JERUSALEM – Days after police handcuffed Harvard race professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home, plunging President Obama into a national race controversy, questions remain regarding exactly how a neighbor and university colleague who made the initial 911 call failed to recognize Gates in broad daylight.
At around 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, a woman named Lucia Whalen called the police to report two African- American men wearing backpacks attempting to break into Gates’ house on tree-lined Ware St. in Cambridge, Mass.
Whalen, it turns out, works as circulation and fundraising manager at the Harvard Magazine. The publication’s offices are located a few doors from Gates’ home.
Whalen did not immediately return WND’s queries regarding how she failed to recognize in broad daylight one of Harvard’s most distinguished professors.
Also, questions remained about whether her 911 call marked the first time she ever saw Gates outside his home.
According to a police report, Whalen told a police officer when he arrived that “her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”
That man was Gates’ driver, and the other African American man outside the home was Gates, who was returning from a trip to China.
Gates became the center of race controversy after he was handcuffed at his home by police following Whalen’s burglary report. Obama mentioned the incident on Wednesday in a prime time address, accusing police of “acted stupidly” in dealing with Gates.
The president acknowledged he did not know all the facts in the case, but he used it to highlight the issue of racial profiling.
“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 . . . disproportionately,” Obama said. “That’s just a fact.”
Obama again commented on the matter in an ABC News interview yesterday, stating, “I think that it doesn’t make sense, with all the problems that we have out there, to arrest a guy in his own home if he’s not causing a serious disturbance. What I can tell, the sergeant who was involved is an outstanding police officer, but my suspicion is that it would have been better if cooler heads prevailed.”
Gates and his lawyer, Charles Ogletree Jr., himself a Harvard University professor, gave starkly different reports than police regarding the incident.
A report from the responding officer, Sgt. James Crowley, said Gates was shouting so loudly it was impossible to talk on his police radio. Crowley said he handcuffed Gates after the professor shouted on the porch, “This is what happens to black men in America.”
Ogletree issued a statement claiming Gates returned from a trip to China to find his front door damaged and impossible to open from the outside, even with the help of his driver. When Gates entered through the back door, he saw a police officer on the porch, who said he was investigating a reported break-in at the home, according to Ogletree.
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