Gates jokes: I offered to help officer’s kids get into Harvard

Sgt. James Crowley and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sit for beers with the president and vice president Thursday.
In his first public appearance since the "Beer Summit" at the White House, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates joked about his controversial arrest last month in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and said he likes police Sgt. James Crowley.

“I offered to get his kids into Harvard if he doesn’t arrest me anymore,” Gates said. Gates was speaking Sunday at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival where he signed copies of his book, “In Search of our Roots.” The professor said he plans on meeting with Crowley again. “I offered for the two of us to have lunch together, one-on-one, or go to a Red Sox game, or a Celtics games, or maybe the families can get together for dinner. Why not” Gates had a face-to-face meeting and a beer with Crowley at the White House last week, a move orchestrated by President Obama in an attempt to diffuse racial tensions that had erupted following Gates’ arrest. Gates called the president’s gesture “brilliant.” Crowley arrested Gates on July 16 when the officer responded to a call of a possible home break-in at the Cambridge residence.

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Gates was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly yelling at the officer and protesting his actions. But Gates, who is black, claimed he never raised his voice and accused Crowley of racial profiling. Charges against the professor were later dropped. The tone at the book fair turned more serious when someone asked Gates how the arrest has affected him. “I’m still trying to figure that out and processing it. It was stressful. I was worried about my daughters.” Fortunately, he said, the press was not camped out at his family home like they were at the Cambridge residence, which is owned by the university. He admitted to receiving bomb threats and deaths threats and said the university is encouraging him to move. “I haven’t been back to the Cambridge house since I got arrested so I have to make that decision.” He also said he has had to change his phone numbers and close his public e-mail account. “I received thousands of fan letters but some of the e-mails were from crazy wacko people who wrote ‘You should die,’ ‘You’re a racist,'” Still, Gates said he doesn’t want to exaggerate the trauma of the arrest. “A lot of people go through far worse. I was in jail for four hours, not four years or four months or four days,” he said. “The night before I went to the White House, I had a dream that I got arrested in the White House,” he said. Then he joked, “But it’s cool; I was OK.”