Earlier this week, we reported on the unfortunate arrest of Harvard professor and prominent African-American scholar, Henry Louis Gates Jr. However, at the time, reports were few and contradictory. Now, though, what first appeared to be a simple mix-up, now appears to be clear example of racial profiling. The story is as follows.
Gates, upon returning home from a long trip overseas, returned home around noon, to his Cambridge, Massachusetts residence to find his front door jammed. With the help of his driver, he was able to open the door and enter his house, however, while they were working the door open, a white female called the local police to report two black men trying to break-in to a house. By the time the police arrived, Gates was in his house, trying to rest from his long trip. Asked to step outside, Gates did so.
In an interview with The Root, Gates then explains what happened next, “It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, ‘What is your name, and what is your badge number?’ and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’”
Presumably upset by the allegations, the officer responded to Gates by arresting him for for disorderly conduct, writing in his police report that the Harvard professor had displayed “loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space.” Even though it was the officer that came to Gates door and asking for proof that he lived there.
Since then, the story has been picked up by the national media, and the Cambridge police department has dropped the charges, saying in a recent statement that the event was “regrettable and unfortunate.” However, it is just one more example of the dark underbelly of racism within this country.
Commenting earlier today on the story was Boris Kodjoe, a black actor and feature of the Showtime TV show, “Soul Food“. Kodjoe also owns a nice mansion in Atlanta, but reports that he is often asked by deliverymen who come to the door if they can talk to “the man of the house.” Kodjoe went on to say the implication is, “that I’m staff.”
Also commenting on the situation, in a report for CNN, is Washington radio host Kim Coleman who said, “There’s a reason why you don’t hear about prominent white people arrested in their homes: because it doesn’t happen.”
CNN with the full report.
(photo courtesy of CNN)