A new national poll released this afternoon says that more Americans believe Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is at fault for the face-off in his home that led to his arrest than Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley, the white officer who handcuffed him.
According to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 27 percent of respondents named Gates when asked who they felt was more at fault, while 11 percent named Crowley.
The highest number, 29 percent, said both men were equally at fault for the arrest, while 31 percent said they didnít know enough about the incident to say.
Though the disorderly conduct charges against Gates was dropped, the incident has become the latest case to become a hot-button racial issue. President Obama, who added fuel to that fire by initially saying that Cambridge police "acted stupidly," has invited the two men to have a beer at the White House on Thursday, perhaps an opportunity to work through their differences.
On Friday, as he said he did not mean to malign Crowley or the Cambridge police, Obama said he hoped the controversy "ends up being what's called a 'teachable moment,' where all of us instead of pumping up the volume spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity."
But the poll suggests there is a wide racial divide on the incident.
Among African-Americans, only 4 percent said Gates was more at fault versus 30 percent who blamed Crowley. Among whites, in contrast, 32 percent blamed Gates more, while only 7 percent blamed Crowley.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.