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July 28th, 2009
06:53 AM ET

Newly released tapes: 911 caller in Gates arrest never referred to 'black suspects'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/27/am.intv.wendy.murphy.gates.art.jpg caption="Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested after a break-in was reported to police."]

(CNN) - The woman who made the 911 call that led to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. never referred to black suspects when she called authorities for what she thought was a potential break-in.

Police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released the 911 phone call Monday. In the call, Lucia Whalen reports seeing "two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure, and the other one entered, and I didn't see what he looked like at all."

"I just saw it from a distance, and this older woman was worried, thinking somebody's breaking in someone's house and they've been barging in," Whalen says. "She interrupted me, and that's when I noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor, I guess."

Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.

"Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy told CNN by phone. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."

She added, "I'm not sure what the police explanation will be. Frankly, I don't care. Her only goal is to make it clear she never described them as black. She never saw their race. ... All she reported was behavior, not skin color."

Calls to the Cambridge Police Department about the issue have not been returned. Police Commissioner Robert Haas told reporters at a news conference Monday that the 911 tape and police transmission from that day "speak for themselves, and I would ask that you form your own opinion." He added that police always ask themselves: "If I had to do it over again, what would I have done differently?"

Keep reading this story »


Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. theresa

    last word:

    i have a right to be a jet-lagged, tired, hungry, grouchy, short-tempered, big-egoed jackass in ~MY~ own home.

    police officers have the right to be jet-lagged, tired, hungry, grouchy, short-tempered, big-egoed jackasses in ~THEIR~ own homes.

    officers do ~NOT~ have the right to be jet-lagged, tired, hungry, grouchy, short-tempered, big-egoed jackasses in ~MY~ home.

    officers do ~NOT~ have the right to arrest me for being a jet-lagged, tired, hungry, grouchy, short-tempered, big-egoed jackass in ~MY~ home.

    July 30, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  2. RDR

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FRED. YOU SAID IT RIGHT.
    Ms Fulp ,

    Look around the world to see what not protesting outrageous behaviour has got. Starting from the non-protesting millions of Jews killed in WW2 in Nazi Germany to Somalia and Rwanda there is no end.
    I suggest to you... that if you are ever accosted in your home without reason, without sufficient proof, after showing your ID and handcuffed in the end .........PROTEST and PROTEST LOUDLY so that the world can hear. And you will be doing the next victim a favor.

    July 29, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  3. Mitch WARD

    Thank You Mr. FRED BARR!

    July 29, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  4. Fred Barr

    Just read Debra Fulp's comments. First question: Assuming that you have written about other issues involving U.S, Presidents; how many times did you refer to them as "Mr. (Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Nixon)"? 'Me thinks' you don't understand what we African Americans understand. I am 63 years old, was born in Arkansas, and spent many childhood years in Texas. I have encountered racial discrimination and prejudice throughout the U.S. and even (as a military dependent) from fellow Caucasian U. S, Citizens abroad. Why do I take issue with your deliberate avoidance of the title President when offering to President Obama? For the same reason that we African American men and women resented being called "boy," or "girl" during the sixties (even seventies) and before. It is a denial of who we are and of our equality on this soil!

    Debra, when you grow up in a society rife with prejudice (directed at your race), you develop sensitivities toward your oppressors. As a little boy, I learned about the intended conveyance of meaning inherent in certain stares, certain tones of voice, and certain language codes. Being outnumbered, in this country, we could not safely stand up for ourselves. Therefore our above-mentioned sensitivities were continually verified through verbal and phsical abuse; up to and including murder. We grew up understanding that there were certain lines that whites could cross and we could not. For instance – any white man could come into our segregated residential area looking for a "colored gal." But even the rumor of speaking to a White woman got Emitt Till brutally murdered.

    Dr. Gates Gates (not Mr.) is certainly an expert in discerning attitudes that wish to continue imposing that line. I believe that his indignation was a response to attitudes as well as actions of the police sergeant.. Certainly there are African American Policemen who don't agree with him. Coud this be because many of them are intoxicated with the token power afforded to them by their position? They are much younger and have not experienced what I have. However; I will wager that they are the victims of racial bias and discrimination within their own police departments (witness the debates and litigations which rage regarding affirmative action as it applies to promotions within police forces).

    For fear of censoring, I will withhold comments regarding the righteousness of Affirmative Action.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:26 am |
  5. frank

    I believe this a definite, no i know, this is a case of racial profiling..i believe that identification should have been established to prove ownership of the home...but after that,

