President Obama: Harvard Professor’s Arrest Highlights Race Inequities

By Jorge Rivas Jul 23, 2009

President Barack Obama says police in Cambridge, Mass., acted "stupidly" this week when they arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. Last night, the final question at President Obama’s live prime time news conference wasn’t about his healthcare proposal, it was about the Gates case. And his response was on point:

"My understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house and, at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped… I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that [Gates case]. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact."

I’m glad both President Obama and Professor gates are this this opportunity and shining light on the disproportionate number of Black and Brown men who are profiled and stopped by police in this country. President Obama said that while Blacks and Latinos are more frequently stopped by police. "That doesn’t lessen the incredible progress we’ve made. I’m standing here as testimony to that. And yet the fact of the matter is it still haunts us." In case you missed Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. discussing his arrest last night on CNN, continue reading below for a clip of his side of the story.