digging for. I am an independent voter and in my opinion you failed to demonstrate professionalism and let personal acquaintance do your talking.

    July 24, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  45. Alex

    I agree totally with President Obama. The responding officers should feel 'stupid' for arresting a man who showed identification with the address on it MATCHING the address of the house. And even if he had no identification, who breaks into a house with luggage in their hands and with the help of a taxi driver?

    July 24, 2009 at 6:26 am |
  46. SPT LE

    Obviously all you bloggers who say he was arrested for no reason know nothing about law enforcement! First, you (nor I) have all the facts of the case! Second; lets say your a Police Officer. You go to a house on the report of a break in, you get there and the guy says, "this is my house, its ok". What do you do? Say, ok sorry to bother you. Lets reverse it and say it is your house. Someone is breaking into your house and they know your name and some personal info. When the police get there the perp. says, "this is my house, here is my name, its ok you can go now" and the police turn around and leave. What are you going to blame the police on then? Oh, he/she is just a rogue cop who does not care about citizens. When an Officer goes into a house on the report of the break in, the person inside is required to provide identification. Getting upset, yelling at the officers, screaming about race and who he is is not an option. If he would have complied with the officers we would not even be on this conversation. But instead, the professor wants to play the race card to get his name out there and possibly get some money. Pres. Obama commented something about no reason to handcuff a middle aged man who uses a cane. Middle aged men in wheel chairs have killed officers before!!! I have seen senior citizen women assault officers before. I dont think an Officer is going to let his/her guard down because someone is middle aged?

    July 24, 2009 at 6:22 am |
  47. Bernice

    The poice officers were just doing thier job! They were trying to protect the mans property on a call that was placed to 011 in the first place! Obama needs to start sticking to doing his job insted of sticking his nose into public issues that he knew nothing about! There was a white, a latino, and a black police officer involved! Gates was NOT a rational man at all! This was just another way to spread racism. Oh yeah, I forgot! How convienent that he was a good friend of Obama!! I just bet he was! Actually, Gates owes the police officer an appology, but I truely doubt that they will ever get one off of him! The blacks seem to keep the racially motivated uprising that began since Obama was placed in office! He should stop "fueling the flames". He is just racist!

    July 24, 2009 at 5:57 am |
  48. Imani

    Obama was out of line. This will turn out to be blacks vs white. If white people say anything we are racist. I am sick of it. I would love to leave this great country and let them have it.

    July 24, 2009 at 12:37 am |
  49. P Imani

    Please black people need to stop all the racism. The officer was doing his job, next time if a black has a problem, leave them alone. It is no different when a black comes in to a retail store, if we try to help, they think we think they are stealing, if we dont help, it is because they are black. White people can not win. I am not trying to get along anymore.

    July 24, 2009 at 12:32 am |

    The White Policeman done his job.
    The black professor is a civilian like any civilian.
    The black professor had an "egotrip" misconduct attitude.
    Again, The White Policeman did his job.

    Skin Color as nothing to do in the perception we have of someone.
    Attitude does!!

    I am for the WHITE, RED & BLUE Policeman who made his job.
    Hoooo Baaaa Ma made a Presidential mistake, saying the police department acted stupidly.
    No way. the Law is the Law.
    No WHITE, RED, BLUE, BLACK or PINK president should talk wrong against people who protect.
    Statement should be made after FACTS analysis.
    This is a STUPID Presidential mistake.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  51. marjoriepriebeyounkinmjpy

    i have had experiences with law enforcers, both black and white; there are a lot of punk cops, young and loving their new-found power. i have a hard time respecting that kind of of law enforcement; a (because i can) attitude. someone said "white on black" enforcement tends to enforce that way; i agree. "black on white" enforcement does not. by the way, i am a white american (born in indiana, with birth certificate on my person at all times.) and another note: check out the "white on black" law enforcement video, re: white cop arresting black ambulance driver with patient in tow. don't all kinds of emergency, flashing-lights, vehicles have the right-of-way? i thought i learned that in driver's ed. that cop should have given that ambulance driver a police escort to the hospital.

    July 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  52. Diane Malone Kudolo

    Sorry for my typo's – I will double check w/proof reading on any future comments

    July 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  53. jim vicalvi

    After listening to the comments by the mayor and Obummer it is very apparent that racism IS prevalent. In this case, black racism versus whites. Both politicians are making comments without knowing all the facts. As the facts are coming out now it would seem that the police officer was correct in his actions and should be applauded for this. This professor seemed to think that everybody should know who he was. That he was a VIP. And obummer's comments should show that white politicians aren't alone in talking thru their a__holes instead of their mouths. Blacks are well on their way to leveling the playing field. One only has to look to Detroit to see thatequal rights are here.

    July 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  54. ZFinch

    For Obama to speak about something he has not been informed on should not have happened.I believe the department would have taken care of any problem had they found reason to believe race was a factor.Im sure many problems like this are problems officers deal with around the world.Trust in the system and let it work for you.If the officer is found in violation...or the arrested party ...the facts will come out in the end.

    July 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  55. Tony

    Well Were you there ? Based on reports and what was said I believe the police man did his job. Also I believe the professor put himself above the law. Using attitude (Do you know who i am ??) Probably acting like a thief instead of a professer (using the How dare you attitude?) Also Obama better Keep His Nose out of it. Friend or no friend. If the police was right.( How would he know) kinda proves that Obama leans to race he wont Get My vote again. He was elected
    by all races to fix this countrys problems. Not to make Petty decisions like that.

    July 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  56. Mammaw Arthur

    I accidently set off my son's alarm while babysitting my grandchildren. The police came to the house and wanted to see some identification. I explained I did not have any id on me, he said he must come in the house and see the children. They identified me as "mammaw", he thanked me and left. I never considered that I was profiled as a "white grandmother". Thank goodness our police are very thorough. What if I had been a kidnapper??

    July 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  57. StausQuo

    Professor Gates should have handed his driver’s license, instead of his Harvard I.D., to the officer. The Harvard I.D. didn’t have the address. It seems to me, and I’m an African-American, that the professor was in the wrong. He acted arrogantly by showing his Harvard I.D. instead of his driver’s license. (I’ve been ‘shown up’ before by brothers and I know arrogance when I see it.) Moreover, someone of Gates’ position should not be lashing out at an officer’s mother. Also, by having the mayor (African-American), Governor (African-American), and President (African-American) all come to Gates’ defense — (without having even been at the scene) — makes all of us African-Americans seem defensive and willing to look at things only in black — and not in black and white. On behalf of African-Americans everywhere, I apologize for Professor Gates temper-tantrum and salute Officer Crowley’s service to the public.

    July 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  58. Randy

    This is a dangerous issue that every American should examine with great concern and great caution. There is no question in any rational person's mind that African/Americans have a sad history of abuse at the hands of the white majority, and the wound is open and sore this very day–subject to irritation at the slightest move. But who was the active racist in this scenario? Who turned this into such a mess?

    Was it the concerned neighbor who saw two black men on the back porch, opening the door, but not seeing what they opened it with? In this age of the cocooned family unit–did she even know that her neighbor was a distinguished professor at Harvard? Did she know her neighbor was black? Given the isolation of society, one has to wonder.

    Was it the cop, following his SOP's too rigidly. Was he tired and irritable just like the professor? Or was he doing what cops do these days, staying on the alert for sudden and violent surprises that kill hundreds of cops every year in America. Would you want his job?

    Or was it the tired, frustrated African/American professor? If you came home from a long trip and found yourself facing a couple hundred bucks for repairing a door, would you be in a cooperative mood? But is that any excuse for tossing racist charges at a cop just doing his job? No, and I doubt he was in any sort of rational mind set to appreciate the situation fully.

    Dr. Gates had the choice of being cooperative and letting the officer do his job, and had he done so, it would have probably ended with the cop trying to help him and the driver fix the door. All he had to do, was walk out, smiling and being polite, give his ID as every citizen is required to do in this circumstance, and then letting the cop's common sense resolve the situation amicably. Instead he blew his top and started firing racist accusations at the officer, before he gave the officer a chance to realize who he was.

    What a horrific mess, triggered by a neighbor, fueled by a by-the-book cop, but in the end–detonated into an inferno by an angry black-man all too quick to throw charges at racism at a white cop just doing his job. (Consider carefully, how many cops of every race and gender get killed answering calls like this)

    I caution the American president to take great care during this administration. if this administration fails, it won't be a Democratic failure, as much as it will be an African/American failure if the public sees nothing but issues such as this in the forefront of the news. Dr. Gates is his friend, but I hope President Obama sits down with Dr. Gates and helps that very learned gentleman understand that blowing his stack at a white cop is just as ignorant and bigoted as a white neighbor who assumes that two black men didn't belong on that porch.

    July 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  59. DOmisore

    The President said exactly the right thing. It seems Mr. Gates was arrested for not providing identification as "fast "as the white police officer would like. Since when is being slow to provide identification a justification for arrest? It is "stupid" to arrest Mr. Gates after the officer is convinced (per the officer's report) that Gates is a lawful resident of the house.

    July 23, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  60. Ted Habza

    Obama should not have commented if he did not know all the facts. However he still stated that the police acted stupidly without knowing the facts.
    Modus Operandi – position without substance

    July 23, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  61. Diane Malone Kudolo

    First of all, I think the question was out of order given the President was speaking on Healthcare Reform – 2nd, I do not feel this question would have been asked had not the been Bush. I would like to know why the media continues to press the President on race issues – each time he is approached regarading the subject, he reiterates racism is still a major problem in the United States; this recent incident involving Gates is a prime example racial discord .

    July 23, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  62. Chuckaroo31

    I feel the only reason why the authorities are trying to correct their mistake is because President Obama said something. Yes they might have acted stupidly but I believe they would've tried to keep it hush hush. Now they look even more stupid because Pres. Obama said they acted stupidly. If he hadn't said anything I believe the mayor and other high officials in Cambridge would not be putting their best efforts in correcting this matter.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  63. JEZEBEL58

    I believe,the president being the most powerful man in the world and of African descent should have taken the fifth on this,because his comment either way would have affected the blacks or whites.His press conference was about health care and he should have left it at that.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:21 am |