Skip Gates Talks

Dr. Henry Louis Gates being led out of his own home by Cambridge police (Courtesy: B. Carter)

Dr. Henry Louis Gates being led out of his own home by Cambridge police (Courtesy: B. Carter)

Word to folks: don’t step out of your home if you are accosted by cops.

“Disorderly” charges have been dropped against Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, who was arrested for trying to get into his own house.

From The Root, where Henry Louis Gates is editor-in-chief:

HLG: […] All of a sudden, there was a policeman on my porch. And I thought, ‘This is strange.’ So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’

My lawyers later told me that that was a good move and had I walked out onto the porch he could have arrested me for breaking and entering. He said ‘I’m here to investigate a 911 call for breaking and entering into this house.’ And I said ‘That’s ridiculous because this happens to be my house. And I’m a Harvard professor.’ He says ‘Can you prove that you’re a Harvard professor?’ I said yes, I turned and closed the front door to the kitchen where I’d left my wallet, and I got out my Harvard ID and my Massachusetts driver’s license which includes my address and I handed them to him. And he’s sitting there looking at them.

Now, this could have been the end of the matter, but apparently the nitwit–the cop–still retained disbelief about Gates’ identity, and was still trying to get him.

HLG: Now it’s clear that he had a narrative in his head: A black man was inside someone’s house, probably a white person’s house, and this black man had broken and entered, and this black man was me.

So he’s looking at my ID, he asked me another question, which I refused to answer. And I said I want your name and your badge number because I want to file a complaint because of the way he had treated me at the front door. He didn’t say, ‘Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?’—he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don’t think he would have done that if I was a white person.

But at that point, I realized that I was in danger. And so I said to him that I want your name, and I want your badge number and I said it repeatedly.

TR: How did this escalate? What are the laws in Cambridge that govern this kind of interaction? Did you ever think you were in the wrong?

HLG: The police report says I was engaged in loud and tumultuous behavior. That’s a joke. Because I have a severe bronchial infection which I contracted in China and for which I was treated and have a doctor’s report from the Peninsula hotel in Beijing. So I couldn’t have yelled. I can’t yell even today, I’m not fully cured.

It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, ‘What is your name, and what is your badge number?’ and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’ That’s what I said. He didn’t say anything. He turned his back to me and turned back to the porch. And I followed him. I kept saying, “I want your name, and I want your badge number.”

It looked like an ocean of police had gathered on my front porch. There were probably half a dozen police officers at this point. The mistake I made was I stepped onto the front porch and asked one of his colleagues for his name and badge number. And when I did, the same officer said, ‘Thank you for accommodating our request. You are under arrest.’ And he handcuffed me right there. It was outrageous. My hands were behind my back I said, ‘I’m handicapped. I walk with a cane. I can’t walk to the squad car like this.’ There was a huddle among the officers; there was a black man among them. They removed the cuffs from the back and put them around the front.

A crowd had gathered, and as they were handcuffing me and walking me out to the car, I said, ‘Is this how you treat a black man in America?’

Seems like the idiots who are visiting black websites and engaging in put downs of Gates’ “always calling racism” are hanging onto the police report as proof that Skip Gates deserved his being dragged to the slammer. Black people always understand that a police report tells only one side of the story, and as we know from other reports, cops can lie, as with the murder of Oscar Grant III on a BART train.

Gates’ attorney, Charles Ogletree, also gave a related statement.

The original police report, though, seems to have disappeared off the websites I visited. I wanted to use it to compare with Gates’ summary. Apparently their chicken-shyt reason for putting it up front and personal to drown out justifiable anger and to make Gates look bad was a massive fail.

From the New York Times:

Professor Gates, a leading authority on African-American history, said he thought it was because he is black that the officer, Sgt. James Crowley, had not at first believed he lived in the upscale home.

“I would like a one-on-one with Officer Crowley,” he said in an interview, “and I’d like him to apologize. But that will in no way determine if I sue him, the Police Department or the city. That will all be worked out, but I know I’m not going to let this drop.”

A police spokesman would not comment on the possibility of an apology.

Right. As far as I am concerned, they all need some classes in how to handle the black public.

Sgt. James Crowley should be disciplined, forthwith. Ain’t no bad day for Cambridge cops as well as for Skip Gates. The Boston news media and its amen corner wants to make this a draw. No it wasn’t. Number one, that paranoid cow who started this mess needs a visit. She doesn’t even know who her neighbors are?

~ by blksista on July 21, 2009.

2 Responses to “Skip Gates Talks”

  1. Dick Gregory once said in his standup comedy routine (more than 35 years ago!)”what do you call a black P.H.D.?” and he would answer ” a n_ _ _ _r.” It seems that that question is can now be updated to “what do you call an esteemed black P.H.D from Harvard?” Unfortunately the answer remains the same.

    I don’t know if Professor Gates was fully aware of what the outcome of actions involving the Cambridge Police would be but I truly thank him. Because of that incident it will get America back to the very necessary discussions about race. Just because there is a black man in the White House does not mean problems with race are over. If anything it is new beginning.

    When someone puts out there that the arresting officer was trained in “Racial Profiling” and that the outcome was the handcuffing and arresting a prominent black scholar I ask what was the value of that training?


  2. Sgt.Crowley should be placed under immediate investigation. He should also be disciplined for his brazen and appalling statements made after the incident. The Police dept. should be the only one’s talking; and that should be in the form of expressing thier embarassment and apologies. “Rogue” is one definate word as stated by the scholar and should certainly prove that this officer doesn’t belong on a police force especially when he haphazzardly arrests people because he doesn’t know the law and because he can’t maintain his bearings as a police man; letting his emotions and bias take control over him.


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