We mentioned Gatesgate yesterday in Non-Sequiturs. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a prominent African-American studies scholar, was arrested on Thursday after a neighbor called police to report that Gates was trying to break into his own home.
The New York Times says Gates was returning from a trip to China, and that his door was jammed. He forced the door open with the help of a cab driver.
According to the police report [pdf], this led a woman passing by to call the police because she saw “two black males with backpacks… trying to force entry” into Gates’s home. At least the woman was a vigilant neighbor, even if she can’t recognize Henry Louis Gates.
When a police officer arrived, said he was investigating a break-in, and asked Gates to step outside, Gates was understandably offended. From the NYT:
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.”
Frustrated, Gates initially refused to hand over his ID, but eventually relented, providing his Massachusetts driver’s license and his Harvard identification card. Gates had a few choice comments for the officers, including a yo’ mama joke.
TMZ pulled this yo’ mama joke out of the police report:
According to the police report, 58-year old Gates got into it pretty good with Sgt. Crowley, and that’s when …
“As I began walking through the foyer toward the front door, I could hear Gates again demanding my name. I again told Gates that I would speak with him outside. His reply was “ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside.”
As you can imagine, the argument got more heated after that and Gates was taken into custody.
Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct. Harvard Law prof Charles J. Ogletree (pictured at right), an expert on race and criminal justice, will represent him.
Harvard Professor Jailed; Officer Is Accused of Bias [New York Times]
Harvard professor Gates arrested at Cambridge home [Boston Globe]
Busted Harvard Prof Drops ‘Yo Mama’ Joke on Cop [TMZ]