- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama does not regret wading into a thorny race relations dispute regarding the arrest of a renowned black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his own Cambridge, Mass., home, the White House said Thursday.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on board Air Force One on Thursday that Mr. Obama did not say police were stupid when he said in his Wednesday evening press conference that he believed they “acted stupidly” by arresting Mr. Gates, an old friend of the president’s. Charges of disorderly conduct against Mr. Gates were dropped Tuesday, the day after the incident.

“Let me be clear. He was not calling the officer stupid, OK,” Mr. Gibbs said. “He was denoting that … at a certain point the situation got far out of hand, and I think all sides understand that.”

Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama has not spoken with Mr. Gates.

During his White House press conference Wednesday, Mr. Obama offered his thoughts on the dispute.

“What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s just a fact.”

But the white police sergeant who arrested Mr. Gates said Thursday he was disappointed with Mr. Obama’s remarks.

Sgt. James Crowley responded to Mr. Gates’ home near Harvard University last week to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded Mr. Gates show him identification. Police say Mr. Gates at first refused and accused the officer of racism.

“I support the president of the United States 110 percent,” Sgt. Crowley told a Boston radio station. “I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts, as he himself stated before he made that comment.”

He added, “I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too.”

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