Gates Wants an Apology, Sgt. Crowley Absolutely Won’t, and Obama Says Cambridge Police ‘Acted Stupidly’

Henry Louis Gates
Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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-in-progress and demanded the scholar show him identification. Police say the 58-year-old 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.

Cambridge Police Department allegations
Incident Supplement:
for arrest for disorderly conduct on July 16, 2009.

"No will not" (alleged, police report after being asked to present identification)

"this is what happens to black men in America" (alleged, police report)

"You don’t know who you (Crowley) are messing with” (alleged, police report)

See Cambridge Police Department report …




Gates, 58, a world-renowned scholar and documentary filmmaker on black history, allegedly belligerently ranted to police at his Ware Street home

  James Crowley
Sgt. James Crowley

There will be no apology.

I’m disapponted (at the attention of this case).

Crowley noted in his report that he radioed police headquarters to let them know he was with the person who appeared to be the home’s lawful resident, but who was “very uncooperative.” (WEEI radio interview).

“One of my first transmissions was to slow the units down and I’m in the residence with somebody I believe resides here, but he’s being very uncooperative. So, that’s in real time,” Crowley told the WEEI sports-talk hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan.

Upon receiving Gates’ Harvard ID, Crowley wrote he radioed in to request “the presence of the Harvard University Police.” (WEEI radio interview).

"While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me," Crowley said, according to the report. (CNN report)

Police Report Highlights
Cambridge police say they responded to the well-maintained two-story home after a woman reported seeing "two black males with backpacks on the porch," with one "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry into the home."

By the time police arrived, Gates — the 58-year-old director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and one of the "two black males" — was inside the house, which he leases from Harvard. Gates had just returned from a trip to China and found the front door jammed and entered through the rear of the house. The police report says that he initially declined to come outside and show an officer his identification, allegedly saying, "Why, because I’m a black man in America?"

While on the porch "the gentleman refused to be cooperative and continued shouting that the Sgt. is racist police officer.

On Thursday July 16, 2009, Henry Gates, Jr. …Ware Street, Cambridge, MA … was placed under arrest at … Ware Street, after being observed exhibiting loud and tumultous behavior, in a public lace directed at a uniformed police officer who was present investigating a report of a crime in progress. These actions on the behalf of Gates served no legitimate purpose and caused citizens passing by this location to stop and take notice while appearing surprised and alarmed.



Henry Louis Gates
Pres. Barack Obama

"I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend"

"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."

"The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting someone when there was already."

Obama said federal officials need to continue working with local law enforcement "to improve policing techniques so that we’re eliminating potential bias."

"Race remains a factor in this society."

"This still haunts us."

On Thursday White House press spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Obama did not regret the remark, but wanted to clarify that he was not calling the arresting officer stupid.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama felt "cooler heads on all sides should have prevailed" once the officer realized Gates was in his own home.


Video of Barack Obama’s “Cambridge police acted stupidly” comment at Presidential News Conference on Health Care.

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  1. Re the Gates Incident: Let’s look at what has happened as a result:

    o Gates, personally, gets a LOT of publicity
    o Gates’s next project gets a LOT of publicity
    o Gates’s social theories gets a LOT of publicity

    This at a time when racism is declining, meaning that a long career based on talking about, writing about, studying, racism is losing some of its fromer pertinence. (Although racism is inarguably still alive today, it has inarguably declined over the past years.)

    So, it is a valid question: Was this incident deliberately set up? I am not saying it was, only that if one looks at the results, it does not seem

  2. Stupidly is an awfully derogatory term. How about “inappropriate” Obama? Or have you forgotten those invaluable people skills you so carefully nursed? Grow up everyone and stop allowing yourselves to be insulted.

