Gates' 911 Tape Released: Caller Didn't Mention Race - NBC New York

Gates' 911 Tape Released: Caller Didn't Mention Race

More transcripts of incident expected soon, top cop said



    Gates' 911 Tape Released: Caller Didn't Mention Race
    Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a pre-eminent African-American scholar, is accusing Cambridge police of racism after he was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge for trying to force open the locked front door of his own home near Harvard University.

    The caller who tipped off cops to the suspected break-in that led to the arrested of black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates didn't mention race in her call to 911.

    Cops also released radio communications between officers and a police dispatcher in which the responding police sergeant said Gates was being uncooperative and to "keep the cars coming." 

    It's unclear if the unintelligible voice in the background is Gates.

    Lucia Whalen called 911 on behalf of a concerned elderly neighbor who saw two men enter Gates' house and told the dispatcher that she saw two men with suitcases muscle their way into the Massachusetts home.

    Only when prompted by the dispatcher did Whalen mention race.

    "I don't know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key but I did notice that they kind of used their shoulder to try to barge in and they got in," Whalen told the 911 dispatcher.

    "I don't know if they had a key or not because I couldn't see from my angle..." 

    Dispatcher: "Are they still in the house?"

    Whalen: "They're still in the house, I believe, yeah."

    Dispatcher: "Are they white, black or Hispanic?"

    Whalen: "They were two larger men. One looks kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure. And the other one entered and I didn't see what he looked like at all. I just saw from a distance and this older woman was worried thinking someone's breaking in someone's house, they've been barging in. She interrupted me and that's when I had noticed. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all to be honest with you so I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor. " 

    Whalen could only see the backs of two men she thought were breaking into Gates' Massachusetts home when she called 911 to report the incident on July 16, her attorney told The Boston Globe.

    "People are making their own judgments about the case and assuming that she called police because they were black," attorney Wendy J. Murphy told the Globe.

    "The sentiment is permeating the stories, and it ties directly to her involvement, even though the truth is she didn't report seeing black men and she didn't know the men's race when she called 911." 

    Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas said "it was very clear that she wasn't sure" about the race of either man, according to the Globe.

    "She speculated ... that one might be Hispanic," he told the Boston Globe.

    Haas said he expects tapes made during the incident to be released within the next few days.

    Gates, who is black, was arrested by a white cop outside of his home after police responded to his house on a burglary call and saw the noted professor and his driver attempting to open the door, which was jammed.

    Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct but the charges were later dropped.

    The police report did include a race reference, according to the paper, but that may have been collected after the initial 911 call.

    President Obama, who said the police "acted stupidly" when they arrested the prof, invited both Gates and arresting officer Sgt. James Crowley for a beer at the White House to discuss the controversy.

    The president hopes to have the meeting "within the next several days," press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday.

    "The president believes this can be a teachable moment," Gibbs said. "He feels he unnecessarily contributed to the frenzy. Cooler heads have prevailed."