State officials have vetoed a request by police cadets to invite Sgt. James Crowley to be keynote speaker at their April graduation. Crowley gained notoriety after arresting a prominent black Harvard professor trying to get into his own house.
A story in the Boston Globe reports that the class of 54 cadets at the Randolph Regional Police Training Academy had voted to invite Sgt. Crowley to speak at their graduation, but state official vetoed the idea.
Last July, Crowley arrested Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., after responding to a call of a possible burglary in progress at Gates’ Cambridge home. Gates was returning home from a trip abroad and was having difficulty with a jammed front door. When Crowley arrived and questioned Gates, Crowley asserted that Gates became belligerent and uncooperative, and arrested him for disorderly conduct. Gates charged Crowley with racial profiling.
Ironically, Crowley was involved in training recruits on how to avoid racial profiling, while Gates is a renowned scholar on race relations. The dispute touched off a debate on the state of race relations in the United States, and culminated in the two men having a beer with President Obama at the White House.
Daniel Zivkovich, executive director of the Municipal Police Training Committee, said the committee decided not to invite Crowley because his presence would overshadow the meaning of the event.
“We believe that graduations are to highlight th hard work and accomplishments of the graduates and felt that, had Sergeant Crowley been the speaker, he would have become the focus of the events, instead of the graduates,” Zivkovich wrote in an email to the Globe.
James Crowley declined to comment but his brother, Daniel Crowley, a Middlesex County Deputy Sheriff, told the Globe his brother was “honored” by the invitation and “would be more than happy to oblige them.”
Daniel Crowley also told the Globe that he had been told that Gov. Deval Patrick had rejected the invitation, but a spokesman for the governor denies this.
“The governor was not aware of the issue at all,” said Juan Martinez, a spokesman for the governor.
Finally, Zivkovich appeared to leave the door open for Crowley to speak.
“If the cadets want Sergeant Crowley as their speaker, we will honor their wish,” Zivkovich wrote in his email.