Harvard professor not a victim of racial profiling

Was Harvard professor Henry Gates the victim of racial profiling? I say yes, but not at the hands of the police. It was his neighbor, who saw a mysterious-looking black man breaking into an expensive house in an affluent neighborhood in Boston, and called the police. Would she have called 911 if the man was white? Maybe she would have figured the man locked himself out of his home (which Gates was) and brought him a crowbar. One thing is certain – Professor Gates should get to know his neighbors better.

According to the police report, Gates became belligerent and called the officer a racist. According to Gates’ account, he denies calling the officer a racist and believes he was arrested because he asked the officer for his name and badge number. As with many situations with two radically different accounts, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But that said, how crazy would Gates have to act in order to justify being arrested?

There have been reports of complaints of police mistreatment by black students at Harvard, so it appears we do not have an aberration – we have a trend of a more serious racial profiling problem. But in Professor Gates’ case, it seems he was more of a victim of racial discrimination than racial profiling. Either way, he is owed an apology and the Cambridge Police Department has a problem that needs to be addressed.

Ethnicmajority racial profiling page.

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3 Responses to “Harvard professor not a victim of racial profiling”

  1. We have three observations about the Harvard professor incident:

    1. We find it interesting that the fact that this was the professor’s home was evidently not established early on way before the dispute escalated;

    2. We find it fascinating that the versions of two members of society, who most would ordinarily view as responsible and honest citizens (this obviously does not include politicians), would vary so dramatically from a factual point of view.

    3. Finally, considering that the reading and viewing public were not present at the scene (and thus have no first hand knowledge), and that there is no video tape to our knowledge of the sequence of events and what was said, how so many have formed conclusions, and made assumptions, about who did what and who was wrong.

    There are some things which Professor Gates might have considered upon the arrival of the police, no matter how incensed he may have been.

  2. Clifford Tong says:

    You raise some very valid questions. Some new information has come to light since your post:

    1. Even the police report admits that it was established that the professor was in his own home, and yet the officer chose to contact the Cambridge Police dept. and encourage his backup to come to the house.

    2. The 911/dispatch reports confirm the officer’s request to “keep the cars coming” even after establishing Gates’ identity, and don’t appear to reflect an emotionally out of control Gates in the background. The officer’s actions seem totally unnecessary at the very least, and may have purposely done to bait Gates into a confrontation.

    3. We will never have all the facts since we were not there. But I think it is fair to reach some conclusions based upon what we do know. What we know is that Gates was confronted by a police officer for breaking into his own home. After establishing his identity, the officer continued his calls for backup. Gates was understandably perturbed by this and began to argue. The police report called his reaction belligerent but at no time did the officer feel physically threatened by an elderly man with a cane – the only abuse was verbal.

    Is that grounds for being arrested at your own home? I think not.

  3. Patrick says:

    With the release of the 911 tape, it’s clear that the woman who called did not say ‘black’. She was clear on saying she wasn’t sure. Further, the 911 operator asked her the ethnicity, she didn’t volunteet this information because she didn’t know. All the people who had the reflex reaction of assuming this woman was a racist just shows you that when people don’t know all the facts, they need to just be quiet and let the smoke clear, especially President Obama.

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