By Roxana Tiron - 07/25/09 10:00 AM EDT
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. said he accepted an invitation to have a
beer with the white police officer who arrested him this week.
Gates, a black scholar, in a statement posted late Friday at The Root, accepted President Obama's invitation to come to the White House and have a beer together with Sgt. James Crowley and the president while saying he wanted to use his "unfortunate experience ... to diminish racial profiling."
Crowley arrested Gates for disorderly conduct after being called to the Harvard professor's home to check out a report of a suspected burglary. President Obama on Wednesday said that he thought the police "acted stupidly" by arresting Gates, but after uproar at his statement and a growing racial controversy, Obama on Friday sought to quell the storm and expressed regret at his earlier statements.
"I could have calibrated my words differently," the president said.
Obama said he and Crowley had talked about "having a beer"
at the White House with Gates. Later in the day, he called Gates and
invited him to join them.
"I told the President that my principal regret was that all of the attention paid to his deeply supportive remarks during his press conference had distracted attention from his health care initiative," Gates said in his statement. "I am pleased that he, too, is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment, and if meeting Sgt. [James] Crowley for a beer with the President will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige.
"After all, I first proposed that Sgt. Crowley and I meet as early as
last Monday," Gates continued. "If my experience leads to the lessening of the occurrence
of racial profiling, then I would find that enormously gratifying. Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the
creation of a society in which 'equal justice before law' is a lived