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Sgt. Crowley welcomed at Long Beach police convention

August 17, 2009 | 10:58 am

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Sgt. James Crowley, the white Massachusetts officer who arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., setting off a national debate about race, spoke briefly Monday at a convention of police officers in Long Beach where he was greeted with whistles and applause.

151294.ME.0817.Crowley.007. "My sole purpose for coming here is to reach out and sincerely thank you," said Crowley, who spoke at the biennial convention of the Fraternal Order of Police at the Long Beach Convention Center.

In an address that lasted less than one minute, Crowley said the arrest of Gates and its aftermath has been difficult for his family and colleagues. "It is no exaggeration to say that it wouldn't be easy for me to handle this without ... your overwhelming support,"  he said.

A small crowd swarmed Crowley after he spoke. He shook hands with a few officers, signed autographs and posed for photos.

Responding to a tip of a possible break-in, Cambridge police showed up at Gates’ home on July 16, and eventually arrested Gates after he began screaming at them, accusing Crowley of being a "racist police officer." The resulting flap led to Crowley and Gates being invited to the White House to have a beer with President Obama.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photos, from top: Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, left, greets Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley at the Fraternal Order of Police convention in Long Beach; Crowley, gets a standing ovation before speaking. Credits: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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