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Say it with roses: Harvard prof sends gift to 911 caller

  • Story Highlights
  • Henry Gates sends flowers to office of woman who accidentally called police on him
  • Lucia Whalen "appreciated them very much," her secretary says
  • Whalen called 911 after woman told her she suspected break-in at Gates' home
  • Whalen drew criticism for making call; says she'd do it again
By Chuck Johnston
CNN
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(CNN) -- The woman who made the 911 call that led to Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates' controversial arrest wasn't present at the so-called beer summit.

Sgt. James Crowley and professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sit down with the president and vice president Thursday.

Lucia Whalen, who called 911 to report a possible break-in, speaks to reporters Wednesday.

But she got a shot of kindness and a taste of gratitude from Gates himself.

Lucia Whalen received a bouquet of flowers at her office from Gates, according to Whalen's attorney, Wendy Murphy.

"She described them as amazing, and appreciated them very much," Murphy said of the bouquet.

The attorney described the flowers as being a beautiful assortment of what she believed were different colored roses.

There was a note included from Gates, the details of which Murphy would not divulge. She said the note characterized Gates's "expression of gratitude" for Whalen's action.

An officer responding to a report of a possible break-in at Gates' Cambridge, Massachusetts, home arrested the professor on July 16 for disorderly conduct. The charge was later dropped.

The arrest sparked a national debate about race and police relations.

Whalen said an older woman with no cell phone told her that she was worried someone was trying to break into the home, and decided to call 911.

Whalen never referred to black suspects when she called authorities about the suspected break-in.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama -- who had weighed in on the controversy, saying initially that police acted "stupidly" -- sat down for a beer at the White House with Gates and the officer who arrested him.

The meeting has been called the "beer summit."

After the meeting, Obama said in a statement he was thankful to Gates and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley for joining him at for "a friendly, thoughtful conversation.

"Even before we sat down for the beer, I learned that the two gentlemen spent some time together listening to one another, which is a testament to them," the president's statement said

Obama's initial comments on the incident drew criticism and later he softened his stance, saying, "I could've calibrated those words differently."

Murphy told CNN that Whalen has been receiving other apologies and accolades from people all over the world, but so far, no beer.

All About James CrowleyHenry Louis Gates, Jr.Racial IssuesCambridge (Massachusetts)

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