Professor's Arrest Sparks National Race Debate

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President Barack Obama's healthcare news conference ended with a question about the recent arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and his answer is adding fuel to a heated conversation about race in America. 

"I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry.  Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home," he said.

A neighbor called police to report she saw two black men breaking in to Gates' Cambridge home-- but it was actually the professor and his driver trying to force through a broken door.

Click play for a conversation on race in America with Harvard graduate Bishop Harry Jackson and Regent University professor Gerson Moreno-Riano.

Sgt. James Crowley arrived and found Gates inside his home.  According his police report, Gates initially refused to show his ID, "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior" and made accusations of "racial bias" in full view of the public.

Crowley arrested gates for disorderly conduct.  The charge was dropped Tuesday.

The officer isn't talking about the case but he did respond to the president's prime-time comment, saying it's "disappointing that he waded into what should be a local issue."

Locally, Cambridge's mayor is siding with Gates, who says racism is behind his arrest.

"I would say race plays a factor in everything," Mayor Denise Simmons said.

She wants the two men to meet and talk about what happened and Gates has said he'd like to do that.  

"I think he owes me an apology for what he did," he said.

"There will be no apology," Crowley responded.

Even if the two never talk, America -- and the president-- will.

"Race remains a factor in this society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made," Obama said.  "I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made, and yet the fact of the matter is... this still haunts us."

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