Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Harvard scholar and director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He was arrested at his home on Thursday, July 16th, after a report of a break-in at his house.
Published news articles say that Gates was returning from an oversees trip and found his front door jammed as he tried to get in. He had wedged his shoulder against the door to try to pry it open, and it was that scene that caused a neighbor to call and report two black men (his driver was with him) with backpacks trying to enter into the house.
According to reports the following then happened:
“Police said the 58-year-old Gates was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.
Ogletree said Gates showed 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 followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was arrested.
Now it’s quite understandable to be upset because you’re being questioned at your own residence for burglary, but I don’t know about Professor Gates, I would have been honored that someone was investigating because it surely had the appearance that someone was trying to break into the house! And how easy it would have been for Mr. Gates just to present his identification without giving the police so much “attitude!”
The following statement was issued regarding Professor Gate’s arrest:
JOINT PRESS RELEASE from Prince Lobel of Prince Lobel, Glovsky, & Tye LLP:
The City of Cambridge and the Gambridge Police Department have recommended to the Middlesex County District Attorney that the criminal charge aga¡nst Professor Gates not proceed. Therefore, in the interests of justice, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter. The City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Police Department, and Professor Gates acknowledge that the incident of July 16, 2009 was regrettable and unfortunate. Th¡s incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All part¡es agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.
It said again: “the incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department.” I sincerely believe that Professor Gates’ character WAS demeaned – by his very own actions! I’m quite sure that if he had complied, kept his cool and prevented himself from getting indignant for merely having his home checked upon by the police, then he would have never been arrested in the first place!
I truly don’t believe this was a case of racial profiling, but someone believing their neighbor’s house was in the process of being robbed. Still, there was no excuse for the professor’s own ruly behavior. Overall, I’m glad the charges were dropped but Professor Gates owes the police an apology instead of uncontrollable anger!
“Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.” Ecclesiastes 5:6a
Washington Post: “Scholar Says Arrest Will Lead Him To Explore Race in Criminal Justice”
CNN.com – The ‘unfathomable’ arrest of a black scholar
President Obama says the police acted ‘stupidly’ and no apology from Police Sgt. Crowley
President Obama spoke about the incident before admittedly knowing all the facts about it. He even admits a bias for knowing Professor Gates. But both he and the professor picked the wrong police officer to cry foul on racial profiling.
Sgt. James Crowley was hand picked by a former police commissioner who happens to be black, who selected Crowley to lead a class on racial profiling at the police academy. If anyone was going to be sensitive to racial issues it would have been this police officer!
Both the president and the professor owe this police officer an apology instead of the other way around. Kudos to Sgt. Crowley for not giving in to the demands that he make the apology for basically doing his job and shame on both the president and the professor for turning this into a racial circus!
This Thursday, July 30, President Obama will meet with Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley over beer. Hopefully an end to the controversial arrest. I will hold the rest of my comments until this meeting is publicized.
© 2009, Carlotta Morrow. All rights reserved.