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

“Two gentlemen”

The 911 recording has been released. And, as advertised, Lucia Whalen does not identify either of the “two gentlemen” as black, explaining she couldn’t tell, although she adds — in response to the dispatcher’s inquiry as to whether they were “white, black or Hispanic” — that one might be Hispanic.

There is, of course, no recording of her conversation at the scene with Sgt. James Crowley, which is when, according to Crowley’s report, she identified the men as “two black males.”

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A discrepancy emerges


  1. lkcape

    See the journalist.See the journalist jump to conclusions.You expected something differnt?Drip, drip, drip.Not good for Skip.

  2. Art

    Hi Dan,You may have heard this already, but Jim Braude, on the show this afternoon, spoke to Wendy Murphy.Braude keeps saying that Murphy contends her client, Whalen, NEVER SPOKE to Crowley.

  3. O-FISH-L

    Many other revelations here too, Dan. This is the first time I've heard there was a second eyewitness, a woman who apparently encouraged Ms. Whalen to call 911 and stayed with her, at least during the phone call. Also the repeated statement that the two men had "barged in" (into) the home and references that they had cut a screen door. Amazing!To the trained ear, the radio tapes are most revealing. "Car 52" is obviously Sergeant Crowley, who appears calm throughout. On at least two transmissions, an angry man (presumably Gates) can be heard ranting in the background, so loud at one point that the dispatcher asks Crowley to repeat himself, because he couldn't understand him clearly. Perhaps most frightening for other officers at the time, the repeated, unanswered calls for 52, 52, 52, 52. Presumably this is the time when Crowley had asked Gates to step outside because of the acoustics, but radio silence from an officer alone on-scene at a felony call like that is chilling. Comparing the brief radio silence and not the crimes, it reminded me of the night in Kingston in 1994 after Trooper Mark Charbonnier had stopped David Clark for traffic violations. With back-up miles away and the barracks calling Charbonnier's 953, 953, 953 to no answer, the trooper eventually responded with his last known words, "953, ambulance, ambulance." He had been fatally shot.It should now be clear to all that a dedicated, calm Cambridge Police Sergeant, responding to two eyewitness reports of a forcible entry into a dwelling, arrived quickly and immediately met with accusations of racism and crude references to the officer's mother. That's not a symptom of fatigue or jet lag, but a hatred for "whitey, cracker" (Gates' words, not mine) that runs far deeper. After ascertaining Gates' identity, the officer descended the stairs and tried to leave, yet Gates continued to pool his game. Crowley then arrested him, exercising the powers bestowed in him by the legislature. Bottom line, Gates' belligerence and race baiting caused a non-issue to become an international one.

  4. Michael Pahre

    O-FISH-L's observations are well-taken: (1) there is a second woman who was present, and might have been the person the Sgt Crowley spoke to in person; (2) Gates can be heard noisy in the background, albeit briefly.To #2: this is not a smoking gun that will make the audio go viral, or cause the media obsess over it. While Crowley needed something repeated, the tape just doesn't give us much information.To #1: unless this other witness steps forward, Crowley's got a problem. If Whalen never spoke to Crowley, then his signed police report includes a false statement about Whalen telling him in person that it was two black men. That is a detail that is far too small to warrant significant disciplinary action against Crowley — but is significant enough to call into question the accuracy of other details in the police report that contradict Gates's (unsigned) statements.Drip, drip, drip… and nobody is the winner.

  5. Robin Edgar

    I take note of the fact that Cambridge policeman Sgt. James Crowley refers to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "the gentleman" at the 4:28-31 mark or so of this YouTube video of *some* of the police recordings that the Cambridge Chronicle has posted to the internet, and calmly notes that Gates "will not cooperate". Referring to an uncooperative African American "suspect" as a "gentleman" is hardly the kind of description that one would expect from the kind of racist "rogue policeman" that Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. has publicly, and indeed *nationally*, slandered Sgt James Crowley as being. . . Henry Louis Gates Jr. may be a scholar but he's no *gentleman*.

  6. O'Reilly

    From a new york times articlw we know that the entire incident took 6 minutes, so Gates have must been excessively uncooperative in a very short period of time that included him providing (perhaps cooperatively) two pieces of ID to the officer and clearing himself as the B&E suspect. "There is too much that doesn't add up on Crowley's side of the equation. The 911 call went in at 12:45 pm. Gates was arrested by 12:51 pm."linkr

  7. Robin Edgar

    That is an interesting point if true O'Reilly, but the flip side of *that* coin is that it means that all those people who pretend that Sgt. Crowley overstayed his welcome in or at Gates' home are talking through their hats.

  8. Robin Edgar

    The key word being *if*. . .I just read the NYT article, which lacks credibility to begin with. . . and could find no mention of the quote you pulled. So I scanned through the comments and found it in this reader comment that is heavily biased against Sgt. Crowley. I will need a more credible source of information before I believe what I read in your comment and the comment on the ever so PC NYT opinion piece.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Robin: That's not a reader comment. It's a blog written by Judith Warner, a Times blogger/columnist. And the time sequence is part of the factual record, regardless of what opinionated words surround it.

  10. Robin Edgar

    Yes it is a reader's comment Dan. I reader by the name of John Posey who commented on the blog that O'Reilly linked to. I stand by what I said in my comment here. If you can point me to a more credible source for the "factual record" than an obviously biased reader's comment on an NYT blog that would be appreciated.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Robin: Again, the time sequence is taken from the Times' reporting, not from a reader comment:The radio dispatch about a possible breaking and entering on Ware Street went out at 12:45 p.m. … By 12:51 p.m., he was in handcuffs, charged with disorderly conduct.

  12. Robin Edgar

    Thanks for pointing to the original source of that information Dan, as requested, but I was talking about how the quote that O'Reilly cited was not in the article/blog post that he linked to (presumably to provide the source of the quote) but only in a reader's comment on that blog post. I was not going to take that information *too* seriously until there was a more credible source for it.

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