Henry Louis Gates Jr. is one of the most prominent African-American scholars in the world. He's written and edited more than 50 books. He's hosted several series and specials on television. He's received 49 honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the world. He was named as one of the 25 most influential Americans by Time magazine in 1997. And he's the director of the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.
He's kind of a big deal.
That's why it was surprising when Cambridge, Mass., police showed up at Gates's house on Thursday and arrested him. The police were responding to an emergency call reporting a break-in in progress at Gates's house. When they arrived, Gates, who had been having trouble getting his door open, was already inside, friends said. Incensed by what he called racial profiling, Gates accused the investigating officer of being racist, the police report said. Police eventually arrested Gates outside of his home and charged him with disorderly conduct, saying Gates yelled repeatedly at the investigating officer and would not calm down.
"The city of Cambridge, the Cambridge Police Department, and Professor Gates acknowledge that the incident of July 16, 2009, was regrettable and unfortunate," the statement said. "This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances."