July 21, 2009

Henry Louis Gates, Jr Arrested

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.Statement on Behalf of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. -- by Charles Ogletree

This brief statement is being submitted on behalf of my client, friend, and colleague, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home [in] Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled “Faces of America.” Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’ luggage into his home.

Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside.

Read more here: The Root


This is an issue about which I've blogged before in "Fear of the Perp Walk," and incidents like this strike fear in the heart of every male of African descent in America. The larger implication of these actions are intended to say, "If we can do this to him, we can do it to you."

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Unknown said...

Let’s see if I’ve got this right. You are seen breaking into your front door in the middle of the afternoon, and when the police arrive you decide to be an a-hole. Well guess what? You get what you deserve no matter what color your skin is.
Read my take on it and stick around for more good content.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Ed, let me tell you something from personal xperience. The trouble begins if you don't tuck your tail between your legs and say, "Yes, suh" or "Yes, boss." And it goes for Black men of all ages.
Dave Chapelle does an interesting take on this when he talks about the things that his white friend, Chip, can do and that he can't.

If the police had gotten the report that someone had been seen breaking into a house, they arrived and saw Professor A, a 58 year old white professor--who I assume would have been dressed impeccably, as I have often seen him--would the same incidents have followed?

Lisa said...

Geoffrey, I agree with you. In my own experience, I've been locked out of my home a few times and have had to break in. The last time it happened, I was trying to break a window with a brick when a police cruiser passed my house. The officer waved hello, and even though I waved back, I was perturbed because if I had looked like Professor Gates, I feel quite certain that the officer would not have merely waved hello, and it made me wonder if the officer would wave at an actual intruder one of these days.
Since then, I've given copies of my house key to a few trusted friends.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Lisa, there is a certain deference that would have been allowed to a 58 year old white professor that is not allowed to a 58 year old black professor--we still have to prove who we are.

For the life of me, I can't see 58 year old Skip Gates being a threat to anyone--except intellectually.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Inspector Clouseau,


This could also have been a head-butting match between 2 Alpha males with racial overtones, because Dr. Gates is a national figure, it has pulled all of us into the debate.

Trust me, things like this are happening right now to black men who don't have the high profile that Dr. Gates has, and they are not getting the same exposure.

We are all viewing the incident through the lens of our racial experience and what I find interesting is that many whites refuse to think otherwise. It is as if whites seem to think that the police are their last defence against the howling black mobs.

We need an honest debate about police treatment of black men in America.