By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A discrepancy emerges

I missed Wendy Murphy’s appearance on WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) a little while ago. But in listening to host Jim Braude’s recap, it’s now clear that Murphy says Lucia Whalen never told anyone — including Sgt. James Crowley — that the two men she saw were black.

That directly contradicts not only what’s in Crowley’s arrest report, but also what he told the Boston Herald: “Obviously, I stand behind everything that’s in the police report. It wouldn’t be in there if it wasn’t true.”

Update: A question — did Crowley speak with another woman at the scene and, later, mistakenly identify her as Whalen?

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


“Two gentlemen”


No mistaken identity


  1. lkcape

    Have you allowed for the potential that Atty Murphy embellished the story?Not the first time that an attorney has "spun" the facts.Look at Mr. Ogletree's remarks.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: Of course. Has there ever been a wimpier headline than "A discrepancy emerges"?

  3. Robin Edgar

    I find it highly unlikely that Lucia Whalen would not have said that the people she believed to be breaking in to Gates' house were black, or white if they had been white etc. Even if she did not volunteer the information about the race of the "suspects" I am confident that the 911 dispatcher who took the call would have asked her to describe the "suspects" and that identifying their race be it Black, White or Purple would have been part of that process. This "controversy" can easily be laid to rest by making the recording of the 911 call public. Why hasn';t it been released yet? Likewise why have the recordings of Sgt. Crowleys radio calls not been released yet?

  4. Tony

    Wendy Murphy has said the caller didn't mention "race" … if she is now saying "black," that's a widening of the story a bit. In the 911 audio, the woman clearly says "Hispanic" when asked by dispatch: last I heard, "Hispanic" was a race although it is not black.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Tony: Whalen said one of the suspects might have been Hispanic, and that was only after having been asked twice by the dispatcher.

  6. Tony

    Yeah but Dan, is "might by Hispanic" identifying the person's race or not? The last I heard, Hispanic was a race …

  7. Robin Edgar

    When I made the above comment I was unaware that the 911 "tapes" had actually been released. I only saw your post to the effect that they have been released after posting the comment. I will now look into what is actually said on the "tapes". I still await the release of the recordings of Sgt. Crowley's radio calls.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Tony: Whalen didn't volunteer it and was uncertain and tentative even when asked. Maybe Murphy exaggerated a bit, but I think that's all she was getting at.

  9. meamoeba

    once again, i don't believe race matters here. whalen did her job in calling, the dispatcher did his job in trying to elicit complete description, whether by leading questions or not is irrelevant, and crowley did his job in responding. he didn't know whether the woman he spoke with on the porch was the one who witnessed or caled, as is evidenced by the tapes. everything worked the way it was supposed to — to that point. after that comes the breakdown and the tapes do nothing ot clarify that. the snatches of yelling in the background could be anything. it all comes down, i believe, to a cop who arrested someone because he could, not because he should.

  10. meamoeba

    i hate when i hit publish before preview. please forgive my typos: "caled" should be called, "ot" should be to. meamoeba offers a meaculpa.

  11. Neil

    Tony, where did you hear that Hispanic was a race? According to the OMB:Hispanic or Latino. A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.Anecdotally, I recently taught English to a group comprised mostly of people who met that definition. Their skin color was all over the map. It's a linguistic/cultural label, not a racial one. I don't see how "Hispanic" provides any help in physically identifying somebody. Unless they are using it as shorthand for "brown". Which it doesn't mean.

  12. Don, American

    The question of race is irrelevant. The person the Officer found at the scene was instantly belligerent and uncooperative, and left the Officer no alternative. Never ask the police, "Do you know who I am?" It's a form of disrespect.

