CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST HARVARD PROFESSOR HENRY GATES
HARVARD SCHOLAR MISTAKEN FOR BURGLAR
By JEANE MacINTOSH, AP
Posted: 12:45 pm
July 21, 2009
Charges against a famed black Harvard scholar arrested in his own home were dropped today.
The city of Cambridge, Mass., issued a statement saying the arrest of Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. yesterday "was regrettable and unfortunate." The statement said the police and Gates agreed dropping the charge was a just resolution.
Gates had blasted the cops as racist for arresting him after he forced open a jammed front door at his own house.
"This is what happens to black men in America!" an incensed Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. fumed as he was cuffed for disorderly conduct, according to a police report.
Police were responding to a call of a possible break-in by "two black males with backpacks on the porch" of the Cambridge house where the prominent African-American academic recently began renting an apartment.
Harvard magazine fund-raiser Lucia Whalen, 77, who is white, had called police after seeing a man "wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open."
Gates was already inside the house when police arrived but initially refused to identify himself, cops said.
"They did not believe him when he said that he was in his own home. He was totally mistreated," said Allen Counter, a colleague of Gates who spoke with his friend after the incident.
Police said Gates -- who is director of Harvard's prestigious W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American Research and who, in 1997, was named to Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans list -- was arrested after he exhibited "loud and tumultuous behavior."
He warned the cops, "You don't know who you're dealing with," according to the police report.
When Gates was asked to step out on the front porch and talk, he allegedly responded, "No, I will not!" and, "I'll speak with your mama outside!"
When the cop explained he was investigating a break-in, Gates snarled, "Why, because I'm a black man?" the report claims.
Gates finally produced a Harvard ID.
As police started to leave, "Gates began to yell . . . accusing me of being a racist," one officer said in the report.
Gates eventually came outside, where the shouting continued in front of witnesses.
Then Gates -- ranting, yelling and "alarming" passers-by with his "outburst" -- was arrested, cops said.
Gates' lawyer, Charles Ogletree, said his client was carrying a cane at the time and had just returned from a trip to China with a driver when the incident occurred.
Ogletree said Gates told him that he couldn't get in the front door so he entered through the back of the home -- a few blocks from Harvard Square -- which he leases from the university.
He turned off the house alarm and then went around front to work with the driver to open that door, the lawyer said. They got the door open, the driver left, the cops came -- and all hell broke loose.
"He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification," Ogletree said.
Harvard Professor Lawrence Bobo said that he met his friend at the police station and that Gates felt humiliated and "emotionally devastated" by the events.
The Rev. Al Sharpton vowed to attend Gates' arraignment Aug. 26.
Heads are going to roll for this one, people.