• Rhea Warren

Jeff Sessions calls Black Harvard scholar “some criminal”

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

In a New York Times Magazine article published Tuesday, Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Sessions referred to celebrated Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as “some criminal.”

Gates, a professor of African American history who frequently speaks about the nation’s history of racial injustice, was arrested in 2009 while trying to enter his own home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After vocalizing his outrage at being racially profiled on his own property, he was arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

After the incident, President Barack Obama invited Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, to the White House for a “beer summit.” Sessions criticized the White House meeting, drawing widespread criticism for his racist characterization of Gates and inaccurate depiction of the meeting.

“The police had been demoralized. There was all the Obama -- there’s a riot, and he has beer at the White House with some criminal, to listen to him,” said Sessions. “Wasn’t having a beer with the police officers. So we said, ‘We’re on your side. We’ve got your back, you got our thanks.”

In fact, both Gates and Crowley participated in the meeting.

CNN requested comment from Session’s campaign about the misinformation, but has received no response to date.

Sessions served as Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator for more than two decades. He left the position in 2017 to join the Trump administration as U.S. Attorney. He was fired from the position after an 18-month stint, and is now in a close race for his old senate seat against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. The Republican primary election is July 14.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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