By Eric Brown
Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., best known for his work in African-American ancestral research, was arrested last week by Cambridge, Mass., police on his own front porch. The police arrested the professor after another Harvard University employee reported to police that two black males with back packs were at the front porch of Gates’s porch and that one appeared to try to force an entry.
Professor Gates who had to use the back door to turn off the alarm and open the front door was confronted by police who proceeded to arrest him. Cambridge, Massachusetts police arrested Professor Gates in spite of having produced his identification as a Harvard professor. According to the officer at the scene, the arrest was a result of Gates having “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior”.
One of only 20 faculty members with the honor of being “University Professors”, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. His court date was set for August 26 and the Rev. Al Sharpton plans to attend.
It is one thing that the neighbor called the police to alarm them of a possible burglary or some other criminal activity at Gates’s home. It is also common that the alarm would go off when you get back home from a trip as Professor Gates was returning home from a trip to China. However, the police’s arrest is difficult to explain. It will be interesting to understand what exactly was meant by “loud and tumultuous behavior” that warranted arrest. In all likelihood, this charge will be dismissed as it seems like a case of incompetence by the arresting officer.