  3. Gates made things very difficult for the officer. This is a bad thing. Everyone knows this. White people know better than this, too… it’s not just a black issue.
    Gates is involved in an “industry” that exists and thrives only if they can maintain that racism is still the big deal it once was. Without, these guys look pathetic.
    Whites and blacks are rather jacked up about race in this country. It has been a part of our media experience for decades now, so we tend to see racism at every possible opportunity. In an odd sense, we seem to celebrate at any possible “discovery” of a racially provocative event.
    I had to get my lilly-white friend out of jail because he taunted the police… accusing them of stuff… when the police wrongfully pulled him over.
    Gates accused this man of racism from the very first second according to reports. Being called a racist, in this country, is tantamount to being called a pedophile. It is bad, bad, bad… and it is very angering!
    So now we have angered a cop. Gates was angry, too. Voila, we have an arrest. It happens ALL THE TIME.
    Not a racial issue.
    If, after pounding the carpet for instances of modern day racism, all we can find is a HARVARD PROFESSOR that gets troubled by a cop in his exclusive neighborhood… then folks, maybe racism really is becoming an old throwback.
    [note: I do believe that racism and all kinds of unfair, cruel, and weird things will always exist.. I’m not saying any of this does not exist… but we have much bigger fish to fry. Thankfully, race-problems are the least of our concerns. Progress!]

  4. As a black person it seem to me that the Professor’s Ego got in the way. Meaning, he is so above the law how dear you to even talk to him. He could simply have a conversation and end it there. Yes there is a problem, but I think blacks use the excuse too much. Need to be humble thats the best remedy.

  5. The professor was clearly racist-would he have reacted the same if a black officer had responded? Would Obama have commented the same if the officer was black? Lesson–Both the President’s and the professor’s response are expression of racist mentality. Shame on you MR. PRESIDENT !!!!!??????
    A policemans job is very dangerous especially at night and working solo. I would hope that a —HARVARD— professor would be more appreciative of the policeman’s efforts to protect him and his property. The officer was acting on the information given to him about a burgulary in progress by
    THE CALLER REPORTED—TWO —-BLACK— MEN !!!!!!!!!! He would have looked stupid if he interrogated two white men. If they had been real burgulars and the policeman cowered to a real burgular just because he acted gruff and uncooperative-imagine how outraged the HARVARD PROFESSOR would have been then if his property was jeapordized.
    The bottom line- cop just doing his job and being thorough- racist professor sees white policeman and confuses what he believes to be police over exercising his authority with the reality of an officers obligation to ask all the questions and document the identities of those present.
    He is the kind of Officer I want in my community!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Obama should stick to the issues he was elected to solve; ie, unemployment, floundering economy, war. It was inappropriate for him to make a racist remark concerning a situation that did not involve him. Which, by the way, only became an issue because the professor refused to comply with the police and show identification. The professor is inciting racial epitaphs into something that would have been asked of anyone that appeared to be breaking into a home no matter what race or color of skin. President Obama is beginning to show his true colors. I won’t be voting for him again.

  7. In no way should officer Crowly appolagize. Mr Gates is a fool and was way out of line and is acting like a baby. President Obama should mind his own buissiness and stick to running the country. I hope Harvard suspends mr Gates for his foolish behavior, though I suppose he would play the race card with that as well.

  8. Well of course Officer Jim Crow won’t apologize. A Rabid Dog won’t apologize for biting you, That is what he does. Don’t sit and wait for this cur to apologize. Take action and sue the whole kennell.

  9. According to the report Gates took the situation to the ‘racist’ level immediately. By refusing to follow the officers direction he was preventing the officer from doing his duty (protecting the public). Arriving at a possible crime scene and observing an irate & uncooperative subject the officer has to approach with caution. There was a call received of ‘multiple suspects’ at the property. For his own safety Gates should have exited to the porch as instructed instead of being unmanageable. It’s a shame that the world has come to this: nothing can be accomplished because someones feelings may get hurt if we are not politically correct. I feel bad for our servicemen & women. One can not fight a politically correct war and expect to win. Police men & women are now crippled by having to do their jobs while their heads are buried in the sand so they can see & say nothing. To the Cambridge PD, take an extra few minutes to respond to calls or don’t respond at all. If people don’t want you to do your duty, don’t do it. If Gates had cooperated with you this would have had a different outcome. It’s a shame a man who is so intelligent could not comprehend this.

  10. The mayor of Cambridge has no backbone. What is she apologizing for? The police officer was only doing his job. She should be run out of town. I hope she has someone to call when she needs help because the police should look the other way. What a coward!

