Dr Henry Louis Gates Arrested

21 Jul
Henry Louis Gates

Henry Louis Gates

Henry Louis Gates, perhaps the most prominent and famous Professor at Harvard was arrested yesterday by Cambridge Police…

For breaking into  his own home.

Black scholar’s arrest raises profiling questions

BOSTON — Supporters of a prominent Harvard University black scholar who was arrested at his own home by police responding to a report of a break-in say he is the victim of racial profiling.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. had forced his way through the front door of his home because it was jammed, his lawyer said Monday.

Cambridge police say they responded to the well-maintained two-story home near campus after a woman reported seeing “two black males with backpacks on the porch,” with one “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”

By the time police arrived, Gates was already inside. Police say he refused to come outside to speak with an officer, who told him he was investigating a report of a break-in.

“Why, because I’m a black man in America?” Gates said, according to a police report written by Sgt. James Crowley. The Cambridge police refused to comment on the arrest Monday.

Gates — the director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research — initially refused to show the officer his identification, but then gave him a Harvard University ID card, according to police.

“Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him,” the officer wrote.

Gates said he turned over his driver’s license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He said he then followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was handcuffed in front of other officers, Gates said in a statement released by his attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, on a Web site Gates oversees,

He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.” He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.

Gates, 58, also refused to speak publicly Monday, referring calls to Ogletree.

“He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification,” Ogletree said.

Ogletree declined to say whether he believed the incident was racially motivated, saying “I think the incident speaks for itself.”

Some of Gates’ African-American colleagues say the arrest is part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge.

Allen Counter, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard for 25 years, said he was stopped on campus by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

“We do not believe that this arrest would have happened if professor Gates was white,” Counter said. “It really has been very unsettling for African-Americans throughout Harvard and throughout Cambridge that this happened.”

This IS Boston isn’t it?


Posted by on July 21, 2009 in The Post-Racial Life


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5 responses to “Dr Henry Louis Gates Arrested

  1. jami willliams

    July 21, 2009 at 2:09 PM

    I have watched you many times on PBS and find you so intersting and enjoyable to listen to your shows. Although I was sorry to hear about your arrest, I was saddened to read where when the officer asked you to please come outside and show your Id, you reportly yelled ” why because I am a black man in America” If you did indeed say that, I can tell you Mr.Gates that I too would of been arrested if I had taken such a stand when a officer of the Law asked me to show my ID. I am white and have had to show and explain myself in situations where the law got involved. I beleive that this situation was a unfourtunate momment of anger and frustration at being locked out of your house, and then someone reporting a break in that caused the frustration, not that someone was treating you in a way because you are black.


  2. BJ Chatt

    July 21, 2009 at 9:40 PM

    I disagree with Jami’s comment. This is a typical reply and spinning with word. This comment shows that we have a long way to go before racial profiling stops. We do not need justification but requires honest assessment of the unjustified act by the Cambridge police department.


  3. GE Sype

    July 22, 2009 at 7:15 PM

    I definitely think this is a case of racial profiling. I don’t think the neighbor would have called the police if the individuals she had seen had been white. And I would probably have “acted up” if someone had come to me IN MY OWN HOME and asked for ID. We think of our homes as our sanctuaries and get understandably resentful when that sanctuary is disturbed. Why didn’t the police back off as soon as he identified himself as the resident of the home?


  4. btx3

    July 22, 2009 at 10:55 PM

    The police claim Dr. Gates followed them outside the home onto the front porch, where he continued to harangue them. The result of which is the fact that he was arrested.

    Seems the police were a bit on the heavy handed side.


  5. Harry J. Armstrong

    July 23, 2009 at 12:30 PM

    Like Professor Gates, I too was “HANDCUFFED” in the hallway of my home in Cincinnati, Ohio, by three Cincinnati police officers, on New Years day 2008, in front of my wife, whom they thought I was holding
    “hostage” ‘according to a phone call’ they said they had received.

    They threatened to “bread-down” my door for NOT CO-OPERATING IMMEDIATELY when I questioned from within what they were talking about, and demanded I.D., badges, and their precinct to call in to authenticate their visit.

    After getting a key from the building caretaker, they came in, wanting to see my wife (who was ‘half-dressed’ – as their LOUD knock on our door woke us up), ordered me into the hallway and hands against the wall. where my hands were in turn placed in handcuffs behind my back with a crude statement or two – something to the effect that I “ENJOYED” NOT CO-OPERATING WITH POLICE! When the two officers that went inside to talk to my wife came out, I was uncuffed, and they left in a huff, seemingly trying to hide embarassment, with one officer throwing up his hands and saying “I’m outta’ here!”

    Later that day we found out that they had transposed address numbers and picked ours, since what they ‘supposedly’ were given did not exist. Also, there had been an earlier call that morning for a women with the ‘same’ ‘first’ name as my wife but ‘different’ last name, to which these ‘same’ officers (one of them was a ‘sargeant’) had already visited, (about a mile and a half from where we live – but almost across the street from the police precinct) forcing the ‘boyfriend’ to leave, but it seems that they did not bother to cross-reference their information.

    After much-a-do and contact with a ‘citizens’ committee on policing representative, and with a great number of ‘faux pas’ on ‘their’ part ‘alone’, it was determined that ‘they’ had done ‘NOTHING’ WRONG! -And thus, NO APOLOGY WAS FORTHCOMING.

    I had written a long letter (about 13 pages, and when it was fresh in my mind) detailing the events of that day, but later relented in turning it in to the police department, fearing harassment and reprisal from them, and thus let the matter drop.

    But I can definitely IDENTIFY with the EXPERIENCE of Professor Gates!

    I too, am 58 years old like Professor Gates.

    Sincerely H. J. Armstrong
    Cincinnati, Ohio



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