    July 28, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  6. Debra Fulp

    I tend to be a suspicious person by nature. No one loves a good soap box more than me. But I cannot help but question the motive or underlying cause of Mr. Gates' allegations if they prove to be without merit. After reading more details regarding the incident with Mr. Gates and hearing the 911 tape it appears that may be the case.He was certainly quick to appear before the media and obtain a lawyer. Also, It seems some of the drama and uproar may have been avoided if Mr. Gates had been more cooperative and less argumentative and indignant. Despite Mr. Gates' belief that the officers should know him based on his educational degree and believe him at face value as the owner of the property the officers seemed to have followed standard procedure and taken steps to contain the situation until they could verify his claim. Remember, the police were responding to a call from a neighbor reporting suspicious activity and possible break in. Perhaps Mr. Gates should have thanked the police for their quick response and thoroughness. What if it had been someone other than Mr. Gates at the home? Should the police have accepted someone's claim of residence without removing him from inside the house and verifying his claim? The police would then have been nailed to the wall!!! Mr. Gates may then have claimed the police were negligent because they knew the house belonged to a black man. In addition, It's disturbing that without knowing all the facts, Mr. Obama decided to make a public comment which only seems to have inflamed the situation and appears to give Mr. Gates credibility and support for his allegations. Thus, Mr. Gates now has a lawyer and the activists have jumped on the bandwagon. Mr. Gates, lawyer and supporters are free to make all the allegations and accusations they want and the media eats it up. The police however have to tiptoe and tread lightly in their defense even if (as it appears it is) they treated the situation appropriately. Moreover, the comment from Mr. Obama,(our Commander in Chief, the President of the United States who is supposed to represent and speak for all the American people) about using this situation as a "teaching moment" was premature and unfortunate. Mr. Obama spoke I believe without knowing all the facts, and may have given credibility to Mr. Gates claims for racial profiling. What hat was Mr. Obama wearing when he made his comments? As our President or a black President and friend to Mr. Gates? I have heard those who claim the police should be held to a higher standard of behavior, I agree but what about the President of the United States and a Harvard Professor being held to a higher standard of behavior?Injustices do and can occur by people of all colors not just white people. There may be those in a position of power in the government, military, business, or police to who abuse their position and violate the rights, freedom and safety of the American people. Added to the mix are what I call "professional activists". These are people I believe hover around Therefore the American people must be vigilant, and are obligated to speak up and act when injustices are committed and rights are violated. But if we do get outraged let's base it on facts and not on color. We live in a scary world but there are good people in it who perform acts of kindness, selflessness and bravery every day we just don't always hear about it. It seems there are also what I think of as "professional activists" hovering around who seem willing to encourage and inflame any situation involving white police officers and possible black suspect. Unfortunately, the responding officer and the entire Cambridge Police Department no matter the outcome of the investigation may be labeled by some members of the community as racial profilers.

    July 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  7. Kai Hawkins

    No matter what the "proper procedures" are in that situation, there is a certain level of common curtsey that should be afforded to a person, in their own home. Once it was determined that it was, in fact, his house, the police should have said goodnight and left. We seem to forget that officers are human. A badge doesn't equate to infallibility, nor does it give carte blanch to arrest people that piss you off.

    July 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  8. RDR

    He would be saying the EXACT same thing ! he was a man accosted in his citadel.... HIS HOME!!! He gave proof of his residence. THATS IT!!! BLACK , WHITE , BROWN, YELLOW, BLUE (for all I care) cop should have apologised and LEFT. What a bunch of nonsense anyone standing up for gun toting cops who handcuff citizens in their home! I cant even belive this nonsense. I dont care how angry Dr gates was . He has the right in HIS OWN HOME . What is wrong with you people? Since when do we have to be afraid of getting mad at boots entering our homes and demanding our ID? Its the MOSt normal reaction.

    July 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  9. John

    I wounder what this "Professor" would be saying if the cop was black.

    July 28, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  10. CHUCK

    I call on sgt. Crowley to resign immediately. Where did he get"two black men " from?

    July 28, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  11. ms.c

    Replay some of Pat Buchannon's Nixon White House tapes. Look at the members of Congress hearing the Sotamayor confirmation. Listen to the "birthers" speak. Listen to Zell Miller. Listen to Senator Sessions. Racist incident reporting is out there because we have educated all minorities to open their mouths! No longer are the days where minorities suffer in silence and let if fester and demoralize them. Professor Gates decided to not listen to the often given advise of not asking police officers for their names and badge numbers. Every minority knows that merely asking for that information will land them in the pokey. Or maybe the majority know that they will get a slap on the hand and don't have to ask.

    July 28, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  12. DeeBee

    To me the most illuminating thing about this situation is that most of the comments written here are based on what has to be incomplete information and these people talk like they were there at the scene. I would GUESS the truth lies with both Crowley & Gates acting with emotions and not acting completely rational . Many of the comments here are also based on emotions and not fact. Yes racism exists but its not just a one way street. So in the words of Rodney King "cant we all just get along"

    July 28, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  13. linda

    well, lets just put it this way...when it is all said and done, that police officier will become a celiberty, doing speaking engagements, people magazine may even put him on their next cover, the professor gates will just be another black man claiming racism.

    single black female

    July 28, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  14. Shirley

    After listening to the 911 call from Ms. Whalen and her attorney on various news shows, it seems as though Sgt. Crowley falsified information in the police report. Ms. Whalen never mentioned race, yet Sgt. Crowley said she did. His report “She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of ___ Ware Street.” Ms. Whalen’s attorney said that Ms. Whalen did not have this conversation with Sgt. Crowley.

    This is not to find fault, however, we need to find the underlying cause of why this situation became about race. It is time to open up serious dialogue about race in this country. Racism exists and has always existed in this country.

    Another issue is police misconduct. Why did Sgt. Crowley feel the need to misquote Ms. Whalen – ask why? Was he covering his behind after finding out the identity of Professor Gates? Professor Gates may have pushed the issue because he was made to feel like a criminal in his own home. I would be upset as well. It has happened to me and I reacted the same way. I was not arrested, but I did file a complaint against the officer (cumbersome process). I would also question Ofc. Figueroa account of events.

    This may be a case of police misconduct (false arrest and lying on police report) and racism (falsifying witness statement).

    July 28, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  15. Amos Morris

    I am disappointed in Dr. Gates. It does not sound as though he gave the officer an opportuntiy to perform his job. He should have followed instructions from the officer, even if it ment being handcuffed. Someone could have intruded into his house without his knowledge. Actually, it could still have happen but it sounds as though Dr. Gates became a distraction to officer thus the perpetrators may have fled the scene once the commotion took place at the front of the house. Reverse discremenation which in itself is part of the overall problem of our culture. If one has lived their life flenching everytime they have an interaction with the police, they will flench even when the situation is completely innocent in reality. It takes a stronger character to overcome the reaction of the past and a man of Dr. Gates stature should have rose to the accession, Especially, with where our culture is heading. I was always taught to stand above the ignorance of our culture. Yes, I am a American that so happens to be of African and Native American decent.

