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And even when you got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African-American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding.My hope is, is that, as a consequence of this event, this 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. The beltway response to what happened on Wednesday night, just a political assessment, was that the president, while making unscripted remarks got into territory he never would have wanted to get into had he planned his words in advance.

OBAMA: Because this has been ratcheting up, and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically.

And I could have calibrated those words differently. I continue to believe, based on what I have heard, that there was an overreaction in pulling Professor Gates out of his home to the station.

So, clearly, part of what he‘s trying to do is ameliorate feelings on both sides.

On the other hand, it‘s also clear he‘s trying to turn down the racial emotional volume so we can have a conversation about the policy questions that he and the administration would like to have on the agenda.

” So, I think that he was having that kind of off-the-cuff, unscripted reaction.

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On the other hand, I think, as he kind of pondered it over the course of the day and as he said, as the volume got pumped up in the media over the course of the day, he also thought about what it meant for the president of the United States to, you know, to denigrate or say something negative, you know, about a working police officer.

But we begin tonight with the remarkable and unexpected moment at the White House press briefing this afternoon, concerning the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, an eminent African-American Harvard professor, and Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Department who arrested Professor Gates in his own home a week ago yesterday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it‘s fair to say: number one, any of us would be pretty angry.

It‘s also not just about raw outrage over the police officer in this case being called a racist because of the arrest, although there is outrage about that, too.

As the president tries to—in his words—get everybody to back up, slow down, be constructive in the wake of this incident, watch to see who resists and why.

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