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. karuna

    He should apologize for his choice of words even if he meant them. He should not make this into a worst situation.

    July 23, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Bridget

    Why do the republicans question everything Obama does? A reporter asked his opinion on Gates arrest, and he answered. Now the republicans are going to put out a web ad asking the public if it was right for him to answer the question. I haven't heard anything nice about out president from the republicans. Everyone can tell that the republican dislike our president. It's really sad they never have anything positive to say.

    July 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Brian in VA

    Gates should be happy, if this happened in NYC, he would have been shot when he reached for his wallet. Of course race is an issue, when was the last time a white person was arrested for something like this? When was the last time a white person was shot entering his own home reaching for his wallet? The last time a white person was shot by undercover police officers after attending his bachelor party. You scream that we play the race card...you are just blind to it because this crap doesn't happen to you.

    July 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Jon Krieger

    If this gates guy was white,Obama wouldn't even care about this would he?No one wants to talk about black racism towards whites,now do they?

    July 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Teresa

    President Obama's decision to weigh in on the Harvard professor’s arrest earlier this week made me lose respect for him. He stated that he was not there to witness the incident, so what made him believe stating that he thought the Mass. officer acted stupidly was a wise decision? Of all of the things our Commander and Chief should concern himself with deciding to weigh in on this incident should not have even been on his list.

    July 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. Frank Snyder

    I can't believe a President has finally stood up and called it for what it was. STUPID! The police after identifing the man as the owner should have left his property. I'm sure the officer was rascist in his motives for arresting this man.

    July 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. RAG

    In a free society it is impossible to commit "disorderly conduct" in your own home. "Disorderly conduct" is by its very nature a crime of public spaces. Once the police had identified Gates as the owner of the home, they became his guests, and as such only they could commit "disorderly conduct". Which they proceded to do in a typical display of Pig arrogance.

    Shame on them and shame on the Republicans once again applying situational ethics to acheive rhetorical points against the President.

    July 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. charles

    i will say this, that i read the officers police report, and to me it sounds like he is a professional at what he does for a living, and also he has covered every knook and cranny as far as details go... i believe the man that was arrested deserved to be arrested for the comments he made,and he was disorderly, and no one is above the law in this country, and that includes the president of the united states. who does this person think he is... and i will say this, when he said ""i will tell your mama", that is a clear case of black american slain that has been heard for the last 100 years,,, the officer didnt make that up. and i submit that there was a black officer present, and all someone has to do is ask this officer if the harvard man was disorderly, and if he is a good cop, you will get your answer... and obama had no right to make the remark he made on national news. all he did was reinforce the thoughts of every white man, and woman in this country, he would have been better of to have said nothing, and reply that is will be handled under the laws of the state of massachusetts. like he said when he was running, that his aunt will go through normal channels, is she still here? c.f.gabriel

    July 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Maria

    Perhaps the one who "acted stupidly" was Gates...
    and anyone else who leaps to blame the white (i.e., therefore 'racist') officers before knowing all of the facts.
    Bad call, Mr. President.

    July 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. thf

    Thank you Mr. President for speaking out!!

    July 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. John New Jersey

    How would you respond if you were in that situation? Would you be polite in your own home or not after you verify this is your home?Lets face it the truth hurts as the President spoke the truth. Many can not handle the truth thats why this story continues. Lets acknowledge a wrong and move on

    July 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. CK

    Once again, Obama sticking his foot in his mouth without having all the facts. Or is he just pandering to the black vote given he's been neglecting his people all along?

    July 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  13. polymath

    Classic case of big mouth and no common sense on Gate's part.

    July 23, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Shawn - GA

    I mean, my God! Obama is a lawyer, he knows better than to make such a comment without knowing the facts. He said himself he didn't have all the facts.

    The police acted correctly when they came, Obama said so himself.

    So of it wasn't for Gates getting all loud and yelling he would not have been arrested. Why didn't he realize that they were there to help him? If he was not him and it was some other guy actually breaking into his house, Gates would be praising the Cops.

    Where were the Cops acting stupidly? This very thing happened to me and I thanked the Police and apologized for making them have to come out. I thank them because if I was not the real homeowner they just stopped someone robbing my house.

    July 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. diane

    does this picture of the professor look like he's not yelling?

    July 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. Fred the Moderate

    Why should he. He's right! And if you never had to worry about it, feel fortunate. Others in this country do!

    July 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Chris from NY

    If the police officer is not apologizing, why would the President? It's like the media loves this cat fight between blacks and whites. Call the Republicans to task on the issue.

    July 23, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. roz

    The President spoke the truth....and I respect him for his honestly.

    July 23, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. NICE REAL NICE

    what on earth is the POTUS doing commenting on this kind of stuff? what a petty little man.

    July 23, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Right Leaning Independent

    Well add America's police rolls to the list of folks that Obama is alienating! He is the first "openly" racist President I have ever witnessed. He has no clue what happened and yet he offers this ridiculous comment against the police.Unbelieveable!!

    July 23, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Doesn't the fact that the charges were dropped suggest that the arrest was baseless and thereby stupid?

    July 23, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Just Say No to Socialism

    take away the teleprompter and this guy is a joke!

    July 23, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. Fred Evil

    Good, the Cambridge Police acted as police typically do, heavy-handed and overbearing. It's their way or the highway, never mind that the man was in his OWN HOME.

    He was belligerent? So what? You're a cop, man up and deflect it. Believe it or not, this ISN'T about a cop's bad decision, this is about a citizen who was assaulted on the front porch of his own home by an out-of-control officer of the law.

    July 23, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. catmom

    Both Odumba and Gates owe the City of Cambridge an apology....Gates for acting like a racist bigot and Odumba for speaking so idiotically.

    July 23, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. kishen c.rao

    pres. obama makes absolutely truthful comments..ok..that's why...

    July 23, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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