    July 28, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  16. Greta K

    The 911 tapes do not change my opinion about the incident. Whether or not the 911 caller identified the race of the suspected intruders is insignificant. The crucial fact is Crowley, thru his own eyes, identified the race of the person in the house. That identification had a significant impact on the treatment he accorded Gates. Emotion set aside, Crowley did not have probable cause to arrest Gates. Crowley knew or should have known Gates had not broken any law. Even assuming Gates was boisterous, that did not violate any Massachusetts statute or local ordinance. The fact that an African American and I believe, a Latino responded to the scene and the African American supported Crowley's arrest action ought to be viewed with their possible motives in mind. First, should Gates decide to sue for the violation of his Constitutional right (a right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures) most likely he would name all of the officers on the scene who participated in the arrest as defendants, including the African American and the Latino officers. A negative statement from those two officers, about Crowley's action would be detrimental to their defense against the lawsuit. Second, it is common for police officers to "circle the wagon," that is to support each other no matter what the circumstance. After all, they want the support of the other officers should they need it for whatever reason, such as protecting them in a shootout or coming to their defense "lying for them" should they be in a situation where a civilian alleges an officer did something wrong.
    I invite those of my white brothers and sisters who do not understand racism or think it has vanished to masquerade (apply heavy darkening make-up) as an African American or Latino for a few days.

    July 28, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  17. Dario

    It is sad that many have chosen to believe the police report. It is clear there are fabrications in the report. A little lie here, a little lie there and what you have is "racial profiling". No, it wasn't typical racial profiling, but a different face of racial injustice. "Keep the cars coming" ? Abuse of power? Ego clash?

    July 28, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  18. isaac

    It goes to show you that a Black Man no matter how much MONEY he has or even one in the White House, the White man still finds a way in letting us know that they ( white man ) is still in charge!

    Lets face the real. The President said what was real!!!! Race Relations here in this North American world still has that White Wash veiws of Black people, yes we have come a long way, but we are still a long way away from that old Jim Crow mentality. If that was a white man there would be no STORY to report. Racial Profiling is still used by the Police all over this COUNTRY!!!!! wake up people...

    July 28, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  19. david

    If mr. gates had remained calm when the police came to his door this would not have happened.If they had come to mine and asked me to step outside to discuss the matter I would have complied. Seems this is a case of reverse profiling. Im suprised that the educated black comunity would be so quick to jump on this matter as if they were personally affected.The rev martin luther king would not have showed out like this.I think its a case about thin skin, not black skin.To be hauled off to jail in cuffs gives me a inside on Mr. gates mindset.. a man of his intellegence should have been able to rationalize what the situation was and avoided it to begin with. Now that that cooler heads have preveil, come on over and lets have some beers. hmm.

    July 28, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  20. Chrissy

    Apparently the Cambridge PD is prepared to take extra steps in avoiding situations like this one in the future, although they are the very ones who did their jobs to begin with. Professor Gates was clearly in the wrong when he decided to not cooperate with the Police and President Obama's accusation in the police acing "Stupidly" was a poor and unprofessional attempt to make a 'Wrong' a 'Right'. This is indeed a racial issue now, as invited by Gates and Prez Obama. I am certain if the"shoe was on the other foot" so to speak, that the NAACP, Rev Al Sharpton, and the ACLU would be all up in the news mouthing off.
    I truly doubt this matter will ever be resolved over a few brewskis( beers ).

    July 28, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  21. FRANCESCA NWANI

    Why don't you "journalists" ever do your own research before conducting your half-baked interviews?...This over-reliance on your infantile producers' prepared questions is the reason most of us obtain our news from the internet.
    A cursory search for the Crowley/Professor Gates incident report would have revealed that Crowley said the 911 caller TOLD him "two black males with backpacks" were observed entering there. The caller categorically denies this assertion through her lawyer who was interviewed on HLN.
    Why did John Roberts not pose this to the interviewee this morning –why is noone in the so called "established media" asking this very pertinent question?

    July 28, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  22. theresa

    anyone who argues that the government has the right to arrest citizens in their own homes minding their own business and committing no crime is unamerican. this act defies a slew of our most sacred rights, and if it happens we have the right- the obligation- to be indignant about it.

    once this officer identified mr. gates as the ~VICTIM~, not the criminal, he proceeded to arrest gates and take him to jail. did the officer search the house for the ~real~ burglars? if gates was released from jail and went home to a robbed and ransacked residence, would you say he deserved that too?

    officers are supposed to be the calm professionals in the tense encounters between cops and citizens that occur thousands of times a day in this country, but this cop's ego failed him.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  23. Dan Cannon

    The tapes is not the issue neither is his record. The issue is what happen inside Pro. G home. The Pres. responded like "most" black males would have period, another thing is police across this country understand one color and that is blue.

    Oh yeah jeff tobins really has a problem not calling Pres. Pres.
    check that out

    July 28, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  24. Break in 101

    Maybe the cops should watch more CSI in their spare time. Wouldn't the first thing to look for when a possible break in is reported .... is EVIDENCE of a break in?

    I haven't heard a word about the condition of the door they entered, including whether or not it sticks ... requiring a shoulder to open, and supporting the comments made by the 911 caller.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  25. James

    It seems to me that your home should be the one place where your right to freedom of speech should never be infringed upon. Mr. Gates never threatened the officer so what ever he said is his business right or wrong and he should have never been arrested... and the charge was disorderly conduct... in his own living room? Really? People keep saying Gates refused to show is ID which is false. He was arrested for disorderly conduct which means he showed his ID fast enough not to get arrested for breaking and entering. This case is NOT racial profiling but is POSSIBLY a race issue depending on your point of view. This is America not Iran. Who gets arrested for yelling in their home? Would you be upset if it happened to you? My last point is that police do have an incredible job ans should be respected. But its not like they get drafted or forced to be cops. If you pick a dangerous proffesion thats on you... dont you it as some sort of excuse. Second police should be respected but they are not god...

