Black Professor Wants Apology over Arrest

In this photo taken by a neighbor Thursday July 16, 2009 Henry Louis Gates Jr. center, the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, is arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Police say they were called to the home of Gates after a woman reported seeing a man try to pry open the front door. (AP Photo/Demotix Images, B. Carter AP Photo/Demotix Images, B. Carter

Hours after police dropped a disorderly conduct charge against Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the preeminent black scholar and Harvard professor told CBS Station WBZ Tuesday night that he would like an apology from the officer who arrested him.

"I would like an apology," Gates told WBZ by telephone from his home. "If he [the police officer] would give me a sincere apology and I believed it, I'd be prepared to forgive him."

Cambridge Police spokesperson Kelly Downes said that, "You had two human beings reacting to a set of circumstances and cooler heads did not prevail."

"It was not Professor Gates' best moment and it was not the Cambridge Police's best moment.

"I think both parties were wrong. Our position is race did not play a factor."

Earlier Tuesday, 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.

"I'm outraged," Gates said in extensive comments made to TheRoot.com, a Web site he oversees. "I can't believe that an individual policeman on the Cambridge police force would treat any African-American male this way, and I am astonished that this happened to me; and more importantly I'm astonished that it could happen to any citizen of the United States, no matter what their race."

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.

One of them, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, was unsatisfied with the resolution.

"The charges have been dropped, but the stain remains. ... Humiliation remains," Jackson said. "These incidents are so much of a national pattern on race."

Gates declined to comment Tuesday, and his lawyer, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, did not immediately return a request to comment on the charge being dropped.

Officers responded to the home Gates rents from Harvard after a woman reported seeing "two black males with backpacks on the porch," one of whom was "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry," according to a police report.

Ogletree said the professor had returned from a trip overseas with a driver, found his front-door jammed and had to force it open. He was already inside, calling the company that manages the property, when police arrived.

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.

Ogletree said Gates showed his driver's license and Harvard ID - both with his photos - and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was arrested.

Gates joined the Harvard faculty in 1991 and holds one of 20 prestigious "university professors" positions at the school. He also was host of "African American Lives," a PBS show about the family histories of prominent U.S. blacks. In 1997, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans.
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