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Henry Gates Arrested – Claims ‘Racism’

From an outraged Harvard Crimson:

Renowned Af-Am Professor Gates Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

Gates, who was trying to enter his own home, reportedly accused police of being racist

Monday, July 20, 2009

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr., professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies, was arrested on Thursday at his Cambridge home for disorderly conduct, according to a Cambridge Police Department report.

The report, obtained from the Cambridge District Court, said that the 58-year-old professor was arrested by Cambridge police shortly past noon for "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior," during which he allegedly accused police officers at the scene of being racist. The report said that a woman had called police to the scene after seeing a man "wedging his shoulder in the front door [of Gates’ house] as to pry the door open."

When a police officer arrived on the scene to investigate the tip, Gates was reportedly already having an altercation with another sergeant inside the home. The professor allegedly shouted "[t]his is what happens to black men in America" when asked for identification and repeatedly told the police officer that "[y]ou don’t know who your [sic] messing with," according to the report.

The two then moved to the front porch, the report said, where Gates continued to shout that the sergeant was racist, catching the attention of roughly seven "surprised and alarmed" onlookers.

Joanne Kendall, Gates’ assistant, said that the professor was away from Cambridge for the summer filming a documentary and would only be making periodic returns. Gates could not be reached for comment.

But according to an e-mailed statement from law school Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., a friend of Gates’ who is now representing him, Gates was returning on Thursday from a week-long trip to China and tried to enter through his front door, which was damaged. Ogletree said that Gates had forced open the front door with the help of his car driver, who also helped carry Gates’ luggage into the home, after first entering through a backdoor and turning off his alarm.

"I think that the charges should be dropped because Professor Gates was a suspect for being a burglar in his own home," Ogletree said in an interview with The Crimson. "This was precipitated on a false assumption that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time." He added that Gates has been "traumatized" by the entire affair and is now resting comfortably in his summer home in Martha’s Vineyard.

According to Ogletree, Gates noticed a police officer on his porch while he was on the phone requesting a door repair from Harvard Real Estate Services, which owns the home. The professor reportedly stayed inside when the officer asked him to come outside, but provided the officer with both his Harvard identification card and his driver’s license as proof that he lived at the home and taught at the University. Ogletree said Gates then asked the police officer for his badge number and name several times but received no response.

But the police sergeant who first arrived on the scene said he had told Gates his name multiple times when requested, and that Gates simply shouted over him. The sergeant said he was forced to step out of the home because of Gates’ uncomfortably loud yelling, according to the report obtained from the Boston Globe. He said he told Gates that they could discuss the matter further outside, to which Gates allegedly replied, "ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside."

The officer said he warned Gates multiple times that his behavior was becoming disorderly before the actual arrest, but Ogletree says the officer did not provide his name or give any indication that charges would be filed. Ogletree says the officer simply exited the kitchen to leave the home, and that Gates followed the officer to the front door only to see multiple other police officers standing outside. When Gates stepped onto the front porch to ask for the police officer’s name, the officer said "thank you for accommodating my earlier request" and placed Gates under arrest, Ogletree said.

The police report says that Gates complained that the handcuffs were too tight and that he was "disabled," prompting officers to handcuff him with arms in front for comfort and to search for a cane in the home. Gates was held at Cambridge Police Station for roughly four hours before being released from custody Thursday evening, Ogletree said.

Ogletree declined to comment on whether he believes Gates was racially profiled, as some media reports have suggested, instead saying that his statement of events "speaks for itself." But other prominent black Harvard professors, including medical school professor S. Allen Counter and social sciences professor Lawrence D. Bobo, have suggested that race influenced the police actions. According to the Associated Press, the Reverend Al Sharpton has vowed to attend Gates’ arraignment.

"This arrest is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen," Sharpton said. "I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs."

Ogletree said that he and Gates believe the professor did not violate any laws and are hoping the matter will be resolved promptly. According to the police report, disorderly conduct carries a maximum penalty of a $150 fine.

The Cambridge Police Department declined to release further information, citing the ongoing investigation in the District Attorney’s office. Corey Welford, a spokesman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, declined to comment further on the arrest "unless and until an arraignment occurs." He said an arraignment has been scheduled for August 26.

The woman who reported the incident to police did not return a call to her cell phone on Monday.

Gates, who served as chair of the department of African and African American studies from 1991 to 2006, earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Cambridge after completing his undergraduate studies in history summa cum laude at Yale. Gates was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 1981 and was named one of Time magazine’s "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997.

He is one of roughly 20 Harvard faculty members who hold prestigious University professorships, which are given to honor academic achievements that cross disciplinary boundaries.

The police responded to a call that a man was trying to break into a house using a crow bar.

And that is considered ‘profiling’?

It sounds to me like they were trying to protect Mr. Gates’ property. He should have thanked them, instead of attacking them.

