Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the pre-eminent African American studies scholar, was arrested after attempting to get into his locked home.
Here’s a snippet of an article posted on MSNBC.com:
“Police responding to a call about “two black males” breaking into a home near Harvard University ended up arresting the man who lives there — Henry Louis Gates Jr., the pre-eminent African-American studies scholar.
Gates had forced his way through the front door because it was jammed, his lawyer said. Colleagues call the arrest last Thursday afternoon a clear case of racial profiling.
Cambridge police say they responded to the well-maintained two-story home 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.”…
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. Police refused to comment on the arrest Monday.
Gates, 58, also refused to speak publicly Monday, referring calls to his attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree…
Ogletree said Gates had returned from a trip to China on Thursday with a driver, when he found his front door jammed. He went through the back door into the home — which he leases from Harvard — shut off an alarm and worked with the driver to get the door open. The driver left, and Gates was on the phone with the property’s management company when police first arrived.”
Hmmm…I must say that it will be interesting to see how this turns out, and how Harvard University and Cambridge respond to this incident. I can most definitely understand Gates’ perspective in this situation, and what bothers me most is that there is the automatic assumption by the caller that these two black men must be breaking into a house. At no point does it ever cross the caller’s mind that this person might live there, that their door might be jammed.
Would there have been the same action taken if the only thing different about the scenario was that it was two white men seen at the house? While I’d like to say yes, my experience has taught me that the answer would be no. But I guess we’ll never know.
The bottom line is that when it comes to race in America, we still have a ways to go.