African-American scholar and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct after a confrontation with an officer at his home, according to a Cambridge, Massachusetts, police report.
According to the report, officers responded to a call Thursday from a woman who said she saw “a man wedging his shoulder into the front door” at Gates’ house near the university. The report, obtained by CNN affiliate WCVB-TV, indicates Gates refused to identify himself to a police officer, claiming the officer was a racist. Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department stated in the report that he told Gates he was investigating a report of a break-in at the residence. According to the report, Gates “opened the front door and exclaimed, ‘Why, because I’m a black man in America’ ” Crowley wrote in the report that he warned Gates two times he was becoming disorderly. After Gates continued to yell and accuse him of racial bias, Crowley wrote he arrested Gates for “loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space.” A statement by Gates’ lawyer and fellow Harvard professor Charles Ogletree said that the incident occurred when Gates returned to his home after a trip to China. Gates, accompanied by a driver, found the front door damaged. He entered the house with his key through the rear door. Then, he and and driver were able to force the front door open, Ogletree said in his statement.
WCVB: Police report of incident
The statement was published on the Web site The Root, of which Gates is editor-in-chief. An officer arrived and told Gates he was investigating a call about a breaking-and-entering at the residence, Ogletree wrote. Gates identified himself at the officer’s request, according to Ogletree. “He [Gates] turned to walk into the 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,” Ogletree wrote on The Root. Ogletree’s statement also said that Gates asked Crowley for his name and badge number several times without success. Then, when Gates followed Crowley to the front door, Crowley said, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request, and then placed him [Gates] under arrest,” Ogletree said. The Cambridge Police Department would not release any information regarding the incident. Gates has one of 20 prestigious “university professors” positions at Harvard University, according to WCVB, and joined the faculty in 1991. He is considered one of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars of African-American studies. In 1997, Time magazine placed him on its list of the 25 most influential Americans.