Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dr. Boyce Watkins Says Obama Should be Careful About Quickly Backing Harvard Prof

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Syracuse Professor Boyce Watkins says Obama Made Mistake in Quickly Supporting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates

Syracuse, NY – Dr. Boyce Watkins, a prominent Professor at Syracuse University, has stated that President Barack Obama made a huge mistake by quickly jumping to support Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates after the professor’s recent arrest by the Cambridge Police Department.

Dr. Gates was arrested on his front porch after an altercation with Sergeant James Crowley, who was called when Gates was seen breaking into his own home. After showing ID, Crowley continued to question Gates, which led to Gates asking for the officer’s badge number. After an alleged verbal confrontation with Crowley, Dr. Gates was arrested.

During a nationally-televised press conference, President Obama went on to state that the Cambridge Police Department “acted stupidly” by arresting Gates. Professor Watkins felt that this was a mistake.

“The public has analyzed this case without knowing all the facts, and the president should be the last person to jump on such a bandwagon,” says Watkins, who was the only African American in the world to earn a PhD in Finance during the year 2002. “This was not your typical racial profiling case, and a good man’s career may be destroyed because of it.”

As part of his work with AOL and NBC, Dr. Watkins spent the week speaking with both Black scholars and police officers to get a more balanced perspective of the situation. During this research, Watkins found that the officer may not have violated procedure.

“Many people don’t realize that there is a reason that Gates had to be questioned, even after proving that he lived in the home,” says Watkins. “He could have been an estranged husband breaking in to hurt his wife. This happens all the time and the officer had an obligation to investigate the situation thoroughly.”

Watkins goes on to state that disorderly conduct typically relates to any disturbance to the public, and that if Gates was irate on the front porch, such actions might have given reasonable cause for his arrest.

“The goal is not to condemn Professor Gates or Sergeant Crowley right off the bat,” says Dr. Watkins. “We should hear from witnesses and get further evidence before we assume that the officer was behaving abnormally. The fact that Sergeant Crowley’s union has publicly supported him so strongly might be an indication that he didn’t do anything wrong. They could have remained silent.”

Dr. Watkins, who fights regularly for the rights of African American men, says that he is not attempting to undermine Henry Louis Gates. Instead, he claims that he is fighting for fairness for everyone, and waiting to hear all the facts before passing judgment.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” He is also an analyst for NBC and AOL Black Voices. For more information, please visit

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