    July 28, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  26. dony suttles

    Race was mentioned in the the 911 call when Mrs Whalen said Hispanic. Would she have called if the individuals were white?????

    Why did the officer call the Harvard police after he had been given proper ID from mr. Gates

    Why was the officer inside the house if he did not have a warrant or asked to come inside.

    Mr. Gates never got a complete reply from the officer about his Name and badge #. This is lawful in Mass. for him to ask the officer for his badge #

    That is why he got upset.

    First thing the office said was for him to step out on the porch which indicates his intent to arrest him from the start..

    THe president's statement was taken out of context. Intentionally:

    He said clearly that they acted stupidly – especially after the man provided proper ID and was in his own house.

    The training by the officer as far as race is concerned is great but it also indicates that he could be an expert at circumventing the same training when a situation called for it.

    Micheal vick situation is another double standard where white people wear blinders.

    Why aren't you upset about all the black people killed for being black.

    Are you saying Dogs are of more value??????
    let the man play!

    July 28, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  27. Spencer Browne

    This is just a general comment to CNN management. I'm not sure at what point as journalist it became ok to let guest blatantly getaway with not answering direct questions. I know that you had that big dust up with Cambelle Brown late last year, but as a longtime CNN viewer I must admit I have been looking more and more to PBS for my news because I find that people are just making appearances on CNN in an effort to expound their point of view.

    While there is nothing wrong with this tactic I think as journalist you have a responsibility to not only question but press for answers from these people. There is nothing wrong with challenging a guest to give a real answer questions posed; as a matter of fact I think you have an obligation to do so.

    I have to agree with the comment posted earlier. That interview with the police sergeant by John Roberts this morning was one of the worst examples of what I'm talking about that I've seen in sometime. It appeared to me that John wanted to press him for answers but was hesitant and I have to ask why?

    .

    July 28, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  28. Claudia Pharis

    No tape released at this time can be trusted. Why didn't they release it immediately if they were so innocent? That tape has been SO scrubbed it isn't even funny!!

    And In any case, it matters not what's on the tape. Crowley's handling of the situation was incredibly incompetent and yes, stupid! How he could be such a racial harmony maven and have no idea who Henry Louis Gates is strains the imagination! Once he had Professor Gates Identification establishing that he was in his own home, his only remaining option was to apologize for the intrusion and walk away. That he did not do that is the problem. That he felt there was still police business to engage in is the problem. That his attitude toward who he was dealing with did not change from potential criminal to member of the community, famous or not, deserving of his respect is the problem. Crowley and his much touted racial profiling training is the problem.

    You only need to be coming our of your racial profiling training when you are dealing with a potential crime. It had to have been apparent to Crowley that no crime had been committed, nor was any crime underway. Dr. Gates is absolutely right. Had he been a white man, Crowley's reaction would have been to treat him like a human being. The only thing Crowley knew how to do when confronted by a Black man was come out of his racial profiling training, so he went out of his way to go "by the book". Let me piss this man off so I can claim he was out of control. You know that there a police circles in which talking back to the police is considered out of control. Black mother caution their sons not to talk back to the police for fear of their lives!

    How quickly we forget. Worse has happened in recent history. Remember the young man who was shot by the police on the lawn of his own home right before his parent eyes. Even if Dr. Gates doesn't insist on a public apology, I want an apology. What happened to Dr. Gates at the hands of Officer Crowley is exactly what would have happened to my father, brother, uncle, nephew, son had they opened the door of their own home and come face to face with an Officer Crowley. I want an apology! How DARE he.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  29. Isabel

    What differance does it make to the 911 dispatcher whether the intruders were white, black or hispanic? How does this change the fact that a 'break-in may be in progress'? Right from the very beginning, with the 911 dispatcher asking this question, this becomes a 'race' situation. Why not go even further--were they adults? were they teenagers? My point? It makes just as much sense to ask if they were white, black or hispanic as it does to ask if they were adults or teenagers! A suspected break-in was in progress. Forget about race and get an officer to the scene.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  30. diane list

    in my previous post I meant to say my friends who have never experienced being violated.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  31. Arlene Towers

    Greta you missed the whole point I made about the 911 operator. It was she who goaded the caller into guessing what race the potential intruders were. I hope the President includes her in the beer invitation and I immediately told the President to do so and why. The caller should never have guessed that one might be a Hispanic. Mr Gates should have realized that the officers had the protection of his property in mind and should have acted more respectful. The officers should have checked the ID but if Gates was being totally uncooperative how could they? Last but not least the President should not have commented until he knew the whole story. He certainly would not have commented on any other issue without a complete update.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  32. Fred Barr

    It's easy to act calm and professionally when you are equipped with a gun and a badge. After all, you are backed up with the authority to arrest the wrongly-accused at will. And, after all, this Senior citizen (whom you have now determined is unarmed and in his own home) is menacing you, and – you know – this kind is dangerous!

