how the neighbor saw a young man breaking into the house. It was Gates’s cab driver (correction: his personal driver, provided to him free of charge by Hahvahd), helping him open the stuck door.
July 22, 2009
Harvard Scholar Won’t Be Charged
By KATIE ZEZIMA
BOSTON—Disorderly conduct charges against the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. were dropped Tuesday, but Professor Gates said he wanted a personal apology from the Cambridge police officer who arrested him last week on the front porch of his home.
Professor Gates, a leading authority on African-American history, said he thought it was because he is black that the officer, Sgt. James Crowley, had not at first believed he lived in the upscale home.
“I would like a one-on-one with Officer Crowley,” he said in an interview, “and I’d like him to apologize. But that will in no way determine if I sue him, the Police Department or the city. That will all be worked out, but I know I’m not going to let this drop.”
A police spokesman would not comment on the possibility of an apology.
Sergeant Crowley arrested Professor Gates last Thursday during the investigation of a report of a break-in at the Gates home in Cambridge. [LA comments: this is not true. The investigation ended when Officer Crowley determined that Gates was the owner of the house. He then left the house, with Gates following him and continuing to yell at him and call him a “racist police officer” and threaten retribution against him.] A statement issued Tuesday by Professor Gates, the police and the Middlesex County district attorney’s office announced the dropping of charges and called the arrest “regrettable and unfortunate.”
The arrest occurred just after Professor Gates arrived home from the filming of a PBS documentary in China. His front door was stuck shut, and his taxi driver helped him pry it open. According to the subsequent police report, a woman called to report two black men trying to force entry.
The police and Professor Gates offered differing accounts of what happened after officers arrived. Professor Gates said that he had shown photo identification to Sergeant Crowley but that the sergeant had appeared not to believe that he lived there. [LA replies: there is nothing in Crowley’s report indicating that he did not believe that Gates lived there, once Gates showed him his ID.] Frustrated, Professor Gates said, he asked for the name and badge number of Sergeant Crowley, who, he said, refused to give them. [LA replies: Read Crowley’s detailed account of this and see whom you believe.]
By the police account, Professor Gates initially refused to show identification, and Sergeant Crowley did provide his name. When told that Sergeant Crowley was investigating the possibility of a break-in, the police said, Professor Gates yelled, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” and accused the sergeant of racism. Professor Gates followed the officer from the inside of the house onto the porch, yelling at him, the police report said. [LA replies: well, I’m shocked that the Times gives even his much information from Crowley’s report.]
Professor Gates said Tuesday that he did bring up race during the confrontation but that he was not disorderly. “It’s not even logical that a man of my physical stature would be rude,” said the 58-year-old professor, adding that he was 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds. [Officer Crowley said that Gates was yelling so loud the whole time that Gates could not hear Crowley’s repeated statements giving his name and that Crowley himself fcould not conduct a conversation on his police radio.]
He also said he wanted to make a movie about the subject and take other steps to keep it from happening to someone else. “If it could happen to me,” he said, “it could happen to anybody—anybody black, but also anybody less fortunate than me of any color.” [LA replies: What shall Gates call this opus of oppression? Maybe, “Skip Gates, the Emmet Till of our time”?]