  11. Obama: I don’t know, not having been there … not seeing all the facts … what race played in that, but I will sure use this to be a demagogue for the cause of racism.

    Obama totally glossed over the reports about Gate’s belligerence. Nice spin Obama.

    Real class act [SARCASM] to say the Cambridge Police acted stupidly, when you just admitted you don’t have all the facts.

    The president wasn’t there, so why did he take sides?

    Gates is an elitist egotist, and so is Barack Obama. No wonder they are friends. Obama minimizes the nature of the call — saying there was “a call to the police station” (as if it were someone looking for their lost dog) It was a 911 call for a possible burglary in progress. Asking for ID is entirely appropriate. If Gates was so smart and already thinks that black men are mistreated by cops, then he should have been ready with his license or whatever ID before the police even asked. Gates is looking for trouble by making this a bigger issue than it is. Now he even has a lawyer representing him and they haven’t ruled out a lawsuit. Disgraceful.

  12. Right on, Sgt. Crowley, you owe nothing to nobody after you do your job. I watch with admiration how cool you are, and aplaud your fellow cops, bosses, and this country to stand behind you.
    It’s sad to see how Gates, a career racism deadbeter wastes his energy and barks at the moon to drum up more publicity. As for Obama… never mind, he has always been a socialist joker.

  13. This on top of the Pennsylvania Swim club story… this is going to backfire on Blacks. White people who have never beeb racist are going to start resenting blacks playing the race card all the time. I think there is going to be a resurgance of skinhead groups and violence. I am not a racist, I have never been a racist, I don’t know any white people who are. But this is going to create a backlash that I fear.

  14. Why every body is this site fail to explain how an arrest in you own home come to be a ‘public space’ in a police report? Please have the dignity to explain this to me.
    I would have rather understand an arrest for ‘insult or disrespectful conduct toward an officer in his duties’, but come on guys what is “loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space” in your own court yard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    So this officer who is highly regarded and trained for stamina can’t any loud talk from an obviously old man who has proof to be in his own home.
    Well,maybe Gates had bet Crowley; but it seems obvious that the officer get piss off and wanted to teach some respect to the old Prof, all this maybe without any racial motivation. Unfortunately for him, it was the guy who craft is to lecture on racism!

  15. If you (and/or others) have broken into your residence, and a cop shows up to investigate, isn’t it obvious that you should look at the situation from the cop’s point of view, show him your ID, and thank him for doing his job, maybe even with a smile and a high five, instead of trying to make a federal case out of it?

  16. Doesn’t anyone else in America find it just a little peculiar that racism seems to be only white-to-black? Can you imagine the reaction from people if a white mayor apologized to a white professor because some black police officer had the gall to arrest this professor? Wouldn’t happen, huh? So why is it this racism? A man of ANY color is claiming racism, acting belligerently and refusing to at least come to the front porch of a home being investigated as a possible break-in site. Well this moron should be arrested until this mess can be sorted. The only racist in this entire non-issue is Mr. Gates. A sad, pathetic man indeed. An educator? He should start with himself.

  17. the cop my have initially followed protocol but by law, once you show prof that that is your property! its can now be called an illegal search , and the owner of the property has every right to show dissaproval because you have entered his property his house after the fact. you cannot take away ones freedom of speech once they have given you all documentation showing ownership. this then falls into illegal search and siezure because your going by a hunch. now if you where to see the person breaking in and then leaving with items such as a tv etc then thats when you call the police. what if someone was inside the house dying and there trying to get in ? the president was correct in what he said. once you show that this is your property no government or city government should be hackling you. that cop should have rode off in the high horse he came in quickly as possible because if you had someone accusing you of robbing your own house you would be furious esp your own home. i wouldnt be suprised if the cop is fired and the station fined. The cop like so many of them chose to protect his pride infront of his buddies and did the wrong thing now hell pay for it. this is why i never became a police officer to many of them have god complex and cant function out in real society because they feel powerless so they join the force. unfortunetly police dont seem to regard people rights and the only way they learn is via lawsuits american society 1 cops 0.

