Powell weighs in on Harvard case

July 29, 2009

Colin Powell says some “adult supervision” could have kept an altercation between Henry Louis Gates, a black Harvard University professor, and Sgt. James Crowley, a white policeman, from blowing up into a “federal case” about race in America.

The former U.S secretary of state, who says he has been racially profiled “many times,”  weighed in on the arrest of his friend “Skip” Gates on Tuesday evening, telling CNN’s Larry King that it was a fascinating story that unfolded in several acts.

Gates was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and charged with disorderly conduct. Crowley had responded to the call when a neighbor reported a possible break-in at Gates’ home. Gates had just returned home from a trip to China and found his door jammed. This is how the two men came face-to-face.

“This is where act two begins. We’re not quite sure what the nature of their conversation was, but apparently it disturbed Sgt. Crowley and apparently Dr. Gates was disturbed by being challenged in his own home,” Powell said.

“Then it becomes a federal case when the president feels obliged to say something about it, ” Powell said.

The charges against Gates were quickly dropped, but Powell says the incident might have been resolved in a different manner had cooler heads prevailed.

“I’m saying that Skip, perhaps in this instance, might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer and that might have been the end of it,” Powell said.  “I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal.”

And the police could have handled things differently too, Powell said.

“Once they felt they had to bring Dr. Gates out of the house and to handcuff him, I would have thought at that point some adult supervision would have stepped in and said, OK, look, it is his house… Take the handcuffs off.  Good night Dr. Gates.”

Dr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley will meet again on Thursday at the White House, this time over beer with President Barack Obama.  Who’s bringing the adult supervision?


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This is another example of Powells racist views, along with his indorsment of Obama who stands for all the things Powell claims he supports. Gates teaches racism at a public school and will do anything to futher his position.

Posted by Charles | Report as abusive

This is really disturbing. The job of a police officer is hard enough, but now his job is undermined. I can see it now. It won’t matter what the reason is, it will be assumed it is racist.

I think this was all a set up and the losers will be the police officers and our safety.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Are you guys kidding? Yes, police officers are underpaid and have a stressful job and I’m thankful we have them. But Dr. Gates, just returned from a (probably grueling) international flight to find his front door jammed and then he gets confronted by the police and accused of breaking into his own house. You don’t expect him to be worked up enough to smart-off to a cop who challenges him in his own home (illegally, by the way, from everything I’ve heard posted by lawyers)? The police don’t have the right to arrest you for being a smart-ass to them in your own home. In fact, can they even bother you for doing anything in your own home without a warrant or probable cause? Disturbing the peace is basically an arrest-me-for-any-reason-you-want charge, that can be applied to anyone who is visibly angry…

Posted by WSP | Report as abusive

Super response from Powell. Both sides in this issues made mistakes, time to drop the matter and not turn it into something it doesn’t have to be. Powell isn’t being racist here at all, not sure what article you’re reading, Charles.

Posted by Dawn | Report as abusive

I guess the door is open for any of Obama’s friends to act in any manner they wish. Obama and his propaganda corps will get them off as Obama has time to personally settle reverse discrimination suits. North Korea and Iran will have to wait.

Posted by Alpha Blogger | Report as abusive

Powell is sensible.

I also tend to agree with Professor Gates. Probably people have never travelled long distance. You just crave to be at home and fall asleep… Imagine that you find door jammed and then you have to answer police who for some strange reason, cannot ask politely.

I also think east coast police needs some training.. I find that everyone overspeeds and puts really dark tinted mirrors on cars (really dangerous), but police is mute spectators. I used to respect law when I landed here from West coast.. but within a year, I have no respect for road manners and surely respect police a lot less. Sorry.

Posted by Adil | Report as abusive

I agree with WSP and Dawn. And it’s incumbent on the cop, who is the “official” in this scenario, to have the cooler head and not let things get out of control. He supposedly teaches sensitivity training? I’m not impressed. If he really DID have that training (and ESPECIALLY if he teaches it to other cops) he would have recognized the potential volatility of the situation ahead of time and controlled it. I’ve been involved in cross-cultural relations and sensitivity training for 20 years. You learn VERY early to recognize a potential situation, and you control that situation by using respect. And if things get out of hand, you know how to quickly diffuse it, again, by using respect. Above all, you don’t let yourself OR the other party escalate a situation.

Posted by Chrys thorsen | Report as abusive

I just think it’s unfair to the cop in this situation. He has been under ORDERS not to talk about this incident by his superiors. But Gates, the mayor, the governor, and the president have not problems talking about it, FOLKS we are only hearing one side. So don’t tell me , both sides over-reacted. The arrest was real, nobody wants to question the Mayor and the DA and ask if pressure was applied to case to CLOSE it.
You guys have never been in situation where your boss told you to shut up and the other guy spread stuff about you to everybody and you couldn’t do anything about it. I feel sorry for this cop. The word “racism” is a very charged word and shouldn’t be used to destroy lives like it does without backing it up. Cop should sue.

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

The blacks serving in congress were very fast to get together and side with Obama, I would think that some whites were not impressed, at this unnessary act, and will cast a no vote on Obama health care in revenge, It becomming clear that Obama has split the USA, much more then Bush.

Posted by airplane | Report as abusive