    July 28, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  33. Chris Cruz

    I've always maintained that the police Sgt was acting on ego, not improper but not using proper discretion or 'acting stupidly'.
    Know that the issue concerning the person calling in the compaint has been aired, we all know that her concern wasn't based on race either. So she's golden.
    Gates over reacted, which considering his experiences in this country for a man of his years, is not unusual and probaly happens more often then we all realize all across this country.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  34. RICH

    PROFESSOR GATES BROUGHT UP RACE ,NOT THE 911 CALLER OR THE DETECTIVE.I THINK HARVARD SHOULD HAVE GATES STEP DOWN.OFFICER CROWLEY SHOULD RECIEVE A MEDDLE,HE NEVER BROUGHT UP RACE EVEN AFTER HE WAS GETTING SLAMMED BY THE PROFESSOR AND THE PRESIDENT.I WOULDNT
    HAVE A BEER WITH EITHER OF THEM.THE PRESIDENT SHOULD SAY HE'S SORRY.
    RICH

    July 28, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  35. Keith Jones

    Virtually every black male figure I have seen on TV since the Gates incident says he has had a profiling incident with police. Yet your officer from Nutley says the only lesson to be drawn from this is not to stereotype the police. I as a white would be angry if confronted the way Gates was in my own home. Once Gates showed his i/d, the cop should have walked away the way baseball umpires used to do long ago when I was a kid. The egg should be where it belongs - on the cop.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:34 am |
  36. Sandra

    Meet with the president over a beer at the White House? Are you kidding me – why is the president even involved? This was a LOCAL security issue – the media and the president made it NATIONAL news. Prof. Gates behaved badly, HE should be apologizing for his inflamatory attitude – a poor example for a professional, a citizen, let alone his gender and race. Both Gates and the president are playing the race card – that should not be. Mr. President, THIS is not the kind of change we need in this country. How many of our tax dollars have been spent over this?

    July 28, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  37. jeremiah leggett

    The police officer and any police officer, is a public servent, paid by the public, an employee of the public. So how are you protecting the public in a private residence by arresting your employeer in his residence because he talked to the police officer in any kind of way. What ever happen to freedom of speech? In his own home and as for the tape you can know see how the police officer introduce race, lied on the person who called the police, falsified the police report and yet and still all you want to talk about or report on is what the president said and if the employeer (once found out to be) talk to the employee any kind of way CNN please give me a break i really thought you would bring light to these types of situations.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  38. Michael

    In my opinion, the call makes the police out to be the only bad guys in the scenario. The neighbor was doing what I would hope any neighbor would do; she called the cops when she saw something she thought might be suspicious, and she even said that they might live there. The police didn't let him prove that he lived there before they took them in. If the cops came to my house accusing me of breaking in, and they took me to jail without believing that I lived there, I'd be upset beyond words.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  39. Bobby

    I am an ALIEN resident from Canada, and am old enough to remember John on MuchMusic first show! and I can tell you that no matter what happened I think the President is right, to be arrested in your own home by a cop just because you are irratated is acting "STUPIDLY" and he did not call anyone stupid. The cops in US seem to be able to arrest people and draw their guns as soon as they want. I do realize there are dangers in their occupation and they are to be trained to not treat everyone like a criminal. I did have a cop tell me they were sending me back to Canada if I didn't co operate and didn't do as he said. This country has to become less of a ME concept and start thinking what's good for the country and being an American should mean more than just taking sides and stating the fact.
    I am amazed at what happens here and never had a clue as how bad this one sided politics is in America. All I know is I moved here because I believe with Obama this country is finally on the right track.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  40. Anthony Crenshaw

    I think that it is very admirable that American Morning is exploring the effect of race in the Gates arrest, however, I do believe that you are debating the wrong body of evidence.

    If we are going to debate the effect of race in this particular instance, the seminal question is whether a white Harvard professor who was "being disorderly" in his on home would have been arrested. The fact that race was not mentioned in the 911 phone call does not mean that the incident (Gates being arrested in his own home) wasn't racist nature – it just demonstrates that as a country have more of desire to prove that racism doesn't exist then we do to understand the reasons why it may still linger despite the fact that we have a Black president.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  41. diane list

    it seems pretty clear that once Sgt Crowely asked Mr Gates to "step outside" his intention was to put himself in the position of power and/or arrest Mr Gates, and Mr Gates knew it. I don't think a white man in that same situation would have had the same realization because under those same conditions I seriously don't think there would've been an arrest. It may be true that Mr Gates was defiant but if Sgt Crowely was so racially sensitive shouldn't have been able to diffuse the situation once Mr Gates identity was established? It seems he had his own issue with the fact that he couldn't get Mr Gates to bend to his will. Having bee a victim of domestic violence in my past I have learned to assess situations differently than my friends who have experienced being violated and as Mr Gates knew, asking him to step outside was no casual request.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  42. t

    Good morning Mr. Roberts,
    I was very surprised by your questioning of the 30 year veteran officer you had on your show this morning and I was very surprised by you being a seasoned reporter not dissecting that report and asking the potent questions. First, I feel you should have asked the question what is the punishment for lying or fudging a police report in order to make an arrest. The officer flat out lied when he stated in his report that the 911 caller stated that there were two big black men braking in the yellow and white house. And I HAVE A QUESITON THAT I HAVE NOT HEARD ANY NEWS STATION ASKED AND THAT IS IF THIS HOUSE HAS BEEN BROKEN INTO BEFORE OR ATTEMPTED TO BE, AND I’M ASSUMING THAT THEY RESPONDED, THEN WHY DIDN’T THEY KNOW WHO’S HOUSE THAT WAS WHEN THEY ARRIVED ON THE SCEEN? SECONDLY, forget the officer responding to the call of the mid-aged lady that did not see the “initially break in” it was second hand hearsay and also, why wasn’t the lady that asked the other lady to make the call questioned? This is why millions of young people black, white and indifferent feel that they do not trust the cops, or their reports and two we do not believe the media because the media is bias on this matter. I do not hear the uproar and the coverage that was given as I heard on day one two and three when you all “most of the media” felt that the officer was right and constantly reporting that mr. gate was wrong in being upset about first being identified and the officer knowing who live there lie number two because if they have been there before as been reported then they knew the owner and there is something to be said about “home profiling while living and breathing in your own home. Thirdly, if this sgt. Crowley is seasoned in and teaching profiling in his precinct then he is not the one that should be teaching but actually taking the class. And maybe he is not the one that should be teaching if he’d never been profiled on or any of his family members. I FEEL most people talk about themselves and their own experiences and that is why I feel this officer either is not who he say he is or he had an hidden agenda because once he found out the facts that this gentlemen was the owner and if this cop was a professional who control this situation because he had the gun, he had the power and authority to make an arrest and he had the “training” he knew that by law a person in his own home whether he was screaming to the top of his lungs should not have been arrested the cop the professional should have said, “ sir I was only following up on a call and I SEE THIS IS YOUR HOME IF YOU NEED ANY FURTHER ASSISTANCE PLEASE GIVE US A CALL I’M LEAVING HAVE A GOOD DAY AND I’M SORRY YOU’RE UPSET AND GOT IN HIS CAR AND LEFT. We also, found out through researching that he was not the officer that was dispatched to that resident. Profiling is what this cop did and he should be reprimanded or fired for lying on his report not have a drink at the Whitehouse. Sgt Crowley is a liar and is a danger to society.

    white female

    July 28, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  43. mary

    police officers have a job to do. when responding to a possible break in it would be totally irresponsible not to check ids. if its your home why would there be a problem to prove it? this had nothing to do with race. would this be all over the news if gates was white?

    July 28, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  44. Linda Smith

    A thought re Prof Gates: I have to be sympathetic toward this older man who has just returned from China- what was probably a 17 hr flight if everything was on time- tired; finds his door damaged so that he has to force his way in; anxious to take a shower and have a cup of coffee; catch up on his mail and email; and maybe get a nap- and here are the cops on his doorstep asking him to step outside. I suspect they were not aware of his circumstances- and now we see that the actual police report is in conflict with the 911 tapes and statements from the caller. Just real bad timing- and things spun out of control.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  45. PJ06

    I still feel that more attention is being put on what the President said rather than accepting and looking at the situation that happened at Prof. Gates' house. There is no reason why it should have lead to his being arrested because he was upset about being questioned. He was in his house. Officer Crowley was in control of that situation and once he had verification of who Prof. Gates was, attitude and all, he should have said, "I'am Just Doing my Job" and left . So what if he was asked for his badge# and name. If he felt he had done nothing wrong, it would not have mattered because his fellow officers would be behind him. The reason it did not happen that way is because Officer Crowley had attitude too. He immediately said he was not apologizing after the incident happened. He had major attitude as well. Officer Crowley has not owned up to the negative part he played and hidden behind his "Blue Wall of Officer Support " and the union. This issue is not about what the President said or should not have said. It's about a real problem with relationships between the Black/Latino community and the Police. In this situation, perceptions played a big part.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  46. Terry Michaels

    Days immediately following this issue, I discussed this with neighbors and was curious about the 911 tape about this incident. I thought then and now that it might shed light onto some possible transfer of information that might have pre-disposed the police officer to his actions; OR would show that the police officer was simply acting professionally as best as only he could, without malice or racial bias.

    The release of the tape clarifies that the caller did not originate the matter of race; it was the dispatcher and that it wasn't even of significant consequence. But when you add the police officer's handwritten report, the 911 caller's remarks through her attorney and the 911 tapes together, some light is shed in part on the inconsistencies among all three. For example, the officer's report indicated that the officer met the 911 caller prior to approaching Gates' home; the caller completely denies that; the officer claim's an insult from Gates directed at his "mama"; neither this claim or the one of "tumultuous" behavior is recorded during the interaction, but the officer does record Gates being "a little uncooperative".

    Which brings me to your question – has the 911 tape changed my mind? Yes. I initially took a non -partisan approach to this matter, but now I am wondering what else is untrue about the officer's report? Was it deliberate or just a lapse in accuracy during what was billed as a tumultuous interchange? This matter could have been solved between the two – Gates and the officer; it was simply allowed to get out of hand – and NOW I understand why Pres. Obama said the police "acted stupidly", even with as little information as he had then. Looks like the President was dead on.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  47. Bruce

    Can we let it die? The country is not nearly done being educated about cultural sensitivity. Lets focus on how we can become more educated regarding this important issue.

    Education could best be served when we examine how we CAN become, not endless discussion how we are not, fully culturally sensitive.

    But I also need to ask, who was the second man and could he provide some light on the Prof. Gates issue?

    July 28, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  48. Soothe

    The Cambridge police association was very quick to call a press conference and pound their chests and circle the wagons around
    Sgt. Crowley to demand an apology from President Obama.
    Any betting people out there that they won't be as quick to call a
    press conference to say they will be holding an internal investigation
    as to why Sgt. Crowley filed a false police report?

