CBS: Jesse Jackson Claims ‘Racial Profiling’ In Gates Case

Harry Smith and Jesse Jackson, CBS Appearing on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, Reverend Jesse Jackson continued to promote the idea that Harvard Professor Henry Gates was a victim of racial profiling, despite new evidence to the contrary: "This issue of Dr. Gates being a victim of excessive force and bad judgment is a much bigger subject...This one case could open up the issue of the pervasiveness of race profiling."

Co-host Harry Smith had asked Jackson about a scheduled meeting between Gates, Cambridge police officer Sergeant James Crowley, and President Obama: "Do you think there's any chance these three men can embark after this meeting is over having found common ground?" Jackson argued: "Well, they have the supreme arbiter in the President of the United States of America. It's a big subject for a small meeting." He went on to compare the Gates case to that of Rosa Parks: " If Rosa Parks and James Blake, the bus driver, had met at the White House and did not deal with the issue of denial of public accommodations, it would have been personal and not policy."

Immediately preceding the discussion with Jackson, correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on the newly released 911 call by Gates’ neighbor Lucia Whelan, and pointed out that Whelan: "...describes the scene, but what she doesn't mention is the men's skin color." Solorzano went on to cite Whelan’s attorney, Wendy Murphy: "Now she's glad to have an opportunity to clear the air and make it very clear she is not a racist."

Instead of challenging Jackson’s assertion that Gates was subject to racial profiling, Smith tossed a softball for his follow up question: "I think about your face the night Barack Obama was elected and the tears that were streaming down your face, all that you have experienced in the fight for civil rights in this country. And I wonder sometimes, as you have seen all that you have seen, can this one – I think maybe that this incident shows that life is still even as complicated as it's always been?" Jackson again cited Rosa Parks: "Well you know, again, back to Rosa Parks, that one case raised the real debate about denial of public accommodations and what it meant and denial of the right to vote. This one case could open up the issue of the pervasiveness of race profiling."

Not content with sticking to the facts of the Gates case, Jackson proceeded to launch into a list of grievances: "I wish at some point the President would meet with the – Countrywide and with Wells Fargo, for example. Much of this subprime housing lending was driven by race profiling, not just the police profiling, but judges in the sentencing disparity, for example. And so, there is – this is a teachable moment if we, in fact, now address the issue of – race profiling is deadly, it's costly and it’s expensive, and really is bad for your health."

In his final question to Jackson, Smith wondered: ": Last but not least, will it always be this way, or will there be a time in America when we're color blind, when we’re class blind, when we're gender blind, when we're disability blind?" Jackson replied: "No one desires to be blind. We should be conscious and we should be – we should be caring. I think the real deal here is that we not have an explosive situation, President Obama has tried to reduce the temperature in the Dr. Gates and Crowley case." There was no mention of President Obama furthering divisions by commenting that Cambridge police had "acted stupidly" in the case.

The segment concluded with Jackson ranting:

I hope that this kicks off a real – a real concern about how to close what President Obama calls a ‘structural inequality.’ That means enforcing and funding civil rights law. It really means stopping race profiling as it comes to enforcing EEOC, contract compliance, affirmative action. And what makes this issue so explosive is that it is so pervasive, it is so illegal and so immoral and there must be a deterrence to, in fact, stop it. I hope it will get beyond the meeting with the President and Mr. – Dr. Gates and Crowley and get involved in this discussion, Dr. – the Attorney General's position about how cowardly we are on this question and the need – each agency of government has a real role to play in ending institutional, structural, expansive racial profiling.

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: Brand-new details this morning on that alleged racial profiling case of a Harvard professor as 911 tapes are revealed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [911 OPERATOR]: Are they white black or Hispanic?

LUCIA WHALEN: Um well, they were two larger men. One looked kind of Hispanic but I’m not really sure.

7:09AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Call it three men and a beer. President Obama, Cambridge Sergeant James Crowley, and Harvard Professor Henry Gates will meet at the White House Thursday evening to discuss race in America. CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with more. Good morning, Bianca.

BIANCA SOLORZANO: Hi, good morning, Harry. With the release of tapes, we have had our first chance to hear what happened when a break-in was reported at Henry Gates' home. The woman who called 911, she was walking past the neighborhood on her way to lunch.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [911 OPERATOR]: Are they still in the house?

LUCIA WHALEN: They are still in the house I believe, yeah.

SOLORZANO: It was the 911 call that led to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates.

