Monday, July 20, 2009

Not so Post Racial – Skip Gates… menace to society? (Updated AGAIN)

How dangerous and disorderly does this man look to you? Barry O… please get your alma mater. I'm going to try and withhold judgment until all the facts are in. For those that don't know who this gentleman is (shame!): Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual probably best known for his PBS series' African-American Lives and African-American Lives 2. Here's what we know so far (from the Boston Globe):

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates's Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior," according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had "no idea who he was messing with,'' the report said.

Gates told the officer that he was being targeted because "I'm a black man in America.''

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver's license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

Gates, 58, did not return calls for comment today.

The arrest of such a prominent scholar under what some described as dubious circumstances shook some members of the black Harvard community.

So he was trying to get into his own home? A black man fiddling with a lock in Cambridge is immediate cause for suspicion? He was disorderly because he was (deservedly) ticked off? Shaking my head, people… shaking my head. Comment as you will…

Dr. Gates has issued a statement of his version of events. Whole thing still looks suspect on the police end but we'll see how it plays out.

Update as of July 21, 2009 - ALL CHARGES DROPPED. Um-hmm, that's what we thought.


JaymeC said...

They are saying Gates got "belligerent" but who wouldn't for being questioned about going into your own house?

Tami Gill said...

"A black man fiddling with a lock in Cambridge is immediate cause for suspicion?"

Well, I personally feel that anyone fiddling with a lock anywhere looks suspicious, period. I've been locked out of my car twice and my home once, and my immediate thought was to call the police to get someone out there to help me. The police called a locksmith company for me and they were there in minutes to help. I don't think it would have ever occurred to me to try to break into my own home, but that's just me. I may easily be in the minority on this one.

Ryan Mason said...

I agree with you on waiting for all the facts to come in first. I've seen two different accounts as to what happened, so holding off is indeed the best thing for now. Hopefully the truth of the matter will be known in a few days.

Mordy said...

tami, you kid, right? i mean really. he was trying to enter his home when the lock jammed. It isn't like he busted a window and was climbing through it. There is no evidence he was locked out. The lock was jammed. Would you really call the police everytime you had trouble turning the key in the lock? This kind of thing happens to me just about everytime i come home.

Anonymous said...

we once got locked of our house, and the same thing happened, and yes, we are white. perhaps it's just routine for cops to come if someone calls them? and if you read the report, they tell a VERY different story.

silentdagger said...

read this: Why is it so hard to believe that Gates could have gotten out of hand? I'm not saying he did, but why is one side automatically disqualified, and the other given a free pass? and for the record, the cops were white and latino, so this isn't just a case of "whitey picking on someone".

RiPPa said...

Hey, it's like I said on my post today: he knew better than to be wearing a ski mask and black hoodie.

I just read where the charges have been dropped.

I guess they found out who they were messing with.

Tami Gill said...

@Mordy - If he was simply fumbling with a key that got jammed, I can see where you're coming from. I'll go back and read the full report again.

Tami Gill said...

All I've been able to find so far are the Professor's version of the situation (via his lawyer) v/s the officer's version of said situation. He said/He said. I can't determine what actually happened based on this, especially since both accounts differ. The police say that they were called about two men forcing their way into a house by thrusting their shoulders into the door. If that's true, I know that this would tip me off to call the folks if I saw that going on across the street from me. At the same time, I definitely understand that as Blacks, we get tired of feeling like we can't catch a break up in here also. I know that feeling very well, and in my opinion that may be a likely explanation of the Professor's outrage.

I don't know guys, if I got home and all my stuff was gone and I were to find out after the fact that someone across the street had actually witnessed someone forcing their way through my front door but said nothing because the people appeared non-threatening, I'd be EXTREMELY angry. I'm that neighbor that calls myself having my neighbors' backs, and anything that looks suspicious will prompt a call to the police from me. That's why I have the perspective on this that I do.


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