    July 28, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  49. Adrienne

    To me, the new information shows what black people have known for a long time. Police make an "official report" and their account of events is taken as gospel truth. The facts and events can and will be altered as nessecary to put the cop in the best light and the "suspect" is shown in the worst. Had Gates been an unknown, the charges still would have been thrown out, but it would have easily gone unnoticed in the media. I think the officer really owes Gates an apology, and the police department owes the president an apology.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  50. Fred Barr

    White Americans have moved on from racism? PLEASE go visit your local jail or penitentiary! Object to the Presidents statement? What about the former presidents comedy routine in the oval office; looking for WMD's while Americans are dying. If Whites have moved on, why are many so eager to vilify two African Americans with, arguably, the highest accomplishments of honor attainable in education and politics? A SENIOR CITIZEN WHO PROVED HE WAS A HARVARD PROFESSOR WITH A DOCTORATE DEGREE – ARRESTED FOR SHOWING IRRITATION AT BEING ACCUSED OF BURGLARIZING HIS OWN HOME – THEN HE BECOMES A PRISONER like over ten percent of other African American males.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  51. Penny

    After listening to the tapes, I'm starting to wonder if the Professor could be a hothead who has blown what really happened out of proportion because his pride took a jolt and then, when he saw all the attention he was receiving, he saw his 15 minutes of fame................................... however I am really surprised that a man with his credentials would use the race card. Shame on him.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  52. lynn

    More than a little ironic that the spokesman for the police interviewed by John Roberts criticized the President for speaking before he had all the facts when he had no idea when Professor Gates showed identification.

    The police tapes and all news reports (which have been very unreliable)reveal that the police were aware of the professor's identification even before the rest of the police arrived. One would think that there would have been a fact check on that after the interview.

    Everyone involved in this unfortunate event has behaved badly including the news media who were reporting that the two men had been identified as balck men in the 911 call.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  53. Mitch WARD

    The teachable moment is to put white supremacy in check!

    Rodney King?

    This country has invested too much time, money and energy in white supremacy. In many urban centers the unemployment rate for black men is over 70%.

    Imagine white males with 70% unemployment.
    Our economy is bad because it costs too much to keep people of color down. This country can't afford white supremacy!

    July 28, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  54. Crystal

    The President has said this is a teachable moment and it doesn't appear that many have learned much of anything. I think this was more of a power struggle where two men wanted to be respected for who they were-professor/scholar at Harvard University and a police officer. Since race is what it is, then that came into play when they met face to face. We never want to deal with race issues in this country and probably never will in an honest way.

    My question is, are we going to dissect the fact this officer mentioned that race was brought up in the call and proceeded to document it in the police report as such and it turns out "Black or African-American" was never mentioned in the 911 call? Where is the outrage about that? I'll be waiting for his apology!

    July 28, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  55. michelle

    first of all, the president did not inject himself into this case, the disrespectful reporter who asked him the question about it did. just like when they asked bill if he was sleeping with monica when he was holding a press conference on the lawn of the white house with the leader of another country. there is a time and place for everything that they just have a total disregard for. they start everything and throw things out there to start mess like this. now, the lady that called the police was able to see that they used their shoulder to open the door, tell me how in the hell she could not see what color they were...it's not winter so they would had no reason to be completely covered up....i think she just did not want to be heard on the tapes saying black men...the police should have left after id was shown and no one should be having beers at the white house over something like this.....not to sound racist but that policeman, will become a cileberty with speaking engagement, posing as a sexy policemen while the professor will be just another black man who claimed racism.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  56. Darrell

    John,

    I think Professor Gates ego got the best of him on that day given all we know now. I also find it really amazing how CNN and the President ran with his story without knowing all the facts. Was it a conincidence that CNN's Black in America Part II just happened to be running and gave Professor Gates a platform to continue his rant about racial profiling? I think so, and you at CNN took it bait, line, and sinker. Good Job on helping race relations in our country.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  57. margot tusa

    regarding the Professor Gates incident. – The problem is escalation- this is a perfect example of why young blacks run from and wont co-operate with the police. Police are heavy handed at best. If this is the reaction to someone ON THEIR OWN property, one can imagine how quickly things must escalate in much more serious situations.

    The witness is not the issue- imagine this was a training situation. do you think the police department superiors would have agreed the punishment fit the NON crime in this case?

    Please stay away from it's being a race issue-Gates LIVED there- case closed.

    No matter what Gates said about the policeman's Mother, they should be trained to walk away! They carry GUNS!

    July 28, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  58. Gary

    I am Thinking professer Gates got over emotional and it became a disorderly Situation than resulted in his arrest

    July 28, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  59. Rich in NJ

    If Gates just did what any other citizen, white or black, would have done, this event would have remained a small local issue. But instead, he had to lashout and assert his perceived dominance, knowing he had a friend in the Whitehouse. So the police officer responded in kind just like he should have with any other citizen.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  60. Natosha

    The Cambridge Police department promised that if we heard the tapes we would here how Gates behaved, and that it would show the officers account to be true. However, all we heard was a big fat nothing. We do know that the officer wrote in his report that the caller said it was a black man, and that turned out to be false. What else in his report was embleished? It was strange to me that he taught classes on racial profiling but was surprised about Gates' attitude. He should have been able to understand. It seems as though Gates was arrested because he hurt the officers feelings. Poor baby. Is the officer a card carring racist? I don't think so. Did race play a part in this mess? You bet it did.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  61. Dave

    The minute the police established who Gates was and that he lived there, they should have stood down. Also, as a side note, the address on your driver's license must be considered true, given all of the ID one has to provide to get a license.

    That being said, don't think it's the race thing Gates made it out to be, rather, it's a police thing; the police generally running roughshod over the citizenry throughout the country.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  62. theresa

    if you have commented on this story from only the 'blue' perspective, or if you used the term 'race card', i'm talking to you. by not 'getting it', you perpetuate it. if you would like to broaden your understanding and therefore add to the solution instead of the problem, move your focus to the final result, which of course is the problem here, not the beginning or middle of the story.

    start by picturing your grandfather sitting alone in his own home and imagine what he could have possibly done for you to be arguing that he deserved to be handcuffed, taken to jail, and booked as a criminal.

    correct- race didn't initiate this incident and blatant racism by the officier didn't escalate it either, but the effects of race and our country's ongoing legacy of racial injustice write the ending to episodes like this every day, and it is precisely because white america insists on being blind to this fact that guarantees our continued racial tension and misunderstanding.

    this story indeed involves a racial question (among others), and as such it cannot be reduced to a simple true/false, right/wrong, a/b answer. it is discussion question and when you refuse to consider the complex, multi-layered subtleties of it and instead insist on simplifying it to a black/blue answer, you have failed the whole test.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  63. Rogr Cooper

    AMb. Holbrooke, siad he had been doing his job for 30 years , now he is going to be able to fix all the problems . On my job if it took thrity years to learn how to do it,I know i would be in the soup line .