  13. O'Reilly

    Never ask the police, "Do you know who I am?" It's a form of disrespect.True but it's not against the law. Back to the main thrust of the topic:Ms. Whalen, who was calling on her cell phone from in front of Professor Gates’s house, stayed on the scene until the police arrived. A report filed by the arresting officer, Sgt. James M. Crowley, said she told him she had seen “what appeared to be two black males with backpacks” on the porch of the home.Police officials stood by the report in interviews over the weekend, but on Monday, Ms. Whalen’s lawyer said she never mentioned race to Sergeant Crowley.“She didn’t speak to Sergeant Crowley at the scene except to say, ‘I’m the one who called,’ ” the lawyer, Wendy J. Murphy, said. “And he said, ‘Wait right there,’ and walked into the house. She never used the word black and never said the word ‘backpacks’ to anyone.”The Cambridge police did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the inconsistency. link

  14. Chalicechick

    (((A question — did Crowley speak with another woman at the scene and, later, mistakenly identify her as Whalen?))While the police report doesn't suggest that and has the lady directly identifying herself as Whalen, that still seems the most likely scenario. I find it more interesting that Crowley claims that he had to go out on the porch because Gates was so loud that it was "making it difficult to transmit pertinent information to the ECC or other responding units." Crowley's voice is clear as a bell in the tape, and it doesn't even sound like Gates is even trying to talk over him most of the time. CC

  15. Tony

    Hey Neil, so, if you make fun of Hispanics or Latinos or you "profile" them, you're not really a racist because it's not a race, it's a culture? Oh my, that's a stretch.

  16. Neil

    Tony that's right. You're some kind of -ist, but not a racist! Maybe "prick" is the correct word (though it doesn't end in -ist…).Race is an antiquated notion anyway–merely an artifact of geographical isolation. You can see how weak a concept it has become in the use of "racist" to describe people who are usually complaining about some behavior of a cultural or national group, rather than about "race", per se. All we have to do is wait a thousand years. Gates' and Crowley's ancestors will both be the same hue, the average of all current colors. Some kind of pumpkin or ochre. And their race will be "survivors".Cops and aggrieved citizens if there are any left will still find pretext for conflict though. If not race it'll be some other damn thing, because the particular catalyst is irrelevant. They change over time. What doesn't change is the primal urge to assert power, and the conflicting expectations of different privileged groups. The kind of problem that never goes away alas. Opinions about this one fall along the lines of where you think the privileged groups (law enforcement, free citizens) should rank in the hierarchy of power.

  17. Robin Edgar

    FWIW A rather more serious "discrepancy" emerged some days ago. . .Henry Louis Gates Jr. said -"I don't go around calling white people racists, hell first of all I'm half-white myself."after saying -"And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’ That’s what I said.""A crowd had gathered, and as they were handcuffing me and walking me out to the car, I said, ‘Is this how you treat a black man in America?’""He just presumed that I was guilty, and he presumed that I was guilty because I was black. There was no doubt about that."Need I say more? Because I can if necessary or even if it is not particularly necessary. . .I do not recall you reporting *that* discrepancy when it emerged Dan.Interestingly enough the WVC for this comment is – blying as in belying or be lying

  18. Neil

    It's not a discrepancy. "I don't go around doing X" doesn't mean "I never do X". It means, I don't do X cavalierly.Terms of opprobrium like racist (homophobe is another one) are tossed around too casually. Gates is claiming he doesn't do that. If you take him at his word that would imply that on the occasion when he does use such a word, it's for good reason.

  19. Robin Edgar

    I could be mistaken Neil, but I get the distinct impression that professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has made a whole career out of going around calling white people racist(s). . . Am I wrong?

  20. ShadowFox

    That's not one but three discrepancies. Whalen did not mention race. She did not say there was a burglary in progress–in fact, she specifically said that the men might live in the house. She did not mention backpacks, but did mention luggage.Crowley knew the identity of the resident before he called dispatch to complain that subject was "uncooperative"–if he lived there, there was nothing to cooperate about.The union is still screaming their defense, but they are rapidly losing credibility.

