He had just returned from a trip overseas during which time he had spoken to outstanding scholars and leaders of the world. He was tired, and his driver helped carry the bags up to the porch of his house. He inserted the key in his door and attempted to open it, but the door was jammed and he pushed hard in order to try getting it open. A “neighbor” saw him on the porch trying to get the jammed door to open, and, naturally, she called the police. After all, there were two African American males standing on a porch in the up scale city of Cambridge, Massachusetts and what other motive could they possess other than breaking and entering. The police arrived and confronted the two suspects. One of them produced his driver’s license which indicated this was his house. But, he was a black man and no right thinking police officer could merely accept his word. A shouting episode ensued and the man was handcuffed and taken to jail.
This is America in the year of Barack Obama just having been elected and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., among the world’s top experts in African American studies is arrested on THE FRONT PORCH OF HIS OWN HOUSE!! For some reason he became upset because police challenged his right to be on his own front porch trying to get open a recalcitrant door.
The more important question to pose is why did a “neighbor” not recognize this world famous man? Don’t you think if someone lived on the same block with among the world’s greatest scholars they would at least be able to recognize this individual?
This is an example of racial profiling. It is necessary for the Justice Department to conduct a thorough investigation and bring charges against police officers who subjected Henry Louis Gates to this indignity.
The more serious issue is what would have happened if his name was not Henry Louis Gates and he did not teach at Harvard? Would he have been released so quickly?