  18. Let’s all stop for a moment, turn the incident around and try again. Had this been a Black officer and the Professor been White. Now, had this White professor used the exact language as Prof Gates, exchanging the words Black for White, still talking about his momma, still refusing the lawful order of a poloice officer, still causing a scene, etc. I wonder how many of the Black community would now be defending the police officer and calling the professor a racist?

  19. Disorderly conduct in a public space? The arrest and charge is invalid, for you cannot make this charge while someone is standing on their own front porch. Gates did not even step down onto the sidewalk according to the report. And upon finding out that this man did actually live there, the officer should have left immediately. Sure, there was some misunderstanding on the part of Gates and some foul, inappropriate language, but it is not a crime to shout and curse in your own home. The “disorder” happened because the officer did not leave immediately. And it in no way verifies an arrest. Sounds more like the best possible invented excuse on part of the officer to stand behind his decision. I would be furious too, and I am a white female.

  20. Obama: “The guy forgot his keys … police doing what they should … at that point the police officer comes in”

    Obama: “My understanding is that professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house. And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct. Charges which are later dropped. [Obama, I am glad you are not a candidate for supreme court justice. You have mentioned nothing about the belligerent behavior by Gates mentioned in the police report.] [By the way charges are dropped all the time even for guilty offenders when police don’t have enough for a case, or the case is not worth pursuing. It is not proof or an admission by the police that the arrest was wrong.]

    Obama: “#1 any of us would be pretty angry” (over having a police officer at your front door responding to an attempted burglary) [Wrong again Obama: I, for one, would be humiliated that my stupidity of forgetting my keys or my lack of maintenance of my door (whichever it was) would cause a police response because someone thought there was a burglary in progress. I would immediately have my drivers license out for the police to see. And I would apologize for the inconvenience and the misunderstanding. I would also thank them for protecting my house. Gates brings the race issue inappropriately to this case. Years ago a white male was breaking into his own house in Rolling Meadows, Illinois and was shot in the butt by Rolling Meadows police officers. Breaking and entering is a dangerous situation, whether it is bona fide or not. Looks like the Harvard professor needs to take an anger management class. May Obama does, too.]

  21. Sgt. Crowley, the cop from Cambridge, has more class than President Obama, the lawyer who was the president of Harvard’s Law Review; and Gates, the world-renowned scholar and documentary filmmaker on black history.

  22. That affirmative action President should start making intellegent decisions in our government!!! We are falling apart, our market is down, and he is sticking his nose in some community situation that he knows nothing about!!!….Obama is such an embarrassment! …But on the other hand what would you expect!!! LOL!!!

  23. I am Black. I am mad that Professor Gates was arrested in his own home — even if he was frustrated with thes situation. Arresting his man was not warranted, and should have never happened. Unfortunately, I am not surprised that Whites are defending the racism in their hearts!


    1.) Professor Gates has lived in this House for over 7 years. His neighbors know who he is and what he looks like. Who made that call to the Police Department?

    2.) A Police Sergeant should have reached the point where he does not respond to shouts of “Pig”,”Cracker”,”Fascist”etc. It’s part of their training.

    3.) A Police Officer cannot arrest an individual for “disturbing” his peace. Nor can he arrest an individual for disruptive behavior alone in his own home on his own property. The home owner can “shout”, “yell”, run around naked in his own home. The phrase “A man’s home is his castle” comes to mind.

    4.) TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242 states that “Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

    5.) The Police Officer in question broke a federal law, he should know better. It’s called “KIDNAPPING UNDER COLOR OF AUTHORITY”. He can be sued and/or charged with a violation of Professor Gates civil rights. I would apologize just to keep the FBI from knocking on my door.

