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Obama hopes 'beer summit' defuses racial dispute

In this photo taken by a neighbor Thursday July 16, 2009 Henry Louis Gates Jr. center, the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, is arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Police say they were called to the home of Gates after a woman reported seeing a man try to pry open the front door. (AP Photo/Demotix Images, B. Carter) MAGS OUT

In this photo taken by a neighbor Thursday July 16, 2009 Henry Louis Gates Jr. center, the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, is arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Police say they were called to the home of Gates after a woman reported seeing a man try to pry open the front door. (AP Photo/Demotix Images, B. Carter) MAGS OUT

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is hoping his "beer summit" Thursday with Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley and Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. will resolve a racially charged dispute that has drawn attention away from his drive to overhaul health care.

Obama is trying to defuse the political fallout from his comment at a news conference that police had "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates at his home after responding to a call about a possible break-in.

Gates, who is black, was arrested by Crowley, who is white, after Crowley accused him of disorderly conduct for protesting the policeman's actions. The charges were later dropped.

Obama invited both men to the White House for beer, to be served at a picnic table near his Oval Office if weather permits.


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