And we love the part where Mr. Gates responds with the universal outrage of the elite: “Don’t you know who I am?”

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

41 Responses to “Henry Gates Arrested – Claims ‘Racism’”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    “Don’t you know who I am?”

    Yeah, you’re the guy with the crowbar in your hand screaming racism. All the while breaking into a house.
    Now had the police not shown up…..would that too be racism?
    Al Sharpton showing up ………… “THAT” is racism.

    Who will come to the police and stand with them against the race baiters?

  2. Melly says:

    I was amused to see this on TMZ – what an arrogant man. I can barely sit through his PBS specials. The one documentary where he attempted to debunk the myth of Lincoln just sickened me but ultimately he had more opinions from historians that outweighed his attempted hatchet job against good ole Abe Lincoln.

    Like TMZ said: It’s “Yo Mama” not “Your Mama”


    • catie says:

      Miss Melly, that’s where I know this guy from. I remember that Lincoln extravaganza, w hat a disaster that was.

  3. imnewatthis says:

    My husband used to walk home from work late at night. One night a cop car stopped and he was questioned about what they said were frequent car fires set nearby. My husband and I are as law-abiding as they get but he didn’t get all belligerent about it. I admit I was a little upset when he told me about it but my husband was good-natured about it even though (unlike Gates) he hadn’t even been seen doing anything. We still laugh about it sometimes, because the idea of him setting a car fire is so absurd.
    The officers were compelled to respond to this call, obviously. And considering Gates didn’t even own the house, couldn’t he have called Harvard, whom he rents from, to try to get in rather than damaging the property which wasn’t his?
    I forgot to mention, my husband is white.

  4. Anonymoose says:

    As usual this report is much more detailed than what’s being sent around in the MSM. Nowhere else is it mentioned he was using a crowbar to get in the house, and only one other report I’ve seen said he had to “shutdown an alarm.” Now if an alarm was also going off, who wouldn’t think a break-in was happening? I hope for the officers involved someone took video as they’re preparing a full court showdown on this.

    I still can’t see how this is “racial profiling,” what are the police supposed to do? Ignore a call? Or redact any mention of the suspect’s description for the officers arriving on the scene?

    The problem isn’t he was “profiled,” or the arrest was “unjustified,” the problem is he didn’t use common sense.

  5. Anonymoose says:

    This just in—charges have been dropped.

  6. proreason says:

    What on earth would make a policeman think that a belligerant black man with a crowbar was potentially engaged in a robbery.

    Just glancing outside, there must be numerous angry people with crowbars bustng down doors all over the place.

    I know that I don’t step outside without my trusty crowbar. And I’m a member of the inferior race.

  7. xomorrison says:

    The last time I checked, Obama’s election was supposed to usher in a grand era of no more racism. it seemed to only intensify. Sadly, dropping these charges made the police look like they really WERE racial profiling.

  8. Colonel1961 says:

    Genius grant brother forgot his keys, huh?

    Affirmative Action in action (or inaction)…

  9. Gladius et Scutum says:

    I think the professor was acting in the highest traditions of his institution, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Studies. Since it was named for a member of the US Communist Party, black separatist and agitator.

    I am surprised at the Harvard Crimson editors for allowing the term “vacation home on Martha’s Vinyard” rather than the proper “dacha”, as fits a member of the nomenklatura.

  10. Confucius says:

    I’m disturbed by the arrest. The professor showed two id’s, and he was still arrested.

    Not long ago, I was walking around my neighborhood when a white police officer approached me asking what I was doing. I told him was I taking a walk and that I lived in the neighborhood. I even showed him my house.

    The officer then asked for identification. I wasn’t carrying my wallet, but I did have my garage door opener. I opened the door for him.

    The officer then proceeded to ask me other questions like who was the president of the homeowners’ association. Fortunately, I knew. I even pointed out the president’s house.

    Eventually, the officer let me go. But before leaving, he told me a woman had called complaining of a “yellow walking around” and told me not to leave my house again without proper identification.

    Do I need an id to drink from the water fountain?

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Be glad you aren’t purple……..ask Barney the Dinosaur!
      (lotta hate against purple these days)

    • VMAN says:

      Are you sure the woman didn’t say a “fellow walking around”? Lighten up there’s enough tension in the country today.

    • Consilience says:

      Confucius you are right to be disturbed…never mind the racism charge, this whole thing smells of over-zealous police officer. We have lots of good cops, and lots of nitwits who watched too much TJ Hooker and CSI—and btw, these nitwits carry guns and will arrest someone for being stupid. This man hardly seemed a threat, and in retrospect (the charges were dismissed) a little common sense could have saved everyone the grief. I used to be a big supporter of police groups—that is until I began to notice how much abuse there is in today’s policing—and there is more than reported on the news (typically sympathetic to aggressive policing—unless the policing is concerned with an “oppressed” class/race). While it’s always a good idea to be polite to strangers, there comes a time when even a peace officer needs to be calibrated—maybe even told to “buzz-off”—they work for us, not the other way around.

      Liberty is our birth-right as Americans, and policing should be more restricted, not our freedom to move about…

      I don’t know if racism was involved in this case, but cops should think twice before arresting someone for bad manners or being stupid—particularly if that person is on their own property.

    • Melly says:

      Oh – I saw a report on TV here in NY…a man just moved with his wife from PA to Brooklyn NY. One morning he took his bike out for a ride leaving his ID home. As he left his building he jumped on his bike while still on the sidewalk (which is against the law in NYC). Two police officers stopped him to give him a summons. Since he did not have proper ID on him, he was arrested in spite of his plea to enter his home to retrieve his ID. They took him to the local precinct. He wanted to call his wife at home on her cell phone (they didn’t have a land line phone). The police said no because it was a PA number and he wasn’t allowed to make an out of state call. The cops would not listen to him at all. The wife was frantic. She contacted the local police and they had no information for her. She thought he was dead. He sat in jail for three days until his wife eventually found him. All because he had no ID and the cops were “over zealous.” The case is being investigated.

      Lesson: always leave your house with some form of ID………… and hide your crow bar from sight ;-)

    • Colonel1961 says:

      Confucious: that is a travesty. It’s a tough call, but you should have considered getting his badge number and making a report…

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      “But before leaving, he told me a woman had called complaining of a “yellow walking around” and told me not to leave my house again without proper identification.”

      Like vman said, I hope he did say fellow and was simply misunderstood. If not, that is BS. The thing that concerns me even more is telling you to “not to leave my house again without proper identification.” Perhaps this Barney Fife wannabe (he’s sure not an officer if he acts this way) needs to have it pointed out to him that this is still the U.S. and we’re not required to carry our “papers”. I agree with Colonel on this one, you should have filed a complaint.

    • Confucius says:

      Thanks all.

      I didn’t file a complaint because I didn’t know the facts. I’d rather not accuse anyone of racism (or anything else) based on suspicion.

      It’s also the reason I didn’t make a scene when the officer stopped me. (That and the fact that he was armed with a gun and me a garage door opener. Perhaps this is why I’m not a professor.)

      I’m back to walking my neighborhood, but I now carry my driver’s license. I’m still self-conscious of who might be watching and what may happen. Perhaps it would be wiser to walk somewhere else, but living in fear is a bad way to live. Even if the fear is just in my head.

  11. Georgfelis says:

    My only question.

    Was alcohol involved?

    After all, you have a guy brought home by a cab who seems to have forgotten his key, gets caught by the cops breaking in, and proceeds to verbally abuse them until he is arrested. Sounds like a story repeated dozens of times a month in a college town. (normally after the bars close for the night)

  12. VMAN says:

    This is the part that I think says it all “is now resting comfortably in his summer home in Martha’s Vineyard.” It’s rough for black man in America.

  13. Fuzzlenutter says:

    The cowardly Cambridge Police Department has all ready dropped all charges against him.

    Damn pathetic…

  14. pdsand says:

    I can see the arrest on the grounds of suspicious circumstances and by all means harrassing the police. I can also understand dropping the charges, because upon further review the man was breaking into his own house. So all in all, I’d say the system worked out just fine, right?
    What would he say if while on his trip someone broke into his house and looted the place, and all the cops said was that an unknown person showed a driver’s license and university I.D. card, so they left him alone?
    The story just doesn’t make too much sense, he was able to get in through the back way, so why did he even worry about trying to break in the front door? Why not just call for a replacement key at that point?
    And Harvard Real Estate Services provides housing areas exclusively to Harvard faculty. Why did this woman, also presumably a professor, not recognize her lofty neighbor? Could the liberal elite faculty at Harvard University be the true racists?

  15. Razz says:

    Hello from a new reader.

    Anybody read the original police report this morning? It seems to have had detail about Gates’s behavior removed, but even the revised version is telling:




  16. pdsand says:

    Just for our personal edification, this professorship is the one that Cornel West used to hold.

    • pdsand says:

      Typically the best thing that can happen to these people is to get arrested, right? Activists of all stripe live for the day when they have that kind of bully pulpit. It’s a pity for him the charges were dropped after a couple of days.

    • VMAN says:

      Ah Cornel West. Another pissed of black man that has made his fortune on the backs of whitey. These idiots couldn’t make an honest living if their lives depended on it. If der int any whitey around we got nuttin.

  17. Rusty Shackleford says:

    So…he forgot his keys…but carries around a crowbar? I’m confused.

    (diatribe edited as it really wasn’t pertinent)

    Guess we all have to face this kind of thing every so often.

    • pdsand says:

      I looked up this place on google maps and did the street view, and it’s literally like a block from the Harvard campus, maybe on the edge of the campus on one side of the street. I’m sure every cop knows exactly what this place was and who lives there, and I’m sure they’ve been told time and again that they will mind their p’s and q’s when addressing their betters. Well at least suffice it to say that this was not some ghetto scene from colors where a cop could show up and think they might oppress a black person without being held to account for it. So any ideas that this was out of control policing or some sort of absurd racial profiling are total crap.

  18. canary says:

    He forgot his keys, instead of calling a keylock normal at night, he damages door with his shoulder, leading to call someone to fix his door late at night??

    why because he’s afraid of a robber coming in that one nite his door doesn’t work.?

    hurts his shoulder trying to break down door, cry’s he’s disabled, and police allow him to search for a cane in his home. He was so disabled he did not have a cane on his entire trip to communist China?

    Prehaps, with Obama’s new tax increase, his first indigent thought “sue” so he won’t have to choose between at least two luxury homes, unless both the socialists get their idol Communist Dubois’s dream of Stalin communism.
    Those commies want to barge in whities homes. People without driver, security, 24/7 door fixers.
    A white person wouldn’t have gotten to look for their cane and charges dismissed. Police would be to worry a white raving man would be looking for a gun instead of cane.

    So, much wealth. Driver, security, fix your door 24/7. charges dropped?

    If he was white he wouldn’t have gotten his cane, or the charges dropped for his
    childish misconduct. Police should have noticed he was a rich black man, ignored his racist violence toward them, and mailed him the charges.

  19. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    If Mr. Gates had simply explained the situation to the policeman at the outset, and in a calm manner this all could have been avoided. And we wouldn’t have to listen that pompous ass Al Sharpton shooting his mouth off again.

  20. U NO HOO says:

    Never heard of him before this.

  21. imnewatthis says:

    I forgot to mention, my husband is white.

  22. bronzeprofessor says:

    I need to know more, especially about the role of the “driver”. What did Gates force the driver to do? Maybe the neighbors knew who Gates was, but who knew the identity of the driver?

    If I saw a neighbor I know, with someone I didn’t know, breaking into his own house, I would call the cops to make sure the stranger hadn’t abducted my neighbor and forced him to break into his own house at gunpoint or something.

    More information about the details has to be brought out before I can make any inference about this. It may have had something to do with racism.

    More likely, though, is that Gates’ stellar reputation among English professors makes him believe that everyone in America knows him. He became an offended diva when a lowly cop tried to do a routine round of questioning, and may have insulted the policeman’s intelligence. Then everyone got defensive and proud and things escalated.

    Probably best to let this whole thing go.

    Incidentally, I have read through a lot of Gates’ scholarship and it is excellent, useful work.

  23. neocon mom says:

    There are overzealous cops out there, for sure, and I really don’t think they always have race on their minds, I think they are just unsure of themselves and their authority and who knows what else. Fortunately they don’t make up the majority of police out there.

    But to stand in the way of the police responding to a call, yelling at them and especially accusing them of institutional racism before he knew why the police were even there (according to the police report) is no way to talk to the police if you don’t want trouble. When it’s just you and the cops, they have all the power. The “don’t tase me, bro” incident here in our fair city a couple of years back is proof that the cops have a lot of leeway in handling challenges. While I didn’t like the way that whole thing was handled and believe that such such overkill ultimately diminishes the authority of the police, it illustrates the point that not cooperating with the cops will carry short-term consequences.

    I am not surprised at all that the charges were dropped, they should be. Gates was probably frustrated, tired and flabbergasted when the police showed up and he (somewhat understandably) overreacted. I am sure that he raised their hackles when he told them that they didn’t know who they were messing with–he’s either a nut or thinks he’s above the law. I am glad that the police in this country do take investigating property crimes seriously. I also think Mr. Gates would have been wise to remember that the police put their lives on the line for such things, and the least we can do is address them respectfully.

  24. dostadawg says:

    Maybe blacks will see this as what it really is…more than likely this was liberal neighbor who called because of some “scary” black guy. Had this been in my neighborhood of conservatives I would have walked over there with my gun to see what was going on and then apologize once I saw it was Mr. G…Just being safe. :-)

    But what blacks should realize is libs love blacks when they are in their “place” but any other time they a very fearful of them and only tolerate them when its convenient. ie the issue with the black kids in the country club swimming pool…which was never mentioned in MSM that it was ran by an Obama supporter.

  25. VMAN says:

    It’s a shame that black people don’t realize that they just traded one plantation for another. It’s also a shame that they don’t realize that people like Al, Jesse and this tool of a professor are just “house boys” for the liberals. I have tried for all of my life just to see men for who they are and not for the color of there skin. Gee where have I heard that before.

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