Massachusetts police union officials gave their support Friday to the officer involved in the arrest of a black Harvard professor and asked for an apology from President Obama for saying police acted “stupidly.”
The July 16 arrest started a storm of controversy about race relations and racial profiling in the United States. The controversy gained strength when President Obama ended a prime-time TV event Wednesday by saying police “acted stupidly,” despite him not knowing all of the facts and having a friendship with professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Mr. Gates was arrested after entering his Cambridge, Mass., home without a door key. Sgt. James Crowley, who is white, was responding to a report that two black men had entered the home. Mr. Gates showed his ID, but words were exchanged and he was arrested for disorderly conduct. The charges were later dropped, and the state’s attorney general’s office is not investigating Sgt. Crowley’s actions.
TWT RELATED STORY:
• Gates remark steals focus for Obama
“The facts of the case suggested that the president used the right adjective but directed it to the wrong party,” said Dennis O’Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association. Mr. O’Connor also said the Cambridge police officers “deeply resent the implication” the arrest was related to racial profiling.
The union leaders — a group of about 20 males of varied races — also want an apology for Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, a black woman who apologized for the incident, calling it “regrettable and unfortunate.”
Gov. Deval Patrick, who is black, said the incident “in some ways this is every black man’s nightmare and a reality for many black men.”
Steve Killian, president of the Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association, said at the news conference Friday in Cambridge that the elected officials should apologize to police across the country.
Mr. Gates, 58, says Sgt. Crowley owes him an apology and should “look into his heart and know that he is not telling the truth and he should beg my forgiveness.”
Sgt. Crowley says he will not apologize.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr. Obama regrets only that his comments has become a media obsession.