Update: Black Harvard professor arrested at his home sparking racism charges

July 21, 2009

Boston (ChattahBox) — Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested last week at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. In an incident that some are calling racial profiling, Professor Gates, arrived home on Thursday from a trip to China to find his front door jammed, according to Charles J. Ogletree, a law professor at Harvard who is representing him. He forced the door open with the help of his cab driver, Professor Ogletree said, and had been inside for a few minutes.

As you might guess someone (a woman) saw two black men forcing their way into the home, which is a few blocks from Harvard Square and called police. From that point on, the account of the professor and the police begin to diverge. Police say he refused to come outside to speak with the officer, Sergeant Crowley, who told him he was investigating a report of a break-in, accompanied by the woman who phoned in the incident. Professor Gates supposedly responded with, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” and accused the sergeant of racism. Sergeant Crowley wrote in the report: “While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.”

Professor Gates followed him outside, the report said, and yelled at him despite the sergeant’s warning “that he was becoming disorderly.” Sergeant Crowley then arrested and handcuffed him. Professor Gates was held at police headquarters for hours before being released on his recognizance.

According to his lawyer, Professor Gates, director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research told the sergeant that he lived there and showed his Massachusetts driver’s license and his Harvard identification card. However Sergeant Crowley still did not seem to believe that Professor Gates lived in the home. At that point, his lawyer said, Professor Gates grew frustrated and asked for the officer’s name and badge number. Really it sounds like an incident where cooler heads should have, but did not prevail. Instead Gates, 58, is still scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 26.

Update: Massachusetts authorities today dropped disorderly conduct charges against prominent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., calling his arrest last week “regrettable and unfortunate.”

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Comments

6 Responses to “Update: Black Harvard professor arrested at his home sparking racism charges”

  1. Mike Licht on July 21st, 2009 10:43 am

    It’s just a crackdown on that horrible Tumultuous Behavior crime wave.

    See:

    http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/tumultuous-behavior-crime-wave-in-cambridge/

  2. What Is Harvard Professor Arrested | Hot Web Trends on July 21st, 2009 1:15 pm

    […] Black Harvard professor arrested at his home sparking racism …Boston (ChattahBox) — Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested last week at his home by. Read more […]

  3. Chris R on July 21st, 2009 1:48 pm

    Oh please,

    If the professor would have complied when they initially approached him, none of this would have happened.

    “You don’t know who you’re messing with” How arrogant.

  4. Ronk on July 21st, 2009 1:49 pm

    I acknowledge that racial profiling exists. I wish it didn’t.

    Last time I mouthed off to the police, they beat me with their baton… and I’m white.

    Looking back, I understand that I was at fault for resisting arrest. I was angry and was not doing what they asked me to do.

    If I had done what they asked, the outcome would have been different.

  5. runescape gold on July 21st, 2009 10:53 pm

    I see a very clear case of a police officer having extreme problems with the idea that a black man belonged in that affluent neighborhood, and who probably also had issues with the idea of a liberal Black Harvard Professor daring to be offended by the officer’s treatment.

  6. Reggie Greene / The Logistician on July 23rd, 2009 5:11 pm

    We have three observations about the Harvard professor incident:

    1. We find it interesting that the fact that this was the professor’s home was evidently not established early on way before the dispute escalated;

    2. We find it fascinating that the versions of two members of society, who most would ordinarily view as responsible and honest citizens (this obviously does not include politicians), would vary so dramatically from a factual point of view.

    3. Finally, considering that the reading and viewing public were not present at the scene (and thus have no first hand knowledge), and that there is no video tape to our knowledge of the sequence of events and what was said, how so many have formed conclusions, and made assumptions, about who did what and who was wrong.

    There are some things which Professor Gates might have considered upon the arrival of the police, no matter how incensed he may have been.

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