Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Harvard Professor Gates arrested

So what do you think, was this racial profiling or not?

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr., professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies, was arrested on Thursday at his Cambridge home for disorderly conduct, according to a Cambridge Police Department report.

The report, obtained from the Cambridge District Court, said that the 58-year-old professor was arrested by Cambridge police shortly past noon for "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior," during which he allegedly accused police officers at the scene of being racist. The report said that a woman had called police to the scene after seeing a man "wedging his shoulder in the front door [of Gates' house] as to pry the door open."

When a police officer arrived on the scene to investigate the tip, Gates was reportedly already having an altercation with another sergeant inside the home. The professor allegedly shouted "[t]his is what happens to black men in America" when asked for identification and repeatedly told the police officer that "[y]ou don't know who your [sic] messing with," according to the report.

The two then moved to the front porch, the report said, where Gates continued to shout that the sergeant was racist, catching the attention of roughly seven "surprised and alarmed" onlookers.


Ogletree declined to comment on whether he believes Gates was racially profiled, as some media reports have suggested, instead saying that his statement of events "speaks for itself." But other prominent black Harvard professors, including medical school professor S. Allen Counter and social sciences professor Lawrence D. Bobo, have suggested that race influenced the police actions. According to the Associated Press, the Reverend Al Sharpton has vowed to attend Gates' arraignment.

"This arrest is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen," Sharpton said. "I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs."


Anonymous said...

Racism can lead to some very dire and serious and has seen increased racial violence. Racial groups may be denied rights or benefits, or get preferential treatment, while reverse racism favors members of a historically disadvantaged group at the expense of those of a historically advantaged group. Martellus Bennett posted a video on his channel on YouTube, MartyBTV, which is dubbed Black Olympics, in which he and his brother (recently drafted by the Seahawks) eat fried chicken and watermelon, which is a pervasive and offensive stereotype of African Americans. Allegations of racism surfaced immediately. (Imagine why – maybe because it is.) This already after his team, the Dallas Cowboys, fined him $22,000 in quick cash for an earlier rap video deemed offensive. It is certain that Martellus Bennett won't need pay day loans, but maybe he should keep off of YouTube.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from those who knew professor Gates that were surprised. As much as I hate to say it, it sounds much like a case where two people don't back down, rightly or wrongly the police always have the authority in that situation. Trust me it doesn't matter if you're white.

Does that make it right? No. At the very least I'm inclined to give the office the benefit of the doubt. I think the whole thing is overblown.

Inspector Clouseau said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Inspector Clouseau said...

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.