Harvard Professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested for… Being Black

For those who do not know who I am talking about, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is an American educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual, sometimes called “nation’s most famous black scholar” (one could argue that Cornell West is, but we’ll let Gates shine for now).

Gates is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research there.  Educated at Yale and Clare College of the University of Cambridge, he taught English literature and Afro-American studies at Yale and at Cornell before joining Harvard in 1991.

Simply put: the man is an exemplary asset to the race. The human race.

Cops responded to Gates’ house after neighbor Lucia Whalen reported spotting “two Black males with backpacks” trying to gain entry to the home (Gates, returning home from a trip overseas, and his driver were contending with a stuck front door). The Cambridge Police Department reports, authored by Sergeant James Crowley (white) and Officer James Figueroa (Hispanic), quote an incensed Gates yelling, “This is what happens to Black men in America!,” and, when asked by Crowley to speak with him outside the residence, Gates replied, “ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside.” As Gates continued to yell on his front porch, a crowd of a few neighbors grew. A disorderly conduct rap was filed against Gates, but quickly dropped by prosecutors. Gates is rightfully considering legal action against the Cambridge police.


The start of this problem is with the neighbor. Lucia Whalen (a white woman) maligned the famous professor to be cast as a Black burglar with backpack and crowbar. One can assume that it was a case of mistaken identity, but would she REALLY think that Gates and his driver, in a high-end vehicle, in the middle of a bright, sunny day, would be attempting to break into another Black person’s house (supposedly one of the ONLY Black-owned homes in this quaint community)? Why could she not had called over to this suspicious Black man to see if it was her neighbor? She had to have known she had a Black man living next store, and neighbors in ALL communities are nosey. It seems fishy. And, would she had supposed the same thoughts if the man on the porch was white?

Next comes the pigs. Responding to a possible burglary is a cop’s job. Gates knows this, but was pissed that he was being accused of being a burglar. He’s the only Black man in his neighborhood, one of the most well-known and respected educators in America, a researcher of racism and profiling in America, and here he is with a white cop invading his space and making him prove that he could even possibly live in such a nice house. It is an expected attitude. But no matter how rude, obnoxious, or grumpy Dr. Gates had been acting, if he did not threaten the pigs, he should not have been arrested once Crowley was shown proof that the professor was in his own home. Crowley should have swallowed his pride and left.

[Dr. Gates] said he repeatedly demanded that one officer give his name, and that when he stepped outside of his house and demanded the information from six other cops, they arrested him. Gates time in the slammer was a traumatic experience. “I have mild claustrophobia. The jail cell was very claustrophobic,” Gates said. The city of Cambridge and the police department, in full damage-control mode, released a joint statement calling the arrest “regrettable and unfortunate” and said the criminal charges would be dropped. -The Daily Beast

Instead, he had to make an example out of this Black man. How dare a world-renowned, supremely more educated, exponentially wealthier Person of Color talk down to white man with handcuffs, pepper spray, and a gun? Accuse him of racism? Call out his mom? Surely, verbally denouncing a police officer is an arrestable offense. Especially if you are the member of a historically oppressed group which is targeted by representatives of the law.

What this cop didn’t know is that Dr. Gates is pretty cool with The President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama. President Obama was not too happy about this incident. He appropriately called it “stupid.” President Obama stopped short of an apology to Sgt. James Crowley on Friday for saying he “acted stupidly” for arresting Black Harvard scholar Henry Lewis Gates Jr., but said he should have chosen his words more carefully. The Cambridge Police had an even bigger problem with this “outside agitator” (as they would call it in the South of the 1940s-1970s) . They wanted him to apologize. (If this were Bush or any other white president, no one would have asked for an apology.)

Dennis O’Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said…

“Whatever may be the history, we deeply resent the implications and reject any suggestion that in this case or any other case that they’ve allowed a person’s race to direct their activities. However we hope they will reflect upon their past comments and apologize to the men and women of the Cambridge Police Department,” O’Connor said.

President Obama was surprised that the media made his comment such a controversy, and stopped short of an apology to Crowley on for saying he “acted stupidly” for arresting black Harvard scholar Henry Lewis Gates Jr. He should have chosen his words more carefully. He did not call cops at a unit stupid. He did not call Crowley stupid (though he would have been right). He said the cop acted stupidly. He then called for a reconciliation of the situation, calling Dr. Gates and Crowley in to the “House” for a beer.

This is not the time for sit downs and beer. At the least, the Cambridge Pigs need to stop rolling the crap uphill and oink out their own apology for their rogue arrest. Cops that need to shoves their nuts in the face of a person they are vowed to serve need to be disciplined. This cop was supposedly known for “getting along with black cops” and being a police trainer for lessening racial profiling.

If a man like Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. can be thrown into a pitfall of discrimination that finds itself to the attention to the nations’ top leader, who can be spared? Not my 13-year old brother, for sure. Young, black, and ignorant, he has no idea of the injustices and tricks that will be placed in front of him to mislead and misguide him from being a Harvard educator and scholar himself. He and other Black men like him are facing a police force that hunts them like deer in season. They can be law-abiding citizens, gentlemen attaining a degree, or famous scholars, and they will not be immune to the disgust that is the criminal justice system. Anyone can be made a scapegoat, or example of. The Cambridge Police force proved this.

Any comments?

Last Comment: What Obama Said (which says it all)…

“But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry,” Obama said. “No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3 — what I think we know separate and apart from this incident — is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that’s just a fact.”


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