Obama hopes 'beer summit' with officer defuses racial dispute

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is hoping his "beer summit" Thursday with Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley and Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. will resolve a racially charged dispute that has drawn attention away from his drive to overhaul health care.

Obama is trying to defuse the political fallout from his comment at a news conference that police had "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates at his home after responding to a call about a possible break-in.

Gates, who is black, was arrested by Crowley, who is white, after Crowley accused him of disorderly conduct for protesting the policeman's actions. The charges were later dropped.

Obama invited both men to the White House for beer, to be served at a picnic table near his Oval Office if weather permits.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday that none of the three planned to say anything about their meeting when reporters are allowed to join them during a brief photo opportunity.

"This is not an after action report," Gibbs said, adding that the White House "is not here to mediate any apologies."

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