Tales from the Trail

Powell weighs in on Harvard case

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.

Who acted stupidly, the police or the president?

The tussle between a black Harvard scholar and the white police officer who arrested him is turning into a quesion on presidential judgment. 

Did President Barack Obama really need to take sides in this particular case?

It was a bit of a surprise this week when he allowed himself to get embroiled in the debate on race sparked by the arrest of Henry Louis Gates right at the end of his prime-time “get healthcare done now” news conference.


The International Brotherhood of Police Officers is furious, accusing the president of alienating public safetly officers across the country. Online polls in Massachusetts also show strong support for the arresting officer.