Black Professor and White Lady Reenact Crash in Cambridge
Harvard's star African-American studies professor Henry Louis Gates got hauled to jail by the cops for breaking into his own house because the lock was broken. That's racist. So is the lady who called them, who also works for Harvard.
The Boston Globe has the police report, and it reads like Crash. UPDATED BELOW: Also, Gates' attorney, Harvard professor Charles Ogletree, has released a statement, and it reads like The Age of Innocence.
Gates came home in the afternoon with another black friend. The lock on his front door was jammed, and he had to throw his shoulder into the door to get it open. A white lady saw the two men and thought, "Oh, two black guys are breaking into the house," so she called the cops. By the time they showed up, Gates had successfully gotten into his own home and was doing whatever free God-loving Americans with the same rights as you and me do when they enter their homes:
Gates didn't like the fact that the cops showed up to hassle him about having to break into his own house, which almost certainly would not have happened had he been white. He was not very friendly to the cop, calling him a racist, saying that he didn't know who he was messing with—he didn't!—and trying to get the Cambridge chief of police on the phone.
Gates sounds like an ornery cuss, and the insult of having to explain himself to the police for having to enter his own home seems to have caused him to lose his temper. As Gates was yelling at him, the officer insisted on moving the conversation outside—allegedly because the "acoustics of the kitchen and the foyer" made it hard for the cop to use his radio. But low and behold, once they got outside, Gates' "tumultuous behavior...outside his residence" got very disorderly very fast. So Gates got popped for yelling at a cop.
So in case you were wondering: No, not even the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, in the sanctuary of his own home, which is itself practically in the middle of the most prestigious university in the world, which is Gates' employer and playground, is immune from getting hassled because he is black.
Oh, and the white lady who called the cops on him, Lucia Whalen? She's a fundraiser for Harvard Magazine.
Like we said, Crash. And why was the lock broken? Because someone had tried to break in. We think it was that Iranian kid.
Update: Charles Ogletree, Gates' friend and attorney, released an oddly understated recounting of the above without any of the yelling, and without any mention of racism. In Ogletree's account, Gates was returning from a trip to China, had trouble getting in, and with the help of his driver managed to get the door open. The next thing he knew, there was a cop at his door. Gates gave the officer his ID and asked him for his name and badge number. According to Ogletree, the officer never responded, put Gates under arrest, and jailed him for four hours. Here's the statement; the full police report is below it.
This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16th, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home at 17 Ware Street in Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled "Faces of America". Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates's luggage into his home.
Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him 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's photograph, and the license includes his address.
Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates's request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer's name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates's home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer's colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, "Thank you for accommodating my earlier request," and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.
Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates's counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.