July 23rd, 2009
02:06 PM ET
5 years ago

White House says Obama does not regret Gates comments

Gates was arrested last week at his home in Massachusetts on a charge of disorderly conduct.
Gates was arrested last week at his home in Massachusetts on a charge of disorderly conduct.

(CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that President Obama does not regret saying Cambridge, Massachusetts police "acted stupidly" in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Watch: Obama weighs in on Gates arrest

Asked aboard Air Force One whether the president regrets the choice of words, Gibbs told reporters that Obama, who made the remarks at Wednesday night's White House press conference, "was not calling the [arresting] officer stupid. The situation got out of hand."

Related: GOP questions Obama's police criticism

Related: NRCC takes on Obama's cop comment

Gates was arrested last Thursday at his Cambridge home for disorderly conduct - what the arresting officer described as "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space." The charge was dropped Tuesday on the recommendation of police, and the city of Cambridge issued a statement calling the incident "regrettable and unfortunate."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. JAY

    Obama does not regret not acting like a president , or stupidly.
    We have to elect a president in 2012 that does not hate
    America and will represent all the people of this country.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Alicia

    FOR THE RACIST RETHUG POSTS ON HERE.

    "Watch CNN Black in America.'. If you are not a Black or Latino man in the United States of America........shut up!

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. tom

    White or Black have you been stopped by a cop lately. They treat you like John Dillinger. I have only ever been stopped for three traffic violations in my life and I remember each officer. Wyatt Earp, Matt Dillion, and Judge Roy Bean.

    July 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. AGirl

    Obama's comment was as arrogant and obnoxious as Gates' behavior. He was not there and admitted that he did not know the whole story. How dare he, in his position, comment on the matter! Gates refused to show id and played the race card. His skin color had nothing to do with this...a robbery was reported and it was the officer's duty to confirm that Gates was, indeed, the homeowner. What is so racist about that?

    July 23, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Change in America

    he should not regret the president is telling the trueth...This country is so divided because of color of people skins every black man is not a criminal...This is redicoulas....The republicans are racism party

    July 23, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. Your411

    The arresting officer stated that the disorderly conduct took place in a public place. I thought they arrested Mr. Gates in his house, clearly not a public place.

    July 23, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Barry195

    Bottom line Mr. President ... YOU WERE WRONG ... with addressing the question. You started off well. You needed to stop after you stated that Mr. Gates was a friend and continued to call the police stupid.
    Can someone please tell me why the question was even asked at a news confrence on healthcare?

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Donkey Party

    Just another racist cracker cop with an inferiority complex.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Jake

    "White Press Secretary..." ?? Are we a little distracted here?

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. fellow from Chicago

    All those years listening to Reverend Wright has apparently produced a racist in the WH. The black Manchurian candidate is in place. Can't wait until 2012.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    He shouldn't. From everything we've been given to know about the incident, Obama pretty much described the police officers to a tee: STUPID.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Karen L. Reimer

    Republicans are acting "stupidly" by attempting to exploit this issue.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. frank

    funny how cnn does not tell the whole story. He was asked to come out after the police was arrived to his house. The man was breaking into his own hm becuase he could not get the door open. He was asked to come out and refused then finally handed them his harvard id instead of a drivers license which would have had his address. He acted arrogant by refusing the police mans orders. If he would have come out and handed them his DL it would not have escalated. He cried black. He then chased the cop down outside and started agruing with him. CNN protecting their Pres by not telling the whole truth. Gates should have said thanks for checking in on my home and ensuring that he was the correct resident. OOH and he was carring a back pack also......

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Rob

    Once again, Obama's sticking his nose in where it has no business being. Just adds more credibility to the question "What's the difference between God and Obama? God does not believe he's Barrack Obama."

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Fraser

    While I don't fault the officer for responding to the burglary call, the officer's subsequent actions show that he WAS stupid. Once he saw Professor Gates' I.D. and realized that Gates owned the home and was not a burglar, that should have been the end of the story. The cop should have apologized for the mix up and simply left.

    Gates had every right to be annoyed and to ask for the cop's name and badge number. The cop, on the other hand, did NOT have the right to arrest him.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Me in Big D

    Of course Obummer doesn't regret his statement – he would NEVER admit that he was wrong on anything!!

    July 23, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Tim Ryan

    I cannot believe the office of The President of The United States would have a comment about a local police situation. North Korea is firing missiles left and right, Iran is a ticking time bomb, war in Afghanistan, worst recession since the great depression, continuing unemployment growth and he has time to comment on a situation that deals with one individual.

    Obama showed that he does not understand the depth of his office. His comments will only make the situation worse, and make the job of all police professionals throughout the country much more difficult.

    Obama came off like a half cocked community activitist rather than representing the most respected office in the United States.

    July 23, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Gator

    Same old tactics, say something then when you get called on it, twist it around and say you meant something else. I mean how many meanings can the "police acted stupid" have. This whole thing should not even have made the local news much less in a national speech.

    July 23, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. James Stevens

    According to the Massachusetts Law regarding Disorderly Conduct it is clearly stated that:

    a. The defendant engaged in violent or tumultuous behavior.
    b. The defendant’s actions were reasonably likely to affect the public.
    c. The defendant either intended to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly created a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.

    What is very troubling and intellectually insulting is that President Obama, a Harvard Law Graduate, made a statement of judgment on the arrest without 1) understanding all the facts, and 2) even if the facts are not known, the arrest was for “Disorderly Conduct” not for “Breaking and Entering”, therefore, there is no relevance to whether or not there was proof Mr. Gates was in his own home. Additionally, the law itself is silent as to the setting in which the Disorderly Conduct was exhibited (i.e. public vs private).

    And this is THE President of the United States AND a Harvard Professor…I guess common sense and critical thinking are not required for those positions.

    July 23, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Bruce

    So Obama didn't say the officer was stupid. Funny, when he said the officer acted stupidly, it sure sounds the same to me.

    July 23, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. lucy

    Doesn't anyone speak fluent English? Acting stupidly is not the same as being stupid. Do we parse everything anyone says to find fault? The policeman did act stupidly and should have immediately appologized for the intrusion when he realized the error. Although maybe he is actually stupid, that isn't the issue Obama addressed.

    July 23, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. Julio

    Why an African American can't be respected even in their own house?

    I think the Officer will have to explain where was the " loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space" took place because it is clear that Prof. Gates was in his own home.

    The law will have to decide if the Home of all African American are public space.

    I Hope this case to go further to define more clearly the problems of African American in this country.

    Week ago they kick out a swimming pool kids because they happen to be African Americans now African Americans are being hunted in their own homes.

    That is just not fair.

    July 23, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. Angus McDugan

    How sad that he jumped in and acted before knowing more. Just making assumptions and not leading. Why did he use such language and rush into responding before getting more info?

    July 23, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. Chris

    The charges were dropped because he is the President's buddy. I see the good ole boy network works both ways!

    July 23, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. george

    Since when did one's home become 'public space?'

    July 23, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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