The police officer at the center of a national dispute over race and law enforcement says a much-anticipated meeting at the White House was productive and all parties are looking forward, according to reports.
Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley spoke to reporters after meeting with President Barack Obama and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., along with Vice President Joe Biden and some brews at the White House, which the press is referring to as the ‘Beer Summit.”
Crowley described himself and Gates as “two gentlemen who agreed to disagree” about the confrontation that led to Gates’ arrest, but said the conversation focused on moving forward, not reliving the events of the past two weeks. The officer also said he and Gates are planning more meetings. (For more from Crowley, see video below.)
President Obama, meanwhile, described the meeting as a “friendly, thoughtful conversation.”
In a statement following the conversation, Obama said he was surprised to learn that Gates and Crowley had already spent some time talking with each other. He called that “a testament to them.”
Said Obama: “I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode.”
In a statement he posted at his website, The Root, here is what Dr. Gates had to say about the meeting and the original incident itself:
“I would like to applaud President Obama for bringing Sergeant Crowley, me and our families together. I would also like to thank the President for welcoming my father, Henry Louis Gates, Sr., who for most of his life has been a Republican! My dad turned 96 this past June, and the fact that he worked two jobs every day is the reason that my brother, Dr. Paul Gates, and I were able to receive such splendid educations. I am honored that he chose to join me at the White House, along with my fiancée, my daughters, and my brother.
Sergeant Crowley and I, through an accident of time and place, have been cast together, inextricably, as characters – as metaphors, really – in a thousand narratives about race over which he and I have absolutely no control. Narratives about race are as old as the founding of this great Republic itself, but these new ones have unfolded precisely when Americans signaled to the world our country’s great progress by overcoming centuries of habit and fear, and electing an African American as President. It is incumbent upon Sergeant Crowley and me to utilize the great opportunity that fate has given us to foster greater sympathy among the American public for the daily perils of policing on the one hand, and for the genuine fears of racial profiling on the other hand.”