Monday, July 20, 2009

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Arrested -- This is Wrong

I was disturbed to read about Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s arrest last week in Cambridge, Masschussetts. At 12:44 p.m. in the afternoon, a woman named Lucia Whalen called the Cambridge Police Department to report a break-in. Gates Jr. -- for those who do not know -- is one of the nation's pre-eminent historians and scholars. A professor at Harvard University, he had locked himself out of his home and was trying to get in. When the officers arrived, Gates Jr., who is African-American, was understandably bothered at being harassed at his own home, in his own neighborhood, on his own property. The officers handcuffed him and took him to the police station. You read can an article about the incident here, and in the article you can also read the police report, which is enlightening. He states the officer may be racist (would Malcolm Gladwell or Margaret Atwood have been handcuffed and arrested, much less even reported as a potential burglar?), but by all accounts he is neither belligerent nor incorrect in his reading of the situation. Too many of these incidents still occur---and too many voices, unfortunately, do not comprehend the person's outrage, and by that lack of comprehension and the dismissal or mockery of it, they only make matters worse.

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