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The attorney for the woman who made the 911 call reporting the suspicious activity at the home of Harvard Professor Skip Gates two weeks ago made a very good point today. She also did something very mean to her client. At the noon press conference, Wendy Murphy (a prominent Boston attorney who sometimes joins Tom & I on the WRKO morning show) wondered aloud why her client, Lucia Whalen, wasn't invited to the "drink in" at the White House tomorrow evening.
Introducing Whalen, Murphy said that three men -- Gates, Crowley, and Obama -- had overreacted in the incident... "The one person whose actions have been exemplary will be at work tomorrow in Cambridge, " Murphy said. "Maybe it's a guy thing. She doesn't like beer, anyway."
Why is Gates, whose prejudice and hostility to white people created the incident, be granted a photo op with the President? Why should Obama, who escalated the incident with his prejudiced, anti-white, anti-cop attitude, be rewarded with a photo op with Sgt. Crowley? The bad thing that Wendy did was to hold the press conference, allowing her very self-conscious client to embarrass herself.
While we can all relate to what a weird and unexpected experience it must be to become central to a huge national media feeding frenzy, up until today's press conference, no one knew anything about her beyond her name and the sound of her voice. She could walk down the street unnoticed.
The woman whose 911 call brought a Cambridge police officer to a fateful encounter with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home said today she had undergone an "ordeal" in which she had been called racist, had been a target of scorn and ridicule, and even threatened.
It's unclear why she is so unable to cope, especially with the support of a savvy attorney like Wendy. What is unmistakable is that Ms. Whalen lacks the confidence and experience to handle a presentation of this sort.
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She said the recording of the 911 call reporting a possible break-in, which was released by Cambridge police earlier this week, showed that she had "tried to be careful and honest with my words." But Lucia Whalen, 40, said she would do it all over again. "I have had much reflection on that and, yes, I would make the call," she said in a news conference today at a Cambridge park.
Her level of upset is particularly confusing considering she's known all along that she made no race based comments and that the tape would ultimately prove her to have behaved appropriately.
Whalen said Sunday through a spokeswoman she was "personally devastated" by media accounts that suggested she placed the call because the men she saw on the porch of Gate's home were black.