VIA BLACK AMERICA WEB:
NATICK, Mass. (AP) — A white police sergeant accused of racism after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home insisted Wednesday he won’t apologize for his treatment of the Harvard professor, but President Barack Obama said police had “acted stupidly.”
Gates has demanded an apology from Sgt. James Crowley, who had responded to the home near Harvard University to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded the scholar show him identification. Police say Gates at first refused and then accused the officer of racism.
Gates said Crowley walked into his home without his permission and only arrested him as the professor followed him to the porch, repeatedly demanding the sergeant’s name and badge number because he was unhappy over his treatment.
Obama, during a prime-time news conference, said Wednesday he didn’t know what role race played in the incident but added that police in Cambridge, a city neighboring Boston, “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates even after he offered proof that he was in his own home.
“I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry,” Obama said. “Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And number three — what I think we know separate and apart from this incident — is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that’s just a fact.”
He said federal officials need to continue working with local law enforcement “to improve policing techniques so that we’re eliminating potential bias.”