    This is just how our goverment works

    July 28, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  64. reginald

    The tape shows that Sgt Crowley's report is full of lies. Also, I would like to know why does CNN never air some opinions of White Americans who agree with prof. Gates' reaction?

    July 28, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  65. greg mchenry

    I just heard these tapes. If it had been my house i would have been even more irate. dont forget this man black or white was at HOME when arrested for disorderly conduct. I think both parties did the right thing after the fact, but still beleive he should nothave been arrested.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  66. ellah

    The 911 tapes support the fact that if one part of the police report is erroneous, then so could other parts. Passing this incident over as unimportant will only subject citizens to more unwarranted violation in their homes. This is a case of denial of Mr. Gates' freedom of speech.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  67. Pat

    A black man cries disrimination in this country alot more than it happens, this is a patern that white people and slavery has nothing to do with. Its a choice made from an individual to gain pitty or hide guilt.
    Why a Harvard Proffessor would do this is beyond me, but all the evidence is clear, the police officer was clearly doing his job and if, just because your black or a proffessional puts a limit on what a police officer can do. Then everybody get a gun cause we are going to be on our own. If middle class people get in the way of a police investigation, in our home, in our yard,or even in our bed, we can count on a visit to jail!!!! What makes Mr Gates any different than us?????

    July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  68. Isabel

    Regardless of Prof. Gates' behaviour, this situation did not warranty an arrest for disorderly conduct. The charges were later dropped while at the police station. As much as it may not have been a situation of 'racial profiling,' it is definitely a case of 'police power.' Both racial profiling and extreme police power are a major problem in the U.S.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  69. Rick O'Reilly

    The facts are in and President Obama should apologize to Sgt Crowley and all of our profession Law enforcement individuals all over the Country.
    Gates has serious baggage and hatred in his heart. Obama immediately went to Gates defense with out knowing all of the facts.
    The facts are Crowley went to help Gates, NOT knowing what race he was. Gates was arrested not for breaking in to his own home but for verbal abuse to a Police Officer.
    Obama needs to apologize. He just got back from an overseas trip where he apologized for America he is good at running our COUNTRY down.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  70. Loren

    My concern is about el Presidente Obama. Perhaps he over reacted without all the facts. Did he allow emotion to enter the equation because he is a freind of the professor? Perhaps he felt a little insecure because he is also black. At any rate this should not be a national issue because the POTUS is aquainted with the professor. In my opinion the police followed procedure based on info dispatched to them. Our President should have kept a low profile until he had all the facts. He did a diservice to all police agencies with his disparaging comment about "stupidly". My advice to the POTUS is to get all the facts before you react. This could perhaps save the USA from stepping on our schwantz.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  71. Charlette Perry

    This whole thing has been blown out of porportion, this stuff happens all the time. Is it just because this Gates went to Harvard that he gets special attention? America doesnt care what happened to him when half of us cant afford our next mortgage payment.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  72. Ed Redlus

    Either Crowley or Gates is lying about what happened. Are cops above lying to justify bad outcomes? No. Are college professors above lying to justify bad outcomes? No. Are doctors? Lawyers? Husbands? Politicians? Wives? Sons? Daughters? CEOs? Athletes? Clergy? NO! Did no cellphone or surveillance camera capture this adventure? All of us, Obama too, are forming opinions as valid as our prejudices dictate. Give these two players polygraphs, sodium pentathol and every other means to coax out the truth of what happened. Our feelings about what may have occurred? Poppycock!

    July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  73. Rose

    the 911 tapes reveal that this was not racial profiling. The police were doing their job and Prof. Gates is heard yelling in the backround making a scene. Prof. Gates is overreacting to the situation because of HIS presuppositions about police. If anything.... Prof. Gates should get to know his neighbors better.... MY neighbors would recognize me if I forgot my key and had to break down my own door! Prof. Gates should admit his overreaction.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  74. Paula Smith

    All over the world, you find blacks with a minority complex. They want to blame others for their position, instead of trying to rectify it themselves. There were other races that have been slaves, and were treated unfairly, but you don't see them whining about it. Blacks think you owe them something. Come on. Get over it and move on.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  75. Emmanuel

    Actually the tapes vindicate the caller because many thought she caused all this, she never mentions race, but it is the police officer who wrote in the report that he responded to "two black males wiearing backpacks"...thats was the main trigger...why the discrepency when 911 caller never mentioned race or couldnt identify suspects properly? Crawley should have walked away after identifying the owner.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  76. Sparky

    Both parties are at fault. The professor for a hot head and the police for arresting him. The police, once confimring it was his residence should have walked away, regardless of Gates behavior. Police get this behavior on the street all the time, and dont arrest all those individuals.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  77. Priscilla Barker

    Is the 911 call ligit or a set up?

    If it was a neighbor, how did they not know it was the owner of the house? Hasn't he lived there for years.

    Doesn't sound right to me.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  78. Shea Tyler

    Since when is it illegal to tell a person of authority how you feel about their performance or lack there of. Other than threatening the officers life, I can't imagine what could have been said that would warrant him being arrested. The challenging of officers absolute authority is what led the professors arrest. Race may have played a part but not as much as challenging the officers authority.

    July 28, 2009 at 8:16 am |
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