  25. This whole thing really sickens me in many ways. Is all the attention b/c the gentleman is black, a Harvard professor or a friend of Obama’s? I would like to address all of the above. As for the race card: Mr. Gates seems to have a chip on his shoulder re racism in America or at least Massachusetts for sure. Yes racism does exist no matter who you are or who you’re friends with. Does Mr. Gates’s neighbor not know him by sight? Why did Mr. Gates respond to an officer of the law with such an attitude? What was Mr. Gates referring to by commenting to Officer Crowley “you don’t know who your messing with”? Was he referring to the fact that he is a personal friend of the President of the U.S.? Does he feel he can now display such an attitude b/c he’s a personal friend of the President of the U.S.? I’m sorry, but I feel Mr. Gates’s behavior warranted his arrest not his color nor do I feel that the Police Department owe him an apology. I feel Mr. Gates should be ashamed for disrespecting Officer Crowley who was obviously following his training as a Police Officer. Am I prejudice? No, I’m an American Indian who understands “respect” and loves her country but a little disappointed in her President right now, he shouldn’t wear his personal feelings on national tv but show respect as well. My people were mistreated just as much if not more by the white man but some of us grow up and move on. God bless you all.

  26. This is not a case involving racism, but pertains to abuse of authority.

    The officer did not have probale cause to enter the house under the circumstances of this case. In this case, he reportedly entered without being invited. Absent consent from the person who claims to reside at the residence, a police officer who wants to enter any private residence must articulate probable cause to a judge who executes a warrant. If the officer did not believe the occupant of the house who advised the officer that he was the legal resident, then the police officer should merely place the house under surveillance while a warrant is obtained. No exigent circumstances existed that necessitated the immediate entry into the house.

  27. To Bob,
    OK Bob, under your logic, every burglary can claim that they live in the house that they are burglarizing. Then the police who are already short on resources can just sit with at least 4 officers on each side of the house and wait until the burglar leaves. Maybe the burglar can just wait inside until the police fall asleep or there’s an opportunity to take advantage of escape during a shift change.



  28. Watch Obama’s polls fall even further now. Police have done a good job working against racial profiling and Obama comes out “acting stupidly” undoing those police officer’s hard work.

    Was it just a stupid mistake Obama? Or did we get a glimpse of your dark, racist, cynical heart?

  29. Jennifer Bonjean a New York attorney says that Crowley’s arrest of Gates was illegal because Massachusetts law requires that in order to be arrested, offenders must be intending to cause a riot … or something of that nature. Then with a hearty dolphin laugh, she giggles “I sue cops for a living” followed by more dolphin laughter. Very nauseating woman.

  30. Obama spoke out on things he didn’t know about. He derailed his own Health Care initiative. He brought up racial profiling which had nothing to do with the Gates-Crowley case.

    Contrast this caper to his famous race speech Philadelphia when he blamed everyone on race. He now stubbed his toe on racism. He showed in the Gates-Crowley case that he will do anything to campaign to people’s emotions. He’s a demagogue and an agitator. Obama couldn’t help himself as an agitator of the people. He won the election by gaining the adoration of people by agitating for the peoples’ causes. Perhaps his luck agitating has run out. After all he should be acting presidential now, not agitating and campaigning.

    This was no time to bring up racial profiling. Cops are often accused of not doing enough to protect black neighborhoods. Crowley was doing his job protecting the residence of a black man.

    Obama had his facts wrong that Crowley led Gates out of his own house. Gates actually followed Crowley out of his house while berating the police officer — and that is where Gates problems with the arrest began, according to the police report.

    Obama accepted the ‘Gates narrative’ that the arrest was about race.

    In the aftermath, a Hispanic officer and a black officer have totally backed up the performance of their fellow officer Sgt. Crowley, saying that Gates acted strangely. That strangeness prompted the officer’s suspicions about Gates. Why would a so-called Harvard scholar stoop so low. The argument ‘he was tired from his trip’ just doesn’t cut it with logical thinking Americans. Gates has shown himself as the lowest form of black racist. And he is an embarrassment to hard-working black Americans.

  31. for MZ and his reply to Bob, about smart robbers
    Let’s take it one step further.
    The smart robbers call the cops and tell them that there is a robber (you) in your house. So the cops come and enter your house, and regardless of how surprised you are, they corner you and question you, and require ID, and may be its~ 3AM so you don’t appreciate it and the cops don’t either.
    What’s the chance that the cops arrest you for giving them guff and leave an empty house for the robbers. heck, forget the robbers, you may just spend the rest of the night in jail, miss getting to work on time, have to pay for a lawyer.
    No, No one can just call the police and under suspicion of robbery give the police the right to enter your house.

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