Alternative Dispute Resolution

Harvard's Gates, Officer Accept Obama Invite to Discuss Arrest Flap Over a Beer

In the initial heat of battle over his controversial arrest last week for disorderly conduct at his own home in Cambridge, Mass., a prominent Harvard University scholar had talked about filing a lawsuit over the incident. Apparently mistaken by a passer-by for a housebreaker, Henry Louis Gates Jr. had contended that the incident was based on racial profiling.

But once it was announced that the criminal case would be dropped and President Barack Obama called and offered to mediate the matter personally, Gates accepted the invitation to meet with Obama and the police sergeant involved at the White House over a beer, reports the Associated Press. Obama admits that he unnecessarily fueled the controversy with an ill-chosen comment that the police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates, a well-known African-American scholar.

Relying on an unnamed administration source, the AP later reported that Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley also had accepted the president’s invite.

While he had not spoken directly with Crowley, the president of the Cambridge patrol officers association told the Boston Globe that he was pleased with the president’s effort to resolve the situation after his earlier comments went astray, and was confident Crowley also appreciated Obama’s phone call.

“I’m sure, knowing Sergeant Crowley, it’s mended the fence with him,” Steve Killion tells the newspaper. “It’s gone some way toward mending the fence with the patrol officers, even though I haven’t spoken with any of them yet.”

Further negotiations are now under way concerning the specific brew to be served at the sit-down session, reports The Oval, a USA Today blog.

Additional coverage:

Metro Desk (Boston Globe): “From academia, an outpouring for Gates”

Chicago Tribune (opinion): “Gates-gate: A clear case of ‘contempt of cop’”

New York Times: “Police Release 911 Call in Gates Case”

Last updated at 11:07 p.m.

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