Obama says police acted ‘stupidly’ in Gates arrest
President Obama responds to questions during a news conference (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that police acted “stupidly” in the arrest of prominent black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and that despite racial progress blacks and Hispanics are still singled out unfairly for arrest.
“This still haunts us,” Obama said.
Obama called Gates a friend, and said he doesn’t know all the facts of the case. Nonetheless, Obama said, anyone would have been angry if treated the way Gates claims police in Cambridge, Mass., treated him. Gates claims he was arrested in his own home after showing ID to police who responded to a report of a possible burglary.
“Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof he was in own home,” Obama said during a prime-time news conference that otherwise focused on the health care debate.
“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,” Obama said. “That’s just a fact.”
WATCH OBAMA ADDRESS GATES ARREST
The nation’s first black president held himself up as testament to what he called the “incredible progress” minorities have achieved.
Gates’ arrest followed a report of a possible burglary. A neighbor apparently saw Gates force the front door and called in a police report. Police came, and demanded that Gates showed identification. Gates was arrested shortly afterward for disorderly conduct, a charge that was dropped Tuesday.
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