The Associated Press

Cambridge Police Heard Calling Gates Uncooperative

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Click the “Listen Now” button above to hear the radio communications in which Sgt. James Crowley reports that Henry Louis Gates is being “uncooperative” and requests back up.  

A Cambridge police sergeant who responded to a 911 call about a possible break-in at the home of black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. told dispatchers that Gates was being uncooperative and to “keep the cars coming.”

Another voice can be heard in the background of the transmission, but it is unintelligible and unclear if it is Gates.

Cambridge police released recordings of police radio transmissions and of the 911 call Monday following more than a week of controversy over Gates’ July 16 arrest on a disorderly conduct charge. The charge was dropped, but the encounter sparked a national debate about racial profiling.

Gates’ supporters called his arrest by Sgt. James Crowley an outrageous act of racial profiling. Crowley’s supporters say Gates was arrested because he was belligerent and that race was not a factor.

Interest in the case intensified when President Barack Obama said at a White House news conference last week that Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. He later tried to quell the uproar about his comments and invited both Gates and Crowley to the White House for a beer, a meeting that could happen this week, according to the White House.

In the 911 recording released Monday, caller Lucia Whalen tells police she saw two men pressing on the door of a home, but says she is unsure whether the men live there or if they were trying to break in. She said she saw two suitcases on the porch.

“I don’t know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key. But I did notice they used their shoulder to try to barge in and they got in. I don’t know if they had a key or not cause I couldn’t see from my angle,” Whalen said.

Whalen does not mention the race of the men she saw until pressed by a dispatcher to describe them. At that point, she said one of the men may have been Hispanic.

In Crowley’s report, he said he spoke to Whalen at the scene and she reported seeing two black men on the porch.

Whalen’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, said her client did not mention the men’s race to Crowley and is upset by news reports she believes have unfairly depicted her as a racist.

“She doesn’t live in the area. She is by no means the entitled white neighbor. … That has been the theme in the blogs and the implication in some of the mainstream news media,” Murphy said in a phone interview Monday.

In the radio transmissions, Crowley tells a dispatcher he is at the home where the possible break-in was reported.

“I’m up with a gentleman, says he resides here, but was uncooperative, but keep the cars coming,” Crowley said.

In his written police report, Crowley said Gates became angry when he told him he was investigating a report of a break-in, then yelled at him and called him a racist.

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  • Judy Texas

    Gates had better hope that his home is not burglarized in the near future. He will play hell getting a quick response after cursing the local policemen. His home on Wren St. is now open season for burglars.. He shot himself in the foot.

  • Eileen Prince

    It’s depressing that Judy seems to condone the police not helping someone who’s complained about them. I hope they’re better than that.

  • John

    It’s too bad Gates’s emotional maturity doesn’t match his intellect. He’s got a hair trigger. He’s unfortunately a stereotypical academian, planted on his pedestal for so long that apparently nobody has the fortitude to tell him to grow up. He was out of line in this incident, and I would guess there’s no one at Harvard or even North Cambridge with the fortitude to tell him so.

  • Aron

    John’s comments, and many others seen at different news outlets in this area, indicate to me that this kerfuffle is less about race than it is about class, at least in the Boston/Cambridge area. This incident has turned up the heat on a broad and deep resentment of the academic world by those outside it. This resentment and disdain has a voice in the common man’s mouthpiece: comments to news articles. Listeners like John are as prejudiced and ignorant of academia, and what they perceive it to be, as others are against people of color. I wonder what John knows about academia or if he even knows anyone who has an academic career? Has he or his children been to college? If so, then he should consider the important role that academics played in their lives. He may resent people who use their minds to improve the world, but he and others like him probably don’t stop to think about how academia improves our lives in so many ways: research that saves lives and adds to an understanding of our world, teaching our children and training them to lead, providing thousands of secure, well-paying jobs and helping to stabilize our local economy. Perhaps Prof Gates did have a meltdown that reflected poorly on him; but that has nothing to do with his profession or his professional standing. On the other hand, Lt Crowley, who also seemed to lose his cool, is a professional “peace officer” who is trained and paid to defuse volatile situations and to calm down people who have gone over the line. In this case, I would argue that it is he who lost control and used his professional status in an inappropriate way to arrest a man for nothing more than being belligerent in his own home. It is well documented that cops abuse their power in many ways simply because they can. Finally, I think at the heart of it, this is a case of two grown men who let their egos and testosterone get the better of them. I say leave race and class out of it.

  • Rex

    I would ask Aron at what point did Sergeant Crowley lose his temper? If you have listened to the radio broadcast, he is speaking in calm, even tones while you can hear someone ranting in the background. I do agree with you that race had nothing to do with this case and that it has been blown completely out of proportation. More time needs to be spent on real cases of racial profiling.

  • Michael

    For all of his long-windedness, Aron might do well to leave his ad hominem argument at home in reproaching John’s position. And in a discussion that is SWIMMING in racial undertones, it’s naive if not stupid to suggest that the solution is to “leave race…out of it”. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room!

    Firstly, John demonstrates a command of language and coherence that many would be proud of; I’d dare say he most likely has a college education. Secondly, what in the world does that have to do with his criticism of Gates for acting like “life should reflect art” (in his case, wanting so badly to be in the spotlight that he will create himself as a victim)? Call a spade a spade. I’m sure Gates throws his education at everyone and wields it (for good and bad) to garner respect. But he did a disservice to himself and his position with his childish behaviour. No one will be able to hear him speak on the subject of racism again and take him seriously. He can at least save face and salvage some dignity by issuing a public apology to the officers at the scene. But I doubt that ego will prevent his pen from ever touching paper with any humility in the inkwell…

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