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. Josh in TN

    He should not regret it. There is nothing to regret. The cop clearly abused his authority on a handicapped man. What a bully. The man was in his own house and proved it. If this happens to me I will stay in my house.

    July 23, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Look at the big picture

    Anyone with common sense would realize that if the arresting officer had not acted incorrectly the the charge would not have been dropped and the city of Cambridge would not have issued a statement calling the incident "regrettable and unfortunate". Police departments do not take action like that unless they are in the wrong!

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

    Good. There is no reason for the President to apologize for his remarks. The police officer isn't apologizing for his actions at the home of Professor Gates is he? He went way overboard. So much so that the Police Dept. dropped the charges immediately and the City has already issued a statement.

    He did "Act Stupidly" and our President should be able to speak his mind about some things. If law enforcement uses this as a way to turn on him then they were just looking for an excuse. It would be just another way of showing racial bias.

    Let's just see what happens...

    July 23, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Mississippi Mike

    I regret that our president is willing to throw our law enforcement officers under the bus without even getting all of the facts. Is this the discussion on race he wants us to have?

    July 23, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Persio

    Stay out Obama, let the city of Cambridge and the police do it's work. Stick with the job the voters call you upon for.

    July 23, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Norma

    I think the situation really got out of hand, because Gates was angry there probably was an unpleasant verbal exchange, most likely started by Gates. I'm a nurse and sometimes my patients are agitated and can become verbally abusive. I'm the professional and cannot exacerbate the situation by engaging in the same behavior. I have to remain cool in order to defuse the situation. It appears the officer didn’t back down and further escalated the matter. Once it was determined that Gates did indeed belong in the residence, that should have been the end of it. It was inappropriate for Gates to be arrested. I think President Obama should have used acted inappropriately instead of acted stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Gary, Sacramento

    I don't know all the facts, and I'm biased because I respect law enforcement officers, but I think it's fair to say that Dr. Gates acted stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. worriedmom

    Um Mr. Gibbs do you need a hearing aid. The world heard The Chosen One say the police dept acted stupidly! I think OUr President needs to get off this speech of how bad the Blacks and Latinos are treated. I have many black and Latino friends (yes, I am white) and I can tell you they are just as disgusted with this cry of racism YOu give respect, you get respect!!
    I am ashamed of our President for even bringing up and trying to incite racism. He made it very clear last night that he has a chip on his shoulder about white people. Remember sir, you are President to all the people, Not just black and Latinos!!!

    July 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. J. S.

    He should have stopped talking when he said he was not aware/briefed/told of all the circumstances. Period.

    July 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Jim

    Great. That was just another example of how pitiful that press conference was and Obama presented not one fact that would make you think his healthcare plan would be good for the country.

    Gates is just another race baiter and if they could hold you indefinitely for being an idiot he would still be in jail. God bless that policeman for having to deal with all these race thugs.

    July 23, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. mike

    the police received a report that 2 men with backpacks were seen breaking into a house. and as it turns out Gates and his driver did because he was locked out. so then the cop arrives and says he's responding to a call about a brek-in and Gates right away yells at the cop claiming racial profileing. doesn't seem fair to the police trying to do their job with the info they had. Obama should not be involved whe he admittedly doesn't know the facts.

    July 23, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. nsiande

    It is not easy to be black in America. This country does not belong to white people, we are all international trying to archive something. We have being discriminated for so long, it is time for people to stop and accept people the way we are. Remember God created us not a white man so they dont have right to treat us unfairly.

    July 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. Jeff - Texas

    Look, Look is there a black police officer in the picture? Surely if the arresting officer was being out line the black officer would surely have intervened. Your president is the one playing the race card, and he will keep using it. Just so you know Obama has lost all political support from all law enforcement !!!!

    July 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Craig

    Stupid is...as Stupid does. I'll be the cop will think twice next time.

    July 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. panem et circenses

    I think it's fair to say:

    No. 1, No reasonable person would be angry to have the police show up to protect your property if a passerby called them upon seeing someong breaking into your house.

    No. 2, Gates acted stupidly by not simply showing the police officer his ID with address when asked THE FIRST TIME. And he then should have THANKED them for coming out on a false alarm call instead of insulting the officer's mother and getting in his face (Gate's himself admitted doing this).

    and, No. 3 … There's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos committing crimes disproportionately. Watch any of the COPS or 48 Hours episodes or read the local police blotter. The fact that they get stopped and arrested more is directly related to their behavior.

    I hope Crowley sues Gates and Obama for defamation of character.

    July 23, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Bobby

    The officer should have known better, as we all know from those Brinks ads that only white people break into houses.

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. CHRIS

    I believe the president called it what it is, even though he didn't use
    the word racism. He clearly said police acted
    stupidly, meaning he called their actions stupid and not the person.
    that' s quite a difference and I completely agree with him.

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. TindaTine

    Sometimes I act stupid although I am very wise

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. LV

    1.) Obama didn't "prejudge"; he was asked for an opinion, which he gave.

    2.) Racial profiling is a fact of life here in the United States, if not the world.

    3.) No matter what his color, Gates got precisely what he deserved; one does not antagonize the police and expect crumpets to be served up.

    4.) At best, this is a classic case of reverse descrimination and Gates is milking it to no great surprise. The man's a prima donna, let's face it.

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. Nia - AZ

    Say what ever you will as the picture attached to this story shows...tha man was taken out of HIS HOME. Anyone no matter what color you are would be upset, especialy if you were doing nothing wrong

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. Claudia

    The policeman did the right thing.....President Obama should have stayed of it....kept his opinions to himself.....This particular matter it isn't about racism - it's about our policeman (by himself didn't have a partner with him) reacted correctly. Thanks

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

    Just found a small mistake..!

    It should have been 'White House press Secretay...' not just 'White Press Secretary ..'

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. Mark Cross Junction VA

    90% of Americans property owners (black or white) would be happy that the police showed up to protect their property. That 10% (including Gates) want a confortation. Look at his expression. A angry old Black man determined to make a race issue out of this incident. Hey look a black officer in the picture. I wonder if he is a animal control officer.

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. Ted Tartaglia

    Maybe President Obama cannot call the police officer's actions as stupid but I can. Since when has a person's home becoma a "public space"? The officer's own statements regarding disorderly conduct in a public space (the professor's home) proffers his actions as stupid.
    Think about it!

    July 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  25. Really

    This whole thing smells fishy. If a cop comes to my door and asks to see my id. I show it to him and treat the officer with respect. They were called to his house to investigate a break in. I would be extremely happy that the cops were taken the call seriously. I would want them to id everyone in my house if they were responding to a similar call. Obama does not even know the facts yet he jumps to one side. Again, shows his true character

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