Harvard Prof. Gates Says Arrest Highlights Need For More Study of Race, Criminal Law

July 22, 2009
Cambridge police have dropped disorderly conduct charges against the preeminent Harvard scholar, Henry Louis Gates Jr., but plenty of discussion has emanated over the controversial arrest. Professor Gates, Harvard's leading scholar on African American history, told The Washington Post that he'd like a "one-on-one" with the officer who arrested him at his home in the early afternoon last week, after a neighbor called 911 to report that two black men appeared to be trying to forcibly enter the home. Gates, with the help of his driver was trying to open the front door, which was jammed. Gates also told The Post that he wanted an apology from the officer and that the incident would propel him to study racism in the criminal justice system. He concluded by telling The Post that he had no ill will toward the neighbor who called the police. "If she saw someone tomorrow that looked like they were breaking in, I would want her to call 911. I would want the police to come. What I would not want is to be presumed to be guilty. That's what the deal was. It didn't matter how I was dressed. It didn't matter how I talked. It didn't matter how I comported myself. That man was convinced that I was guilty."

A statement issued by Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, who is representing Gates, is available here. Gates also talked with the Root here.