  21. O'Reilly

    Robin Edgar – impression that professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has made a whole career out of going around calling white people racist(s)He made his career in the academy as a student, educator, researcher and educational pioneer. Did you know he is on the Council of Foreign Relations and has received over fifty honorary degrees? He is a high-powered intellectual. If he's lying it'll be quite a scandal. I think he calls racist when he believes it has merit. I don't know what happened here but I will not be surprised to learn if the policeman falsified the record. There is too much scrutiny of this event for the truth to stay hidden. beer diplomacy w/Gates and Crowley scheduled for Thursday at 6 pm ET

  22. Robin Edgar

    "I think he calls racist when he believes it has merit."So do I. . .By his own account Henry Louis Gates Jr. believed Sgt. James Crowley was a "rogue" cop as soon as Crowley asked him to step outside onto the porch. "All of a sudden, there was a policeman on my porch. And I thought, ‘This is strange.’ So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’"So Henry Louis Gates thought that Sgt. James Crowley was a *racist* "rogue cop" from the get go, but don't take my word for that, take his word for it. . ."he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don’t think he would have done that if I was a white person."According to Henry Louis Gates it was clear to him that Sgt. Crowley "had a narrative in his head: A black man was inside someone’s house, probably a white person’s house, and this black man had broken and entered, and this black man was me."When did this ahem "racial profiling" of Sgt. Crowley by Gates occur? When Sgt. Crowley was responsibly examining the Harvard ID and Massachusetts driver’s license that Gates reluctantly provided to him, after initially refusing to cooperate.According to Gates' own published testimony. . ."It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, ‘What is your name, and what is your badge number?’ and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’"Who is doing the racial profiling here O'Reilly? Assuming this account is truthful, which may not be the case, there are any number of other reasons why Sgt. Crowley may not have responded to Gates repeated demands for his name and number, not the least of them being that Sgt. Crowley claims to identified himself by name soon after first encountering Gates and the fact that he was in uniform with badge name-plate displayed. But in Henry Gates own internal "narrative", which he openly shares with us, the one and only reason that Sgt. Crowley did not respond to his repeated demands for his name and number was because he was a white police officer and Gates just happened to be a black man.So just what were are Henry Louis Gates' *reasonable* grounds to believe that Sgt. Crowley is a racist O'Reilly? I don't see any. I see only his own prejudiced internal "narrative" that a white police officer who asks him to step out onto his porch, and provide an ID so he can verify that Gates is the actual resident of the house, must be a racist "rogue policeman". . . Am I mistaken? Did I miss something?

  23. mike_b1

    Robin, not sure what Canada is all about, but the US is not a police state. Citizens here have rights, despite the attempts of the GOP to take them away.

  24. Robin Edgar

    I can assure you that the U.S.A. is a hell of a lot closer to being a police state than Canada is mike_bs. The last time I checked we do not have military personnel patrolling train stations etc. We have rights that are very comparable to yours and I don't see any major Canadian political party trying to take them away. . . I do see a minority of Canadians, including some police officers, prosecutors, and judges doing things that infringe on those rights and *effectively* taking them away but they can be described as *rogue* police officers, prosecutors, and judges.

  25. Dan Kennedy

    mike_b1: Have you seen the documentary "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut"? You've got to watch those Canadians every second.

  26. mike_b1

    Robin, then why are you whining about a US citizen invoking his First Amendment rights?DK: While South Park was hilarious (until it jumped the shark), I prefer Dave Barry's take, which is that if Canada invaded the US, would we even notice?

  27. Robin Edgar

    I thought that I was primarily "whining" about Henry Louis Gates Jr. crying wolf about racism and racial profiling being the motivation for his arrest.

  28. mike_b1

    When you're whining, isn't the topic just a matter of distinction?

  29. Robin Edgar

    No and AFA*I*AC I wasn't *really* whining hence the scare quotes."I prefer Dave Barry's take, which is that if Canada invaded the US, would we even notice?"Quite evidently not. . .Oops. Maybe I shouldn't have said that. . .

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén