The woman who dialed 911 to report a possible break-in at the home of black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. spoke out Wednesday, complaining bitterly that she faced threats and ridicule for doing what she thought was right.
Lucia Whalen said she hoped to clear the air -- and her name -- after facing scorn and being painted as a racist. Whalen is the Massachusetts woman who called police after seeing Gates and his driver forcing open the door to Gates' Cambridge home to report a possible burglary in progress. Police responded, leading to an angry confrontation with Gates, who was arrested for disorderly conduct, and a national debate about racial profiling.
"It never occurred to me that the way I reported what I saw would be analyzed by an entire nation," she said.
Whalen said tapes of her 911 call, in which she only speculated on Gates and his driver's race when prompted by a dispatcher, show she was not engaging in racial profiling. At the home, Gates accused police of profiling him, and police said he was uncooperative.
Whalen said the days since Gates' July 16 arrest have been painful for her. She said she has feared for her own safety as she was thrust into the racial debate.
"When I was called racist and I was a target of scorn and ridicule because of things I never said, the criticism hurt me," she said.
Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, are meeting over beers with President Obama Thursday at the White House. Obama, who initially condemned the cops for acting "stupidly," has since said both parties appear to have overreacted and acknowledged that he should have chosen his words more carefully.
Whalen's lawyer, Wendy Murphy, said the meeting over beers was nice, but wondered why her client seemed to be the forgotten party.
“The highly trained guys who reacted badly are getting together tomorrow for a beer at the White House, and that is a good thing,” Murphy said. “The one person whose actions are exemplary will be at work tomorrow in Cambridge. I don’t know, maybe it’s a guy thing.”