911 OPERATOR: Tell me exactly what happened.

WHALEN: I don’t know what’s happening. I just have an older woman standing here and she had noticed two gentlemen trying to get in a house. And they kind of had barged in and they broke the screen door.

SOLORZANO: The caller quickly offers a guess that the men might not be robbers. Maybe they had a problem with their key.

WHALEN: I noticed two suitcases, so I’m not sure if these are two individuals who actually work there – I mean, who live there.

SOLORZANO: She describes the scene, but what she doesn't mention is the men's skin color. Not until she's asked directly by the dispatcher.

911 OPERATOR: Are they white, black, or Hispanic?

WHALEN: Um well, they were two larger men. One looked kind of Hispanic but I’m not really sure. And the other one entered and I didn’t see what he looked like at all.

SOLORZANO: Her lawyer says she hopes the tapes will clear her name as the racist spark in what's become a national controversy.

WENDY MURPHY [ATTORNEY FOR LUCIA WHALEN]: Now she's glad to have an opportunity to clear the air and make it very clear she is not a racist.

SOLORZANO: In a second tape released, Sergeant James Crowley arrives at Gates' home and radios headquarters.

JAMES CROWLEY: I’m up with a gentleman. Says he resides here...but is rather uncooperative. But keep the cars coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B [DISPATCHER]: I have an ID, Henry Louis Gates.

CROWLEY: Can you also start the Harvard University Police this way.

DISPATCHER: We can send them in.

SOLORZANO: While other sound is heard in the background, it's tough to make out who it is or what they're saying. And Cambridge Police forces have developed a task force. They want to take a look at this case and see if anything can be learned from it. Harry.

SMITH: Bianca, thank you so much. Reverend Jesse Jackson joins us now from San Francisco. Good morning, Reverend Jackson.

JESSE JACKSON: Good morning, sir.

SMITH: Here’s this meeting at the White House to take place Thursday evening, do you think there's any chance these three men can embark after this meeting is over having found common ground?

JACKSON: Well, they have the supreme arbiter in the President of the United States of America. It's a big subject for a small meeting. If Rosa Parks and James Blake, the bus driver, had met at the White House and did not deal with the issue of denial of public accommodations, it would have been personal and not policy. And so this issue of Dr. Gates being a victim of excessive force and bad judgment is a much bigger subject.

SMITH: I think about your face the night Barack Obama was elected and the tears that were streaming down your face, all that you have experienced in the fight for civil rights in this country. And I wonder sometimes, as you have seen all that you have seen, can this one – I think maybe that this incident shows that life is still even as complicated as it's always been?

JACKSON: Well you know, again, back to Rosa Parks, that one case raised the real debate about denial of public accommodations and what it meant and denial of the right to vote. This one case could open up the issue of the pervasiveness of race profiling, of the subprime lending struggle. I wish at some point the President would meet with the – Countrywide and with Wells Fargo, for example. Much of this subprime housing lending was driven by race profiling, not just the police profiling, but judges in the sentencing disparity, for example. And so, there is – this is a teachable moment if we, in fact, now address the issue of – race profiling is deadly, it's costly and it’s expensive, and really is bad for your health.

SMITH: Last but not least, will it always be this way, or will there be a time in America when we're color blind, when we’re class blind, when we're gender blind, when we're disability blind?

JACKSON: No one desires to be blind. We should be conscious and we should be – we should be caring. I think the real deal here is that we not have an explosive situation, President Obama has tried to reduce the temperature in the Dr. Gates and Crowley case. You know, we didn't hear the woman say anything about black, about backpacks, she said maybe they're in their home. So the – the overreaction here, it seems to me, is a matter to be dealt with in days to come. I hope that this kicks off a real – a real concern about how to close what President Obama calls a ‘structural inequality.’ That means enforcing and funding civil rights law. It really means stopping race profiling as it comes to enforcing EEOC, contract compliance, affirmative action. And what makes this issue so explosive is that it is so pervasive, it is so illegal and so immoral and there must be a deterrence to, in fact, stop it. I hope it will get beyond the meeting with the President and Mr. – Dr. Gates and Crowley and get involved in this discussion, Dr. – the Attorney General's position about how cowardly we are on this question and the need – each agency of government has a real role to play in ending institutional, structural, expansive racial profiling.

SMITH: Reverend Jackson, thank you for your time this morning. Good to see you.

JACKSON: Thank you, sir.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC