The story of what happened when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home


source: www.npr.org

Gates & Police Have Very Different Accounts Of His Arrest

The headline at The 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.”

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Gates’ “booking photos.” Cambridge Police Dept./AP

By Mark Memmott

The story of what happened when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home last Thursday, which Laura posted about yesterday and Morning Edition covered today, continues to get considerable attention.

And the accounts of Cambridge Police and Gates (through a lawyer) could not be much different.

A quick recap: Gates returned to his home in Cambridge, Mass., from a trip. He and his driver had some trouble getting the front door open. Someone called police to say that two men (both black) were trying to force it open.

From there, the stories diverge.

Gates’ attorney, Charles Ogletree, has issued a statement. It says, in part, that when the officer arrived on the scene, he asked Gates to step outside.

Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there. The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard. Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’ photograph, and the license includes his address.

Ogletree says Gates asked the officer to identify himself several times, without success. And, according to Ogletree, as Gates followed the officer out of the home he was arrested.

The police, though, say Gates was arrested for “disorderly conduct after loud and tumultuous behavior.”

Earlier this morning, the Boston Globe had a copy of the police report posted online (it appears to have now been removed). As the Globe writes:

The Cambridge police report describes a chaotic scene in which the police sergeant stood at Gates’s door, demanded identification, and radioed for assistance from Harvard University police when Gates presented him with a Harvard ID. A visibly upset Gates responded to the officer’s assertion that he was responding to a report of a break-in with, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?”

“Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was ‘messing’ with and that I had not heard the last of it,” the report said. “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.”

When the officer repeatedly told Gates he would speak with him outside, the normally mild-mannered professor shouted, “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside,” according to the report.

Gates was arrested after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior” toward the officer who questioned him, the report said.

For its part, the Harvard University Police log has only this:

“Officers dispatched to a theft in progress. Upon arrival CPD had arrested an individual.”

The headline at The 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.”

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4 Responses to The story of what happened when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home

  1. Helen says:

    OutRAGEOUS!!!
    Thank you for letting us know about this.

  2. Margaret says:

    this is very the american way, they still see us in their kitchen and fields. they seem to be so ignorant when it comes to who’s who in the united states, unless they are recieving cash or sex. they can actually see and here through walls but they can’t tell who is lying but white folks they cover for.

  3. 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.

  4. Jason says:

    I have HQ audio of the Henry Gates 911 call, Moderator, If you are interested

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