Cambridge Drama Comes to Bay Area Pulpits

Pastor: We don't want the president to feel like he's out there alone on this issue

A San Francisco pastor will mark a national day of reflection and discussion Sunday about a  controversial incident involving a black Harvard University  professor and a white Cambridge police officer.

The Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church in the city, said the arrest of Henry Louis Gates reflects a larger reality of what happens to minorities every day in the U.S.

Gates was arrested July 16 at his house in  Cambridge, Mass. for disorderly conduct after a police officer responded to a  report of a possible break-in. The charges were later dropped.

Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, are meeting over beers with President Obama Thursday at the White House. Obama, who initially condemned the cops for acting "stupidly," has since said both parties appear to have overreacted and acknowledged that he should have chosen his words more carefully.

Rev. Brown, who is also president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the incident  "reflects a certain bias, and certain historical attitude toward  African-Americans" and that "we don't want the president to feel like he's  out there alone on this issue."

Brown said various congregations will discuss the incident in cities throughout the country, including Oakland, New York City, Dallas,  Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta.

With all that in mind, this Sunday pastors will reflect on lessons that can be learned, and then allow congregations to tell their own stories about encounters with police  officers, Brown said.

Brown has been the pastor of the Third Baptist Church, located on McAllister Street, since 1976. He also served as a San Francisco supervisor  from 1996 to 2001.

And while Bay Area pastors will use the pulpit to spread the message, late last week the President of the United States used beer.

President Obama's invitation to the Harvard scholar and the police officer to come over to the White House for a beer seems to have calmed most of the tension surrounding the incident. .

Gates and Crowley wee both upbeat following the backyard meetins. 'They shared refreshments and their thoughts during a 40-minute chat on the Rose Garden patio. Vice President Joe Biden joined them.

There was no acrimony -- nor apology -- from any of the three. But neither Gates nor Crowley backtracked, either, agreeing they still had differences. Crowley says they agreed to move forward. Gates said fate had given them a great opportunity.

The president said he hoped a "positive lesson" could be drawn from the episode

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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