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US scholar now ready to move on from arrest

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 United States 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 Sergeant James Crowley.

In a statement posted last Friday on The Root, a Website 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.

In an e-mail to the Boston Globe late on Friday, he said: "It is time for all of us to move on, and to assess what we can learn from this experience."

In a statement, Gates promised to do all he could so others could learn from his arrest.

"This could and should be a profound teaching moment in the history of race relations in America," Gates said. "I sincerely hope that the Cambridge police department will choose to work with me toward that goal."

Gates, 58, did not say in his statement if he planned to file a lawsuit.

Crowley did not return a message seeking comment.

The outcry began last Monday, when word broke that Gates had been arrested five days earlier at the two-story home he rents from Harvard.

Supporters called the arrest an act of racial profiling.

Cambridge police moved to drop the disorderly conduct charge last Tuesday, calling the case "regrettable."


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