BOSTON — Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. says he's ready to move on from his arrest by a white police officer, hoping to use the encounter to improve fairness in the criminal justice system and saying "in the end, this is not about me at all."
After a phone call from President Barack Obama urging calm in the aftermath of his arrest last week, Gates said he would accept Obama's invitation to the White House for a beer with him and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley.
In a statement posted Friday on The Root, a Web site Gates oversees, the scholar said he told Obama he'd be happy to meet with Crowley, whom Gates had accused of racial profiling.
"I told the president that my principal regret was that all of the attention paid to his deeply supportive remarks during his press conference had distracted attention from his health care initiative," Gates said. "I am pleased that he, too, is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment, and if meeting Sergeant Crowley for a beer with the president will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige."
It was a marked change in tone for Gates, who in the days following his arrest gathered up his legal team and said he was contemplating a lawsuit. He even vowed to make a documentary on his arrest to tie into a larger project about racial profiling.