Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Prosecutors dropped a disorderly conduct charge Tuesday against prominent black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested at his home near Harvard University after a report of a break-in.
The city of Cambridge issued a statement saying the arrest "was regrettable and unfortunate" and police and Gates agreed that dropping the charge was a just resolution.
"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," the statement said.
Supporters say Gates – the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research – was the victim of racial profiling.
Officers responded to the home Gates rents from Harvard after a woman reported seeing two black men trying to force open the front door. Gates' lawyer, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, said the professor had returned from a trip overseas, found his front-door jammed and had to force it open.
Police said the 58-year-old Gates was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.
Gates declined immediate comment Tuesday, and Ogletree did not immediately return a request to comment on the charge being dropped.