The tale of the tape may shed light on what exactly went down when a Massachusetts cop arrested a prominent black scholar, a racially-tinged case that prompted President Obama to weigh in.
Cambridge police are weighing making public tapes which could include the 911 call reporting a break-in at Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates’ home and radio transmissions by the cop who busted him July 16 for disorderly conduct, according to the Boston Herald.
Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said asked City Solicitor Donald Drisdell to review tape of the 911burglary a woman who lives near Gates made after seeing Gates and his driver trying to unjam his front door. When cops responded, Gates and Sgt. James Crowley got into a heated confrontation that led to Gates' arrest on a disorderly conduct charge. Gates says he was a victim of racial profiling, but cops say the acclaimed professor became hostile with them.
Crowley wrote in his report that when he investigated the incident, Gates refused to come out of his home and shouted at him, “This is what happens to black men in America!” and “You don’t know who you’re messing with!” Crowley said he radioed police headquarters to let them know he was with the person who appeared to be the homeowner, but who was “very uncooperative.” The recording of that transmission could also be released.
“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 Boston radio station WEEI. “I’m not really sure how much you could hear from Professor Gates, you know, in the background. I, I don’t know. I haven’t heard the tapes.”
Haas did not say what can be heard on the tapes, but said, “I don’t believe Sgt. Crowley acted with any racial motivation at all.”
Charges against Gates were dropped on Tuesday, but the professor has demanded a personal apology from Crowley, who refuses.
President Obama, who said Gates is a friend, waded into the controversy Wednesday night, telling reporters the incident points up longstanding racial divisions in the nation and saying the "police acted stupidly." His spokesman later clarified the remark, saying Obama wasn't calling Crowley stupid, but just saying "cooler heads should have prevailed."
David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, which represents 15,000 public safety officials around the country, said Obama should have stayed out of it.
"What we don't need is public safety officials across the country second-guessing themselves," Holway said. "The president's alienated public safety officers across the country with his comments."