Police in Cambridge, Massachusetts have announced they will create an independent panel to investigate an arrest that has drawn national attention.
Sgt. James Crowley, a white police officer, arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in his home last week. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct, which is a minor offense. The charges against the Harvard University professor were dropped on Tuesday.
However, the case has turned into a major outcry over racial profiling in this country.
Both Crowly and Gates have difference accounts of the incident and many of the facts are still unclear. Gates was arrested after a neighbor saw him breaking into the front door of his home. The neighbor assumed the worst, and called the police.
What has made the situation so difficult is that both men have stellar reputations. Gates is a high-profile scholar who teaches African American studies. Crowley was recently hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach a class on racial profiling.
Both men are refusing to apologize for the incident that has the nation talking.
"He's a rogue cop," Gates said of Crowley.
"There will be no apology," Crowley told a reporter. The reporter then asked, "Is this now and ever no apology?" Crowley answered, "Yes."
Even President Obama expressed his opinion about the case. At his Wednesday news conference, he said the police officer acted "stupidly." On Thursday, during an interview on ABC's NightLine program, Obama said, "From what I can tell the sergeant who was involved is an outstanding police officer. But my suspicion is probably that it would have been better if cooler heads had prevailed."
Comedian Bill Cosby appearing on a Boston radio program Thursday suggested the president spoke to soon on Gates arrest without knowing all the details.
"If both people came forward and told the truth, whatever it is, then we would be a grown up community," Cosby explained. "That would lead to a very grown up nation."
Sociologists say the case has caught the country's attention, because Americans need to have a deeper conversation about race relations in the 21st century.