Gates Case Dropped; “Justice System Rotten”


Prosecutors in Cambridge, Ma., have dropped disorderly conduct charges against Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates, author of books about the black experience in America, stemming from an incident that started on the front porch of his own home. Gates intends to do a documentary on racial profiling – an idea that had “never crossed his mind” before now. The “criminal justice system is rotten,” he said, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Police got a call last Thursday that two men black were trying to break into Gates’s house. In fact, they were Gates and his driver, who were trying to open a jammed front door.

A police report charged that Gates became verbally abusive, accusing the officer of suspecting him simply because he was black. “I think what went wrong is that you had two human beings that were reacting [] and cooler heads did not prevail,” said Cambridge police spokeswoman Kelly Downes. “It wasn’t Professor Gates’s best moment, and it was not the Cambridge Police Department’s best moment.” Said criminologist George Kirkham of Florida State University, a former police officer: “The best motto for a police officer is that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. People wind up venting, and you have to let them vent.”

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