Racism charge as police arrest Harvard professor
Was Henry Louis Gates, a prominent African-American historian, the victim of racial profiling?
Colleagues of a senior black professor at Harvard University are accusing local police of racism after he was arrested at his home last week by an officer investigating a possible break-in.
Henry Louis Gates, who has taught at Harvard for nearly 20 years, arrived home last Thursday from a trip to China and found his front door jammed. With the help of his cab driver, another African-American, he forced the door open.
A few minutes later Sgt James Crowley of the Cambridge, Massachusetts police appeared at the door and asked Gates to step outside. According to his lawyer - Harvard law professor Charles J Ogletree - Gates explained that he lived there but the officer refused to take his word for it. Gates reportedly exclaimed, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" and accused Sgt Crowley of racism.
Gates (pictured above with Jodie Foster), Harvard's most senior scholar of African-American history and named by Time magazine as one of the top 25 most influential Americans, was arrested for disorderly conduct after exhibiting "loud and tumultuous behaviour" but was later released.
Dr. S Allen Counter, a black professor at Harvard Medical School, said he and a number of his university colleagues were "deeply disturbed" about the apparent case of racial profiling by the police.
"My colleagues and I have asked the question of whether this kind of egregious act would have happened had Professor Gates been a white professor," said Counter. "We think that it has to be investigated." ·
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