The black leader of an organization dedicated to "rebuilding the family by rebuilding man" rebuked Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and civil rights activist Al Sharpton on Thursday for their "unfounded and reckless" allegations of racism against police in Cambridge, Mass.
"Henry Gates and Al Sharpton are abusing police while black," said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND).
"What's regrettable is that the city of Cambridge and the police have allowed themselves to be intimidated by a race hustler like Al 'The Riot King' Sharpton," he added. "The race card has once again been used to unjustly smear law enforcement and thwart justice."
Since Gates' arrest last Thursday, a national debate has erupted, pulling in even President Obama, who added more fuel to it when he said the Cambridge police "acted stupidly."
According to reports, officers went to Gates home last Thursday after a woman called 911 and said she saw a man "wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open," according to a police report.
Gates, who Time magazine named one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997, said he had just returned from a trip to China and found the door jammed. When police arrived, Gates was on the phone with the property's management company.
What happened afterward is not absolutely clear.
According to Gates' attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, Gates gave the officer his driver's license and Harvard identification after being asked to prove he was a Harvard professor and lived at the home, but became upset when the officer continued to question him.
"He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification," Ogletree said.
Ogletree declined to say whether he believed the incident was racially motivated but said "I think the incident speaks for itself."
Meanwhile, patrolman Carlos Figueroa, the only other Cambridge officer who was in the home during the confrontation, said in a police report that Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, had asked for Gates' identification and heard Gates say, "No, I will not!" He also said Gates was shouting at Crowley, calling him a racist and saying, "This is what happens to black men in America!"
But Figueroa said Crowley did what he was supposed to do when he asked Gates for identification as they were investigating a report of a suspected burglary.
"Part of our protocol is to make sure we know who is in there (the home) and legally in there," Figueroa told The Associated Press.
When Crowley asked Gates to talk outside, the professor reportedly said, "Yeah, I'll speak with your mama outside."
"There was a lot of yelling, there was references to my mother, something you wouldn't expect from anybody that should be grateful that you're there investigating a report of a crime in progress let alone a Harvard University professor," Crowley said Thursday.
Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior."
Not long after news of Gates' arrest spread, civil rights leader Sharpton said he believes the arrest "is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen."
"I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs," he said.
Some of Gates' African-American colleagues have also said they believed the arrest to be part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge.
But the Rev. Jesse Lee Bond, in his statement Thursday, asked, "Where's the racism?"
"Gates was abusive and disorderly and the police dealt with him accordingly," the black pro-family leader commented. "This is a case of black males gone wild."
Bond further chastised Gates and Sharpton for the example they're setting to America's black youth.
"Their false allegations say to young blacks that they too can abuse police and cry racism," he stated.
Ironically, Crowley, the arresting officer, was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.
Friends and fellow officers - black and white - say the principled police officer and family man is being unfairly described as racist.
Obama, who personally telephoned both Gates and Crowley, has also said he believes the sergeant to be an "outstanding police officer and a good man."
But the president also said Friday that he didn't regret stepping into the controversy and hoped the matter would end up being a "teachable moment" for the nation.
"The fact that this has garnered so much attention, I think, is testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America," Obama said.
Hoping to quell the uproar, the president said his sense "is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in a way that it should have been resolved."