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This is NOT racial profiling

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

From the Boston Globe:

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates’s Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had “no idea who he was messing with,” the report said.

Gates told the officer that he was being targeted because “I’m a black man in America.” [To read a copy of the police report, click here]

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver’s license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. “It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,” the officer wrote in the report.

This was not profiling. The cop got a call that two men were seen breaking into a house and he was investigating. Based on Gates’ later statement about the door not closing properly it can be inferred that he opened it in a way that could look to a passer-by like he was breaking in.  The cop’s actions seem perfectly reasonable.

Gates was out of line, but should not have been arrested just for yelling. The cop should have simply left the scene. (Caveat: We haven’t heard Gates’ side of the story, I’m basing my opinion on the officer’s report)

I had a similar thing happen to me once. I accidentally locked my keys inside my apartment and was trying to jimmy a window when a cop passing by stopped me. Even though it was broad daylight and I wasn’t trying to be sneaky or anything I cooperated with the officer, showed him ID and soon he was on his way. In fact, after he verified I lived there he helped boost me through the window.

I would have thought he was a total dumbass if he just took my word for it that it was my place and drove off. I would have been furious if I came home and found out my home was burglarized and that the cops had seen the burglar in the act but had taken his word for it that it was his house.


Here is a picture of Gates being arrested:


Gates appears to be yelling and at least one of the cops at the scene is black. All the cops are in uniform and appear to have badges and name tags visible.

If a cop’s name and badge number are right in front of you, why do you need to keep asking for it?