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.Guess what? If a couple of cops rolled up on me while I was trying to unjam my own front door, and then refused to leave once I provided proof of residence, I would get "loud and tumultuous," too.
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.
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.
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.
I love how the police report (pdf) explains that Gates had to be arrested for Disorderly Conduct because he was "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, in a public place," actions which "served no legitimate purpose and caused citizens passing by this location to stop and take notice while appearing surprised and alarmed." Oh my fucking god! Will they ever recover?!
By the way, I'm pretty sure "stopping police offers from arresting me for entering my own home" is, in fact, a legitimate purpose for getting "loud and tumultuous."
"This is very disturbing that this could happen to anyone, and not just to a person of such distinction," [S. Allen Counter, a Harvard Medical School neuroscience professor, who faced a similar situation himself in 2004] said. "He was just shocked that this had happened, at 12:44 in the afternoon, in broad daylight. It brings up the question of whether black males are being targeted by Cambridge police for harassment."Question asked and answered, methinks.