After Barack Obama sorta called him "stupid" at a nationally televised press conference, Cambridge, Massachusetts, cop Sgt. James Crowley is going on the defensive over his arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. He took to the radio this morning in Boston and said he would not apologize for his actions, because he had not done anything wrong. He declined to say anything bad about the president, but did comment that he thought it was "regrettable that anybody on either side of this issue would make comments," and said Obama was "way off base wading into a local issue before knowing all the facts." He also had this to say about the controversial arrest:
"He was cautioned in the house, meaning calm down, lower your voice," Crowley said. "Once we got outside in front of the general public and the police officers that were assembled there, two warnings, the second warning with me holding a set of handcuffs in my hand. It was something I really didn't want to do, but the professor at any point in time could have resolved the issue by quieting down and/or going back in his house."
Complicating the matter is the fact that Crowley, who has been accused of racial profiling by some (even though it was a neighbor calling 911 that pegged Gates for a burglar as he tried to get into his own home), has actually taught a class on the contentious law-enforcement issue for years. The class specifically explains how you don't want to single people out based on their culture or ethnicity. Also, one time he gave mouth-to-mouth to NBA star Reggie Lewis as he lay dying courtside at a game, but whose counting?
The White House, meanwhile, backed away from the firmness of Obama's comments today, saying they were "surprised" at the controversy over them. "I think it was a pretty straight forward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who is in his own home," Obama said. "Let me be clear," spokesman Robert Gibbs added. "He was not calling the officer stupid."