Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested at Home; Charges to be Dropped

By Caleb Groos on July 21, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Prominent Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested in Cambridge Massachusetts after suspicision that he was breaking into his own home. After public outrage, it appears that prosecutors will drop the disorderly conduct charge against Gates.

As Al Sharpton put it, this wasn't a case of driving while black, more of being at home while black.

According to the Boston Globe, the incident began with a simple jammed door -- the front door of the Cambridge residence Gates rents as a Harvard professor. When he and his driver attempted to get it open, somebody called the cops reporting two African American males forcing their way into the home.

When police sergeant James Crowley arrived to investigate Gates' presence, things did not go well. According to the Globe, Gates was angered when the officer entered the house to demand identification. He did, however, present Crowley with both his Harvard ID and Massachusetts drivers license which listed his home address.

Gates repeatedly attempted to get the officer's name and badge number. According to a statement issued through his attorney, Gates was arrested after he followed the officer outside in order to ask other officers on the scene for Sargeant Crowley's name and badge number.

Gates was cuffed and arrested for "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior."

He was booked, a mugshot was taken, and subsequently released on $40 bail. He was charged with disorderly conduct, which would bring a maximum penalty of $150. An arraignment was scheduled for August 26.

Today, however, the Middlesex County District Attorney's office announced that the charges against Gates will be dropped. Prosecutors will file a nolle prosequi. That's Latin for "please, please let this whole thing go away." (Actually, it just means they are no longer willing to pursue it.)

Gates, on the other hand, has plenty he'd like to pursue. This whole thing started with difficulties getting back into his house after being in China to make a documentary for PBS. There could be another PBS documentary very near in Professor Gate's future. Today he told the Washington Post that for his next project, he "hope[s] to make a documentary about racial profiling for PBS." He said that such an idea "had never crossed my mind but it has now."

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